I don’t know how she did it. But I admire her for it. Her and those eunuchs Jesus talked about. My six-word memoir? I love the idea of love. Romantic love. All the feelings and passion and emotion that comes with it. And that was what my life was about, before Jesus.
So, Anna. Who is she? Well, let’s go to the part of the Bible where she is mentioned.
There was also a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, who was well along in years. She had been married for seven years, and then was a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming forward at that moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38
What I admire most about Anna was her devotion to God, in spite of her pain. In some ways, thinking of her has helped me to experience some brief moments of sober thinking. When I find myself thinking about a guy that I’m interested in too much, the thought has come to mind, well Anna’s husband died after only being married 7 years, so let me not put all my hope in this guy. Amen God. Help me to focus on you.
During this time of quarantine, I’ve been able to spend amazing quality time with God. Some of this time has come from reading His word. Some of it has come from being gut level honest with Him through conversation and prayer. Some of it has come from various conversations I’ve had with spiritual people. Some of it has come from the ugly parts of myself that God has shown me.
But the main lesson that I’ve been learning is that God is enough. I believe Anna had this conviction, and this is what helped her survive and thrive through heartbreak and loneliness.
Now, Anna was probably still young when her husband died. And I believe this made her eligible to marry again. But she didn’t. The scripture says “...and then was a widow to the age of eighty- four.” To me, this sounds like a decision that she made about how she would spend those eighty- four years. She spent them in God’s temple, in His presence, night and day, fasting and praying. This woman was devoted to God. Not to her pain, not to her loneliness, and not even to herself.
This challenges me.
I’ve never been married, but even as a single woman, I can find it hard to be fully devoted to God. I get pulled away and distracted by my desires, my appetites, my emotions, sorrows, trou- bles, etc. And I don’t doubt that Anna experienced these things too, but she was consistently de- voted. She kept hanging onto God despite everything else. Even after she’d experienced the bliss of romantic love within its God-ordained boundaries of marriage, she didn’t get bitter and turn her back on God after her husband died. She remained loyal to Him, and that’s the kind of woman I desire to be.
I strongly desire to get married. In my six years as a Christian, there have been many times when I’ve been interested in a guy and he’d have absolutely no interest in me! I’d throw temper tantrums and succumb to tears and declare to God it’s over for this love stuff, I’m done! You don’t want me to be happy! Only to come back to Him, again succumbed to tears, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, and Him loving me as only He knows how.
Yet, He is getting me to the point where I am becoming more and more comfortable (not there yet) with the possibility of never marrying, or marrying and being widowed, etc. because my relationship with Him is truly the only thing that will ever satisfy me.
Take a gander at this: “But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” Matthew 19:11-12
I love that part. ...and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it. I love it because Jesus knew it was difficult to let go of worldly ideas of what marriage should look like. Here, the Pharisees were basically advocating for non-binding marriages. To me, it seems that the disciples had a hard time accepting the amount of commitment required in marriage as well. But what Jesus says at the end, that there are those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, oh, I can’t help but think of Anna because that’s what she did.
She forsook her right to remarry and devoted her life to singlehood, celibacy, and devotion to God. She embodied the single life that Paul spoke of, in which an “unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the work of the Lord, how she can be holy in both body and spirit”.* That was Anna, she had an undivided devotion to the Lord*.
So, what am I saying? Am I saying that I want to be a eunuch? No. Am I saying that Jesus is telling us that there are some of us who have this mystical destiny of eunuchism? No. He clearly says that there are those who make themselves eunuchs meaning it is a choice.
What I’m saying is that Anna, for me, represents womanhood goals. She was so devoted to God, that she willingly became a figurative eunuch for the sake of His kingdom. She experienced the joys of marriage, the pains of widowhood, the intimacy of God, and the revelation of Christ. What a life! She glorified God in each stage. Is that not what God desires for all of us, whether single, married, widowed, or willing eunuchs?
A few disclaimers: I am not a biblical scholar. I am sharing my experiences and thoughts about this amazing woman of God. In all that I’m sharing, please use discretion on whether you take what I say for truth—these are beliefs that I currently have, but please let the Spirit guide you into the truth God wants you to know. If anything, I encourage you to read about Anna (and hey, read or re-read the gospels while you’re at it!) to learn for yourself.
Kourtney Naomi Fullard is a disciple of Jesus Christ and has been a disciple for 6 wonderful years. She is originally from Philadelphia, was raised spiritually in Westchester for 4 years, and currently lives in the Bronx where she teaches 8th grade English Language Arts. Kourtney is growing into her passion for writing and sharing beautiful truths with the world. God allowed Kourtney to receive her MFA in Creative Writing, as well as her MsED in English Education. She hopes to use her talents of writing and teaching to help others experience intimacy with God, as well as the knowledge and love of God.