Empty chairs at tables. A double bench on a patio. Thanksgiving and Christmas planning. Needing to pick up a bookshelf. A piece of cheese.
These things have nothing in common, except that they are all things that made my loneliness palpable within the last month. .
There are four chairs at my parent's dining table, we only occupy three. I dream of the third being filled one day. I sat on their patio while visiting one weekend for a quiet moment outside, longing for someone to be there with me as I sipped my coffee. We talked about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. The holidays, the worst time of the year. A friend reminded me about a bookshelf that I'm getting from her and I thought of how it won't possibly fit in my two-door car, so how will I get it? Three pieces of cheese sat on the counter to top burgers. I wanted there to be four. This may be the most ridiculous one of all, as the man who may one day come could be allergic or, as tragic as this would be, despise the stuff.
"'Tell me I’m not going to stay here,' she breathes into the phone. 'Just tell me this won’t be my forever.'" Hannah Brencher shared in one of her Monday e-mails. She was talking to a friend who was over being single. "Been there," I found myself saying. Which also happened to be the title of that week's weekly email. A friend who also gets this dose of honesty in her inbox texted me while I was at work asking if I had read it yet. I hadn't and she told me to wait until lunch or something to read it. Basically forewarning me that I would be a hot mess after reading it. She wasn't wrong, but at the end of it, I came away with a whole new perspective on my singleness. An "aha!" epiphany moment and a slap in the face all at the same time.
"Rarely do we find the best things. They find us." I texted that quote to my friend along with the emoji that has tears streaming down its face.
"Ugh. So rude of her to write that." My friend replied, accompanied with the same emoji.
My next text sent this quote, "As many times as you get those hopes of yours up and you wait and you wait but it just doesn't happen -- that's how many times you'll need to let go. Because it isn't yours yet, sweet pea. You simply cannot white-knuckle your way into holding something that does not belong to you yet." Along with my thoughts of, "that was rude!"
Friend, "yeah, I'm super offended at this."
Were we actually offended and finding this rude? No. Was I actually crying at my desk at work? Yes. Because, this is honest to goodness truth! For the better part of my singleness, I've been letting go but only partially. I've held tight, even if just by my pinky finger, to a sliver of what isn't mine yet. White-knuckled and balled fists. That's how I've been holding to things this year.
"I let go every day. And it's the suckiest, hardest thing to ever do. But I know in the end it will be worth it. But it doesn't mean I'm any more annoyed by it. I kinda hate it and I don't know how to love it...is that even possible?" I started revealing to my friend.
I recalled something I had commented on an Instagram post not too long ago. That 2018 has been such a weird year for me...one that started with growth, but now I'm in a fight to find the good when it feels that everything good is being stripped away. I keep thinking, two years from now, I'll look back and remember the stripping away and the fight. But, I also think about, what if in two years, I'm in the same place, asking all the same questions?
Part of me doesn't think I'll be able to handle that, when I'm barely handling it now.
"Yep. I'm reminded of having a 'thorn in the flesh.' I just don't know why or what good it is." My friend texted me. And this is where my aha moment came.
"OH MY GOSH! Why have I NEVER made the connection of this being my thorn or my limp as Annie referenced Jacob in Remember God?" I exclaimed through text. I kept going, "I know its name, but I haven't given it credit to being my thorn or my limp, because I guess in a way I thought it would give it more credit than it deserves. But maybe I've needed to do that all along. Because then I can actually recognize it, instead of trying to ignore it as I have been."
"My head is going crazy." I admitted. Stunned at what I was realizing and finally saying.
"I think that metaphor (thorn in the flesh) has been so overused to the point that we forget about it. But I would absolutely call it a limp. We hate our singleness. But we wouldn't know how to walk without it." My friend replied, absolutely right.
She is so right. Our texts continued as my head kept sorting out all this new info.
No. I absolutely wouldn't know how. Honestly, I'm scared to lose it, my singleness, because it's all I've ever known. Literally all I've known. I've made it my safety default, my comfort zone. Anytime anything or anyone remotely gets close to changing it, I freeze and panic. At least until recently...but even then, where was I letting God into it all? I said I was giving my steps, my moments to Him, but was I? I still found myself anxious about it all, still wanting to play things how I wanted. That's not letting Him have it. It was me masking my limp. Me trying to ignore it.
But maybe that is exactly where He wants me. To not know how to walk, he wants me to be carried. He wants to carry me. Because then my dependence is on HIm. Back to the basics. Back to the beginning. It's where He has been pointing me this past month as I've felt Him take one thing after another away from me.
And yet, when He gently sets me down after carrying me, my limp will still be there in some form. But, instead of ignoring it, I'll embrace it. Because the limp is a sign of wrestling and a sign of my defeat. A sign of my surrender. Of all that I have, of all my abilities, of all my dreams, of all my fears, of all my worries. It's all or nothing. No in between. God wants all of me, not just parts of me.
I have to ask myself if I want all of Him.
A mere 24 hours after our text and my epiphany, I texted my same friend saying that we needed to come up with a way to let each other know when we are having to let something go. We naturally landed on a GIF of Elsa from Frozen singing her infamous song, "let it, let it go!" And I've repeated it to myself quite a few times since then.
Something today, maybe for only just a moment, will make the loneliness palpable. But, like sanctification and the renewing of our minds, surrender is a daily thing. I'll go to bed with a limp tonight and in the morning I will wake up with it still. My reminder to acknowledge the wrestling, remember God and His goodness, release my white-knuckled grip, unclench my fists, and surrender.
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Check out Lynnette Cretu Art & Design for more inspiring art. The picture above is of a painting that I received from Lynnette and hangs in my bedroom. Inspired by Jacob's wrestling.
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