Faith Identity Relationships

Searching for Oneness

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That day will never escape me. I recall it as clear as I am sitting here right now, writing this. I was 21, on an 8-month university architectural internship in Lawton, Oklahoma. God spoke to me in the shower. Not some audible voice, but as clear as anything He told me “It’s time to start looking for a wife.”  Honestly, I’d been so pre-occupied with the rigors of architecture school that I had barely time to breathe! Sure, there were women I knew from the on-campus Christian ministry group I was active in back at Kansas State University, but it seemed every time I pursued a relationship, my grades plummeted. Beyond the pressures of school, internally, I still carried with me the unanswered question. “Do I have what it takes to love a woman?” 

Soul Ache

Somewhere along the way, sooner or later, the God-given longing in a man is for a love relationship. Back in Genesis, we read,

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

After a somewhat tumultuous high school season of life, college took me a step further away from mom and dad; becoming increasingly independent in a healthy-way. My soul increasingly desired a home of my own. A woman to love, have kids with, share life and grow old together.  Young warrior men want a purpose beyond themselves. As John Eldredge explains in his book Wild At Heart, to not make the pursuit of the woman your adventure. Rather, to pursue an adventure with God such that the woman is attracted to you and what she sees God doing in you.

I spent a lot of time wondering if the day would ever come when God would provide a wife. Lonely days piled up. Conversations with various women were amiable, but nothing turned my heart towards love.  

What’s a Guy to Do? 

There were days, weeks, months I went stir-crazy!  As one young man told me, he felt like he was pinging off the walls. How long must I wait?  Wait for what? Some awesome woman to walk through my bachelor pad front door? Am I supposed to join some on-line dating match app? Are these single days a waste of time? There’s got to be more than watching sports all weekend or holing up with my laptop at the local coffee shop for hours on end, diving into some theoretical universe.

“Pursue me!”  “Was that you, God?” It would be another 8 years before I got married. During that time, I graduated from university, spent a summer in Europe doing a missions internship, found a job in an architectural firm, passed my architectural licensure exam, and bought a house. Most of all, I pursued God. I sat at his feet. Listened. Learned. Grew in my love for Him. I’m not a perfect guy, just ask my wife, but I can tell you this, I was learning intimacy with my heavenly Father that helped me love my wife as Paul talks about in Ephesians 5.

Listen to this song by the Australian group, Hollow Coves. Patience. (Link at bottom of this post.) It speaks to the heart of a single guy wanting a wife. While he waits, he grows in patience and builds his life on the Stone. 

What Happens Next?

In the end, for me, my love story took some unexpected pauses. God used a matchmaker to introduce me to Sandy. She was living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, while I hammered it away in Kansas. After a year of “dating” between two countries, it all came to a halt. I didn’t know this at the time, but that “halt” became twenty-two months of silence. More shaping and testing of my heart. Was I pursuing God so I could get the girl, or was God my life regardless? The other side of the coin is God was doing an awesome work in Sandy while I waited with patience. Eventually, the silence broke. Another letter. Another rendezvous in a neutral city. This time the relationship would take the next steps. “Will you?”  and “I do!”  The day we got married in a small church in Ontario, we had seen each other for all or part of 52 days over the course of four years (which included 22 months of silence).  Thirty years later, I look back at what seemed at the time very lonely and confusing eight years of waiting as a single guy. Now, I see it as a time of refining I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What Goes Through a Guy’s Mind?

When you are dateless. When you’ve gone through multiple relationships where nothing pans out, a guy gets to wondering. “Is there something wrong with me?” We all need refining. When a dating relationship ends, there is grief. The loss can be excruciating. All hope seems lost. A young man’s desire to love a woman is cut short. “Will, I ever love a woman? Or will there be more pain?  I fear pain. I fear not finding love.” As a young warrior-man sat across from me explaining those very thoughts, I felt his desire, his longing. And, in that, I also heard him say something I hadn’t heard come out of his mouth before. “While I wait, I’ll let God build in me the kind of man that will make a godly, loving husband, and dad, someday. “  What are you doing while you wait?

Patience by Hollow Coves

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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