Ever since getting home from China this spring, I’ve been going to what seems like billions of weddings and bridal showers. (That might be a slight exaggeration.)
I’m always happy for friends and family finding love, of course – not to mention how excited I am when the dance floor is finally opened! – but these events often bring somewhat disheartening reminders and questions, too.
“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” goes the saying. I provide generic responses when a relative asks how I’m still single for the umpteenth time, and I muster up my most Oscar-worthy, convincingly polite chuckle every time an uncle asks “when’s YOUR wedding?” Trust me, I’d love to have an updated answer to these questions. Instead, all I can do is wait and pray and continue to keep an open heart while investing in myself and my future.
Yes, it often feels like I’ve done a lot of waiting in my life – especially when it comes to dating. At some points I’ve been in “dating waiting” and didn’t even know it! It’s happened a few times, actually, that I have found out after the fact that a gentleman suitor had been interested in me but never said anything. Each time I am nonchalantly informed of this by a mutual friend, and each time I am left baffled and wondering: “Well, why didn’t he say anything? He felt the spark, and yet he walked away. Why? Won’t anyone take a chance on me?”
Those are pretty crummy questions to have to ask yourself again and again. Truthfully, I get so swept up in them sometimes that I will find myself frustrated and thinking, “boy, it sure would be nice to find someone with whom I have ANY chemistry, let alone great chemistry.”
Reflecting on this recently, though, I made an important realization – one that doesn’t obligate me to force a smile or feign a chuckle.
Throughout my entire adult life, I’ve often been waiting around for guys who have reason to act on their feelings, but don’t. Meanwhile, God has no reason to love us, but he does – and he’s never waited to act on his feelings.
We have been Christ’s since before we were even born. From the beginning of time he has known and loved us, so much so that he planned future generations (that means you and me!) through Abraham, his faithful Son.
And God ain’t no slacker. He doesn’t “LIKE YOU, like you” and then drag his feet. He has always been quick to act on his unconditional love, engraving us on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16) and planning for our salvation through the sacrifice of his Son – all before Jesus was even born.
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:1-5
Society tells us we should search for a soulmate who loves you so much he would die for you. The Bible teaches us that we all already have that love in Jesus Christ, who died and lived for us. Talk about #RelationshipGoals, right?
Bear with me here. I’m not saying that I’m dating Jesus in the same way that I’m looking for someone with whom to eventually tear up our own wedding dance floor.
Our Lord isn’t the same as an earthly husband (thankfully, he’s much better than that!). But my relationship with Him is, in a sense, a reflection of the whole point of marriage. Earthly, Christian marriage should reflect the relationship between Christ and the church.
As a single person, love and marriage themselves remain a profound mystery to me. As such, I won’t be so forward as to give advice on those topics. I bring them up only to illustrate the legitimate #RelationshipGoals that are set by Christ’s marriage to the church – that is, his undying love for and devotion to us, his body of believers.
Jesus has such a love for us as his church – his bride. He doesn’t weigh the few pros and many sinful cons of our dating profiles before acting on his emotions. He doesn’t stay silent when faced with his feelings for us. He shows compassion and care for his entire wandering flock as well as the individual sheep. He listens as we pray to him, and he establishes our steps as we walk on the path of faith. His is a perfect love – the love that led him to help his fellow man while living and breathing on this earth, and the love that led him to the cross for our undeserved salvation.
Earlier I mentioned all the waiting I feel like I have been doing lately. Waiting to see what group of guys the latest dating app will think are perfect for me. Waiting to find out about the next “nice young man” with whom a friend from church wants to set me up. Waiting to feel that spark that so many people gush about, yet remains an elusive mystery to me.
No matter how much I wait or how many times I check my dating app, however, I am “powerless” when it comes to God’s timing. Romans 5:6 tells us that Christ make the ultimate sacrifice “at just the right time.” The ultimate acts of love, Christ’s birth and his death, happened according to God’s timetable, not in response to any human planning. Even if we had truly wanted him to come, we couldn’t have done anything good to bring it about. It is the sad truth that, by nature, we don’t want anything to do with God and his promised Savior. Born into sin, we are “ungodly.” And yet the Father sent his Son to die for us. What a guy.
Fellow single ladies: we don’t know the Father’s timing, and we don’t know his plans for our love life. That spark may strike tomorrow, next year, ten years from now…or never. God only knows. But we must trust in His timing, for it is the same timing that delivered us from sin and eternal damnation so many years ago on the cross.
We must also use this time of waiting to delight in the duties of our heavenly marriage. That’s right, girls – we may not have husbands at the moment, but that doesn’t excuse us from representing Christ’s bride as his Church.
“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” – maybe. But as part of a church united with Him, I am Christ’s bride.
His unconditional love provides wisdom, inspiration, humility, hope, and joy in a way no man ever could. I’ll keep my eyes open for the guy who agrees with that truth and aspires toward it. Until then, I’ll continue dancing, smiling, and trusting in Jesus, knowing he’ll never, ever walk away from our undeniable chemistry.