My last post on singleness got a huge response. A lot of great conversations happened as a result of that post, and there is so much more that could be said. However, one of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is what I would be willing to give up (or not give up, as the case is for me) in order to not be single. Each day it becomes more obvious that the one thing that would lead me to the most fulfilling relationship is also the one thing that has the most potential to keep me single.
Before leaving for Cluj, I met up with a recent GW grad who had been in Bucharest this past spring for a month for her CE (Culminating Experience, aka masters thesis, aka what I’m doing) and for her practicum (internship). She had a lot of great pointers for being in Romania, dealing with certain difficulties which arise from being a student abroad, etc. In our conversation, she asked me if I was single. I said yes. She went on to explain that in some ways, it might be easier for me than it was for her because one of the hardest things for her was being away from her husband. While from the emotional standpoint her sentiments make sent, I think there is much more wisdom in what she said than she realized (or that I even realized initially).
Let me explain what I mean through something I’ve come to learn about myself this year: I love to travel. Not only that, but I love the shared experience of travel–sharing those moments of awe, surprise, delight, sadness. Certain aspects of travel just cannot be explained to someone who wasn’t there with you. Some examples from this summer for me are the intense awe I felt when I first saw the Dom in Cologne, or the sheer beauty of the Parliament building in Budapest when it is lit up at night, or the ways in which my heart was broken over and over again when I was in Ukraine. There are no words to accurately describe those feelings. As much of an introvert as I am, those feelings are intensified and more whole when I am with other people who feel the same way.
I’ve been wanting to come to Romania since I was nine years old. Nearly 20 years later, I’m finally here. However, it wasn’t much longer after that I realized the kind of life I wanted for myself would involve a lot of travel because I wanted to serve the forgotten and vulnerable, and especially kids. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I knew I wanted it. I believe God was putting all of these things on my heart for a reason, and I remember the first realization of the level of sacrifice it would take (I was probably 12 or 13). During the summer after my first year of college, I almost dropped out of school so I could go to Africa to rock babies and take care of AIDS orphans (true story). Luckily, I have some pretty wise parents who convinced me that I would only be happy with rocking babies for so long and I could do a lot more to help if I had a degree. The whole time I was in Ukraine, thoughts were running through the back of my head as to how I could get back there again. Do you see the pattern? I was made a certain way, cut from a very specific type of cloth, using a specific type of mold. All of these things have shaped decisions I have made and are a part of my destiny as an adult.
Not only the desire to serve, but also the types of people I desire to serve, are an important part of who I am. I could never give this piece of myself up, especially for another person. It would be equivalent of having a lobotomy or literally cutting a piece of my heart out. Yeah, I could live. I could even be kind of happy. But, I wouldn’t be me. Yes, relationships take a huge amount of compromise. However, I do not believe that we are called to also compromise who God created us to be. How can I be in a relationship with someone if he does not value all of me? How can I be with someone who doesn’t want to understand my inner most core? More importantly, how can I be with someone who’s vision for his life is contradictory to my own? How can I be his ezer kenegdo if he is supposed to go left but I’m supposed to go right? I might meet a man who is perfect in just about every way, but if he is called to minister to horse trainers in rural Kentucky, he and I probably are not the greatest match. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to serve horse trainers in Kentucky. It’s just not where I’m called to be. There has to be some sort of common ground in terms of direction. That piece of common ground doesn’t have to be obvious, but it should be strong enough for us to minister more effectively as a team.
The difficult part is that it is extremely hard to imagine what that common ground might look like. Sure, I can think of the obvious ways. However, I think limiting it to the few things I can think of doesn’t leave much room for God. Obviously, I should probably stay away from any guy who never wants to travel or who refuses to understand the value of serving the least of the least. Other than that, the field is wide open.
A lot of people I know have a List. I have a List, too. If you don’t have a List, you may be wondering what I’m talking about. The List is what you want in a spouse. Many of us have written it down (or typed it up) to a)have concrete things to pray for and b)keep ourselves accountable so we don’t fall for just any ole attractive person. There are some things on my List which are very important. However, I would give up about a third of the things for someone whose heart complimented mine versus someone who met every item on the List but wanted to minister to horse trainers in Kentucky. Preferences of height, personality quirks, and last names (don’t judge) seem to not be nearly as important when destiny comes into play.
As much as I want to be married, believe that is God’s plan for me, and know there are some aspects in which I would be more effective with a husband than without one, I would rather be single than be married to someone who doesn’t value my destiny and desire to see it fulfilled. I don’t expect to find a man who is going to cater to my lifestyle and just do whatever I want to do. However, I do fully expect to find someone with which we can have a shared vision for us as individuals and for us as a couple and family. I don’t think that is too much to ask because it is ultimately the organization of the church. 1 Corinthians 12 is pretty clear that each member of the church has their own individual function, but we also have a united function as a whole body. I think relationships are meant to be the same way.
If you don’t have a list, I, as a fully single person who has only the advice of others who have gone before me, challenge you to write a List. Take a few days, weeks, months. What you want on your List will come in spurts. Once you have you List, and those of you who already have one, go through and seriously consider which items you are willing to budge on and which items you are not. Think about what your destiny is–if you aren’t sure, think about what you would be doing if there were absolutely no limitations. What kind of person would compliment your destiny? What type of person would be a support to your goals, not a limitation? What types of goals and dreams could you support in another person? What types of goals and dreams would you not be able to support in another person?
What about you? What’s on your list? What are you willing to budge on? What are you not willing to budge on?
P.S. I didn’t include my List in this post. However, if you want to see it, let me know. Depending on who you are or my mood that day, I may email it to you.