Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 28: Highs/lows of 2011

I think it's rather obvious what my highs have been for 2011- since January, I have gotten engaged, bought a wedding dress, and lived in Africa. Each of those things seemed like unattainable events of Future Emily- and it's the oddest feeling for Present Emily to experience... almost surreal. I still can't believe that my wedding dress is hanging up in a closet at home, waiting for me to put it on in just 5 months. On top of all that, I was able to really get involved in the elementary classroom and begin taking ESL classes, which has fired me up and gotten me entirely too excited about being a purposeful teacher someday.

Amidst this big flurry of exciting things, I've come to realize that Satan uses the blissful and happy moments as opportunities to creep inside, unnoticed. As I throw myself knee-deep in wedding planning and preparing for my classroom, Satan finds ways to bend my knees toward the ground in a position of worship to the things which demand my attention and love. Idols?

Throughout my teenage years, I just knew that my life would be perfect and complete once I got married. I would draw pictures of what I'd like my wedding dress to look like, make endless lists of qualities I wanted in a husband, and dream about finally meeting the man whom God had hand-picked just for me. It seemed that this husband would fulfill every desire and emotional need I had craved all my life; he would love me in a way that my young heart desired so much. When faced with bouts of loneliness and longing (nearly every day), my solace was found in the glimmer of hope which promised the Lord would one day send me the man I had been waiting for. I clung to that hope.

Now that I'm engaged, and can see the face of "the one my soul loves" (SoS 3:4), it would seem that my depths of loneliness have been eliminated. After all, He has given me a man who will fulfill my deepest emotional needs, right? I might venture to say, with high hopes that I won't be misunderstood, that my sweet fiance has not made this loneliness go away. In fact, since being engaged, the feelings of loneliness and longing come back with sharp and intense pain.

Now, understand me when I say that D is more than I ever could have asked for in a future husband. He outscores the pages of requirement lists that I made in high school for my future husband, clearly & daily displaying love to me on even my worst days. I love him. So why is there still unmet longing and loneliness?

We finish Pride & Prejudice with our jaws on the floor. We wistfully wish that Mr. Darcy would waltz into a room, sweep us off our feet, and tell us everything we've ever dreamed a man would sweetly tell us. And when "Mr. Darcy" finally comes along, and he does all of those sweet things, we are still left with a chasm in the middle of our hearts. I can think of no other reason for this unanticipated loneliness than the fact that my fiance is not Jesus.
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." -Psalm 73:25-26

Although movies and books and people give me the impression that a man will satisfy my deep longing for love and affection, the Lord says that He will be my portion. Although I often walked through life with the assumption that my husband would give me all the love I would ever need, the Lord says that I will not be fulfilled unless my strength and portion are in Him. Once I realized that my portion and my strength lied in a earthly and fleshly man, I felt sucker-punched by Satan and despair for my relationship with Christ. I found that the harsh ground which Satan had driven my knees to was digging into my skin, causing cuts and bruises which infected my relationship with Christ. I had come to idolize an idea that had been planted in my head the first time I watched Cinderella.

The Lord loves me. He longs to show me love that no other man can provide for me- and it's the kind of love that permeates to the deepest crevices of my little girl desires, where only God can find them and only He can satisfy them. He loves to show me affection, and He loves to provide me with good things- like a fiance who points me to God's love, and a future career that I love- but He wants to be the ultimate means of my satisfaction. The One who created these desires loves to fulfill them.

I am overjoyed to be marrying a man whom I never could have even dreamed up. That is certainly my "high" for 2011. Walking hand-in-hand with this joy, however, lies the "low" of crushed hopes and ignored longings which I sought to fulfill through a man. I'm thankful to walk through life with D, and I'm thankful for the love that he so gently & sweetly showers on me... but I'm also thankful that the Lord is yanking those deep longings back to where they should be: directly pointed toward the Cross and the lavish love of Christ.
"How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! . . . You drove them from me, You who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, You who are sweeter than all pleasure . . . O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, & my Salvation."    -St. Augustine

1 comment:

  1. Emily, thank you so much for this post. It's such a good reminder to me. I struggle, it seems almost daily, with idolizing a man & marriage itself. Sometimes those lies of Satan become so easy to believe. BUT, we must keep our hope in the Living God. And that's exactly what you've encouraged me to do tonight. Thank you. Praying for you in these triumphs & struggles. Oh, and by the way, those verses from Psalm 73 are some of my absolute favorites! :)
    -Katie Schmidt