I read it in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book as a girl. The whispers behind gloved hands, the looks of pity for the woman who reached this age without finding a husband. An “old maid” they would call her.
I feared this title. When I celebrated my 26th birthday I wrestled with God. I was in the very beginning of Cambodia preparations, saying yes to this journey and knowing it might cost me a whole lot of things- close proximity to family, ease of life, and perhaps even a dream or two. But I thought to myself, “Even on the field God could provide me a husband, someone with who I could share the journey”. That dream might somehow still be a reality.
So I tucked it away in my suitcase two years ago with my flip-flops and extra vitamins and a heart ready for adventure. The dream stayed there with me through the ups and downs of language school when I didn’t meet a single eligible man (who wasn’t 10 years younger than me anyway). But it wasn’t at the forefront, it just kindled in my heart.
Now I live in a village hours away from other foreigners or even other believers. And the dream of a husband, the expectation that one might still be out there, has exploded to a full-fledged raging fire taking over my heart and sometimes the pain of it feels like more than I can bear. Because God hasn’t answered.
What does it mean to bury a dream? What does it mean to walk up the mountain with the knife and the firewood like Abraham did, and put that dream on the altar of sacrifice? I don’t know if God will ever provide me a husband. He showed Himself to be Jehovah Jirah, God the provider, to Abraham, but what does that mean for me? I want to know the answer first, before I raise the knife on this dream. Will You or won’t You provide, God? Like somehow it makes a difference.
It is hard to surrender sometimes. But that is where I am, surrendering this dream, this expectation. If I don’t, I fear it will consume me, eat away at my heart, or become a stony idol. Some days I’m there, releasing all that is in me to the safe hands of the Father, and other days I cling hard and refuse to open my hands and let go. No matter what, I want to embrace this life that God has for me. I want to live it, not waiting for something that may never come, but looking expectantly to the God who WILL provide, no matter what it is He is providing.
Sweet married sisters, I know you are there too. You have unmet expectations that you’ve had to surrender, dreams you’ve put on the altar. So let’s do this together, shall we? When your single sister opens up her heart about the struggle and the desire, please don’t say, “It will be okay” or “You are still young yet” or “God has a reason for you to be single.”
All of those may be true, but please give a hug, push a mug of coffee across the table and ask us, “What do you need from me?” Pray with us, for those dreams in our hearts and the daily surrender. We promise to do that with you too, when you share your Isaac moments, those deep parts of who you are. Let’s go up the mountain to worship, just as Abraham did, as we walk this journey together.
Genesis 22:14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On that mountain of The Lord it will be provided”.
In those moments of surrender, how has God met you? How has He given you the strength to let go of dreams and put them on the altar of sacrifice to Him?