My Life as a Single Woman
When I was in my 20s, I was the pianist in the wedding of many of my friends. However, I honestly could not fully rejoice with them because, well, I was single, an NBSB – No Boyfriend Since Birth. Hence, I would go to the weddings alone. Sometimes, it would hurt that the wedding invitation would say, “We prepared one (1) seat for you.”
In my 30s, the pain of being single was more pronounced – most of my friends were married, and the wait (physically and emotionally) wasn’t getting any easier. I would stifle heavy sobs with my pillow as I cried to the Lord whenever loneliness kicked in. I remember one time, my mom had to hold me tight as I wept because a ministry co-worker whom I thought liked me found my being in a leadership position intimidating. I knew back then, and even earlier, that my mom had been praying for me to have a husband.
Unbeknownst to many—even to myself—my outward devotion to ministry covered up deep-seated insecurities and the fear of men in general. And yet for every major service I did for the Lord, I expected to be rewarded by God; if He would please give me what I was longing for – a man who would love me and accept me for who I was.
However, because of my fears and insecurities, I did not know how to treat my suitors kindly. I had judged many of them. And once I found someone whom I thought was smart or good enough for me, I struggled to follow the command, “Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.” I fell for someone who did not love or know the Lord. At first, even my mom encouraged me to entertain him even if she knew he was not a believer. But then, when she saw I was spending more time with him, she started to warn me. My heart would expect something more every time the guy called.
But that’s all there was. Just when I would give up on him because I would wait for him a long time to show interest, he’d call again and make me hopeful. This cycle went on for 7 years. I knew the Lord didn’t approve of it, but I kept praying and hoping. Then the Lord intervened. The phone I was using to communicate with him was stolen. Prior to this, I had never lost a phone. Somehow, I knew this was the Lord’s way of helping me get out of the relationship.
A Twist in the Story of My Life
As I entered my 40s, things began to change. At first, I thought it was my hormones going haywire. Maybe it was partly that, but I believe it was really the Lord doing something new in my heart. He was calling me to leave the place I thought I would be retiring from. I had been a seminary instructor since the time I graduated from college. The seminary was where I spent most of my waking hours, mentoring beloved students. I thought that was my calling. If that wasn’t hard enough, the Lord also wasn’t telling me where to go from there. The urgency to obey was so heavy and so confusing, it drove me to my knees as I cried out to the Lord: “Lord, how can I leave this ministry? I don’t know where I’m going!” And the Lord unmistakably answered with His Word. I was dumbfounded to know it was even in Scripture: “And Abraham left, not knowing where He was going” (Heb 11:8). I knew in my heart that God wanted me to obey Him in faith, even if reason found it illogical to do so.
The next season saw God deal with me in ways I could never have imagined if I had stayed where I was. God called me out of the Philippines to be trained for cross-cultural missionary work. Or so I thought. In a foreign country far from the comforts of home, God confronted my insecurities, which for many years led me to being inwardly proud and judgmental. He made me realize that my fear of men stemmed from an unhealthy fear of my earthly father, which then translated to my inability to fully trust Him, my Heavenly Father. I was both scared of men, and yet I yearned for men. I scared so many of them away because of my fear of rejection (and many other fears). I resented my own weaknesses and cared too much about what other people would say. I strove to be accepted. My identity was so linked to what my hands and intelligence could produce.
Experiencing the Father’s Love
But God, in His mercy, showed me that I didn’t have to earn His love. I didn’t have to work hard to prove myself. In fact, I had nothing to prove. I was a sinner after all, but I was God’s creation; I was His child in Jesus, beloved and accepted. Jesus gave His life to prove it. That was my worth; He was my security. Before I could serve others, I first had to experience God ‘serving’ me so I would know what service truly meant—and it meant loving others the way God loved and accepted me.
I came back home to the Philippines, changed in my attitude not just toward my father, but toward my mother as well. There were decisions they had made in the past which I did not agree with, and of which made me harbor resentment against them. I learned to forgive and honor my parents. My fear of my Papa turned to love and appreciation. I vividly remember a precious prayer he prayed at our dinner table a few years before he passed away – he prayed that I would have a husband.
When I was 49 years old, I started to pray, “Lord, next year I’ll be 50. Maybe there’s no one who’ll be interested in me anymore because of my age. But it’s okay, Lord, You’ve made me happy anyway.” In all those years of anxiously waiting for someone, I had been terrified to admit that I could be single for the rest of my life. But this time, the Lord had healed me so much that I could humbly and serenely accept whatever His plan was for me, as long as I knew He was with me.
Then I met Chuck.
END OF PART 1
Who is Chuck? How does he fit in the life of Roce who is now 49 years old and is, in the eyes of many, too “old” to get into a relationship? What is God up to? Find out more in PART 2 of “God Waits With You” by Roce Anog-Madinger.
This article was first published on October 18, 2020, in One Voice Magazine.
Rocelyn Anog Madinger
Rocelyn Anog Madinger, is called Roce by her friends (pronounced like ‘rice’ or ‘race’ with an ‘o’). She graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music, major in Music Education. She was a music teacher for more than 15 years, teaching music to students from the pre-school to the Seminary level. In 2009, sensing a call to serve cross-culturally, she took Ethnomusicology and the Arts courses in Payap University, Thailand, and has helped facilitate related courses and workshops since 2012. She is serving with SIL Philippines as the EthnoArts and Orality team leader. Through local music and arts, they affirm and encourage underserved minority language groups, helping meet their church and/or community needs. She is happily married to Dr. Charles B. Madinger.
I am glad to read Rocelyn Anog Madinger’s Part I story on how the Lord healed her fear of men. I attended Dr. Chuck and her talk on orality during Union Church of Manila’s Missions Month celebration last September. I am looking forward to read Part II.