Hallway conversations that begin like this have pretty much only one way to go. I had one at SALT, but they are common enough that I can give you a profile:
The speaker is a young lady, in her late 20’s or maybe early 30’s, and single. She comes, like Nicodemus, for a clandestine conversation: she is considering missions, but is terrified that she’ll end up like me: 60 something and single. I represent her worst nightmare, its personification, to which she is irresistibly drawn.
A pleasant greeting perhaps, with a request to talk with me, disintegrates quickly as she blurts out, “I don’t want to be like you!”
To the average young woman, a lifetime of singleness looms as a primal fear. God has not yet answered prayers for a husband, and she is aging out of the marriage pool. Watching her friends marry off, one by one, she wonders when--if--it will be her turn. Missions will only complicate matters.
She is afraid of God, afraid of her call, afraid to take the risk. I wish I had a nickel for every conversation I’ve had like this.
I let her pour out her heart. Inevitably the verbal eruption subsides and she melts a bit, having found a sympathetic ear, one that has the mileage. A few tears start falling when I ask her how she knows the future.
My script is relatively short. I’ve learned to cut to the chase: to talk about the Threshold Guardians of fear in her heart.
“There are no guarantees,” I promise. “No conditions you can make. Are you going to follow Jesus or not? Are you going to trust him for marriage or contentment in singleness?”
It's a bucket of cold water, I know. But also the reality check needed to rout lies and fear from an anxious mind. We end in prayer, rehearsing the truths, and say goodbye with a hug.
I almost never hear from her again. I’m not sure if I’ve salvaged any calls by these converstations, but I know each one has had one more chance to face her Threshold Guardians and move past them. I hope to meet every one of these precious women in heaven, having successfully completed their Hero’s Journey: the call to follow Christ. Unconditionally. Single or married. God bless them.