Pulling A Hagar

Josephine is staring down her 50th year of life and has never had a circle of gold wrapped around her left ring finger.

That fact bothers and saddens her.

As I tried to share words of encouragement, rancor crackled in her voice as she nearly cut me off.

“I’ve heard all that before,” she said. She quickly wiped away a tear before it could spill down her face.

“It used to help me. But I’m tired of waiting.”

Whenever I think of Christian women who are single, the train of thought always leads to biblical women who were childless.

Their stories of longing are abundant throughout the Bible and are rich with emotion.

And while the object of yearning is not the same, the intensity is.

Bitter envy, furious frustration, teary grief, and pure passion are seen in both wishes.

And the elongated duration of either condition, singleness or childlessness, can lead to pulling a Hagar.

Sarai, like Josephine, was tired of waiting.

The couple was well into their golden years; her husband, Abram, in his nineties and Sarai in her eighties.

God knew their desire and had promised Abram a son. But ten years had passed since then without the slightest hint of morning sickness.

So Sarai, anxious, impatient, and convinced of God’s forgetfulness, decided to fulfill the desire herself:

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” (Genesis 16:1-2)

But Sarai didn’t get the family she wanted.

She got drama instead.

“When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.” “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.” Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.” (Genesis 16:4-6)

Heavy yearning can blind eyes and invite trouble instead of turning it away.

I imagine that Sarai’s faith and hope had dwindled down to such a wisp that being a stepmother of sorts was better than being a mother of none.

But that arrangement was not arranged by God.

Sarai and Abram’s promised son eventually did arrive just the way God intended.

But the effects of Sarai’s tactic were still felt years later.

In the midnight moments, when the last drop of faith has evaporated, it’s tempting to pull a Hagar.

But it’s even wiser to wait for God. 

Tightropes and Sidewalks

Every so often, God refreshes my memory about the tightrope.

I walk a tightrope every day.

I know I’m not the only one because I see people behind and in front of me.

The wire gets tauter when we choose to thank God for anything.

It gets straighter when we say that Jesus is the Living God.

It gets super thin when we believe the Bible and its Words over anything else.

Day by day, we point our toes and try to place our feet on the wire.

Faith steadies us and we’re able to stand firm against the winds of the world

But knees buckle when we glance at those prancing on the wide and easy sidewalk.

I think that’s where Shannon was: smack dab in the middle of a buckle.

“I think I’m getting caught up,” she said sheepishly.

For the past month or so, Shannon had been pursuing a “friendship” with Jerome, a cab driver whose comedic style had captivated her.

Jerome was funny, gallant, and attractive.

Just one thing:

He had a live-in girlfriend.

He told Shannon that the relationship was dead and gone.

Yet, he still continued to live with her and made it clear to Shannon that he wanted more than just amicable days.

She sighed. Her eyes grew glassy and she dabbed at them with a balled up tissue.

My throat felt like it was cracking as I realized that she was contemplating something ill.

“I am so weary of doing good only to get nothing.

What is it all for?”

Tiffany’s knees were also trembling.

A couple of weeks ago, she vehemently proclaimed that women are ending up old and single because of the “God factor.” She herself had begun dating someone and subsequently deleted “relationship with God” from her suitor must-have list.

 “This is why women are bitter at 40. They want to have these men who have relationships with God but don’t give a fighting chance to these good men who don’t.”

Tiffany spat out her arguments like flat soda, always circling back to one thing:  Settle for deleting God from your requirements or suffer the consequences.

 The sidewalk is very attractive.

It can promise relationships.

Guarantee true love.

Assure you of success and triumph.

Surround you with a permanent slot in the ‘in crowd.’

Pledge to keep you rich with whatever you’re longing for.

It makes all these succulent claims. But never delivers. Never.

We don’t walk the tightrope to get a man or a woman. We don’t steady ourselves on a cord to be wealthy. We don’t grip our feet on a wire to be blessed with a house/car/clothes/job/friends/etc.

We do it because we love and want to please God.

That’s what it’s all for. 

Changing Times

It was my lunch hour some weeks ago. The tiny restaurant was filled with hungry customers so I was relieved and surprised when I spotted an empty table near the entrance. I plopped my purse on the seat next to me and was just about to take a bite of a sizzling hot French fry when I saw my cellphone light up. 

It was my mom. 

“I just want to say that you are such a good daughter. You’re always giving, you always show love, you care about others. You never gave me any trouble. I’m sure you’re a good friend too.”

It was an unexpected boost. I smiled as I soaked up her praise. But then, her voice tinged with concern, she said,

“I just don’t want you to be alone.”

I spent the latter part of the call reassuring her that my solo life will turn into a duet soon. But a part of me saddened when she said that. 

Whether she will admit to it or not, my mother has a very simple equation for a good life:


I think a lot of women in her generation know that type of math by heart. 

My mother was born in the 1950s, an era where the minute there was a Mr. to your Mrs., you were set for life. 

In that time, a single woman in her late-twenties was as rare a sight as a unicorn galloping in Times Square. 

Which is why it’s an enigma to her why a woman like me is still untaken.

Times have changed. 

For the large part, the need for marriage is gone but the want still remains.

So out of those that want it, there’s a section of us who want to do it with God’s help. 

Out of that population, there are some that have a not-so-minor prerequisite.

Out of that portion, there are some that have an additional requirement.

Such ratios don’t make dating and finding a mate impossible.

But they do make it difficult. 

Not good news for eager and concerned mothers.

During another similar conversation, my mother mused, 

“I’ll sure be glad when you bring home a beau.” 

I laughed silently at her use of the dated term and thought, 

I’ll be glad too, Mom. 

All That

Everyone has an unwritten (or secretly written) list of attributes, features, and assets that attract them to the opposite sex. 

Some men like women with long legs. 

Some women drool over men with goatees. 

Some men are driven by women with pixie haircuts. 

Some women are captivated by men who can croon and vocalize with the best of them.

For me?

 I think I’m pretty easy. 

I have no real preference. I’ve found myself attracted to men who range in height, education, complexion, weight, vocal talent, etc. 

But one thing that I find attractive is something that I can’t compromise on. 

It’s a nonnegotiable. 

A must-have.

A deal-breaker.

A relationship with Christ.

Someone who won’t look confused when I ask him to pray for me.

Someone who places His will at the top of his daily To-Do list. 

Someone whose relationship with Christ is so important that he knows Him before he even meets me. 

Not a perfect Christian. Not a perfect man. But someone who has a real-life relationship with Jesus Christ. 

And because of this, I was told that I want too much. 

“You have to be willing to give chances.”
“Men aren’t as spiritual as we are.” 
“As long as he believes in God, he should be all right. “
“You can’t expect ‘all that’.”   
 The feedback was unexpected and dumped me into a sea of thoughts. 

Am I requesting too much?

Maybe because I’m not as familiar with relationships as they are, that’s too much to ask. 

But if I’m doing “all that”, why can’t he?

I felt alone. 

Like I was swimming against the current. 

Going against the grain. 

Hiking up a hill while everyone else was sliding down. 

But after shedding a few tears and praying about it, I came away with a measure of resolve and assurance. 

I shouldn’t apologize for desiring someone whose walk with God is in unison with mine. 

can expect all that. 

And will. 

Thanks but no

“Who?!” The word shot out of my mouth in a high soprano and at bullet speed. 

 “Roy. The guy on the 4th floor.” My coworker’s eyes danced and her voice rung tenderly. “Don’t you think he’s cute? You should date him.”

I stood there in stunned silence for a second or two. Once I found my voice,  I said something to the effect of “Thanks but no.”

While I am single and waiting/looking, Roy didn’t show up on my radar for two reasons. 

Reason #1: We work together. Now, I have seen people succeed at turning a fellow employee into a mate. My aunt and uncle actually met at their job and still work together. So did my parents, come to think of it. But for every fairytale work romance, there are five horror stories.

There’s also the unique situation of healing heartache. I know my heart better than anyone else except God. And both He and I know that seeing my heartbreaker five days a week would make any emotional bruises heal at a snail’s pace. 

Reason #2: He’s not my type. I don’t expect to find the perfect man but I’d like him to have some of the qualities I’m looking for. I know that he’ll come with flaws but hopefully, they’ll be flaws I can live with.  Roy comes with one that’s a dealbreaker : Arrogance. When I speak with him for a project or task, I get the feeling that he’s dumbing down his speech. His head is always held high as if he’s wearing an invisible crown. It can be intimidating but I just see it as annoying.

 My matchmaking coworker told me she tried to introduce the Roy possibility to another young single coworker who shut her down…for all my reasons and then some. The matchmaker rattled off a list of reasons of why we should take Roy off the market:

“He’s cute.”

“He has a gorgeous smile.”

“He’s cut because he plays soccer. “

I smiled and refused again while walking back to my desk. A short time afterwards, Roy passes by my desk on his way somewhere else. He’s wearing a scent that is heavy and sweet and lingers in my space long after he turns the corner. A minute later, my phone rings with an update from the matchmaker:

“And he smells good.”

I burst into laughter. While that’s a wonderful thing, it’s still thanks but no.