I think it was during one of my road-trips through the country in 2012, somewhere in a backpackers close to Kimberley (of all places), where this verse became one of my favorite passages in the Bible: Song of Songs 7: 11 & 12 – “Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field, let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards, let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.”
There is just something in that scripture that speaks so profoundly to me of freedom. Maybe it was, back then, the whispered hope that a shared adventure could actually be in the will of God for my life.
The Shulamite chick is just like: “WAAAAAAKE UUUUUUP!! I wanna go places and discover stuff with you …!”. She is just perhaps slightly more poetic and subtle about it.
There have been times where I wished I could just say the things she has the freedom to say. But as a result of religious stuck-ness, or self-discipline (depending on how you angle it …), the bravest attempts I’ve ever made still came out as something that ends with “… old buddy, old pal, brother, friend …”, accompanied by a side-hug or a shoulder-slap. I SERIOUSLY suck at being in love. I’m really good at hiding it, though. And that is not a conducive state for poetry to flourish in.
Be that as it may.
I sometimes get asked if I think I’ll get married someday. And then I also get asked why I’m not married yet.
My responses to these questions have evolved throughout the years.
My honest answer to the first question, at age 32, is still: I truly hope so. Because of Song of Songs 7:11 & 12. Marriage still seems to me like the shared Kingdom-ordained adventure that my heart has always known to be worth surrendering independence for. Which is becoming a more costly consideration by the year, might I add. So, in short: yes. I really hope the Lord has a plan for marriage in my life. I don’t know who my husband is, and I’ve asked the Lord to not show me first. So, I wait to see who sees what he has always hoped to see. Then I’ll decide if I agree with his vision :).
My reflective answer to the second answer depends on the emotional state I find myself in… When I apply sober judgment, my answer is: I think my expectations of marriage were detrimentally idealistic in my twenties. I am a poetically inclined, emotionally inspired, raging romantic, and I would have been desperately unhappy in my unrealistic, verging on idolized, expectation of what marriage “needed” to bring to my life … protection, provision, direction, security, comfort … Not that I don’t think that these are still part of the deal … but I think my insecurities would have been a too heavy burden to carry for even the humblest of men. So Jesus took those shots on my future husband’s behalf, and spared him the brunt of that war. Not that there aren’t more battles to fight for my heart, but I think many of my claws have been, in most instances, partially, retracted. Or a bit blunted, at least … :).
So, there you have it. I have just not been mature, humble or brave enough yet for the responsibility of trusting another person so fully.
Am I ready now?
That’s not my question to answer, thankfully. And there has not been much spare time to ponder about it, actually …
So, point of this indulging post being …
Some desires only mature through dying.
Without being overly dramatic, the reality is that I have actually had enough disappointments in this life to put me off romantic relationships for the rest of my time here on earth. I know from experience that Paul had a good point when he wrote in 1 Cor. 7 that singleness is by far the simpler option … (my paraphrase). But yet, poetry seems to persist.
My lifestyle is currently pretty much a chronicle of how significant any season can be when you surrender to God. Many of my desires have been expressed in some form or another over the past few years. My life really is full of so many amazing opportunities that would not have been possible if I had to be home in the evenings to care for a family – which I believe to be one of the noblest and fun ways to spend one’s time, by the way. It’s not that I don’t want to do that, or that I think that the rest of my life will stop once I get married. I have enough evidence in my married friends to see how many of them are now actually fully living out their destinies, because they have someone to encourage them to do so.
I am so blessed by the witnesses of the marriages that I see around me. I see in so many of them a testimony of shared adventure and combined strength for serving. That’s what I want. It’s just that I’m currently using the time I have not having that, to not sit around and wait for the time that I will have that too.
Fact is … my story has always been a bit off-beat. My marriage will probably have a slightly different rhythm as well. And that’s ok. I’ve never seen the point of white picket fences, actually … :).
But until such a time as that … I shall be traversing through villages, occasionally checking for pomegranate flowers … laying up all manner of fruit, new and old.
Marriage gets its significance from the Desire that it reflects.
And for the fullness of that Desire to be met, all of Creation is waiting.