I am curating stories for a blog project called, “Found Wanting.” (If you’d like to submit a guest post, learn more here.) During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’"
The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”
Was it too much for this man to hope for healing?
What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?
There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.
Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.
I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. I'm neither applauding nor condemning their stories: rather, I am amplifying their desires - and reminding each of us that to be human is to want. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I write, “Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”
To catch up on the series, read these featured stories: Amy Chaney, "I didn't want to be a coach's wife." Beth Bruno, "I've wanted beauty." Wendy Stringer, "I didn't want to move to suburbia." Steve Burks, "I've wanted to produce entertainment." Faydra Stratton, "I didn't want a child with Fragile X." Brook Seekins, "I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa." Sarah Van Beveren, "I have always wanted to be strong." Holly Pennington, "I didn't want to find out what I wanted." Larry Shallenberger, "I wanted to know what I wanted." Hannah Anderson, "I didn't want - because I couldn't afford to." Megan Hill, "I want your blessing." Bronwyn Lea, "I wanted a boyfriend, college scholarships, permission to sleep over at the popular kid's house." Jennifer Tatum, "I've wanted to be a woman of faith, but . . ." Sarah Torna Roberts, "I didn't want to be broken." Suanne Camfield, "I want a bigger house." Courtney Reissig, "I wanted a baby." Cara Meredith, "I've wanted it all." Anonymous, "I want to not want marriage anymore." Deborah Kurtz, "I wanted a husband." Ben Jolliffe, "I wanted nothing."
Today, Charity Singleton Craig shares her story of desire on the blog.
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I wanted to get married. From a very young age, I desired to be a wife and a mother. I didn’t know I would one day have those things, not the way friends of mine have known they would be a pastor’s wife or would have lots of children or would one day be a missionary. Knowing would have been easier. Instead, I wanted.
When I was in college, I met lots of other women who also wanted to get married. Many of them did get engaged and presumably became wives. I know, because every time a co-ed got a ring, we’d all gather in the lobby of our residence hall to discover the lucky girl. We cheered and clapped as a candle passed around the circle of friends. We squealed and hugged when the bride-to-be blew out the candle and placed a ring on her finger. We ached and held back tears as we filed back to our rooms. When would it be our turn?
For years after college, I wanted to get married. Though I moved a lot, in each new city I would find a church, try to get involved, and at least visit the singles group. I put myself “out there,” as others would recommend. I went on a few dates when asked. I became friends with men and accidentally fell in love a couple of times when they were just looking for someone to pass the time with.
Then, life got more complicated. Illness, death, heartache, disappointment: these were my constant companions for years. All around me, difficult circumstances actually made my singleness easier. My best friend’s journey as a widow and single mother, my dad’s heart surgery, my step-dad’s cancer: I was available for them, and I wanted to help. Then, my own cancer and infertility made marriage and motherhood seem impossible.
Yet I still wanted to get married.
At times, during all those years of singleness, I tried to give up wanting. The hope of possibility became a bad joke. I felt like an old maid in my late twenties. By the time I was 40, the flicker of desire seemed silly. I couldn’t say, as some might have wanted me to, that my desire for marriage hadn’t become an idol in my heart. Sometimes I longed from a pure heart. Other times, I didn’t care what it cost me. I wanted to get married.
Then, just like that, everything changed. I met Steve, we dated for six months, we were engaged for two, and then we were married. I became a step-mom to three sons. You got all you wanted, people will tell me. True. I love being married and having a family. But I had many great years being single, too.
At my bridal shower, surrounded by friends both married and single, I knew I had to be honest. “Getting married is not the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” I told them. (Not exactly the romance they were expecting.) I explained, “Knowing Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to me. He has been faithful to me during years of singleness, and I know he will walk with me during years of marriage.”
That’s what I’ve learned about desire. Whether we lack or whether we have, we always find our way in Him.
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Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, bringing words to life through essays, stories, blog posts, and books. She is a staff writer at The Curator, a contributing writer at TweetSpeak Poetry, and a content editor at The High Calling. She also is the co-author of an upcoming book on the writing life (T.S. Poetry Press, 2014). She lives with her husband and three step-sons in Indiana. You can find her online at charitysingletoncraig.com, on Twitter @charityscraig, and on Facebook.