The longer I follow Jesus, the more I think there really isn't that much new to learn, just re-visiting bedrock truths until I finally rest in them.
I recently experienced a disappointment. Most of you can probably guess in what arena. Apparently finding a husband requires dating, and dating requires risking, and risking often results in hurt. Intellectually, I understand this equation, and I understand that part of the dating process is figuring out whether to continue in said relationship, and that sometimes we all change our minds.
The tricky part, which I didn't realize until the last week or so, is not so much dealing with the other halves of the dating equation, but with the Lord. All through this process I have been trying to pray diligently. Really godly, good prayers like "Lead and guide me. Lead and guide him. I just want to glorify you. Do what is best." Don't those SOUND godly and humble? And they can be, depending on the heart from which they come.
Cynic that I am sometimes tempted to be, I know that my heart will never be completely pure until I die and am with Jesus. However, I tend to forget how selfish and manipulative my motives can be underneath the submitted-sounding words. I mean those words--I DO want the Lord to lead me, and I want Him to be glorified and I want Him to do what He wants with my life. But I also want Him to hear me and reward me for saying the right words and even trying to believe that I mean them 100%.
However, the proof comes when God answers my prayers in a way that I don't like. "No, not this time" is an answer. It is proof that the He is leading and guiding me; it's just that He's not leading me in the direction or guiding me into the relationship that I wanted. He's doing what's best for me because the Bibles tells me so (Romans 12:2 one example of reminding me that God's will is good, acceptable, and perfect), but it's not what I think is best. When I think this way, I end up angry at God. Mad that He's not giving me the goody when I tried to be the good girl.
After walking around in a funk for a week or two, I finally just sat down and really told the Lord exactly how I was feeling. Somehow I never go straight to Him, but have to be miserable for a while first. Over and over I find that when I finally do get honest with God, I am able to see myself clearly, and the games that I play, and the reason I need Jesus in the first place. I am also finally able to breathe, to relax and to quit trying to make things happen.
Guess what? I can't control if I ever find a husband (well, at least if I ever find a good, godly one). When I try to control it, I end up stressed out and anxious, and with the danger of enshrining dating, a relationship, or marriage as an idol. In the preschool Sunday school class that I co-teach, we have been trying to explain to children how the Israelites built a golden calf to worship. We made "jewelry" out of Play-doh, smashed it up and then make a calf (well, kind of). It seemed utterly idiotic for the Jews to melt down their own earrings and then worship them. And yet, I am again reminded that I am not so different.
A touchstone verse for me the past year has been Psalm 138:8 (NAS):
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;I need to stop saying it and start believing it!
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.