My Sabbatical Year

I got married on June 7th, 2009. 2020 marks seven years since my husband left me.

Seven is an important number to God and is the most frequent number mentioned in His Word. In fact, the Bible returns 483 results for seven, seventh, sevenfold, etc. (I just realized I am writing this on the seventh day of the month.)

seven

Seven is thought to represent “completion” as the Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. I am thinking about this idea of completion and I am hoping that several things in my life will be completed. One thing that I hope will be completed is my anxiety over my singleness.

ANXIETY

For years I have fretted over the lack of single Christian men and the very real statistical probability that I will end up dying alone because of the sheer lack of marriageable Christian men in church. But what does God say about anxiety?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:6-7

My anxiety stems from a lack of trust in God. If God wants to give me a husband then He will. He is a God who is not only able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20) but as our Father who loves us, He desires to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). I guess I’ve been struggling to really internalize this truth.

Another important instance where the number seven shows up in the Bible is when God tells the Israelites to fallow the fields every seven years. The land needs to rest and be left alone to rejuvenate itself. This is so that the fields can produce a better harvest and also so that the poor people would be provided for.


“But on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

-Exodus 23:11

The phrase “year you shall let it rest” is all one Hebrew word. The word is “shamat” and Blue Letter Bible tells me that the KJV translates it in several different ways including: release, throw down, discontinue, and let rest. I think 2020 is the year that I plow and harrow the soil of my heart, but do not sow seeds in it in order to restore the fertility. There has been so much exhausting toiling to find a husband: joining every dating site I can find online, participating in speed dating events, church hopping and joining Bible studies from different churches, and joining single Christian groups on Facebook. I am doing a lot of planting, but I am not harvesting anything except bitter disappointment and envy that others have what I long for. I hope this will be the year that all my striving ceases, I cast my cares on the Lord, and take up His yoke.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:30

DEBT

When my husband left me, I went into a tailspin of financial crisis. He left me with a mountain of debt that I couldn’t begin to pay off with my minimum wage job. I had to downsize to a smaller apartment that I could afford which was stressful because I had to let go of many of my belongings in order to fit into my cramped little home. I struggled living paycheck to paycheck for years and had to count pennies and live with a bare bones budget that did not allow for any entertainment whatsoever.

Leviticus 25 not only talks about the sabbatical year of resting the dirt, but it also talks about the year of Jubilee which takes place in the 50th year (after seven times seven years). In the year of Jubilee, slaves are freed, debts are forgiven, and property that has been taken is restored to the rightful owner’s family. So this year, I pray that I will work hard to pay off all that I owe and be freed from that burden. This year, I hope, is the year my debt will be completed.

SLAVERY

I have been a slave to my emotions for years. I was finally done grieving the loss of my marriage and the future I imagined for us together after about two years, but I am still to this day grieving who I used to be before I got married and the future I could have had if I never married him. I left everything I loved behind when I moved to Arizona in a last ditch effort to save my crumbling marriage: my job, the masters degree I was working toward, my family and my church family I loved. I had to start all over in a new place with no support.

Whereas I never before struggled with lust, sexual temptation became a part of my daily struggles after my husband left me. Whereas I never used to be an envious person, I frequently find envy creeping into my heart when I see happy married couples, especially those with children. I felt angry at God for allowing me to be abused for so many years and I felt disconnected from Him for allowing me to get into that situation in the first place since He knew what would ultimately happen and could have prevented it. As each year that goes by and I am still alone, loneliness threatens to choke me to death. Fears that I will always be alone keep me up late at night crying into my pillow. Resentment at God for letting this happen and for not providing someone else I can be a “helper suitable” to loom over my head and make me feel guilty, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to stop these feelings from growing more and more out of control like pesky weeds.

Ruth got a kinsman redeemer (Ruth 4:13-14 ) and Job was given twice of what he had before (Job 42:10). The people of Israel were restored to them the years that the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25). Maybe 2020 is the year that I let go of my impatience and anger and I am freed from the chains of resentment, self pity, bitterness, and depression. I need to count my blessings every day and hold on to hope that something beautiful is in my future.

The Seven Steps to Resolving Unbiblical Thoughts and Bad Feelings

1. Confess the sin as I recognize it

– 1 John 1:9

2. Commit to follow Jesus

– Luke 9:23-24

3. Judge myself biblically

– Matthew 7:1-5

4. Love God and love others

– Matthew 22:37-39

5. Practice forgiveness

– Ephesians 4:32

6. Count trials as joy

– James 1:2

7. Pray unceasingly

– Philippians 4:6-7

 

Beauty, Loneliness, & Eternity

I never feel more lonely than when I’m surrounded by absolute breathtaking beauty such as gazing at the sunset over the Sonoran Desert from the top Mount Lemmon. Beauty has a way of reminding us of the Eden that we have never known but somehow always knew we were meant for.

“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar

I know it’s not as lovely as hearing it in person, but if you’ve never heard the haunting, melancholy wail of a loon, please listen to this video clip.

Laying awake at night in the cabin on Bear Lake in Waterford, Maine where I spent every summer with my family, I would be startled by this long, wistful howl that awakened a mournful longing within me. Sometimes the beauty was so great it stirred me to tears and made me feel desperately lonely.

A deep pang of painful yearning similar to my experience in Maine has been pulling on my heartstrings as of late. I could not name the empty place inside me until I picked up the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, a birthday present from my sister.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

-Ann Voskamp

Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been feeling. Instead of being thankful for all I’ve been blessed with, I start to believe the serpent’s hissing lie whispering in my ear that God must not love me enough because He’s withholding good things from me. I try to fill the emptiness by putting on my dancing shoes as often as possible, devouring poetry, and crafting pretty things but always, always I feel the ache.

It’s not really my fault though, is it? The gaping hole in my soul will always be there until I am restored to glory and present with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We were never meant for this dark, lonely world. We were created for a loving relationship with God.

Strangely enough, there is one person with whom I feel at peace. One person who makes the hole seem less cavernous. When I am in his presence, the hollowness melts away and I feel safe and able to rest. His company is inviting, nourishing, and comforting. I never want to say “good bye” but I am not allowed to be with him forever. It seems unfair that God would tease me with everything I’ve always wanted so close I could touch it but hold it just out of my grasp.

I think the grief I feel over this is natural and healthy. The sadness I feel because I am alone is due to living in a sinful, broken world where people don’t keep their vows and abandon their spouses. The sadness I feel because I am unwanted and rejected means I know my worth.

The wound of grief says, “This is not the way life is supposed to be. You were created to be dearly loved and cherished. You were never meant to be alone.” And the beauty in the world points me to hope. The loon’s cry sings, “There is still beauty in this lonely world.” It is an echo of what once was before sin spoiled its perfection. It is a mere shadow of the glorious beauty that will one day be revealed to us when Christ returns for His bride.

I am looking forward to that marvelous day.

Passionate

via Daily Prompt: Passionate

Falling in love is terrifying and glorious simultaneously. If you don’t open yourself up and trust him to catch you when you fall, you’ll never fly. I’ve gotten to the edge of that precipice a few times in my life… it always seems worth it even when he doesn’t catch me.

In the words of Anne of Green Gables:

“When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts. . .it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.”

But that thud is starting to get exhausting. I have black and blue bruises all over my body from the countless times I’ve allowed myself to trust that this time it would be different. THIS TIME it would be forever.

The loneliness is starting to devour me. I told him I contemplated “friends with benefits” just to fill the aching emptiness inside. I don’t think I would really do it when it came down to it… I deserve the devoted commitment of someone who is crazy about me and will never use me or leave me, who is with me because he truly loves me and not because he’s lonely. And I’d never want to make someone else feel less than worthy of true love. Anyway, the body and heart are intertwined and one can only separate them for so long.

Him= I’ve written about him here before. My standard of excellence. The one no one else has come even close to comparing to. My steady rock of support. He loves me, he makes me feel special, he makes me feel desired, he makes me feel important. He makes me feel heard, understood, cared for.

After this, how can I go back to normal life?

A thousand times I pinched myself. Was it really happening? Yes, everything I’ve envisioned and longed for and prayed for came true, but it was a mere shadow. It was real, but it wasn’t real.

Restlessness consumed my soul for I knew this beautiful feeling was fleeting. My head knew the truth- this desire is a fantasy and these emotions are deceptive, untrustworthy. Meanwhile, the purest, deepest love filled me up completely. I  didn’t want to move or breathe for fear that it will all melt away like waking from a dream. I would take a bullet for this man. I would do anything within my power to make him happy. If he wanted me, I’d fight to keep him here beside me.

They say when you meet the person you’ve always expected to meet, that subconscious part of you recognizes your kindred spirit and you come alive like never before. Words seem inadequate and yet words aren’t even necessary because volumes are spoken in the expressions of the eyes. Time flies and yet time is never enough.

The spicy, intoxicating scent of his skin. The warmth of his embrace. The silent tenderness felt in his touch. Every fiber, every molecule, every atom of my being hummed with a radiant euphoria that slammed against a cacophony of torment making me feverishly sick in the pit of my stomach. Joyful butterflies coexisted with unease. But every moment was worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could go back.

passion2

In case you think I’m a victim let me be clear that it was my choice to let myself fall and I knew what I was getting myself into. I couldn’t help but fall at the same time as being in control when I did. I’m an eternal optimist who never seems to give up hope… and so for many months I clung tightly to the dream that he might change his mind… but I can almost guarentee there will never be a dramatic kiss in the rain or a wildly passionte hand-written love letter. He’s always been forthright and honest. He’s never hid his intentions. The lines have always been clearly drawn. We are platonic and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Because we are too similar,” he says.

Which is precisely the reason I love him. All my life I’ve yearned for someone like him who sees the world in the unique way I see it. We want the same things. Our personal experiences are very different but we experience the world the same way. We laugh at the same stupid humor and sigh sentimentally at the same beauty, almost as though we grew up as brother and sister with the same inside jokes.  It’s pretty rare to find someone you connect with that deeply.

“I need someone to balance me out, to be strong where I am weak. We have the same weaknesses.”

I get that. I respect it. But I can’t shake off the feeling that he’s my soulmate. I’ve finally come to a place where I am able to acknowledge that the feeling isn’t fabricated because I want it to be true so bad… but it IS true. However, soulmates can be just friends and that’s okay.

soulmate

I don’t have to guess whether or not he loves me because I know he loves me. I wish all men could be like him… honest about how they feel!

I’m tired of guesing whether a man is truly interested in me or if he just loves the excitement of the chase. I’m tired of swiping left on dating apps for days and days… I’m utterly exhausted from the passionate pursuit of charming, handsome men only to be left high and dry a few weeks later because the fire has sizzled out. That level of passion cannot be kept up by most people. Most people just want immediate gratification and they are only interested in serving themselves.

If we are really honest with ourselves, we all know deep down there is more to be had. We all really just want “the whole shebang.” The security of knowing he’ll always be there for you, the joy and comfort that comes with him being intimately aware of all your idiosyncrasies and accepting you completely despite them, maybe even because of them.

Let’s not settle for less than what we deserve: the wild, passionate, devoted love of someone who knows you inside out and will stick by your side come what may. I’m holding out because I KNOW it is possible. I also believe it’s possible for the “honeymoon stage” to never end. It takes work, but it’s possible to fall in love and feel more in love every day than the day before. This is how I feel with this man and I won’t settle for anything less than this feeling.