Resignation? Acceptance? Contentment?
These three words have been on my mind this week as I have wondered if they generally mean the same thing – particularly as they apply to the single life. It’s obvious by now if you have followed this blog that I am a never-married single who chose early on to follow Scriptural principles in all areas of life, especially the single life. However, let me say up front that I have never felt “called” to be single, and have dealt over and over with a deep desire for marriage which is based on mutual spiritual beliefs and intimacy – body, soul, and spirit While facing the distinct possibility that marriage may never happen for me, I’ve traveled through the states of all three words with varying degrees of heartache.
Resignation: submission to a feeling that the way things are cannot be changed; a deliberate giving up; unresisting acceptance of something as inescapable.
For many years I struggled with the “what” and “why” questions:
- * What if I had made different decisions in my 20s?
- * What if I missed someone significant because I was distracted by any number of life issues?
- * Why is God ignoring my deepest heart cries?
- * What am I doing wrong?
- * And the biggest question of all: What is wrong with me? ? ?
Keeping hope alive was a painful proposition. Romans 5:1-5 gives a list of life experiences – mainly tough stuff – and includes the words, “hope does not disappoint.” God heard from me a lot about that phrase because it seemed that there were brick walls directly behind what I perceived as open doors with great regularity. I tried major online matchmaking sites. I traveled to singles groups within a 50 mile radius. I tried any number of suggestions from friends – including blind dates – to no avail. The results were disappointing. And so, somewhere over a period of years, I quietly slipped into the state of resignation. Frankly, it was far less painful than trying to keep hope alive.
In a post early on in this blog, I wrote of the realization that: “My quiet resignation was not confident acceptance of God’s good intent in my life. It was belief that, for some reason, God was withholding the one earthly desire I wanted the most. Being resigned did bring some emotional relief, and I was quite settled in it until the Holy Spirit gently peeled away layers of bitterness and distrust and showed me how dishonoring [my] resignation was to God.” (Covenant is for Singles, too)
Acceptance: receiving what is offered with satisfaction, acquiescence, approval
I believe that for me, resignation was a type of unwitting and unspoken vow over my life which made daily living feel less distressed, but which was keeping me from a significant relationship with the Heavenly Father Who made me – with desires intact for intimate relationship. Moving from resignation to acceptance was hard – sort of like walking from a dark room into the sunshine. Just as it takes the eyes time to adjust to seeing things clearly without pain, it took time to look at this acceptance as a covenant with God, partnering with Him in His faithfulness – with less heartache.
Psalm 73 was a camping out place for a long time. The Psalmist affirms God’s goodness and his intent to follow God faithfully. But, he contrasts his health and comfort with those who are not following after God. He is sick, cold, hungry, and poor; they are well, warm, well-fed, and wealthy. He laments in verse 13: “surely in vain I have kept my heart pure.” But then, he discovers that God is not so interested in his present comfort as He is in his present relationship with God. He concludes that those human relationships are fraught with disappointment, but the ultimate satisfaction comes only with persistence, perseverance, and intentional following after God’s counsel and guidance. He says in verse 26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (NIV)
Contentment: rest or quietness of the mind in one’s present condition; satisfaction
It has taken a long time to get to a consistent place of contentment, but I can honestly say I am truly contented – most of the time. I still talk to God about the desires of my heart – which still include a spouse to grow older with. At the same time, there is a growing realization that I can be satisfied even with permanent singleness. I learn more daily about enjoying the world around me, relishing time spent with folks who care about me, nurturing time in God’s word and prayer, taking time to grow in skill in a number of hobbies, keeping my fingers nimble at the piano – and indulging in Agatha Christie Miss Marple DVDs.
Well, those are the thoughts for this week. How about you? Where are you in all this?