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(The UCU Standard – Monday, February 3, 2014)

MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ It’s soon Valentine’s Day and you’re alone.

The flowers are out there and so is the wine, and much more. One would have to be blind and half-dead not to notice. But you’re alone, a rose in the parched dessert, and you don’t know how much longer you can hang on.

Or maybe, dear UCU student, you’re less innocent. You’re in a physical relationship, or several, because you can’t bear even your short university life without someone to hold.

Or maybe you’re still very different. Maybe it’s just the simple carnal satisfaction you want, like a good meal. And God knows everyone needs to eat, right?

But, really, what does God know? It’s a good question, especially for a God who once lived in our kind of fleshy body. Have you ever asked?

I did, when I was a student like you. I had my goals: school, graduation, job, marriage. In that order. Without delay, if possible. Sound familiar?

My God, the one I dared to talk to about all this, had other plans. I waited. Yes, I waited for marriage longer than I ever dreamed.

But something happened along the way. First, it wasn’t just a wait, but a journey. More so, as time went by, I enjoyed it, this journey. I changed. And life certainly wasn’t boring.

I learned new things about, for one, myself. I also learned about women in healthy ways that prepared me. Rather than dying of hunger, I also found I was fed in other surprising and new ways.

Then one day the God I was talking to told me something. He said I would be satisfied with the sweetest of honey from the rock. He spoke clearly and specifically. Shortly later, I met my wife. We were engaged on Valentine’s Day. We were both 35.

She had waited too. Incredibly, no body parts had fallen off either of us. And while this sort of wait seems long to you, think about it. If my wife and I live to even average ages, we’ll still be married decades.

Sure, there is another way. This is the beauty and terribleness of free choice. Nobody denies the pleasure of hooking up at will. Our bodies are made for pleasure and there is nothing shameful or unholy in this. Those who suggest otherwise are wrong.

But outside of marriage, there will be guilt. Your creator made it this way. And a much greater chance of disease. Or public humiliation like felt by the UCU students in last year’s pornography scandal.

The pain of regret can happen to anyone, really: any star Sunday school teacher or any mature theology student. And it has. This is the truth of it, of what goes on behind closed doors.

Then the discipline from a university that’s better than most but one that’s still learning to look past repentance to other important things, like life skills and maternal support so that innocent children aren’t aborted in fear. More pain.

It’s too long you say.  You can never wait like I did. That’s okay. Your wait will likely be shorter. But, like I did, you’ll learn your value as a human being is based on far more than if you have a partner or not.

This Valentine’s Day you’ll hear other things from media and peers and other universities. They’ll look like they’re enjoying the big party. None of it is reality.

The only reality is that God can see into your bedroom as easily as your heart.

This God knows your needs, just like he knows your past and your hurts and your fears and your future and many other things that neither you nor I can even imagine.

This God also loves you through every step, and misstep, of your journey. What a gift. Nothing need be lost.

And how much sweeter it is when our gifts are opened at the right time.

About Thomas Froese