It hit me one day...I was single!
Okay, actually I already knew that. In fact, I had been long troubled by that very fact. Here I was, in my thirties, still with no serious relationship to boast of. I had stood back and watched my friends all marry and start families of their own. Then my younger brother and sister's friends all began to marry and have families. Then, worst of all, the kids I babysat for began to marry and have babies! I lost count of the weddings and bridal/baby showers I attended. Usually, I went home depressed and ready to cry for the rest of the day.
I know, it sounds pitiful, but that was my life for about ten years. I was constantly on the lookout for that ONE. Every time a new guy would show up at my church or job, my hopes would spring news, only to quickly shrivel up and die as I watched him pair off with someone else. It seemed I was never good enough to catch a decent guy's attention.
It began to wreak havoc on my self-image. I figured there must be something wrong with me. I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough, witty enough, or outgoing enough. Or maybe God didn't deem me ready. Thus I tried to be a good little Christian, always going to church, reading my Bible, and living the way I thought He wanted me to live. Nothing happened. I was still single and watching my "youthful" years slowly pass me by.
I felt as if I was constantly on the sidelines, watching everyone else living their lives, and I was still waiting. I began to grow bitter about it, and resentful of everyone God had seen fit to bless with that special someone in their life. It was even worse when I witnessed children being born into families that cared little for them. Here I was, desperate to have a child to call my own, while so many babies were being discarded or abused.
Oh, on the outside, everything appeared fine. I smiled a lot, held friends' babies, attended weddings, and generally appeared as if all was fine in my world. But I felt as I was dying inside. And no one even knew, which I took to mean that no one even cared. (Which was unreasonable, because, like I said, very few knew the depth of my struggle.)
I grew angry and depressed. For whatever reason, God and the world was against me. I was not meant to share in the blessings of thousands of others. I was to live out my life alone. It wasn't fair and I inwardly kicked and raged at it at times.
Needless to say, my spiritual growth suffered as a result. While I never walked away from God, and I had times of revival and refreshing that kept me going, I always felt as if something was missing. I was never truly content.
Then, about a year and half ago, I started to do some soul-searching. I took a step back and reevaluated my life. I realized that marriage and children would not ultimately fill that hole in my life. I had witnessed too many people who seemingly had it all, throw everything away because of depression, addiction, or some other prison. Mothers and fathers were committing suicide. Men and women who married their childhood sweetheart were divorcing. Parents were losing their children because of bad choices.
So what was happening? These people had what I wanted: a companion, children, a home to share, a future to look forward to. Then it finally began to dawn on me. Those things, as priceless as they can be, mean nothing when a person is missing the most important relationship they could ever have.
It took some time, but I began to reshape my thinking. Even if God suddenly opened the door for me to become a wife and mother, ultimately, it would not make me happy. Oh, it would bring me a sense of joy for a while, but in the end, it's not what my spirit yearns for. It's not what's going to fill me with peace and contentment. Only Jesus can do that for me.
It was not easy reaching that conclusion. I'm an emotional human being that deals with what I feel in the here and now. But it was a step in the right direction, and I felt that God was better able to work in me and start teaching me some new things about myself and Him. It's been a rewarding journey so far.
Does that knowledge take away the desire to be married and have children some day? No. But I can finally enjoy the place where I'm at. I felt as if God had finally released me to appreciate my life as it is. I don't have the same responsibilities, obligations, past regrets, etc. that many people my age have. I can be free to live out this phase of my life as I please.
I knew I had turned a corner one day when I was sitting in my truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot. (I think I was waiting on my mom.) I watched a young woman park her car, get out, and begin the process of unbuckling her baby from the car seat, gather her bag, and carry them all the long distance to the building. I found myself thinking how simple it is for me to jump in my truck and take off somewhere. No car seat. No extra diaper bag. I actually caught myself thinking that I was glad I did not have to worry about all that stuff yet.
And that's when it hit me. I was single! This was my time. Someday in the future, I may have those extra responsibilities and blessings. But for now, it's just me and God. He has shown me that it is okay to be single; it can even be a good thing. So, I plan to take advantage of this time now, rather than wasting any of it by wishing it to change.
So, if I could pass anything on to you, it would be take advantage of this season of your life. Don't look at this as a punishment, but an opportunity to serve God in a special way. Look for new things to try and learn. Have fun! Grow! And find peace in knowing that even as singles, we are never truly alone but are always...
In His Grip!
"The most interesting and important thing in the world is for you to work out your own particular life...Hold your place. Do not try to shift into the place that another occupies. Keep your eye on what you have to work with, not on what somebody else has." -Ida Tarbell