I have this crush
on a boy I hardly know
where one thing is certain —
I must let go!
This little stanza I wrote in 2001 pretty much sums up my entire college and high school days.
I have always been a romantic. The story of the guy and the girl meeting and falling in love has always flooded my heart with warmth and wonder. Daydreams of flowers and chocolates and poetry occupied my thoughts. Deep conversations, holding hands, children climbing all over us filled my dreams. And Valentine’s Day? Don’t even get me started.
The problem was not what I desired but how much it had become a preoccupation for me. My whole life was directed toward it. My decisions seemed to hang upon that aspiration of one day when I’m married. How I longed for romance at the deepest core of my being!
It was God who made me realize that those desires were like chocolate Easter bunnies — cute on the outside but hollow on the inside.
A pivotal moment for me came in 2002, when I had this realization, “What I need in my life is not a man to fulfill all my wishes and dreams, because that place, that role, is already fulfilled by Jesus. I do not need a man. I do not need to be married. I only need Jesus. If he so chooses to give me a partner in ministry, then it will be an unexpected blessing. I will not be any less useful to the Lord as a single person. I am not ‘half’ of a better whole. I am whole and wholly useful. In fact, I am unhindered and unencumbered.”
And so I prayed, “Lord, I want to love you only. Offer myself to you only. Plan my life around you only. I do not know what you will ask of me or lead me to in the future, but for now I know I want to offer you all of me. No marriage — just ministry. And may it be so. As you wish. Thy will be done.”
In that moment, I was surrendering marriage completely. But still, I had questions for the Lord.
Me: Children. What about children, Lord? I’ve always wanted to have children.
God: You will have spiritual children. Different than you ever dreamed of — but ever more wonderful and beautiful and lovely to love, because they will be precious gems from me.
Me: But, Lord, I can’t imagine a whole lifetime being alone. Thinking about a whole lifetime seems overwhelming.
God: Don’t think about that. I will lead you step by step in the way you should go. Just trust me. I’ve led you thusfar, haven’t I?
Me: Yes, Lord. [Long pause]
So this is it? This determines my future career as a single person? I don’t exclaim that mournfully, just feeling overwhelmed.
God: Oh, MaryAnn! You’re gonna love what I have planned for you. You’re gonna love it! It’s simply delightful.
Me: And you will always be my companion? I will never feel alone or lonely? You will satisfy my every need?
God: I will give you everything you need.
Me: I will get to a deeper intimacy and dependency on you, won’t I?
God: Exactly. [Pause]
Is it worth it to you, MaryAnn?
Me: Yes, I think so, Lord. But will you show me even more?
God: Of course.
This conversation changed everything. In giving him my dream of marriage, my heart was finally completely surrendered to the Lord. In doing so, he gave me entry into a world where he could meet my every need. As it turned out, the Lord didn’t give me a whole lifetime of singlehood, but he gave me the ability to understand that he is everything. Romance was enjoyable when he unveiled it for me, but only because I knew that he had already given me everything with himself.
These days, Valentine’s Day doesn’t carry with it the aura of rose-colored romance with a significant other. And I believe it shouldn’t be a day that draws startling attention to the disturbing realization that we are alone and therefore something is amiss. Because, the truth is, nothing is amiss when we have Jesus. Valentine’s Day is a day that reminds me of the great everlasting, unending, unconditional love I have in God and the love shared with all the dear ones he’s surrounded me with. Valentine’s Day is a day of love, and every single person can revel and celebrate in it. No one is left out of this kind of love, because the invitation to this love from God is sent out to everyone in the person of Jesus.