God Bless the Second Best
Jan 13, 2001

Romans 8:28 is one of those verses that is a nice church-phrase. "All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Many or most Christians learn this verse very early in their Christian walk. But actually learning how to live in the truth of the passage perhaps cannot be done until testing occurs. Or more correctly, perhaps it is testing that drives the Christian from a naive acceptance of the maxim to a fuller, better understanding of it. It's one thing for a Christian to quote the verse like a young child in a flower garden. It's quite another for one in prison to quote the verse. And it is yet another for an elderly man who has lived a full life. Perhaps only the aged (or the otherwise experienced) can best understand the truth of the verse.

Well, I am not particularly aged or particularly experienced, and so I sense in myself a rather immature acceptance of the verse. How much do I really trust God? In my current area of socializing and building relationships, I see this most clearly. For a very long time now, I have entertained the idea often that "I'm never more than second." In my brief experience, I have made tons of acquaintances, lots of okay friends, but only a few really good friends (which I think is normal). And in that area of super-friendships, or girlfriends, or significant others, or whatever-you-call-it, I see the fact that I have never really dated anyone (or whatever term you choose to use for it -- courtship, etc). Thus I have always been second best, or so it seems. Surely it's not proper to label friendships like this, but in my immature thinking it comes naturally and often. It sometimes feels like I could be perfect in every way that I had any control over, and it wouldn't matter. And (please try and understand) I don't say this just because "I need a girlfriend." I suppose it boils down to that, but it seems like a more noble goal -- someone to practice compassion with, someone to practice unfailing love with, someone to share the starry nights and trains (well, maybe) with. It would seem to be a worthwhile growing experience, not just personally, but spiritually as well. I have heard from at least one person that they really understood love better after being in "a relationship." I'd like to understand that better, but have not had the opportunity yet.

Now you see my sentiments for the verse above. In my mind, I can agree wholeheartedly that this really is not a big problem in the scheme of God's plan...trusting God will of course allow me to deal with whatever does or doesn't come my way, and I've learned that that is a truth. At the same time, though, there is still a longing -- a dream, if you will -- and I don't quite know what to hope for -- should I follow my mind and foster contentment in whatever case, or should I reach for the dream? Of course a middle approach is most appropriate -- keep the dream in mind, but keep my thoughts grounded in reality. It comes down to the old addage: "Don't seek out Ms. Right. You focus on being Mr. Right, and God will work out the rest."

I don't quite know how to express my response to that line of summation of the issue. I do try to live it out -- and I know that being Mr. Right is the right attitude for a whole lot more than just finding my soulmate. And I know in some "deep" part of me that God will work it out. But the waiting, the apparent unfairness of it, is disheartening. It is at those times, I believe, that it is most important not to give up hope -- not to trade my hope for a negative gloomy attitude -- and to strive to be "Mr. Right" in God's eyes and not just the eyes of those around me. That is my mission.

Happy day.
- Joe