Lovestruck

This was the title of the post-valentine fellowship I attended last night. A friend invited me as early as the first week of February. And so I did come—as one of the panelists. (Hard to believe, I know. I laughed when I first learned it will be about marriage and singleness. I’m still wondering when I became an authority on singleness.)

So there I was, sitting with a wife of 16 years to my right and another slightly older single lady to my left. Two men joined us—the husband of my seatmate, and a bachelor who said he fasted for three days for three consecutive years while praying for a girl.

The organizer earlier sent us an email listing the possible questions. Knowing my tendency to experience mental blackouts in public, I wrote down my answers. How long should a lady wait to make the first move? If she’s a lady, she won’t make the first move at all. The patron saint of single ladies, Elisabeth Elliot, believes this too. View on Premarital sex? No, I go for sex within marriage. Virginity is the best gift a person can give to his/her mate. It’s OK to be awkward on the first night. Qualities of your ideal man; view on relationships via internet, texts, chats; things I liked most about being single—I had ready-made answers to these all.

But while I was ready for most of the questions, the first question one of the emcees asked wasn’t in the list at all. The question: “What makes you an ideal person?” (WHAAT?!) I had to ask her to repeat the question, wanting to make sure I heard her right. I did hear her right. She added: “What makes you saleable? What makes you the right choice for a man? What are your ganda points?” Uh-huh. Major embarrassment happening in the next few seconds.

I wish I had a clever quip to avoid answering the question. I said it was the first time I was asked this. With the mike on my hand, I realized I had to give them an answer—fast! My mind automatically went searching for files in my brain: Are you Ms. Right and Why? File does not exist!(World Peace! Can’t I just answer world peace?!) The first (note the adjective—I said 3 qualities. The nerve, MY nerve! Well, maybe I said 3 because I am a 3-points-outline Baptist!) quality I claimed was that if he’s the right man, I can assure him that I will be submissive to him. God has commanded women to submit to their husbands and that is what I intend to do. (Was that a good answer? I hope so! At least I was biblical—but biblical was not the second quality I said).

I will spare you the two other qualities I volunteered lest this blog read like a personal advertisement. The other single lady answered too, more confidently than I. But what struck me is what the wife next to me said: “Ladies, you don’t have to try to be somebody else to please a man. A man should love you for who you are.” True. I wish that were my answer instead.

More questions followed, revolving around the issues of love, purity, marriage. I said something about not living life on hold, shared a little about my experience with a guy who years before kept me guessing about his intentions, commented on how I cope with the frustrations of singleness. Did they even remember what I said? I realized only one thing matters. The audience can forget about everything I said but I hope not these two words: God’s grace. I testified that it is only by the grace of God that I am sustained, especially during times when I feel that life is unfair. God continually, patiently and gently reminds me that He is greater than my needs, more powerful than my longings.(Yes, I believe all these and more to be true, although admittedly there are some days when I have to say it over and over again to drown out the haunting sound of loneliness.)

Not surprisingly, the guest couple also points to the same grace of God that has kept them together all these years. They admit that theirs is not a perfect marriage but they are quick to reveal how beautiful married life is—albeit the occasional bickering, nagging unpaid bills, minor differences. With the wife inches from me, it was impossible to miss the tenderness in her husband’s eyes whenever he faces her. Dear couple, I think married life is beautiful. You didn’t have to say a word to convince me.

The husband concluded that Q&A panel discussion explaining, in the gentlest (yet still powerful) voice I have heard, how we all search for love. How we could only find deep fulfillment in the arms of God alone, not in a marriage or any other kind of relationship. How God first loved us, even when we were (and maybe still are) unlovable. I’ve heard these lines more than once before but this truth never fails to tug at my heart. God forbid that a day would come when the truth about His love won’t affect me anymore.

The title of the fellowship did justice to the night. I came away from Weekdays café lovestruck.

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