Friday, February 12, 2010

A Shadow and a Thought

On Facebook I follow a certain female Christian celebrity (who shall remain nameless), and I have found it interesting that number of adult males who have publicly declared their love for her. When I read these public declarations of love I can’t help but think about a scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In the scene Aragorn, the heir to the throne of Gondor must take a perilous journey under the mountain to enlist the of the army that resides there, and so he prepares to leave the Riders of Rohan, with whom he has been traveling. Éowyn, the princess of Rohan, comes to him to plead for him to stay with them. Aragorn asks her why she has come, and she looks shocked and hurt, and says, “Don’t you know?” There is a pause as realization comes over Aragorn’s face and he replies; “It is but a shadow and a thought that you love. I cannot give you what you seek.”

There are two thoughts from this scene that I think are vitally important for those of us who are single to remember. The first is that we have to dwell in reality and not fantasy. I understand how easy it is to allow our emotions to control our thoughts. I have done the eHarmony thing a couple of different times, and it was so easy for my imagination to go wild as we went through the stages of communication. Before I knew it I could say in my heart that I loved her, before I had even met her. My so-called love wasn’t built on reality, but it was built on a fantasy that I had created. This is part of the reason why we have the saying, “Love is blind,” because we look at the girl through the lens of our fantasy, which blinds us to the reality of who she is, and that is not fair to her or to us.

So how can we avoid living in a fantasy world? First and foremost we need to anchored in our relationship with God. The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:2-4; Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (ESV). When our primary focus is on God and His Kingdom that is going to help illuminate the other areas of our lives, and thus bring clarity into whatever relationships (real or fake) that we might have.

Second it is vital that we have two or three Christian friends/mentors that we can trust to tell us the truth and not simply what we want to hear. I know that I have this in my friend Sam and my brother Tom, I can’t tell you how many times God has used them to bring clarity into my life, and not just in the area of relationships. The key, apart from their faith in Christ Jesus, is your willingness to hear their counsel. If you are not willing to consider what they have to say then you will not benefit from the counsel they give.

Third is to examine your heart. Are you spending an inordinate time about thinking about her and what life with her would be like? There is nothing wrong with a little daydreaming, but there is something wrong when it consumes your thought life. Especially when you begin to feel the terror from the thought of having to live without her. That feeling of terror or of hopelessness is a good indication that you are not living in reality when it comes to the relationship.

Second thought builds off Aragorn’s words, “I cannot give you what you seek.” Think about what John Eldredge wrote in Wild at Heart; “We must reverse Adam’s choice; we must choose God over Eve. We must take our ache to him. For only in God will we find the healing of our wound” (emphasis added, p. 117). The healing that we need, the purpose we long for, and the worship we need to give cannot be found in a relationship with a woman, she doesn’t have that power.  Only God can give us what we truly need.

If we believe that the only thing missing from our lives is a romantic relationship that should reveal to us that we are trying to find life apart from God. As Christians we don’t enter into a relationship in order to get something, we enter into a relationship in order to give. The ironic thing is that when we are in the best place to give is when we are most content with our life right now, trusting God to lead us into life, and the importance of a romantic relationship has faded into the back ground. That doesn’t mean that you no longer desire to be married and have a family, but it does mean that those things are no longer essential to your happiness, for you trust God for life.

This thought has lead me to pray, “God help me to be content with Your timing, for I know Your timing is the best timing. In this time of singleness prepare me to be the husband and father that You desire me to be.” In order for me to bless my wife I have to first go to God for healing and training, and trust Him that at just the right time she will show up in my life (though this doesn’t absolve me of responsibility, like Boaz in the book of Ruth, when she shows up I have to take the initiative to pursue her).

God has placed within us a desire to love and to be loved. He has also wired us to notice that wonderfully beauty that we find in women, and so it is not a bad thing to desire to be in a romantic relationship. What is bad is when we allow that relationship to consume us and to blind us to reality. For that reason we have to make sure that we are grounded in our relationship with with God, and that we are content with His timing and His working in our lives. After all when it comes to life He will give us everything that need when we need it, and that includes our relationships.

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