Here’s to all the single ladies out there. And everyone else too.
This past semester I met the one true love of my life. It wasn’t love at first sight and it wasn’t at all what I expected, but there it was, plain as day. And I realized it right smack in the middle of Istanbul.
I was walking out of the Grand Bazaar when I saw him, as if for the first time. He was sitting on a brick wall, lighting a cigarette. Our eyes met and he smiled a smile that even Jay Gatsby could not imitate. He hung his leather jacket on the handle of his motorcycle and waved me over.
(Before I go on I want those who may be concerned to know that I was standing with my very large group and another boy from my group was already talking to this man, so I did not randomly decide to approach him by myself)
“Hello,” I said.
“Hello. What is your name?” he responded.
“I’m Jessica. Yours?”
“Ibrahim. Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Nice to meet you Ibrahim. No, I do not have a boyfriend.”
“Why not? You are so beautiful.”
“I don’t know, Ibrahim. I guess I’m just looking for the right man.” I said sarcastically.
“Well, you have found him. I am the man. I am the one.“ Ibrahim proclaimed.
“Really? You’re the one? All this time I’ve been looking for the right guy in America, and little did I know, he was right here in Istanbul!”
“Yes, you are correct.” he said confidently.
“I would like to take you out. Here is my card. It has my name, my phone number, my email, and my Facebook page. Please call me. I would like to show you Istanbul. If you don’t call me, it will break my heart.” he went on to say.
“I don’t know, Ibrahim. I’m pretty busy.” I responded, trying to politely avoid the situation.
“You don’t understand. We are two different people from two different countries speaking two different languages of two different cultures, but we have one love and love is always enough.”
Soon it was time to leave the bazaar. And so I left behind “the one.” I left behind his broken English charm and his studly moped. By walking away I resigned my life to being eternally single, or at least pledged myself to returning to Istanbul and happening upon Ibrahim once again. Fate brought us together once. We can only pray that it will happen again. I mean, I still have his card.
Many people spend their whole lives looking for “the one.” This ideal, this goal, is especially prevalent among girls my age, especially at my small Christian university. They either date everyone or refuse everyone, just waiting for their dreams to come true, just waiting for their Prince Charming to walk into their lives. We live with the mad hope that one day he will walk into the coffee shop, sit next to us in class, or call to us through the crowds in the markets of Istanbul.
But we have also seen a pendulum swing in this notion of “the one,” especially among Christians. While marriage is still very much expected for most, appropriate dating methods are constantly evolving. A generation or so ago common dating styles were prevalent in the church – date who you like, or who you might like, and eventually you’ll stumble upon the one. Then there came the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” movement, which called couples to courtship instead of dating and encouraged girls to pursue the cute, rugged, guitar-playing, youth minister-type who loved the Lord and would lead them to a better spiritual life. Now everyone is devoting their lives to singleness, adhering Paul’s advice and encouraging everyone to commit their lives to God in that way.
Regardless of what they’re doing, everyone’s talking about it all the time.
Well, let me tell you – I have indeed found the one. My true love, my first love, my last love, my perfect love has been in my life for several years now. And I don’t care if another one comes into my life.
If I discover a godly man who shares my calling and has the strange desire to spend the rest of his life with me, so be it. If I never find someone like that, that’s fine too. But I’m not waiting to stumble upon some particular person in Istanbul. I’m not going to pursue every person in sight wondering if they’re the one. I’m not going to marry someone just for the sake of avoiding singleness and hoping that I can transform them into the one. I’m not going to spend all my time thinking about it or talking about it either.
Because I have better things to do.
In the Garden of Eden Adam is working in the garden and God decides that he needs a helper, so God makes woman. God made Eve because Adam was not made to be alone. He was made for companionship and the only way that he could do what he was designed to do was with a companion. Adam was called to form one complete flesh with Eve, making them one complete person, whereas before they were incomplete. Later Christ exemplified this in his life when he completely loved the church by saving it and becoming its self-sacrificing leader, and one day the great wedding between Christ and the church will come and they will spend eternity together in Heaven.
The same goes for us. We were made for companionship. We were made to love others. We were made in the image of God, in the image of love. It’s not wrong to pursue that love, to pray for that love, to enjoy that love in your life. It’s not wrong to have in your life such a holy allegory of God’s love and a predecessor of the heavenly marriage that awaits. In marriage we become complete and are ordained by God to demonstrate his unconditional love to another.
But when sin entered the garden, women were cursed forever with “a desire for your husband.” Women were cursed with a longing for this companion, one that could consume them and destroy them, which has happened to so many women. This desire for another person defines them, causes them to change their identities, causes them to become completely foolish, and causes them to make very poor decisions.
But Christ redeemed us from this curse. He became cursed so that we would no longer suffer under the rule of sin. He takes the desire we have for a husband and replaces it with a desire for himself if we let him. We are no longer controlled by this desire because we have Christ, the ultimate love. Even Paul, though obviously biased, says it is better to be single because you can carry out the will of God without being deterred by the responsibilities as a spouse and/or parent. We don’t need a husband. Christ loves us and completes us sufficiently. If you do not have contentment in him first you will have contentment in neither singleness nor a relationship.
So, whether you’re married, single, looking for a spouse, or living in a convent, I have news for you – none of you will be holy without a completely committed relationship to Christ, but all of you can obtain it. It is the most important relationship that you can pursue, that you can have, that you can maintain. It defies and defines all other human relationships.
I don’t have to sit around thinking about dating, promoting courtship, or hovering over my wedding board on Pinterest. I don’t have to go on an internet tirade about the calling to be single or spend hours convincing people that it’s okay to be single. God doesn’t care which you choose, as long as you choose him first. You can glorify him to your maximum ability in both singleness and in marriage. I trust God and since I have put my life in his hands I know that if I commit to fulfilling his will that I will get married or remain single and it will be perfectly fine because that’s exactly what he wants me to do. Until that’s established in my life I will go on serving God as much as I can, by his Spirit, doing more than I can for him. By learning to love him more and further experiencing his love I can learn to love others more and allow them to experience God’s love as well. That’s what’s important. That’s what matters. That’s the only thing worth doing.
One day I’ll be in a wedding. It may not be on Earth with a planner, a photographer, and an Instagram hashtag. But I’ll be there and my dress is going to be way better looking than any celebrity’s, because it’s the one Christ made for me. It’s perfect. And my eternal life with him will be happily ever after. He’s most certainly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, “the one.” So all I have to do is get ready for that day, and every day in between will fall into place.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.