“You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:2
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
Every month I send your Hopers the themes for each week, scripture passages they might want to dig into and meditate on, and/or questions to consider before writing. A week or more ago I sent out the newest batch of themes for the upcoming month and whaddya know, those verses and this blurb was what I typed for today:
“Discuss either verse or the tension between the two. But what do we do with our desires for MORE? For something ELSE? How do we hope FOR something while hoping IN Something eternal? How do we gauge if our desires are righteous or are they idols? How do we live contented? What is something we are wanting right now – how are we responding in the ‘wait’ … what if that ‘want’ is never answered?”
We either have a funny God or I have an uncannily keen subconscious, because I’d forgotten which theme was for this week as I sat down at the Business Center of my hotel this morning to type words of hope for y’all. My hotel in Colorado, sitting here eating a cup of oatmeal, leaving in a couple of hours to put on a purple bridesmaid dress and stand with my brother and his beautiful bride on their wedding day.
Weddings, and other big life events, sure do bring out a lot of emotion, don’t they? Waterproof mascara probably profits more from special occasions than rainy weather.
I have three younger brothers and as anyone who knows me knows – I was a “Mama Bear” long before I became a Sorority Mom. This day has squeezed my heart like it was trying to make fresh juice out of my tears. They have poured and poured and poured. My brother’s almost-wife is beautiful and gracious and an intentional gift of generosity from God’s hand to our family. So, my tears aren’t of the fearful variety. This week spent in the Rockies has been beautiful and filled to the brim with celebration. So, my tears aren’t springing from disappointment.
Many of my tears are because this is the second brother to get married within 12 months of the other and I feel like I’m losing them. Truth be told, they haven’t needed me for years. But my heart didn’t want to believe that. Not when holding them in my arms seems like a yesterday memory instead of a twenty-something-years ago memory.
Many of my tears are just grieving that the years of childhood and sweet memories and ‘just us’ are gone, they won’t come back in the same way again. Getting older, and watching your parents get older, it’s just plain hard.
But truth be told, many of my tears are also because I have asked and not received. And my brothers have asked and have received.
I stood shaking and bent over in the bathroom stall of a fancy Italian restaurant last night, the clinking of champagne flutes ringing in my ears – sending lightning fast requests begging for prayers on my phone.
My heart is celebrating and desires to continue to celebrate, it is disciplined to see the good gifts that God has given others and throw confetti (literally and figuratively) in celebration. And that discipline is healthy and right. But, oh but… as I whisper-prayed in that bathroom stall and tried to stop crying I realized that many of my tears are from the belief that God has no good thing for me on this earth. That the rest of my years will be spent as the all of the others have: buying gifts and decorating cakes and arranging bouquets and throwing that confetti for others at engagement parties and bridal showers and baby showers and weddings and house-warmings and little kid birthday parties and anniversary parties, and God simply will never give me a husband or a family of my own.
That God is withholding good from me because He loves His other children more than me.
I heard over and over in my head and heart last night “Kate, He doesn’t have anything good for you in this life.”
I’ve planned and prepared to marry. I’ve been asked. I’ve been told that love would never falter. And it left. And it married someone else.
And standing as a 33-year old unchosen single bridesmaid is hard because I have not, but not because I’ve asked not…
So why not?
Is this deep want of mine for a partner and sexual intimacy and a family, is it wrong? Because if what David’s written for us is true then the Lord hasn’t left me and I’m lacking nothing. But then in James, it says in black and white: “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
And clawed at the carpet, on my knees, crying and aching from a broken heart and a much bigger broken hope.
And around me, the women without babies have become pregnant and those without husbands have walked down the aisle and those without roots have built homes. They’ve asked, they’ve received.
What am I doing wrong?
Should I stop asking even though the desire hasn’t lessened?
Should I believe the lies that Satan is screaming?
Is everyone else’s desire for a husband or a wife or a baby righteous but my desire for a redeemed love story and physical intimacy an idol?
The questions buzz in my head like a kicked-at hornet’s nest. Never louder than standing inches away from a brand new bride and groom. So hard to process this week’s theme and questions on today of all days – so instead of offering any answers or hope or platitudes, the only thing I can do is tell the truth. The only thing I can muster before I paint on my face and curl my hair into an updo is to show you an honest picture of a hurting and almost hopeless heart. And say earnestly – if you’ve asked and haven’t received… if the Shepherd’s promise to be with you seems meant for everyone else…
I am so very sorry.
I truly do ‘get it’…
And I’m here to hold your hand or offer Kleenex whenever you need.