Soul Breaks and Heart Throbs – My Struggle Against Loneliness

 This is going to be a personal post.  As part of my resolve to keep this blog from getting merely heady, I’m going to share my heart:

I feel that a man’s heart may be more easily broken than a woman’s.

A man, a man of courage, needs a fight.  A man, a man with a heart, needs someone to rescue.  A true honest man needs both. That is what chivalry is all about – not that a woman is incapable of helping herself, but a man is given worth when he is in the act of opening a door for someone, or fighting for someone… even if that someone never sees him again.

In Genesis it is written that “It is not good for a man to be alone”.  That was even before the Fall!  This longing to not be alone is what ought to drive us men to give of ourselves. We have a deep longing to serve, a deep hurting for a help-mate. We don’t desire just friendship (what a cop out that is!), but something deeper, something purer, something dangerous, something beautiful.

It has been very hard these past years as I have seen many women I have liked enter into marriage with someone else. It has also been hard to see many men enter the challenge of marriage while I am left alone.  It feels as though I am trapped in the kiddie pool while there is great adventure for the real adults in the deep end (those who have taken the plunge) and it’s not by my choice! Recently, in September, my heart was crushed after I had confessed my feelings toward someone after 6 months of dating and was quickly and ambivalently told that I was delusional and had wasted my time with her (it was in an e-mail too – the medium of the message hurt deeper than even the message itself).  That hurt… at the level of my very being.

So far my experience in this realm has been deep chronic longing punctuated by a impaled heart.  I don’t want to hurt anymore.

C.S. Lewis writes in ‘The Four Loves’:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Yes, many people including myself will give up from time to time.  They do not want to be vulnerable anymore.  They do not want to feel pain.  They always want to win so they will retreat to their bastions of security in their private worlds of sports, computer games, busyness, movies, mess and distractions – those small worlds under our control.  Those counterfeits however do not give any relief to the deep longing for someone to share a life with, someone to share their love with, someone to be there.  In Proverbs 12:12 it says:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

So I have to say, my heart is very sick of waiting.  What good is a joy deferred if it is unknown that it will ever arrive?  What good is a joy deferred if it may never be fulfilled? That is my main contention against those who say that there can still be this same sort of empty loneliness in marriage: when a spouse leaves on a business trip, at least there is a assurance that they will return. A married couple has vowed to be with each other till death; they have pledged their hearts to each other. A single person does not have the assurance that the longing of his heart will ever be fulfilled.

It is in those empty nights, those lonely days that hearts yearn for companionship.  It is in those moments when we leave our distractions that we see ourselves as truly and utterly alone.  The thoughts of doubt creep into the minds of single guys (like me) that it is too late – all the good christian woman are all ready taken.  God has already blessed them with a spouse. All that is left are the mere scrapings from the bottom of the barrel of life.  I feel like Diogenes of Sinope carrying my lamp in the daytime, searching for an honest woman. Perhaps Soloman was right in Ecclesiastes 7: 27-28 (“Look,” says the Teacher,“this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things— while I was still searching but not finding— I found one upright man among a thousand,  but not one upright woman among them all.”) There is going to be a certain point, maybe I’ve already crossed it, that it will be impossible to ever find someone – if it will ever be possible to fulfill the longings of my heart.  How long should I carry that lamp… that torch?

Often I feel like that poor soul whose heart gets ripped out in ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ whenever those deep pangs of longing hit.

But then, what does my heart long for?

There was a great blog post on Reclaimingthemind.org that is entitled God-never-promised-us-a-mate/ that convicted me.   There was another fantastic article here:  Single-and-lonely-finding-intimacy-you-desire.  It said that a spouse is not God. A wife can never replace God.  A spouse is there to bring one closer to God.  Then I heard of the wonderful story of William Lane Craig’s wife (which he shared on one of his podcasts) discussed here: Is-it-ok-for-christians-to-marry-non-christians/ . It is good to be discerning, it is good to have a correct focus.

My focus must be not be on myself or on just anyone anymore.  I must have a holy charge.

What then is my charge, what is my dream?  I want to challenge to world, to be a force to be reckoned with, a force worthy of respect. I want to fight hard, bleed hard, sweat hard, to earn and wear a token from my future love proudly into my daily battles. Then someday make… that lucky woman my bride. In short, I must become a brave warrior.  I hope someday find to a woman whom I have proven that I am willing to fight the whole world to just be with her – as by then I would have already done so.

My heart cries out – will I have that chance? I sincerely hope so, that is why I desire to fight the windmills of this world.

Why do I fight? Is it for her? No, I fight because that is what I am charged to do.  If God brings a woman into my life, she will be in for the wildest of  adventures with me.  If God brings a woman into my life, we will fight not just for ourselves but together for the Kingdom.

So in this public forum let me declare what I hope and pray for (hoping that I someday will be blessed with a honest epic fight, a honest wonderful woman or God-willing both… soon). I do not desire a wispy elf maiden: there one day and gone the next – one that disappears when life gets tough or when her feelings change. I desire a shield-maiden of the kingdom, an Éowyn. A brave warrior of a woman who fights with a bravery and ferocity that rivals any warrior, and yet cares deeper than any mere lover.

What does that look like?  First some advice from the aforementioned William Craig article:

“And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning… herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.” – William Craig

What does my heart yearn for?

1. A woman who worships and serves God, not herself (or me).  I am not the center of all things, neither should my potential future wife be.  God ought to be first is all things; not mere feelings and not wasteful pleasure. I think I have learned the folly in not looking for this first.

2. A woman who uses both her heart and mind.  To many women (and men for that matter) feel with only their heart.  That is a selfish love.  That is the love (if one can call it that) of hoarding and/or escape.  I cannot and will not tolerate anyone whose main goal in life is escape.  If her compass in life is just her fickle feelings, she has much growing up to do, as she will run when her feelings change – when life gets hard or just on a whim. On the other hand caring only with the mind is also selfish love.  That is the love (if one can call it that) of distance and/or escape.  Either way she must not be trapped in vices or live a life full of distractions. If life is a battle to be fought, or a great adventure, then there is no room for cowards who run and try to escape into collections, horses, wine, pets, food, spending money, or anything else when any difficulty in life hits.

3. A woman who can defend the Kingdom in a way that I cannot.  We must complete each other.  Women have an amazing power that men can never obtain.  She must have honed this power of true beauty… of femininity (and I true masculinity as well) by knowing that she is worth the pursuit – she is worthy of life, not mere existence.  In addition to that, she must know apologetics and how to defend what we believe – not with vague intuition, but with bold assurance.  She must know the Word and follow it.

4. A woman who has not turned bitter through the trials of life.  Too many women I see dress immodestly because they have lost their self-image.  Too many women I have seen spend all their time bickering like hens over the smallest things.  Too many women become embroiled in petty things forgetting the greater purpose they are called for. I would rather stay single than get hen-pecked by people who have no goal in their life, get entangled with a shrew that only cares about looks, or lose my way in the petty distractions of escape.  Goals give us the courage to walk through the trial and tribulations of this earthly life.  She must have a goal. This goal must be more than just pleasing herself..

Is there a woman who even fits these standards anymore? Do I have the Faith to see these fulfilled? My heart wants to say yes, but there is that voice of doubt that says it will never happen, that I have missed the boat a long time ago.  Perhaps romance is dead – as for me I believe that it is still alive and well, even if I never get to see it in my lifetime.

A man’s heart is continually broken every day when he is alone – for it is not good for him to be alone. That is why I say that a man’s heart is more easily broken.

If a man’s heart is broken too much it may never come back…

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9 comments

  1. Thank you for picking up my article. Your words here resonate very well with me and I appreciate your transparency from a man’s perspective. For the past two years that I have been in seminary, its been like being in a fishbowl watching the festivities of mating. The CS Lewis quote and Proverbs 12:13 have been repeated in my head more times than I care to count. Sometimes waiting is indeed hard but I believe there is a purpose in it all.

  2. Ben- Your blog speaks to me deeply. We’ve talked about these things many times and I commend you for sharing such issues of the heart so openly.
    God will reward that I’m certain.
    I’m convinced that waiting is the hardest spiritual practice there is. Remember your trials when waiting to hear back from CWI? I’m in the same boat now and hear the voice saying, ‘it will never happen now, it has been to long.’
    This situation resonates with the theme of my life it would seem. God had to clear the cobwebs of my life in order to get me to a place where I even understood I wanted to be married to a woman. He Has come through and I do desperately desire a wife and children. However, even though I’ve seen Him come through time and time again, I still question whether these things will happen. In a bit of self reflection, it seems we spend more time questioning God than we do following His will for our lives.
    Right now I’m really hurting but reading this and reflecting on these things has helped me a lot.
    Let’s hang out this weekend and seek God if you’re available. It’s time to be the men of action we say we are.

  3. “If life is a battle to be fought, or a great adventure, then there is no room for cowards who run and try to escape into collections, horses, wine, pets, food, spending money, or anything else when any difficulty in life hits.”

    I thought I had seen everything illogical, unreasonable or outrageous written about women by Christian men, but I was wrong. I had not yet read this statement. Most certainly, now I have seen it all.

    Real Christian women, who are normal, and not a figment of anyone’s imagination, have hobbies and other interests besides reading the Bible, praying, going to church, cooking dinner or cleaning the house.

    All of those things are good things, but that is not all that there is to life. Expecting a wife to never go out and spend money sometime when she is ticked off by whatever criticism her mother-in-law or some parishioner has tossed her way is unrealistic and kind of sad actually.

    There is probably a woman like what you describe walking around the earth somewhere, but I would not want someone I cared about to be covenanted to her for life. You may find a hamster floating in your soup.

    Look for a normal Christian woman. You will be much happier.

    1. Mindi,

      Thanks for your input, however I see that you did not really read my post. Instead it seems you are attacking a strawman (pun intended) of your own invention – that or one that Megan created on her blog.

      A Godly woman or man for that matter does not escape, is not passive, and serves more than his or her desire. Instead he or she confronts, constructs, and serves Christ. Obviously that is not all he or she does but it should be the guiding principle for all believers (even the non-married ones).

      Perhaps you should read some Proverbs 31 (the passage was written for men to guide them to choose wisely) before making any unwise accusations just like I need to read it before I make any unwise choices of my future mate.

      1. Not to belabor the point, but I was not attacking anyone else’s strawman, I was commenting, albeit a little harshly, on simply one of your comments, which rankled because it denigrates Christian women who do not live up to a pie in the sky model. I think you are on a Quixotic search.

        I am familiar with the Proverbs 31 description of a virtuous woman. It is used in many worthy books for teaching Christian woman, books such as, “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace. I also know from my experiences teaching younger women that many women are very intimidated, rather than motivated by it.

        Proverbs 31 is not a description of a 20 something woman, but a compilation of descriptions about a woman’s entire life. If you are using it to find a wife, you will be marrying a very old woman.

        Another important thing for you to keep in mind is that the husband of the virtuous woman does not criticize her or endlessly sermonize her, he praises her. Pleasing her husband is the motivating factor behind her life’s work and calling.

        Paul also mentions this in Corinthians. Women who are not embittered toward their husbands want to please them.

        In closing, if you find the woman you are looking for, don’t sermonize her, criticize her, compare her to your mother, write lengthy didactic blog posts to her, or tell her that she can’t have a hobby, a spending money or a collection of anything. (I certainly understand nixing the horse idea. Horses are outrageously expensive. If you wife has a horse, you are spoiling her to no end.)

        I re-iterate my earlier advice. Find a nice, normal Christian girl,one that loves Jesus more than she loves you. Love her unconditionally, praise her and enjoy her. She will no doubt develop into the womam God wants her to be.

        In closing, I bet that even the virtuous woman went to the mall to blow off steam on occasion.

        1. Mindi,

          Thank you again for your input. It was wrong of me to assume that the pingback brought you to this blog post. I do apologize for that assumption and my tone because of it.

          The whole of Proverbs 31 (as well as other passages) does not take a woman off the hook saying she can be these things later. They are an ideal for her to obtain through every choice she makes both before and after she is married. More importantly than that however is that they are written to the single man for him to choose a wife wisely. I suggest you read the passage and not just read about it. (That is an error I am prone to as well).

          Having unattainable ideals is not a deplorable thing. If fact they help us. It is these ideals that push us forward toward being more Christ-like. God has tremendously high standards for us! God has them for us – hence the law or the higher standard of grace. I expect my future wife to have them for me for I know she will hold me to the standards the Bible has for husbands and fathers.

          I know I am far from where I ought to be but that does not mean I should not try to be where I ought to be. If that means I marry late – it’s better than making an unwise mistake.

          The Word does state for a man to choose a wife carefully (to have high standards).
          Proverbs 21:9 “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
          Proverbs 27:15 “A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike.”
          Proverbs 11:22 “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.”

          These were written to a son – but the door swings both ways on wise marriage decisions to both men and women.

          The think the major contention here is still over escapism. I never said a woman should not have a hobby. I said that the woman I am looking for should not escape into that hobby (or whatever). That will lead to the deadly slow separation that many marriages run into, where the couple loses focus on the other and only pays attention to themselves. I’ll even go one step further – it is even wrong for a woman to escape to her husband too. He is not God. It is also wrong to expect a woman to be God as well. All escape is idol worship and selfish. When life gets hard women and men should confront the difficulty with dignity and God’s help – not by running into passive diversions to numb the pain.

          I do however agree with your advice to love a Christian woman and she will become the woman God wants her to be. Christ did that for the church – and He is the standard that we all should follow. I will take that to heart.

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