I recently started up a new Bible study on the book of Esther. It has been a tremendous blessing just to study this book verse by verse, very slowly. As I was reading about Esther's three day fast before going into the King with her petition, I drew some similarities with my situation. A lot of my blog posts have dealt with the topic of contentment, something that is very sporadic with me. One day I'll be content, the next discontent, and back and forth. Contentment about what? Being single! It always seemed to be a very tough battle. And I always seemed to lose and let discontentment creep in. I realized that my way just wasn't working. I was praying God would bring along the right person constantly, all the time, knowing that God was saying, "not right now." I insisted on asking, and then one day I thought, "What would life be like if I finally surrendered that desire and just said, 'Okay God, no more asking'?" Although it had taken a very long time before I had reached that breaking point of surrendering to God's will, I decided to take a chance and submit. I just thought Okay God, three months- that's how much time I'll set aside in devotion to you, seeking you out, without ever asking you to bring along the right person. And so just like that, I started my three month campaign with the King, the one person on earth I'm supposed to desire more than anything. I really didn't know if I'd make it! Every time those words concerning marriage would fall on my lips in prayer, I'd stop myself, remember my promise, and then ask God not to heed those words should they slip out during those three months. After awhile of this practice, I felt very very discouraged. I didn't think anything was happening! I felt like I was trying to grow closer to God but utterly failing, picking myself back up, and doing the same thing over and over again. But little did I know that it was a subtle change that was taking place and would gradually become more noticeable later on. First of all, mom noticed that I wasn't talking about my issues with being single and not married. She noticed it though, and I didn't. And then gradually I realized my meltdowns and strong desires to be married had suddenly disappeared. Something else very strange started to occur- marriage suddenly lost all of its appeal. It wasn't enticing anymore. I suddenly started to enjoy this time I had to be all I could be in service to God and His kingdom. The appeal of singleness and all the work to be done in this period of life grew more desirable than ever to me. I started to realize that God was working in me, even though I could just barely see the changes taking place, they were drastic and good changes.
Although my commitment has thus far been a bit over a month, I have had no major problems with my single estate like I did before. Even though I feel like my efforts to wholly serve God have thus far seemed futile and slow, I've come to realize that God honors the effort to seek Him out and guides us to change. He helps us get up in the wee hours of the morning to lengthen our time with Him. He's there throughout our failures, encouraging us to continue on even if it seems like we are a hopeless case. It's ironic how a challenge that seems so insignificant could radically change my worldview. I was the one who had unintentionally made marriage an idol, who longed for it so intensely sometimes it felt unbearable. And during those times, I'd pamper this sin by asking God to fulfill my desires instead of surrendering my desires to Him and doing as He pleased. I went from one of those people to a person who is learning and re-training herself to desire God alone, to a person who doesn't think about marriage much and is truly happy with her estate. I would encourage those who are in the same boat to take the 3-month challenge. It really works, if you make a concerted effort. You're probably thinking, "So what are you going to do after the three months are over with?" Well, I might just take the challenge again if the Lord gives me the same answer, but I'm not so sure that I will desire to ask for that, since I know it all happens in His good time. I will keep taking this challenge until God changes my circumstances.