Shelf Life

February 4, 2013

shelf

I have a shelf life of two years, three years max. Once I overheard someone say of me, “She’s obviously wife material, my only fear is her aversion to commitment,” and the words replay in my mind.

A friend told me last week the lies she tells herself the most are always in second person: you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t pretty enough, you aren’t enough. I tell myself the truth, though, when I use the second person: you won’t stick around long enough.

A man put his hand on my head many years ago and spoke these words: “He has given you a flexibility of spirit and there are those who will see you as a flitting butterfly, going from one thing to the next, but remember this: He has given that flexibility to you, He has made you adaptable and transient.” I looked up from under his hand into the eyes of someone who knows my soul well, knows its propensity to fly the coop. I smiled; she smiled. But she still cried when I last left her house on my trek back to Texas.

The blessing of my singleness has been flexibility. It is moving quickly and easily, changing careers every few years, worrying little about accumulation of things or resources. It can be a selfish existence, but it can also be the quickest way to remember every single day this place isn’t home and ought not feel like it.

The curse of singleness is the same curse on everyone—for man it is to work, to toil, and to commit; for me it is to birth, to nurture, and to commit. A pregnant friend told me once it wasn’t until after the shock of knowing a child grew within her wore off, that she realized she had to be committed to this. Nine months of her body shifting and shaping, with an alien thing in her that would come out—the labor process terrified her. But she was committed not because she chose to be every second of every minute, but because the blessing is also the curse: it’s a long painful commitment and there is no going back.

Though no child grows in me, and perhaps never will, I understand the angst of long, painful commitments, of nurturing when I feel like running, of entering in when I long to draw back. At times I feel unwilling to do this, to stay, to prolong my shelf life—I just want to go home. This week I want to go home to the northeast corner, some weeks I want to go home to my hometown, most days I just want to go home.

This morning I stopped on Romans 8 and stayed there, committed to it:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

I rarely think of corruption in the way I think Paul meant it here. To me corruption is Wall Street businessmen and the Russian mob, politics and big government. But it also means to crumble, to rot, to fall apart. This is what we’re doing, friends, all of us. Our shelf life is crumbling, rotting, and falling apart. We’re bound to do it, all of us.

But.

But the redemption of our bodies is not long off, not at all. And this, oh this, I can count on and commit to—it’s coming. If we’re His children, it’s coming. He’s coming.

And He has no shelf life or homesickness or fear of commitment—He’s in, all in, forever and ever.

 

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