I experienced great loneliness the year before I met my wife Heidi. Many of my friends seemed to be leaving me behind as they married and began to have children. At the time, I had great success with being friendly with women, not so much success with engaging in meaningful relationships with men, and little to no success with romantic pursuits. I was lonely!
Many of my dreams and pursuits for love and fulfillment centered around romance. I often thought, “If I could only meet ‘The One’, my life would be better.” I had no idea how my expectations far surpassed what another could provide for me. I also had no idea how much God was willing to provide.
I met Heidi on a summer assignment, when I was on staff with Campus Crusade. It was a summer of love. I had met my TPF (The Perfect Fit), and I was expected that my deep and lasting experience of loneliness and need was getting ready to get booted out of my life. Yes, I expected this spunky and fun-loving woman to so intently care for me that most if not all of my needs would be met. I had internalized an expectation that she not only wanted to, but could meet my needs for love.
Thankfully, along the way, I have begun to more fully understand that though my wife is a kind, considerate, and selfless woman, she was not created with the resources needed to fulfill all of my needs for relationship and love. In our relationships we need to confront that we cannot experience lasting fulfillment from the care of another. We all have limitations, and are surrounded by others with needs and limitations. So, we are invited by God to trust him with our needs and to serve each other and care for each other as we are able.
When our unmet needs for love are exposed, we experience loneliness. During these moments we can choose to open ourselves vulnerably to God and surrender to his love, or not. There might be times when you can speak for hours with God, and some times when you might sit unable to eek out a single syllable. However, in either moment, sit before God and expose yourself to him, making yourself vulnerable to his loving care, attention, and provision. There will be moments when he will give you amazing experiences of comfort. There will also be times when he will remain seemingly silent. Yet, in all of this know God is always present with you, working to bring about good for you, cultivating his life and love within you. Remember, God's provision of love corresponds with your need for love.
What’s my next step?
We encourage you to consider engaging in the following as a way of handing off faith in your family.
Talk about a submissive life: Loneliness is an experience that we all have. This week, talk with your family about moments when you have felt lonely, or moments when you have tried to get others to meet your needs. This week consider reading Psalm 16 at a daily family experience (meal, bedtime, etc.). Talk about what it might look like to take refuge in God. As a family, consider what God has provided you this week and thank God for these. Conclude your discussions with times of family prayer, asking for the mind of Christ and the grace to live his submissive life.
We encourage you to consider engaging in the following as a way of deepening your own faith.
Memorize and meditate upon Psalm 16: Many of our marriage difficulties come from the expectation that our spouse is able, and should, meet all of our needs. This week consider spending some time memorizing and meditating upon Psalm 16. Spend some time thinking about your own personal needs and how you are attempting to meet them. Chat with God about what, if anything, keeps you from approaching him rather than others for the meeting of your needs. Ask him for the grace to hide in him for the provision of your needs.