An experience of unrequited love. What should I do?Name withheld.
Thanks so much for your questions and for sharing your heart. How hard it must be to see someone that you have come to love look past you to another. Perhaps your feelings include the natural deep desire that many of us have, to be married. You have responded to God's call to missions in obedience, and you have trusted Him to meet all your needs. So, what about this one?
Let me remind you, or something I know you know: you are ever so deeply loved by God and very precious to Him. The One who called you is loving and faithful and fully aware of your suffering at this time. At the same time, how totally natural and human it is to struggle with James' advice “to count it all joy” when, as you mention, you face such a difficult trial like this one.
Three texts come to mind as I pray for you: The first one is from Philippians 3:10. In a very real sense you are sharing in your own way part of "the fellowship of Christ's sufferings." (God's plan for Him did not include marriage, despite His loving friendship with Mary and Martha.
Paul found joy in trials, not so much because of the trials he faced, but in knowing that as he suffered those trials, "he filled up in his own flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions" (Colossians 1:24). You are suffering what so many single women (and men) are suffering and have suffered and you can pray very empathetically for them, even as you pray for yourself!
Lastly, I think of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. "The God of all comfort," wants to comfort you with the comfort He gave His own son, a comfort you can now or later on share with others. This is an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord and invite Him into your pain. Give it to Him, ask Him to comfort you and to help you bear it; ask Him how you can take the unrequited love you so deeply seem to feel and express it to others in His name or even to God Himself.
It is very mature of you to see this experience as a trial. James says we are to consider it “all joy” not because joy easily comes, but because we recognize the ultimate fruit of patience. In other words, James calls us to take joy in what will ultimately result from this experience, not necessarily from the experience itself. The author of Hebrews mentions that Jesus knew that the end result of his passion would be fruitful and that gave Him joy. Therefore, He endured the Cross, but hardly found His actually suffering a joyful experience!
If the enemy has added to your trial, by flaunting the person before you, ask Jesus to protect you. Renounce any idolatry involved, where this person has become the central object of your thoughts and feelings and ask Jesus Himself to stand in that place and protect you with His comfort and love.
As you reflect on these things, it's also a good time to explore your own feelings. Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish the difference between an “infatuation,” a trial from the enemy, and “true love.” I don’t know how long you have known the object of your affection, but all of us can so easily build "castles in the air.” The enemy loves to torment us with our own imaginations, especially when we want something so badly.
True love on the other hand, involves mutual growth and development as we spend time with someone, share each other's vision and purpose in life, dialogue and grow in intimacy, and see one another in various circumstances. We share our care mutually and the friendship and love grows and deepens. This takes time.
Finally, a last practical suggestion, it might be very helpful to avoid unnecessary contact with the one who draws your heart. In other words, protect your heart as much as possible and move one, even before the year is over.
Thanks for sharing. May God Himself minister to you.