Last week I went to the beach. It’s been a little while since I dipped my toes in the ocean and boy did it feel good after all this time! I spent a few years living at the coast and ever since then, I’ve longed for the sound of the waves and the feel of sand between my toes.
Whenever I am at the beach I love to collect shells. I have collected so many over the years. I usually collect them with some great creative project in mind, but inevitably a lot of them end up in jars or bowls somewhere – pretty enough as they are without the need to add, alter or improve. A conversation today reminded me about the shells I had collected just last week. Most of them have already found a home on my windowsill, bookshelf or over such surface. But when I read my devotional today – all about love – I was reminded of one shell in particular.
Nothing special about this particular shell, really. Not shiny or large or remarkable in any way. Except that it is practically a perfect half. While my friend searched for perfect, whole, shiny shells, I found this one.
It’s a phrase we hear – or use – a lot: other half. Meet my other half, people say of their spouses. I’m still searching for my other half, people in search of love might say.
I’m still searching for my ‘other half’. Most days, the fact that I am single doesn’t bother me and I certainly don’t feel like I am only one half. Honestly, I don’t even think about it six days out of seven. But sometimes, that singleness is like an ache. When you see your friends and peers getting married, having babies, buying houses with their life partner; that’s when the ache kicks in. When all others around you are making plans, settling down, finding comfort in the arms of someone who they know loves them and honors them and treasures them, it can be easy to feel less than complete, to feel like just one half. And when times are difficult, and you want to cry, it’s hard without someone to lend a shoulder as only a ‘other half’ could. Sometimes, being the only one to make decisions, go on adventures or laugh at joyful moments, can be more than hard.
My devotional today was all about love. The kind of love only God can give. The kind of love that comes without judgement, without the need to meet any standard; the kind of love that never ends.
That’s some promise, isn’t it?! An everlasting love, and unfailing kindness. But that’s what we get. We don’t have to meet a particular standard, we don’t have to merit or deserve that love. God’s everlasting love was with us before we were born and will go with us into everlasting life. It is not based on what we do, say, or think. He loves us on our best days, and on those days we barely scrape through to dark. He loves us when we’re tired, grumpy, impatient, overwhelmed and overjoyed. Because his love is not about us, it’s about Him.
I’m blessed to have many people in my life who love me, and who let me love them. I am not alone. But sometimes, I do feel lonely. Does this promise of God’s everlasting love ease that loneliness? Sometimes. And sometimes it doesn’t.
I have not found my ‘other half’ yet. I believe that in God’s unfailing kindness to me, I will find him, just at the perfect time and perfect place that God wills it. Yes, sometimes I get impatient. Sometimes I get frustrated that it hasn’t happened yet and wonder – pointlessly – if it has anything to do with my somewhat larger waistline of late, or my tendency to talk too much, or if I am just inadequate. Sometimes I sigh at the thought that each move to a new place has always felt like a step closer to finding that person, only to not find that person after all. I’m not perfect: I still think these things, even when I know of God’s loving provision and plan for me.
But what I think, too, is that I do not have to find ‘another half’ to be made whole. I am made whole in the everlasting love of God. I take a step closer to that wholeness every time I love like he loved, with each patient moment with my students, each joyful memory with my nephew and niece, each listening ear and shared smile with my friends: they are all steps with – and in – God’s love. And when I do find my other half, we will continue those steps together.