I live in a strange dynamic. Let me try to explain it to you. We have 29 people on staff here. 22 of them are females, leaving 7 males. Yes, that is a ratio of over three females to one male. Yes, that is an insane number.
Moreover, four of the men are married, and their wives are on staff here as well. In addition, several females are married. Of the single men, I’m the only one under the age of thirty. Of the ladies, in a span of six years younger to six years older than me, there are 12 single females.
Yes, that is a ratio of 12:1.
I know what some of you are thinking…wow! Go Zanger!
Not exactly. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve had a problem since I’ve been here, and it’s simply this…I don’t have an unmarried guy to hang out with. Granted, a lot of that is my fault, simply because I have not put myself into situations where I would meet guys to hang out with.
Therefore, I’m left in a difficult situation. I spoke with some people before I left Chicago about not dating during my first year in Korea, for many reasons that I will not divulge here.
However, I face a challenge because principle often rubs up against reality, and that is where I’m stuck. I’m stuck in a war in my mind. And, much to my chagrin sometimes, principle wins out…usually against the swirling tide of expectations and my sin.
I’m not much of a poet, but poetry is one of the best ways for me to say what I need to say without sounding terribly cheesy. I sat down last year around Thanksgiving time to write a poem so I would have something to read at the Coffee House, a fundraiser for the Zambia Project at Wheaton Academy.
At the time, I was listening to Caedmon’s Call’s song, “I Can’t Lose You.” Derek Webb wrote the song, and one lyric really stood out: “And maybe I have the gift that everyone speaks so high of. Funny how nobody wants it.” That lyric is based on 1 Corinthians 7:7 and Paul’s discussion of the “gift” of singleness and the “gift” of marriage. Derek Webb was single at the time he wrote the verse.
I sat last year and pondered my singleness, just as I am now (and was last Sunday). I wrote the following poem on November 30, 2006, and I include it below. I wrote it because I was tired of trying to base my identity on whom I was with instead of whose I was, and so, it was more of a prayer poem, where I gave God my singleness, since He could do a better job with it than I could. So, to all my single brothers out there, enjoy…and know that I’m in the battle with you.
Eric J. Zanger
What if I have the gift
That everyone tries to hide or lift
Above all else that we can be?
And it would be just fine for me
To be alone all of my life
And walk this world without a wife
If that would be your will.
But there are days, like a pill
I swallow this thing against my will.
“Not mine, but yours,” did my Lord say
And drops of blood he sweat that day.
And alone as alone could be,
He went and died, so I’d be free
Of all the things that people say,
And all the games that people play,
And all the looks of “what’s wrong with you?”
And after that, all they do
Is to ponder who’d be good for me.
What about Christy or Jess as Mrs. Z?
So the gift is mine, and mine to love
Because it’s a gift from God above.
Though if I get called into marriage,
It is a gift I won’t disparage.
That if being a husband is for me,
I will not escape the certainty
That God is still my greatest pleasure,
And of all I have, He’s my greatest treasure.
If being a good husband is my goal,
I better love Christ with all my soul.
For the gift I’ll have is not a wife,
But the gift I have is a new life.
I ask those of you out there who are my prayer warriors to pray that I would have wisdom on the dating front, and to ask me about it when I come home in December. I have a discipleship group where I get to meet with four guys and build them up in the faith, and we were talking about integrity and the damage men can do to society. I leave you with this, because this is why I need your prayers. I looked them in the eye, and said, “Men, I want you to know that I could ruin this school. I don’t say that with pride, but I say that with humility and dependence on God. Twelve single females are within my age range on staff, and if I really wanted to press it, I could create divisions in this school, create bitterness in this school, and destroy the lives of the female teachers in this school…and my life as well.”
I live in the tension of being friendly and not being too friendly. I live in the tension of not being a hermit and not spending too much time with one individual. I live in the tension of knowing that a stupid decision I make (and praise God I haven’t made one yet) could ruin the ministries of two people (or more).
Please don’t read into this that I’m miserable; if you do, please read the next two posts. In fact, I love the fact that God called me into this position, put such a call of responsibility into my life, and now, works it out in me.
Pray for me, but worry not, and fear not, and cry not, for the Great Refiner is, with fire, getting rid of the muck and the mire so that the gold that He’s forming in me can be seen for what it truly is—the wonderful grace of God.