“Hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Psalms 13:12
And…? Every time I read this verse I search the rest of Psalm 13 for the “So, in order to heal-or mend-or assuage-that sick heart, you…” But no, in the midst of statements (that sound to me more like Proverbs than Psalms, but I’m no theologian) about sparing the rod and spoiling the child or speaking harshly leading to ruin, there is no immediate answer to “hope deferred.”
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Great. Well thanks for the heads up David, but I probably could have figured that out on my own.
My hope deferred- marriage. I want to be married. I hate to admit it. I feel like a sap. I feel like a silly girl. But there’s no use denying my heart. I want to be chosen. To be taken care of. To be held. To have sex.
That hope hasn’t happened for me yet. So I feel lonely. Most the time I can numb this feeling by hanging out with friends or staying busy with work. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s not. The other day I had planned on working on a Habitat House. When I got there, they had more than enough workers so I left. I had an instant stomach ache because I knew that I would have nothing to do all day. And when I have nothing to do I think too much. I get lonely. I get depressed.
But I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. I’ve been filling my soul with good friendships and rich conversations.
Then my roommate starting dating someone. Then my other close friend started dating too. I don’t have any single friends anymore. The following weekend I worked a marriage conference where I was literally the only single person in a room of 50 couples for two days.
But despite the emptiness that comes with loneliness there is also a richness. And today I can enjoy the creativity loneliness brings.
Loneliness has prompted me to move to two different states, where I didn’t know anyone, to pursue career and personal goals.
Loneliness has helped me reflect on my identity and work to shape it into one I can be confident in.
It has prompted me to develop authentic relationships and value genuine friends.
It has prompted me to drive north of the city to go hiking alone on a snowy day.
It has prompted me to take up rock climbing.
Loneliness has prompted me to go on fantastic road trips.
It has instigated traveling overseas.
Loneliness has taught me how to cook (and that I like to cook).
Loneliness has taught me to realize that I still need boundaries even as a single woman, and that it’s okay to say no.
It has encouraged me to accept that I am a good person with good things to offer.
Loneliness has taught me the richness of drawing close to God, because at times he’s all I’ve got.
So the answer to the sick heart in Psalm 13 may not be found in the Psalm. It may not even be found here on Earth. Perhaps it’s like Susan Issacs says, that “our loneliness can never be filled with even the best of human love. Maybe the longing for human love is just the beginning, and the longing for God is always the end.”