I just woke up from a very real dream.
I was in an old coffee shop somewhere and a man that I knew in my dream, but don’t know at all in real life, told me he loved me, has loved me forever and wants to spend the next hundred years showing me how much he loves me, proving himself worthy of me, and sharing the adventure alongside each other.
Then, in my dream, he walked away. I was left speechless, my heart beating fast and my palms sweaty and this mixture of disbelief, excitement, shock, and a hundred other feelings burned in my chest and spread throughout my entire body. Fairly certain my mouth literally hung open. His friend came up and asked me to give him my phone number. I then proceeded to write it at least two dozen times and throw it away because my handwriting looked like a little kids. I was laughing at myself and this other lady that was nearby was laughing with me and so was the guy waiting for my phone number, because no matter how many times I tried to write it, it came out in preschooler handwriting that was barely legible even to myself.
And then I woke up.
And my real life heart was still beating fast and my palms were sweaty and that mixture of disbelief, excitement, shock, and a hundred other feelings was still burning in my chest.
And I knew I needed to write.
The question came up several times over the summer while I was in the States. Anyone special in your life? I realize people are just curious and want to know but what invariably ends up happening is I say no and their face shadows with disappointment, but then they quickly realize what they have done and perk up with a forced face of what is supposed to be encouragement but looks a bit more like pity and say well, all in God’s good timing and then proceed to either pat me on the arm and walk away or tell me a story about this friend of a friend of theirs who didn’t find the one until they were in their forties so I really still have plenty of good years in me and to hold my head up and know that I am worth waiting for. And, breathe.
The ones that really do care want to park it there for a bit; they ask how am I really with that and squint as if trying to find the agony deep in my eyes and heart that must be there. When I say something like really it’s okay I still will get a flash of disappointment or disbelief, like I must be lying to myself to be really okay with that and maybe I need prayer to break down the massive walls of defensiveness inside of me that must be there because no way would a woman of nearly 35 be truly okay with not having someone special.
One person actually asked it really well. He said have you had to give up on any dreams to keep on doing what you are doing? I said, you mean marriage and children? We both laughed and I said something like I haven’t given up. I trust God.
The thing is, for me? It’s just settled. It’s a completely settled issue. I don’t spend hours or days or years agonizing or dreaming or longing or even (gasp!) praying about it. Someone asked this summer what are you passionate about and the answer is my work; but it isn’t my work itself that I am most passionate about it is that my work is actually an extension of my faith, it is my faith with shoes on, offering blood, sweat, and tears to help make wrongs right and inequalities disappear and bring transformation and see others come alive too. It’s the most incredible thing ever.
And if you have ever felt that way yourself, which I sadly think very few people actually have, you wouldn’t be worried about my broken single 35-year old heart. I am living life to the full, life abundant, and it isn’t an incomplete existence because I am not married.
It’s just a settled issue. I know, to the depth of my being, that if it is the best for me, God will bring a special man into my life. I believe that and I trust that and I don’t need to spend any time thinking about it. It’s settled. Oh, and I don’t need to move back to the states or to somewhere else in the world for this to happen – it’s not like God is up in heaven saying “Gee, if only she would get off that ship I could do something really special for her,” - that is absolutely ridiculous. He has brought me here. And if it is best for me, he will bring him here. Or there. Or wherever. But I know that I do not need to manipulate my circumstances to make myself more available.
One lovely friend who I met several years ago has a story that keeps on inspiring me. I won’t do it justice here, but basically she got a letter in the mail from a complete stranger that saw her in a video and was captivated. All the pieces just fell together perfectly in a story so wild no one but God could have thought it up, and their marriage is one of stunning beauty. When God creates a story it’s always incredible. I often think about that story and think to myself, if God can and wants to do that, to write a story beyond our wildest dreams and one that inspires others and draws them closer to His heart, who the heck am I to try to write my own story? Why on earth would I want to? Who am I to think my little brain trying to manipulate a situation would ever be anywhere near as cool as a story God has written himself? I don’t want my story. I want His.
Now let’s get even more real for a minute, lest all this talk about it being a settled issue makes you think I’m somehow more holy than the single chick longing for marriage.
Do I want to get married? Not just for the sake of getting married.
A better question is do I want to fall in love? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t? I’ve tasted it, been in relationships that spoke of it; one time I even thought was going to be forever. The love between a man and a woman that are fully devoted to God and passionately pursuing him together though trials and victories and sacrifice for each other every single day… it is a reflection of the heart of God that I have yet to experience. And want to. If it is right and the best thing for me.
Are there some days when it is harder than others? Yes. Resounding yes. There are days I am hit so hard with a longing so deep to have someone to share this with that I can hardly breathe. There are so many adventures I want to share. I’ve got amazingly adventurous friends and I’m certainly not missing out on life, but sometimes? Would I rather share it with my soulmate? Resounding, unapologetic yes. There are also days I’d like to throw in the towel on this celibacy thing. (I hate that word, even). Honestly, I’m human too. It isn’t easy. But it is worth it, and I won’t throw in the towel, and I won’t try to mask or hide those (squishy, sometimes icky and awkward, but still real) feelings, desires, and emotions when they do make an appearance. I will acknowledge them, feel them, and trust them to God.
Are there days when my thoughts aren’t this holy? Sure are. Especially when I’m lonely. That’s when the thoughts creep in like I must really be ugly or fat or obnoxious or something must be inherently wrong with me. Rubbish, and I know it, so I throw it out quickly like the garbage bag with the banana peel; get it out before it starts stinking up the place.
(Not the topic at hand but a natural follow-up question that I’ll answer now – no, I don’t really want children, which maybe is why I am really content being single while I see others longing for marriage because they are actually really longing to have children. I’m not completely opposed to the idea, if I were to fall in love with someone who really wanted children who would make a really good father… but I’m not desperate for them either. As I watch my friends’ kids grow up I love being a part of their lives (once they are old enough to have real conversations) but don’t really have a burning desire in me to raise my own.)
What is the point?
It’s a settled issue. I’m not in agony, but I am human. I won’t manipulate my circumstances or the people around me to try to create my own story, I want God’s story. When that seems hard or I find myself starting to want to get the story line moving along more quickly than I ought, I look at my friend’s wedding pictures; the one whose story I wrote about earlier. Or I think about other friends whose stories are glorious, and I realize that I too want a glorious story.
But the truth is my story is already glorious; it has always been a love story filled with pursuit and passion and redemption and life to the full. Maybe the plot will turn into a human love story, and maybe it won’t; but it’s not my story to write, so I won’t fight to pick up the pen.