Waiting for the right time
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires. Song of Songs 2:7
‘You can’t hurry love. No, you just have to wait. Love don’t come easy. It’s a game of give and take…’
Sorry. Got carried away there. Couldn’t help myself.
But there’s a truth in it, isn’t there? You can’t hurry love. Love cannot be forced. And sometimes we can be tempted to rush into all the physical stuff and hope that the emotions will follow, rather than letting the emotions grow and the relationship flourish, before letting the physical relationship grow as an expression of that love.
Because yes, sex and everything that surrounds it can be entered into, enjoyed even, without any level of emotional connection. But that is merely a physical act. There is so much more to sexual intimacy than that. The clue is in the word intimacy – it’s all about connection, an exclusive connection on every level. Two become one. And that takes time. But you know what, you have all the time in the world. If this is true love, then you have forever. No need to rush. Just take your time.
(I’m not going to enter into the whole debate about sex before marriage. It’s complicated. Marriage in the Bible was very different to marriage today. And there is no mention of marriage here, as far as I can see. Some have taken this passage to promote their own stance – that you should wait, that sex is just for within marriage. I agree – this passage is saying you should wait. Wait for the right time. But for marriage? I don’t know.)
There’s a period of watching and waiting. Of observing from a distance. Of plucking up the courage to approach. Of waiting for the right moment. She is aware he is watching. She has time to work out her response.
My beloved spoke and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me. Song of Songs 2:10
And there’s the invitation. There’s the temptation to respond. Which may or may not come at the right time. She’s been waiting for this moment too. There’s been a delicious sense of anticipation. Of expectation. Of increasing longing. Because waiting pays off. Delaying gratification is known to increase pleasure. We’re all so rubbish at it in pretty much every area of our lives these days, because everything is instant – we see it and we get it; we want it so we have it. Right here. Right now. No need to wait for anything ever.
Except ‘the best things come to those who wait’, you know.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig-tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.’ Song of Songs 2:11-13
So the right time is when winter is over and spring is in the air. There is a right time, a right feel in the air. And for these young lovers, the time is now right. This is their first time.
But for many of us, that first time was such a long time ago, we may not even remember any more. So what can this passage have to say for us.?
Well, you know what, this is all true for all of us, however long we have been with our partner.
There can still be a sense in which we can wait for the right time. The right time is when winter is over and spring is in the air. There is a right time, a right feel in the air. It’s a life-giving time in a relationship, when there is no bitterness or grudges lurking at the corners. When there’s a mutual appreciation and celebration. You can’t be getting at each other all day and expect everything to be all right in the bedroom – it just doesn’t work that way. Sex should arise out of a natural enjoyment of being together, having spent time together, having taken pleasure in each other’s company. It should follow a time of watching from a distance, of appreciating from across the room, of really observing, really actually looking at the one we love.
Winter is when we take each other for granted, when we don’t appreciate each other, when we are invisible to each other. When we go through the motions without engaging on an emotional level. Maybe we have sex because we think we should. Maybe we have sex in an attempt to feel closer. Maybe we don’t have sex any more because we’re waiting for the right time and the right time never comes.
Maybe then we need to take a step or two back and let the emotions grow again and the relationship flourish again, before letting the physical relationship naturally grow as an expression of that love.
Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Songs 2:15
And finally…if it’s the wrong time, then there are consequences. When you open the gate to the vineyard and invite your lover in to enjoy the delicious fruit (I know, stick with me), then the danger is you’ll let the little foxes in that ruin the vineyard. We’re all aware of the dangers of sex at the wrong time with the wrong person – I don’t need to spell that out. But how about in a steady relationship? Surely there isn’t ever the wrong time for sex then?
Well, I think there is. I hinted at it before. When we’ve been in a relationship for a long time, we can make sex into something that it was never intended to be. We can use it as a manipulation. We can withhold it as a punishment. We can go through the motions and lose the whole intimacy and depth that sex between us once had. We can make it small and quick and routine and unadventurous – and not much fun any more.
And if that is the case, then it is time to take a step back and wait. Wait until we have worked on liking each other again. Enjoying each other again. Appreciating each other again.
Because ‘the best things come to those who wait’, you know.