I didn’t even realize what was happening until I was already deep in a can’t-go-back-now sort of way. I was working on a video project at my office and it was getting later and later, and suddenly, it was dark. Granted, that’s not too unusual in the Winter when the sun seems to set at 4pm. And it suddenly hit me: I’m single.
I’ve been totally single for just about four years and it feels like a lifetime and a moment all at once. I usually don’t notice it, to be honest. At least not in negative ways. I have flexibility and extra time here and there. I can go anywhere on a whim and spend hours in the car every week by myself. It doesn’t particularly feel like a curse.
But the last three years or so, I have these moments. Like putting your foot down to touch the bottom of the pool and realizing it’s deeper than you thought, it’s there: alone. It strikes deep in my gut at random moments about every 3-4 months and sometimes it lingers for an hour or so, other times a few minutes. And when it does, I try to write it down.
I have pages in old notebooks, right in the middle of Hebrew vocab or Church history notes, that are scribbled in about this feeling.
This is how it feels right now:
There I was, sitting in the dark, the only one in the office. Everyone home with their spouses and children and the silence suddenly feels a little haunting. On nights like this, I wonder if I’ll ever go home to a spouse or children. I wonder if I can have children. I wonder, if I’m going to get married on this side of eternity, what he’s doing right now. Who he’s with and if he feels right at home with those he is surrounded by. I wonder if he’s going through a phase where he doesn’t feel like reading his Bible, or if he’s been spending long stretches weaving in and out of passages. I wonder what it’s like to go home to a spouse. And then, involuntarily, I remember that season when I loved a boy that I thought I was going to marry.
It hits me: tonight is Friday night and I have no plans.
My roommates will be gone and I’ll go home to empty.
I sent a few emails and I packed my things, locking the door behind me. The air in Franklin tonight smelled like good food and a breeze pushed my bangs into my eyes as I approached my car. I got in, started the engine and heard Ellie Holcomb sing these words:
Here in the middle of the lonely night.
Here in the middle of the losing fight,
You’re here in the middle of the deep regret
Here when the healing hasn’t happened yet.
Here in the middle of the desert place,
Here in the middle where I cannot see your face,
Here in the middle with your outstretched arms
You can see my pain and it breaks your heart.
And I didn’t know I’d find you here, in the middle of my deepest fear
but you were drawing near, you were overwhelming me with peace.
And this is the part where I get really honest: I wish I had this moment of total satisfaction and “contentment in singleness.” But I didn’t. Instead, I kept listening to that song for 35 minutes straight. And I cried. And I ached for marriage. And it became a reminder that Jesus is present, but sometimes we’re still going to long for eternity–and that’s okay.
Here’s the thing: we’re all bound for Marriage. But that might not happen until the Marriage supper of the Lamb after we’ve left this world. And if we don’t ache for it from time to time, I’m not sure we’re really aching after the right things. And so, on nights like this, when I have the ache, I write it down.
Even now, as I sit and get these thoughts out, I feel less alone. I drink some sprite and open mail and I’m coming back to the surface for some air. But I don’t want to forget that as a Christian, I’m called to ache for communion and companionship and, daresay, Marriage. It doesn’t mean it’ll look the way I hope it will, but it does mean that something deep in my soul can’t wait for that moment when the Bridegroom shows up.
No neat bow on this one, friends. Sometimes we just ache for a minute. But hear this: if you’re in this lonely-on-a-Friday-night place, you are not alone. And your aching is not in vain. My prayer for you, and for myself, is that we’ll sit in our singleness with a little tenderness from time to time. Sometimes, I wonder if we pretend we don’t want things that we really want because if we seem aloof Jesus will hand it over to us. Fun fact: he doesn’t work like that. We don’t always have to shrug it off or pretend it never hurts or act like we don’t want to get married.
Take heart, all you who wait for the Bridegroom: He’s coming. Ache for it.