Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trusting God with our deepest desires

I was emailing a friend today, and thought what I said to her might be something all of you would appreciate.

Just the other day I was thinking, for some reason, of this job I interviewed for in the San Francisco back in early 2005, when I was first trying to move out here from New York. It was somewhere near the financial district and I would have had my own office with a window (nicer than my present cube, to be sure), but it really wasn’t much of a job aside from that; I can’t even remember what the company really did, except that its chief significance was inviting me for the interview.

At the time, it was certainly discouraging not to get the position (mainly because it meant that I couldn’t move, which was the change I really wanted). But, I had been praying that whatever happened, I could rejoice in God’s sovereign providence, so after feeling sad for a bit (and probably crying), I went out and bought stuff to make sangria and a pineapple cake to celebrate what God had willed. (Somehow I needed to do something that physical and concrete to order my emotions! But it was surprising how quickly I actually did move on, once I had decided to try to embrace the outcome.)

It was a few more months before I completely gave up attempting to leave New York, but when I look back now, I can see that not getting either of the jobs I’d interviewed for meant not moving to California at a time when the guy I liked then and his circle would have been my main connection and when his church therefore would have been my starting place for spiritual community. It meant not moving at a time when I had no funds to cover a move, and not taking a job that wouldn’t have used my skills very well or been a great career move.

Instead, by seven months after that letdown, I had an agent and a book deal, I was beginning to learn to prayer walk for my neighborhood (which led to one of the most amazing seasons of prayer and intimacy in my relationship with God), and I got a interesting and challenging freelance gig as a curriculum developer that became the salaried part-time position which sustained me through the writing of the book. At the same time, I continued on an incredibly important journey of learning to live within my means that led to me paying off all my credit card debt last summer and enabled me to pay for things like last fall’s trip to India and the permission fees for all the songs I put in the book.

All these things in New York were so many, many times better than what I would have had in California, but God hadn’t forgotten my desire to move either. When He finally provided a way, it was at a time when two of my closest friends from college had finally committed to settling down in the Bay area and had a place where I could stay for the short time, when I had started to make female friends here, and when I had learned of a new church plant in Berkeley (the place where I had the most significant historical connection to the Bay area) that even had significant ties to my church in New York and was the new home church of my first Bible study leader from Redeemer. Moving at this time also meant that I got the money from the second half of my advance in time to pay the hefty cost of hauling all my stuff from Brooklyn (most if not all of which I would have had to leave behind in the 2005 move scenario), and that I wound getting the temp job that became one of the best and most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had, as part as of a great department and one of the best employers I’ve probably ever had.

Even then, I of course still struggle to believe that God could prove equally so good in providing for my desire to be loved and cherished as a wife, but maybe that’s because I don’t often enough compare the plan and timeline I had in mind, with the timing and manner God chose for fulfilling the deep desire of my heart to move.

It’s strange and not a little scary to be 30 now — in the prime childbearing decade of my life — with not even a boyfriend prospect in sight, but if God could be mindful of things like where I wanted to live and my apparent need for a car (more on that later), is He not equally mindful of the husband and family I’ve wanted longer and more than probably anything else in my life? Somehow I have to trust that God is worth opening up to and entrusting with the very deepest desires of my heart, because no one else has gone so far or sacrificed as much to fix the biggest problem in the world — which problem is why loneliness, broken relationships and death are even a part of life to begin with.

Afterward: Much as I wish I could write posts more like this on a consistent basis, I can’t promise this is the start of a new flow of fresh material, especially since I’m behind on work on what may be a second book. The funny thing about launching a somewhat cathartic blog is that, eventually (and I would hope four years is enough!), a few of the problems that were once central start to sort themselves out and recede in importance. That, coupled with the changes that having a full-time, “real” job and getting to know enough people in one’s new home to have a social life if not a boyfriend bring, largely accounts for the change in blogging here over the last two years, but especially the last several months.

Really, though, with the book out now, I feel like I’ve said most of what I wanted to about singleness. Moving forward, I’d rather — as one friend put it, kindly — be known as “hopeful in the city.” (Thanks, Charlie!) If you haven’t read it yet, it’s available at a price for every budget from Amazon (as you can see above), and I’m still sending pairs of signed bookplates to everyone who’s read it and wants to give a copy for a friend (email me with your name and your friend’s name and an address to send the bookplates to. If you have read it, don’t forget you can also help by writing a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads.

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