When Your Hope Chest Is Full and Your Ring Finger Is Empty

Disclaimer: This post is not a generic blanket-statement regarding all who have no spouse in their house. It is written in love, from my firsthand experience (and therefore from my limited viewpoint), with a desire to lift up the weary arms of those who from time to time find themselves questioning their current marital status.

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About twenty-five years ago, my friend Diana gave me two mugs and made me promise not to use them until I was married. I kept that promise, primarily because I simply forgot about them most of the time. Every now and then, I’d open the cedar hope chest where they were stored, and I’d think, “This is silly. I should just go ahead and use them since it’s clear that I’m never getting married.” But a promise is a promise, so I’d close the lid after taking out Mugs Worth Waiting to Usethe blanket that was stored there, and they would be out of sight and out of mind.

About a month ago I once again found the mugs in that cedar chest, which now serves as a decorative place for extra storage in our guest room. But this time was different! That night, my husband, Joe, and I enjoyed cappuccino from our “new” mugs while sitting by the fire.

I find it no coincidence that in the weeks since then, three different individuals have asked me this question: “When do I ‘give up’ on hoping that I’ll ever get married?” For those who are new to following this blog (and, “Welcome,” by the way!), it may help to know that I was married just a little over five months ago—for the first time…at the age of fifty-five. So to some who are longing for marriage, I am a great source of hope, because, “Hey, if Brenda can get married in her fifties, then there’s hope for me too!” To others, I am their worst nightmare: “You mean, I may not get married until I’m in my fifties? Ugh. I don’t want to be her!”

No matter the viewpoint, the answer to that very common question of, “Should I give up hope that my dream will come true?” is the same for everyone, regardless of their age or their reason for having no spouse in the house (single, divorced, widowed). However, the initial answer is as double-sided as the responses to my wedding-day age! The final answer generally depends on the attitude and motive behind the question.

I believe there are two guiding factors in the answer to this question, and both are found in Scripture verses.

Think on Truth

Ask yourself this question: “What is true about my marital status today?” The key word here is today. You can’t change the past (though you can learn from it), and you don’t know the future. But you do have the truth of today. And today, there is no spouse in your house. Yes, I know that some of you have lost your spouse within this last year, and I cannot fully fathom the changes you are facing. But I know that truth, God’s truth, found in His Word, is unchanging—and so is His love!

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NASB, emphasis mine).

Today, and every day, fix your mind on what is true—God’s Word! In focusing on the promises and truths in Scripture, you will also more clearly see a simple, earthly truth: today, there is no spouse in your house. But let me remind you that you don’t know what God has for you tomorrow, so don’t use up the gift of today worrying about it or wrestling with the “what-ifs” that tomorrows always seem to hold. Use the gift of today to its fullest. Use your skills, talents, and abilities with joy. Reach out to others with empathy in your heart. Serve God in the place where He has you today.

Is it wrong to dream about tomorrow? To have desires/hope for tomorrow? To plan for tomorrow? No. Of course not. But allow me to lovingly share that dreams and desires must never become demands. (I previously wrote a blog post on that very thought. Later, you can find it here.) God created you. He knows your frame (personality and traits), your desires, your hopes, and your longings. Therefore, the most joyful hope of all can be found when you focus on His truth, because He knows, cares, understands, and is Himself the Truth (John 14:6).

Protect the Playground

As I’m writing this, I am reminded over and over again that these two principles are true for every faith-friend reading this post—whether there’s a spouse in her house or not, and that means that they are true for me as well! God’s Word was written for all of us!

I shared the story of my stored mugs because each of the women who asked about “giving up” on her dream of marriage mentioned having a closet area, drawer, or box filled with “someday” items, ranging from a wedding dress to baby clothes (yes, you read that correctly) to “His” and “Hers” towels. So before you mock them or become defensive of your own tucked-away-for-future-use items, let me share that while I think it can be wise to buy ahead and plan ahead, with every purchase you are risking the likelihood of increasing the size of the devil’s playground.

You see, the mugs I received were gifts. Additionally, I did not go to the hope chest for the express purpose of staring at them, holding them, and dreaming of the Mr. Wonderful who may or may not one day hold one of them in his hands while sitting by the fireplace. I did not use my own resources or tell God what to provide for me. My playground had a fence (the confines of the cedar chest) protecting it. Yet often, those with no spouse in the house will purchase items such as these under the guise of “faith,” citing that they are showing God their faith by purchasing what they, in the moment, believe to be the wedding dress of their dreams and telling Him that it is a demonstration of their belief that He will fulfill their desires.

You may be far more capable than I would have been to avert the attacks of the evil one. I, however, would have become discontent, sullen, and probably even angry if I would have had a space where those items I had purchased would have served as frequent reminders of my solitude. But even if you feel that you can handle it, let me lovingly just remind you of the principle that the Bible itself states:

“Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27, KJV).

My personal paraphrase of this verse would be: “Don’t let the evil ick have any real estate in your heart or mind where he can build a playground!” The best way to do this is to follow the words of the psalmist in Psalm 119:10–11 (NKJV): “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (In other words, meditate on His unchanging truth!)

As you protect your mind and heart from the distractions that the evil one throws your way, you will have the freedom to speak truth to yourself and others. Go ahead—dream, hope, plan wisely, pray. But focus first and foremost on God’s Truth, because it will greater enable you to dwell on the truth of His plan for you today, and it will more fully strengthen you to positively protect the playground of your mind!

God’s Truth is enough—more than enough—for all of us!