For Ladies Only

By Carolyn Shields, thinking

I kindly ask that any guy friend reading this respectfully not continue. Many thanks!

I also ask for a certain amount of understanding, and for an open heart for those precious ladies that read the following. It may not be exactly what you want to hear, but it may be what our Holy wants you to hear today:

Hope.

It can drive us on for months: clinging to that hope that he will come back to us, holding fast to that hope that he will see what we have seen for so long, or holding onto that blossoming hope that he may start to pursue. This hope becomes our manna. But there will come a time when we can no longer simply live on this beautiful virtue, when interior peace will roar at you that it is needed more so than a cardinal needs the seed.

And sometimes we can't control our hope. It rages within our hearts like a wild fire, consuming our time and consuming our prayers whispered before a tabernacle that hosts a Living & Ancient charity.

But we need to stop living solely on this desire.

And that's been my reflection for the past six months, and it's finally coming together. How Hope & Desire are intertwined. For months I've been living off of this hope that this Current Man will finally claim this annoying heart that's been waiting on his doorstep, oftentimes in the form of cookies like the photo below (eep!). And why the hell not, I ask. Why won't he take this damn good heart? We find cistern jokes funny, we both stop in the middle of conversations to sing the same line to Switchfoot songs, and we both enjoy beer and dancing like total white people and overuse fist pumps on the dance floor. And there's a lot to this beautiful story, but the abbreviated point I want to make is that there was a certain point when I couldn't take it any more, living solely on hope.

Womenfolk, if your desire is causing you anxiety, restless nights, and disquietude, perhaps it's time to consider that Christ wants more for you then you know. You NEED interior peace more than you need this hope. And what is hope but the confidence in the faithfulness of God who will fulfill his PROMISES.*

I can't. You can. And You promised.

So here's my reflection: to achieve interior peace, we must find a balance of hope, love, and faith in our lives. We can't let one totally consume our hearts and neglect the other two, and oftentimes when we find this balance, it is a mark of our maturity as Christians. So when we have this blazing DESIRE towards a man, or anything really, I think it's important  to realize this: a desire is something that is a part of us. Forever I thought that desires require action, like a commitment, but when I found myself praying to God that He help me let Current Man go, and that this desire remained all the more persistent on my heart, I realized that this longing is something I must live with, something that is fastened on my heart and has become a part of it. How often have we been broken up with, and we become frustrated with God because we are doing everything we can to get over this guy, but He is allowing this desire to remain on our hearts? But He tells us in Leviticus 26:4,6: "I will give you rain in due season, so that the land will bear its crops, and the trees their fruit...I will establish peace in the land, that you may lie down to rest without anxiety. I will rid the country of ravenous beasts, and keep the sword of war from sweeping across your land." And I take this 'land' as the landscape of our mind, where those vexing beasts prey on our beautiful hopes. If we remain steadfast in our efforts to achieve interior peace, Christ will grant that and more.

So. What do you do when you find yourself hoping in a situation similar to one listed in the first paragraph above, when you recognize that this desire will not fade? Silence can not be understated. Nor can time. When I realized that I was living solely for this hope, not only was I restless and unhappy, but I felt a total lack of interior peace. How can we make him happy if we lack personal optimism? How can we offer him peace when we have none of our own? So a communication fast was needed in order for me to hope in the Lord and not in him. And yes, it was the hardest thing I've had to do in months, but womenfolk, if he's a good guy, he will try to abide by it. And it has been the most beneficial thing for my heart. Interior peace came flooding back, though my desire for him has remained persistent, and letting go has remained just as hard, but my hope is in the Lord again. And our relationship can only be stronger because of it.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.

Psalm 39:7

But to counter this period of stillness, or recognizing that this desire may not be immediately lifted off of our hearts, we have this virtue of hope which requires action, because to hope is to trust. Jacques Philippe writes, "When we hope we are not passive: we are acting." He goes on in Interior Freedom that to fully understand hope, we must be broken. We must be impoverished.

It could be said that, while charity is the greatest of the three theological virtues, in practice hope is the most important.

So I just finished my song for him. Will he ever hear it? Probably not. I've been writing letter after letter to him, oftentimes at 4a.m. Will he ever read them? HA, Lord I hope not, and he's read quite a few of my sappy letters. And simply the way he exists still makes my own heart beat more quickly, and yeah, that's a line from my song, and yep, that's me being sappy, and though I love talking to him about musicians from Seattle and why lukewarm coffee is better than a fresh cup, silence is a profound conversation when it takes place between you and our Holy.

So here's a conclusion:

  • Hope in the Lord, not in him. Do not sacrifice your interior peace for this hope you have invested in this beautiful man, because peace will always be needed more. Why? Because

  • Peace is the balance of faith, hope, and love. We acquire interior freedom to the degree in which we develop these virtues, and sometimes that can only be through

  • Silence and time. And the easiest way to do this is not by fleeing the country from him, but by a simple communication fast. And yes, it will be hard, even more so if the guy isn't abiding by your request, but I can't stress enough how totally beneficial it has been for my heart. The hardest part? Putting my heart before his, because I want to do anything possible to make him happy, but what I lacked I couldn't give, and it could only be through silence that I achieved it once more. And it will get a little easier over time. I swear it. Don't set a timeline. Call it 'A While.' If you make exceptions, follow them strictly. Consider cutting out facebook. But do whatever is necessary in order to achieve that peace, because

  • How can you give love if you feel it lacking in you? How can you gift happiness if it's hard to find within? Or above all, how can you offer peace if you have none? And how does one achieve peace?

  • Refer to Bullet # 1. Repeat.

 

*Coming soon: And You Promised. What did our Holy promise us? And also a break down on topics briefly touched on here, in For Ladies Only. Please leave comments and challenges and thoughts below! And if you have a specific question, shoot us an email via the Contact tab above!