Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blessed Solitude

Wow, until recently I had been posting quite frequently, but lately I just haven't had the time. We have had a string of friends and family staying with us, and although I love them dearly, I look forward to walking out of the shower with nothing but a towel around me (rather then struggling to put my clothes on in the steamy bathroom when I'm not completely dry yet ... sorry, TMI). However, right now as the rest of the house is indulging in an afternoon nap, I have a few minutes to myself. And now I'm wondering, when was the last time I've taken the time to appreciate the blessing of solitude?

As it probably is with many people, I underwent a drastic transformation when I fell in love with my husband. Prior to that time, I was a fiercely independent woman who guarded her time carefully, unwilling to share it with any man but the One who had saved me. I was going to remain unmarried and wholly God's, free to go anywhere and do anything that the Lord asked of me, like my hero, Amy Carmichael. In my opinion, no man had yet proved himself worthy for me to give up that freedom, and I was convinced no man ever would. In high school, I looked upon the selection of immature, sex-crazed boys as a colossal waste of time. Was this it? I had to marry one of these? And the ones who called themselves Christians still seemed to be more interested in the sexy, flirtatious girls then the ones who dressed more modestly, so why try and get to know one of them? Even during my high school years, I saw no point in dating unless there was a possibility for marriage (and of course, you couldn't know that unless you formed a friendship first). So, if I didn't want to marry any of these boys, why should I date them? I didn't even want to be friends with them! Instead, never to be one to miss out on any fun, my girlfriends and I usually attended dances in a big pack; determined to have fun with ourselves if the boys were incapable of providing any stimulating, worthwhile entertainment. We danced together, took prom pictures together, and we rarely lamented our dateless state -- we were having too much fun!

Then came the college years. Having attended secular school my whole life, I wasn't prepared for this new crop of boys -- more like men at this point. I attended Hope International University, a small, private Christian College in Fullerton, California. These were the first men of my age that I had encountered that didn't consider the ability to burp the alphabet an incredible achievement worthy of praise. Now, to be fair, I'm sure this is more of a difference between high school and college boys rather than a difference between Christian and non-Christian boys. But in any case, I was impressed and actually willing to form friendships with them.

Unlike high school, where I was not sought after at all, some of the guys that attended my college were actually interested in me. These boys actually found Christian women to be attractive! Where were all of them when I was in high school? Some of them were being home schooled, and the rest simply didn't go to my school. Oh well, I was too busy having fun with my friends in high school anyway. And as I was becoming more mature, I was busy getting to know God -- more than I ever had before! So once again, my heart was not in finding a boyfriend, or a husband for that matter.

However, I soon realized that many of my classmates had other priorities. I don't know what it is about Christian colleges, but at times it seemed like the only reason anyone ever attended my school was to find a spouse. I'm sure we've all heard of the MRS degree. Well, at my school we had other cute little acronyms and sayings. One saying was "A ring by spring or your money back!" And other students claimed that HIU really stood for "Hook it up," rather than Hope International University. I admit, at times I too got caught up in the "spouse hunting frenzy." But I soon realized that although the boys were a lot more interesting, I still preferred God's company to theirs. Also, none of them wanted the lifestyle I wanted. Many of them wanted to be pastors, and I have never wanted to be a pastor's wife. Most of them wanted to stay in the United States, and I knew I was meant to be elsewhere.

So there I was, accepting of my single (and adventurous) future, when I met Ian. I was absolutely fascinated by this man, and I found myself arranging where I sat in the cafeteria so that he would be sure to see me. I loved him because he was different. He was mature, and had a broader world view than the other guys because he had spent so much of his childhood in China. He knew what he believed, and he wasn't afraid of it. Here was a man who weighed his words carefully before he spoke, and who didn't adhere to something just because it was what others adhered to. He had substance, an aura of mystery surrounded him, and my desire for a solitary life slowly began to erode.

I never wanted to be one of those girls that got married right after college, but here I am. And now, as I examine my transformation during this journey from friends to marriage, I see that I no longer like to be alone. I used to enjoy my solitary hours spent with a book or talking to God, but now I feel that some part of me is missing when I'm away from my husband. In some ways, we're so close that he's become an extension of myself. I don't feel smothered or overwhelmed when we spend a lot of time together, I feel the same as if I were spending time alone. But is it really the same? I no longer go to God with all of my worries. I more often go to my husband because I know I can get an immediate response. Why do I trust so much more in what I can see?

As it is, there is no conclusion to this post. I'm still trying to figure out how to be wholly God's and wholly my husband's at the same time. Is it possible? Any advice from other women who know about this matter would be greatly appreciated. Why is it that before my desire was only for God, and now my attention seems to be split in a most useless way? Can I still be effective? Can I still love God as much when my husband takes up such a big space in my heart? Being a woman/girl of not quite twenty-four, and having only been married for a little over a year, I don't know how to answer those questions. Yet I have faith that God will show me the way.

Sometimes I think about the girl I used to be before my heart was split in half (as it seems to me sometimes), and I caught a glimpse of that girl today. When everyone was asleep this afternoon, I was alone for the first time in a long while. Because I have been surrounded by so much hustle and bustle this past week, I realized how hungry I was for silence, how I'd probably been hungry for a long time. I remembered the long afternoons I used to spend by myself, perfectly content to be talking to no one but God. Why does it seem like those days were such a long time ago? I learned so much during that time. Solitude is indeed a blessed thing.

8 comments:

  1. Interesting story! I never attended a Christian school of any kind, so this is a unique perspective. My sister got married right after high school and my brother right after college, so I was expecting to do the same... but the Lord knew I needed to live alone a couple of years prior to meeting my husband. I had an over-abundance of solitude living on a farm, so I am happiest now surrounded by people ;).

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  2. Just a note to say I really enjoyed reading this post. I don't have any answers for you, but that is what makes life great-all those mysterious unanswered questions...especially those questions we have about God. Keep searching, you will find Him if you seek with all your heart. Ask, seek, knock...

    P.S. I have added you to my OMEA blog reader so will automatically begin receiving all your posts. Keep up the good work.

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  3. Sandy,

    It's interesting how we always realize later that the Lord ultimately knows what's best for us. So you grew up on a farm? I Think you told me that before but I forgot. Well, at least you had cows to talk to! ;)

    Guymuse,

    Thanks for your comment! I will keep seeking and knocking.

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  4. Cahleen,

    Thanks for the nice comment! So nice to hear of you teaching in Taipei. And it's nice to know a fellow teacher in Taiwan! We'll have to meet up someday. :)

    I think with my particular post, I had just been seeing too much of the mask thing lately, and it was getting me down. Thank God for opening my eyes to genuine believers and wonderful examples. I'm sure they don't even know the affect they have had on me. I think I'll tell them. :)

    Blessings! I look forward to reading your blog. I'll add you to my blog list! I'm off to look at some of your posts.

    Stacy

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  5. Good thoughts here--I think this is called working out your salvation with fear and trembling.
    I love the solitude too. Yesterday everyone was gone for about the space of about two hours. Blessed peace!
    I need that time alone-not only for me but for my time with God.
    I guess that is why the woman in Proverbs 31 got up so early. :)
    I think as long as you are loving God and spending time with Him on a regular basis-you don't have to worry about how much you love your husband. Loving our husbands is worship to God. He has called us to love and respect our husbands--when we do that we are serving God.
    The more I love my husband and am a servant to him--the more I please God.
    I went to a Christian high school and was one of the ones who saw the foolishness of the whole dating game. I then went off to a Christian college. I know what you mean about the MRS degree.
    Good memories.
    Just love your man. Love God with all your heart,all your soul, all your strength--and you will be amazed how the over flow of that will fall on your man.
    Well,that was fun. Good memories.
    I love Amy Carmichael too.
    Thanks for stopping by--love the thoughts.

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  6. i love amy carmichael. in some ways -- our journies are similar. i also was prepared to be and stay a "nun on the run" for the rest of my life. traveling like a happy hippie and serving people wherever God led me....
    and then he led me to Brian. and the rest is history. (we've been married nearly 4 years)

    i too wrestle with who i am alone and with God and with Brian...and how to balance it a way that doesn't make me or my husband crazy.

    May the One who guides you...
    continue to
    provide for you.

    shalom.

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  7. I love it when God orchestrates our lives so beautifully!

    Blessings,
    Sue

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  8. Thanks for the encouragement, ladies! It's nice to know that whatever I may struggle with, other people have struggled with it before me.

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