Depending on the statistics you find, roughly 70% of the church in China is female. This leaves an obvious problem: In a nation where such a small percentage of males are Christian, where does this leave the young, unmarried Chinese woman? Aside from the obvious question of whether or not to marry an unbeliever, there are questions much more subtle and often overlooked regarding how one should see this issue in light of their walk with God. In this revealing article, published in the online magazine Territory, one millennial shares how a broken relationship led to a revelation of something much deeper that was amiss in her own life, and how things began to change once her eyes were opened.
Jing Jing (Born in the 80s)
I seem to be standing before a towering “wall of pain.” Over the past few years I have invented various methods to get around this wall, to jump over it, or to dig a hole through it—but nothing has worked. And, ultimately, I found myself back in the same miserable place, waiting for God . . .
After I turned 25 I started struggling with deep anxiety over the issue of getting married. Every few months I would become incredibly and inconsolably anxious, a condition which lasted for seven or eight years.
In early 2013, I walked into an experience that left me in a state of extreme distress. At the end of 2012 I had met a man who was not a Christian. We got on really well and seemed to be in tune with each other. He was eager to officially establish our relationship with the goal of moving quickly toward marriage. When I expressed a desire for common beliefs and values, he responded with an immediate willingness to accompany me to church and learn more about my faith.
My past emotional experiences were all very simple, with my one previous serious relationship being fairly superficial. In my heart I was always waiting for that one person God would prepare for me.
This man rekindled my hope, so I was very excited. Not only did he express willingness to learn about my faith, but it had been many years since I had felt so mutually invested in pursuing a relationship with anyone.
I thought, "I've finally passed through the storm and found my silver lining”! I even imagined that God was finally giving me "more than I could ask or think". However the reality of things developed very differently than I had hoped.
This man quickly realized that going to church meant giving up his opportunity to sleep in, among other things. After weighing things out he decided that he couldn’t accept this faith, and that our relationship would not be able to continue.
My mother and relatives asked if maybe I had pushed him too hard, but in truth even though I expressed that I was willing for him to slowly explore Christianity and then make a decision he said he was unwilling to wait. He wanted to come to a conclusion in regards to belief by the start of the New Year.
Not only that, but his concern over the cost of believing was becoming increasingly evident, and I realized that, being a very pragmatic person, sooner or later, he was going to reject the gospel.
"Why do you insist on this condition of a common faith?" many of the people around me asked. "Can't you first marry him and then allow him to slowly come around to belief?"
However, I didn’t regret my decision, because I knew myself and I knew that I couldn’t bear an unequal marriage on this point. A few years ago, when I first established this principle, I knew that I was choosing a very narrow path.
For a month after we broke up, sadness filled my every waking moment, and with this sadness there was a great sense of disappointment. Intellectually I knew I had made the right choice, but in my heart I still often railed at God. “At first I didn't expect a lot! Why would you rekindle this desire in me only to disappoint me?”
God did not answer my question.
To a great extent my sadness stemmed from the fact that in 2012 I had used more energy than ever to examine myself and to try to root out any weaknesses. And then, at the end of that year, I met this man and I thought it was finally the end of bitterness and the beginning of sweetness. But my moment of joy came to nothing, leaving me empty-handed.
I was also disappointed because for seven or eight years, I was trying to be optimistic and kept convincing myself that I could grow from all failures. However, in the end, I got nothing in the areas of relationship and marriage. This time, I really was exhausted.
Amazingly, it was during this most painful period that for the first time in my life I became aware of Father God's presence with me moment by moment. Even though he didn’t speak, I hid in his arms and prayed. He comforted me by being with me.
Slowly I began to realize a significant flaw in my life. I was more eager for a relationship with a concrete but limited human than with God. Many Christian marriage experts say, “before one can fall in love with another person, they must first fall in love with God.”
And it is true that “troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.”
In reality my relationship with God was never particularly hot or cold. The thing I most thirsted after was intimate fellowship with other people and it had ultimately become my idol, my “god.” This rift caused an unending season of misery for me.
I was always holding my heart back, hoping for the love I might draw from others, but I discovered that no finite human could satisfy my heart’s deepest desires. In fact, even my father and mother who loved me were unable to fully satisfy this desire.
In regards to our relationship with God, the Bible offers many metaphors: father and son, the most intimate friend, husband and wife—among them all, the highest level is that of husband and wife. Once I understood this, I decided to put my heart in his hands for safekeeping.
And when I turned back from seeking the world around me and looked for God instead I found that he had always been there.
During that season God continuously manifested his presence to me in my devotional times. There were moments when I shut my eyes and focused on him in meditation, only to hear him say: “I never left you! I’ve always been here. I made you with my own hands. I love you with an unlimited, boundless love. Don’t avoid me, come back to me. Not once, not twice, but come back every time—come, let me wipe away your tears, let me come close to your ear and whisper, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’”
This is what Jesus wanted me to hear.
As soon as my Lord spoke, I no longer had any place to hide. Around April or May I was completely free from the emotional entanglement of that former relationship.
However, my anxiety over the issue of marriage itself was not completely cured. In September I found myself once again churning in anxious thoughts.
Once, in the past, I got into an argument with a brother in the church. Suddenly, he threw out the sentence: “Why don’t you hurry and find someone to marry?!”
I suddenly realized that after a few years in the faith I was no longer terribly impacted by how outsiders saw me, but I was in fact very caught up with how my parents and the brothers and sisters in the church saw me—.and that could really affect my mood.
On the other hand, I also became aware that even more of my anxiety came from the pressures in my own heart. I never expected that my emotional journey would be so hard, and that life would drag on so long without leading me into marriage.
During that time my spirit and mind were weighed down to the point where I actually started to lose my hair. I saw myself standing before a “wall of pain.”
In recent years I had come up with various methods to get around this wall, to jump over it, or to dig a hole through it—but nothing worked. And, ultimately, I found myself back in the same miserable place, waiting for God . . .”
In the past I became resentful whenever my anxiety rose, never bringing myself before God. But this time I decided to bring my questions before God.
One day during a devotional reading my eyes caught on a phrase, spiritual fortitude. Spiritual fortitude exceeds patience and determination, having the deeper meaning of “absolute confidence and approval.” That is, one is convinced of the attributes of God, and the one who believes firmly in God will never be defeated.
God said: “You’ve never had this confidence in me! Otherwise you would not be so filled with self-pity, regret, and complaint." This sentence shocked me and the aftertaste lingered for a long time.
Finally, I made a decision. “From now on, I will trust one hundred percent in your sweet will! I will willingly accept your every choice.” Previously I had told him that if he didn't let me marry before 30 years old I only had these words for him: “Not acceptable!”
Thus, my mindset began to shift. God helped me to understand that, regardless of whether I marry or not, in this earthly life I must learn to believe in the invisible reality of the Lord, and that he is even more important than the visible, tangible reality around me. After I received this answer from God I found myself very happy.
After enduring the raging “fire on the altar” year of 2013, marriage no longer bound me the way it used to. The nature of my search for marriage also changed drastically, and instead of marriage, complete unity with God became the primary goal of my life.
Although at times I still feel some sense of discouragement, the overall frequency and level of my anxiety has reduced significantly. I now also realize that true “waiting” bears an attitude of hope. As Lu Yun said in “Being Ever Mindful,” “we should continue to imagine that there is a voice saying, ‘I want to give you a surprise; it’s something you can hardly wait for!’”
This is truly living in the moment, getting what God wants for me out of each and every occasion. My true hope is not in marriage, but in firmly believing that God will ultimately meet my heart’s desires.
Original article: 四个单身女子的“双11”自白 (Territory)
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