Troubled by My Boyfriend's Past
I Want Somebody to Love
Q: I love God very much and I do feel his love, but it doesn't seem to be enough. I want romantic love, too, a part that God himself can't fulfill. I have talked to many people about this empty feeling, and they all say I am looking for a father's love. But I have a father, and I know he loves me very much. I'm not old enough for a husband to fill this void, and I don't feel I'm emotionally ready for a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Still, I fantasize about having a guy in my life to talk to and cuddle with. I have many close guy friends, but it's not the same and doesn't fill the emptiness. What exactly is this void, and how can I fill it?
A: You're feeling something everybody experiences, to some extent. It's part of being human. The feeling is made up of two parts. One is the longing for a human partner. We get a glimpse of this longing in Genesis 2:18: "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'" God recognized that his creation was not complete without man and woman to complement each other. The longing you feel is partly this: You haven't yet found the person you're meant to partner with. Some (not all) of the longing will be fulfilled only then.
But there's another part that will never be filled in this life. It's the part that longs to see and experience God "face to face." This is the powerful urge Paul expressed by saying, "I want to know Christ" (Philippians 3:10) even though he was already a Christian. This is what Paul means by saying "Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don't know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us" (1 Corinthians 13:12, CEV). On both counts, you're not going to feel that void filled right now. You're not ready to get married. And you're probably not going to heaven for a while. You're going to live with longing for a while.
That's not all bad. Sometimes feeling that void can help motivate you to be a better person—to prepare yourself for your marriage partner, so you'll have a happy marriage, and to prepare yourself for God, so he'll like what he sees when he meets you face to face. You might ask yourself: "Knowing I want someday to fill this void, how do I prepare? How do I need to change in order to become more pleasing to a future partner and to God?"
Some people pray each day for the person they'll someday marry. You don't know him, but God does. You can ask God to keep him from temptation, to help him to grow, to strengthen and deepen his character. Then pray the same prayer for yourself.
You can also pray about the day when you will "see God." In fact, that prayer is part of the one Jesus taught us to pray: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." We all have to live with longing, but it's a wonderful thing to know that someday our deepest longings will be filled.