June 5, 2012 by J. Truett Glen
I haven’t been single for…well…for a long time. Although there was a time in the Dark Ages when I understood the unsatisfied longing for intimate companionship, I have to listen to the testimony of others these days in order to remind myself what it is like. In some ways my wife and I have been blessed to have been surrounded by single adults for so many years. I believe that it has been a check on what could have become an inclination to only see a “functional” Christian life through the language of marriage and parenting. Instead, we have listened to and learned from those around us who struggle to make Christ the center of their life, without the easy crutch of using marriage as a metaphor. My friend Jonathan Nichols is such a person.
I got to know Jonathan about 5 years ago and have been building a closer friendship with him ever since. I had some false assumptions about him when we first met that I have since shoved aside and have taken the time to listen to Jonathan and his struggles and victories. Just recently I had another such talk with Jonathan and I was greatly encouraged. We talked around our usual topics of Bono and the Church, but we also talked about singleness and hope. At some point in our conversation he handed me his phone and said that he wanted me to read a poem that he had written. I was excited to read what Jonathan had written, in part because he is a very talented and imaginative man and also because he looks into life deeply. He is a dear friend and I was blessed by what he wrote. I will leave you with his poem, for it needs no further explanation. Let his words sit in your soul for a while and see what comes of it.
It Is Funny: reflections on a birthday
It is raining gently outside my window.
I hear so much during a rain.
A loud truck rumbles by on the road
but somehow, to my ear, it is almost noiseless
next to the soft spray of rain
from its tires.
A makeshift stream shuttles down the
gravel drive, shooting out the drainpipe.
Reminds me of a creek but I already
know that when I look for it tomorrow
I will find no trace. I’ve looked before.
Raindrops, hanging on to all the leaves and
branches, drip at last when a breeze
comes through. They make it sound like
it has suddenly begun to rain again
as they all let go together.
And I am thirty-nine years old. And I
think it is funny- I have not changed
much since high school but I am not
nearly the same.
I think that I am old to be a single man
but I feel young to have found the at last.
It is the at last I have sought from infancy
and now I have it! For I have learned
at last that there is no at last. Not here.
As much as I desire it, there is no final satisfaction
on earth. There is no thing, no person, no event or
occasion which can deliver an at last. All things will
disappoint, will fall, will fail.
I glory in a truth that is not my own
but which has been given to me:
Christ alone is the at last, and this truth,
no matter when you learn it, makes you young!
Indeed, I am born again, made alive in Him.
I thank You, God, for all that You teach me. I want diligently to submit to You and to seek and obey the Father’s will.
I have seen new things that You have gifted me with. Gifts that humble me and calm me and make me silent before You. Lead me in Your way everlasting!
Rain has begun to fall again. I know I do not
hear every drop that touches ground but I do discern
a lot. Give me ears to hear and heal, Father, and
may I speak the words You give to me.
– Jonathan Nichols