Monday, June 15, 2015

“I Don’t Want to be Like You!"

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.

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