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Grace for Our Imperfections

The last few years have been some of the sweetest in my walk with the Lord. Probably because of walking through some unique suffering, I’ve experienced His provision for me in the most beautiful, tangible ways. It’s imparted me with a deep hope for just about everything in life, including my singleness and has truly freed me to embrace where God has called me with great joy.

That said, the other day, for a fleeting moment I relapsed and gave audience to a big, nasty lie. Though I’ve learned to fight it well, it is one that used to assail me more often a few years back. Every now and then it tests the waters of my heart to see if it can derail my hope again. Here’s the lie: “No one is ever going to love you like that.”

I sat in that lie, contemplating my failures while mentally listing them as evidence in the case against my prospects. As the list of my imperfections grew, so did my discouragement, and before long the list turned into things-to-do. If I ever want to get married, I’ll just have to buckle down and: Become a better listener, lose more weight, stay on top of my laundry, etc. I let out a sigh and fought tears, “This is just never going to happen.” Before completely giving into despair, I heard what could only be described as the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, Aren’t those things you want to improve on anyway?

The question exposed me. The lie was nasty, but not just because it attacked my self-esteem or my hope, but rather because it tempted me to make light of God’s grace and to view godliness as a means to catch a good man. The truth is, if marriage should never come, I still want to look more like Jesus at the end of my life than I do now.

We were made for our heavenly Father. As Christians, His love compels us to want to please Him, and His Spirit empowers us to do so. Sanctification is a gift of grace, not something we get to opt out of, nor is it something He will neglect to do in our lives (Philippians 1:6). Of all the struggles and failures I felt overwhelmed by, none of them were beyond God’s redemptive hand.

It’s common to discuss singleness as a symptom that requires a diagnosis. But the pervasive questions of this season shouldn’t be, “What am I doing wrong? Why am I still single?” But instead, “Am I living in submission to Christ? Is His grace evidently at work in me?”

I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by a godly mama and godly aunts throughout my life. They always remind me of my greater purpose as a woman and as a believer. One, in particular, often counsels me with these powerful words: “If you prepare yourself for God, you will be suitable for any man.”

Our failings are ugly and unattractive, and our issues can hinder us from moving on in many regards, but my aunt’s words are wise because they remind me that having a heart for the Lord is the primary, life-giving purpose of all my days. They correct any inclination to view marriage as the reward for getting my life together. Rather, it binds my wandering heart to the One whose love stopped at nothing to rescue me from death that I might know and enjoy Him forever.

As I seek to journey throughout life in submission to Christ, He promises to mold my character into His likeness. I trust this will enable me to love others well, and hopefully one day it does inspire a godly man to pursue me, but that too will never cease to be a work of grace in my life.

Let’s not allow the enemy to twist our godly desires for marriage into the motive for holiness. Let us be vigilant in recognizing the lies that attempt to distract us from God’s grace, and live joyfully in this truth captured so well in the hymn “Before the Throne of God”: “When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there Who made an end of all my sin.”

What a glorious truth! My failings and failed laundry schedule aren’t enough to keep me from God’s grace or the good He intends for my life for His glory.

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