You know what I just started to realize in the last few days? That there are a lot of things that I have been putting before God. It was shocking to me! I would have denied it if asked. I don't put other things before God. There are many commandments that I need to work on, but I'm good on the first one! Or so I thought.
Here is at least a partial list of things that have caused me extra grief because I had them before God on the priority list:
-Control. I'm okay with being somewhat flexible with my plan, but the main bullet points have to be checked off or it's not okay.
-My ideas of how to serve God. I feel called to serve God as a wife and mother. I see a lot of beauty in that vocation. Therefore, I should serve Him in that way, right? It's for God so He HAS to say yes, right?! (That was rhetorical, but the answer is no, no He doesn't.)
-Consolations. God! If You actually loved me, You'd take away this pain by fulfilling my vocation or taking it away, or at the VERY least help me through it! Of course what I actually meant was that He should help me feel better. He absolutely has helped me through it, but He certainly let me feel it sometimes.
-Knowledge. Fine, God! I'll go where You want, but exactly where is this going and how long will it take to get there and how much work will it be and how should I prepare and what should I do. Don't let me feel stuck because I don't know what's next.
You know what's fascinating to me? By valuing those things more than I valued God, I obviously also valued those things more than I valued other people. It makes so much sense, but I am so slow! People are important to me, but they also take a back burner to some of these things that I have thought that I needed.
Some of those things were things that I thought were just a necessary part of following God. But they aren't because they are not, themselves, God. Serving God is a good and necessary thing, but I need to be willing to do so in whatever big or small ways that He calls me to. If all I want is to serve Him, then it shouldn't matter if I am single or married. Same goes for serving others. I will never turn down any consolations that God would like to send my way, but they are not God, either. If I am seeking them, I am not seeking God.
Really, I think it all comes down to control, though. Which means that I want to be in the driver's seat more than I want God there. I am placing myself above Him. And that's a crappy order for my priorities.
I'm not trying to say that I've done it all wrong or that I wasn't trying to put God first. I was trying, but didn't realize how much I was failing. And I think He blessed my trying by helping me get it all straightened around. (Okay, by taking another step in the right direction. This is clearly a LONG process for me.) It led to me seeing the last few years in a little different light.
It took me this long to realize that I was seeking fulfillment in things other than Him. That when those "things" that I sought were withheld from me, I felt it was horribly unjust, but if I hadn't been broken, how long would it have taken me to figure out that I valued those particular things more than I valued God?
In other words, I said,
"I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax,
my oil and my drink."
But my Beloved said,
"Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns;
I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers, but not overtake them;
and she shall seek them,
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say, 'I will go
and return to my first husband,
for it was better with me then than now.'
And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished upon her silver
and gold which they used for Ba'al.
Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
my wine in its season;
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness."
And He may have allowed these things I needed to all be withheld from me, but not for my destruction, but in order to bring about something better. In everything I have sought I have found nothing, but in the end, He says:
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And in that day, you will call me 'My husband'.
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice,
in steadfast love, and in mercy.
I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.