I’ve always felt kinda guilty for wanting companionship in my life. You always hear, “You should be happy being single” and “God is the only one who can fulfill you” and while those statements are both very true and of course, are things I want and need, I have still always wrestled with the feeling that for some reason, I was wrong for wanting companionship over singleness. The thing is, I’d take it any day over being single. I believe that, not only can I can learn more about myself by being around others, but most importantly, life is just more fun! I don’t want to waste any of it being in a lonely funk. Of course I could tell you about my share of challenges and heartbreak in relationships, but I’m completely convinced that those people and those seasons in my life were preparing me for today.
The following excerpt, taken from an interview between Steven Fertick and Donald Miller, really opened my eyes to the fact that, not only is it completely normal to have a deep desire for companionship, but God wants to fill that desire. While Adam was walking in the garden with Jesus, with Him, he should have felt completely fulfilled, but he didn’t. He had a desire for a companion and God fulfilled that desire because he recognized that man should not be alone.
Read the following excerpt from an interview with Donald Miller. His perspective really opened my eyes and allowed me to remove that guilt and recognize my longing as something God designed.
An interview with Donald Miller | Breaking Bad Relationship Patterns
Pastor Steven: In terms of taking responsibility in a relationship, you say pretty strongly in the book that the human longing can’t be met in another person. The real human longing can’t be met through another person – can’t be fulfilled through a human relationship. Whenever I preach about relationships, people who may not be married in the church, kinda look at their watches – how many weeks is this thing going to go on because you’re going to tell me I don’t need somebody and you have a wife and all of that. But you did a lot in your life before getting married. You said you were 42 years old when you got married. And you had accomplished a lot. You wrote a book that was read hundreds of thousands of times and you made kind of an impact on the world. Would you speak to that now as someone who maybe has the credibility to say, “I went through that season and I accomplished some things and I dealt with the loneliness.” What is your perspective on what you call, the unfulfilled longing?
Donald: Well, I’ll say this: My years being single were, I don’t want to paint them as dark, they were fantastic. I traveled the world and got all sorts of stuff done. Probably stuff I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was married because I was just devoted to work and all that kind of stuff. So they were fantastic. So anybody that’s single and listening – just have a blast! I mean, and get some work done because that’s going to slow down real quick – especially when you have kids, right?
But I will say this – in terms of, you know, you can’t be fulfilled by another person. I agree with that. That is true. That only God can ultimately fulfill us, but I also believe you know, there’s this myth that Jesus will fulfill every longing of our heart. I do believe that, ultimately at the wedding feast of the lamb, and even in today, but here’s how he does it:
Jesus fulfills the longing for water and thirst with water. Right?
Jesus fulfills the longing for food with food.
Jesus fulfills the longing for friends with friends.
Jesus fulfills the longing for a woman, guess what, with a woman!
So all of that is how Jesus does it.
So here’s what’s beautiful about – you know, God is walking with Adam. There is no sin. So Adam should be completely and totally fulfilled if God fulfills every desire. But what does God say of Adam? Uh, he’s not complete! It’s not good for man to be alone. He’s lonely. Well how can he be lonely if God fulfills every desire of the human heart?
I’ll tell you why.
Because God put another desire in that guys chest for a woman!
And he withheld the woman.
And you say, okay, well then He gave him Eve.
No he didn’t.
God said, “You’re lonely- you cannot find a helpmate suitable. Here’s what I want you to do: name the animals.”
Now, Pastor Steven, if you were charged with naming the animals..we all have told it in a children’s way – that it’s going to be an afternoon in which you say giraffe, monkey, whatever. Even Darwin, on the Galapagos island, took YEARS just to chart a small microcosm of the species. I think, 10 years to 100 years of no woman. Period. So this longing – he didn’t just take the longing and fulfill it. He took the longing and made it worse! Made it worse! Literally made the man wait and work. Then, of course he puts Adam to sleep, as the story goes, takes from Adam a rib and makes Eve. Adam wakes up and sees Eve and it’s the very first place in the scriptures where you see an ancient form of Hebrew poetry called parallelism. It’s as though the text is broken into song. So here he sees this woman and he says, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. He broke into song when he saw her. Why did he do that? I’ll tell you why he did that.
Because God made him wait and name the animals. He had to work for it and he had to feel that longing. And what I love about, you know, I don’t want to discredit my wife, because she’s an amazing woman. But I guarantee you, one of the reasons I cherish my wife is because it was 42 years of naming animals. And you think I’m going to mess this up after 42 years? And so I think that’s one of the problems with sort of quick, transactional relationships. It doesn’t give us the chance to build up the desire which is embedded in pain. We tend to think that pain or loneliness is a bad thing, like you did something wrong.
Pain or loneliness is a gift from God to help us appreciate what will eventually be given to us when He blesses us.
Pastor Steven: You know the people who are hurting from loneliness are hearing that right now.
Donald: ..and hopefully are comforted.
Pastor Steven: I hope so too. I know what the enemy is going to tell them about that though. It applies to other people but not to you. That other people, maybe their loneliness is by design, but what you’re going through – you caused it. You know? Because we will always believe that we’re the exception to whatever gifts God wants to give. I love this picture that you’re painting for us right now – that God allows the void and sometimes creates the void so that He can that fill it with himself.
Now that doesn’t mean that God is going to withhold every good, perfect gift that comes from above and all that- we believe it. But you’re on the other side of this now saying, “I wouldn’t have known what to do with it and I wouldn’t have known how to cherish it if I hadn’t had to wait for it.
Donald: My wedding day was the happiest day of my life. I was never sure it was going to happen and we didn’t rush into it. We took a long time and dated and you know, did all that stuff. But that stuff has to be earned. You just can’t rush a climactic scene. You can’t rush it in a story. You have to have the tension. If you don’t have the tension, the climactic scene is going to be a dud.
Pastor Steven: You know what I like? We don’t think of our flaws as the glue that binds us to the people we love. But they are. Grace only sticks to our imperfections. That’s cool.
Donald: We spent the first year of marriage, both of us, kinda circling each other. It was really hilarious. We just kept talking about, when is the other show going to drop? Like, when is this gonna go south? It has to. It just can’t be….
Then we had this real beautiful paradigm shift of..what if God is good? What if God just says, “I actually want you to be happy. It was my whole design, was that you guys would be together.” Yeah, not everyday will be perfect. Betsy and I will argue sometimes, so we just made this commitment that Betsy and I are going to keep the drama outside the marriage.
To watch the entire interview go to Steven Furtick’s website.
Like Adam, God may not fulfill your desire as quickly as some people, but He does have a plan. You have to trust that His plan is the best plan. Sometimes God allows time to pass to allow that desire to strengthen, resulting in a greater appreciation for the companion He sends.
I encourage you to listen to the entire interview, as Donald makes some other important points. If I could give any advice to younger women who are considering marriage, I would tell them not to rush the process. Rushing leads to settling and settling leads to disappointment and failure. When you rush, you settle for someone, that in the end, you wish you could change. Instead, you should spend time figuring out if the person is someone you can allow to be who they truly are without feeling the need to change them because they don’t fit into the box of what you really want.
I would also leave them with this: That God truly does want you to be happy and there really are instances when He provides you with a partner that creates a deep joy in your heart of true fulfillment. I guess you could say it’s the fairy tale we all look for. We settle when we don’t think there is really a chance that we could experience a love like that, but we can and we will if we wait on God instead of rushing to fulfill our desire before our time.
What about you? Are you stuck in a relationship that is leaving you feeling defeated? Do you wish you would have given it more time? What are your thoughts on companionship? I hope you’ll leave here with a new perspective.