Before you think I am here to judge you if you have watched it, I have read the book and many others too from the author. Let me just say, if you love the romantic and sensual vibe of the show, the book is wayyy better. I am a reader and in my younger years; they have not always been on the spiritual side, rather, they never were. Hunger Games, Twilight, romance stories my friends wrote, and so many others I found online kept me quite occupied. I get it, romance series, movies, books, gif, memes all of them are captivating. Especially for a teenager or young adult who longs to experience it themselves, it’s tasting the rainbows without eating the skittles. So this is what I would say to my younger self before I read, “The Duke and I.”
No one prepared you for this, these surprising years of sexual curiosity. No one told you, your feelings were natural, that you weren’t dirty if you found boys attractive. I know you see others in relationships. They usually won’t end well. You might even feel that you are missing out, but the boys will be too immature to give you the love you desire. You are immature to fully appreciate the beauty of the dance between the sexes. You might think you get to experience love without actually having it by reading this book but as you will look back on those moments and say they didn’t satisfy, no, they awakened a greater thirst for what was natural yet wrong in the present situation. It wasn’t love that was awoken, it was lust. Untamed passions that clawed for satisfaction now.
When you grow older, these images and ideals will scar you deeper than you expected. When you learn that in the end, your heart was searching not merely for romantic love but to be found, to be seen, to be fully accepted. As you grow older, you will be fully known and loved, but the memories etched in your mind will make your heart wander over and over again. Trying to grasp that which is fleeting. Because it seems easy. Easy to hide in, easy to settle for, because it is familiar. It holds no eternal weight. You will find it empty, EVERYTIME. You will have to pray for God to fix your thoughts, to heal your perceptions and reign in your urges. You will beg Him not to want to read it anymore, to free you from your presumptuous behavior, to awaken your limping conscience.
Love between a man and a woman is beautiful. But that’s that not the only way to experience love. It’s odd in that you will find it many unexpected places. You will learn intimacy doesn’t need to come from sensual caresses. You will learn not to wait on a relationship, that joy, peace, adventure, connections, don’t need to be put on hold, but right then, as a whole person, you are free to experience it fully. I hope you learn contentment and fight these days that would rob you of freedom. Stay anchored to a godly community. Even if your time before this moment is stained, God has accounted for it in His story. You will have a beautiful life wherever He takes you.
N.B. Error in name during recording is that of the author, not the narrator.
It’s strange how I purposely refrained myself from sharing about this. If you heard from me before now on this, I would have had a very critical tone, I once had a post draft I titled, “The Love Conspiracy”. It blasted Hollywood for having robbed of us the oh so perfect love that’s not made of candlelight dinners, or immediate connections always or even the most intimate sex. Perhaps I’d have chosen that approach because it would cover up my own longings and insecurities. But hiding reeks of shame and I am not ashamed of the lessons I’ve learnt.
Why Am I Single?
I assume you are at the age when everyone else is getting married. Those cute wedding photos make you both happy and sad, mostly sad. You wonder when your time will come, if any at all. Or you really just desire companionship. Then the daunting thought comes, “Why am I single? There must be something wrong with me.” Some look within, it must be because I am ugly, boring, underachieved, not in their league, too tall, too short, too fat, too slim, dare I say, not spiritual enough.
Others look without, he/she just couldn’t see what a good choice I am, nobody has come close to what I have envisioned for a partner (settling is out of the question but maybe nobody will, ideals aren’t reality), she wasn’t attractive enough; he was too short; I didn’t like the way he laughed; he didn’t pursue me intentionally enough; she sent mixed signals, he/she was interested in too many people, I trust you see I could go on. Then last, some look up, the most used one in the church, it wasn’t the will of God. Whichever the category we find ourselves, the reality is, we precious, are single.
I Want to Get Married, Just Not Yet
I’ve never been one to like something because somebody else does. But with marriage it’s different. My parents got married before I was born. I’ve seen how ‘Topsy turby’ things can get and how fulfilling and beautiful too. If you are like me, you’ve either quickly dismissed the thought of not getting married or almost wept. I admit, I don’t want to get married right away, but the possibility of not being able to frighten me. We will talk about that soon. But what about now? Good morning texts would be lovely, petty arguments, him noticing details others miss and random adventures would be nice. At least until we are ready to get serious, right?
I wish I knew before that ‘innocently’ getting to know someone just for the sake of it is one of the most unwise things we can do. It’s interesting how many persons broke my heart who never committed to it – Or how many emotional attachments I formed that only left me feeling used. Who do I blame for these? At first, God. But He didn’t text the guy or shared personal stuff or spent hours daydreaming about him, did He? I think not.
If you’ve searched your heart, took an inventory of your soul and mind, and you realize you aren’t ready for marriage, it’s best we refrain from being intentional about one person. Why? Life happens, our desires change, our feelings and our maturity. If you think I mean that you behave like a robot with the opposite sex from now on, then I apologize for misleading you. Honey, be yourself. Laugh, worship, talk (preferably in a group) just ensure you aren’t interested in that relationship above all else.
My current male friends are at an association level. I don’t imagine sharing my deepest longings, plans, hopes and dreams are beneficial to either of us at this point. They know what anyone else can know. Then, if I want them to know more, something’s up, lol, and I analyze why I feel the need to. We are responsible not only to protect our hearts but also our brothers and sisters’.
What If You Think You Are Ready but Aren’t Married?
That, I don’t have an answer to. I don’t know if the person you are interested in is your partner. I don’t know if he/she who doesn’t like you back will eventually turn around and love you. I don’t know if someone will finally look in your direction. I don’t know if you will get married. Does it make you sad like it does to me? Does it even make you angry? Do you feel that God is savage for not giving you a ‘good’ thing? If so, admit it to Him, the last thing He desires are lips that praise but hearts that refrain. C. S. Lewis says we ought to lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us. What’s in you? Take a moment right here and just say it. He knows it, but mere knowledge of your heart isn’t enough, but He wants access. To do what? Comfort, perhaps even an answer. If your heart refuses to be comforted, Marshal Seagal shares:
I love reading, it settles me. I find my struggles or questions aren’t original which is a bummer if you look at it from another perspective. But, it helps me finds answers, answers not spoken in everyday conversation. I have been eyeing Abraham for some time now, I almost despised him, he made it bad for us with his ‘father of faith’ thing. Listen, nobody could have gotten me to sacrifice a pet much less a child and yet there he was being all obedient and full of faith. I felt inferior, like I could never measure up to that but I wanted to, I really did. I need faith to please God right? So, I started looking, Moses opened my eyes to Abraham’s struggles and failures, and I exhaled, so he is normal, I can get there too then. Another author outlined the real reason he had courage for that trip to the mountains:
We have promises of unspeakable joy, abundant life, rest, peace, quenched thirsts. Can we trust him to fulfill them whichever way He chooses? What are you holding onto? God or His gifts? It is idolatry if we desire His gifts more than Him.
I am not dismissing your emotions or desires as illegitimate. They are real and sometimes overwhelming, I would know. Feelings respect nobody. That’s why Margaret’s words comforted me;
Let’s not forget we are in the middle of our stories. Our inability to trust that God has everything under control is dangerous. The enemy may whisper that your singleness is punishment or that He isn’t for your joy or happiness. That’s what caught Eve’s attention in the first place, the serpent said, “God knows this is will drastically improve your life, satisfy those longings, even make you more like him and yet, he withholds it.” He has a way too of allowing you to feel alone in your battles, but whilst you long for a partner, others long for a child, a job, healing, deliverance, the Holy Ghost, money, an emotionally peaceful home etc. Don’t let him isolate you, we belong together, we struggle together, we experience victory together. When people experience a loss or have the same interest, they find a support group. Why should we not? Don’t just look for people who will understand only, but people who will call you out when you wander.
Perhaps we need to be reminded who our God is too. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16), While we were yet sinners Christ died for us ( Rom. 5:8), I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), For my God shall supply your need according to his riches in glory (Phil. 4:19), I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1) He makes everything beautiful in his time (Eccl.3:11) and No good thing will he withhold (Ps. 84:11).
What to do now?
We do what we are born for. Worship. He made us for a purpose. What is God calling you to now? The beauty of singleness is undivided attention towards God. Don’t stay hung up on what’s missing, what should have been and start living. Or were you waiting on marriage to do that? Worrying about the future won’t change it, we are not asked but commanded not to. Do what will last, serve God wholeheartedly, make memories, be happy. Marriage isn’t a reward for faithfulness either, you serve because you love the God not what He can give. And if no ring reaches unto our left hands, I pray we realize we weren’t given the short stick; we will join Ann in saying: