Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

I have a friend who is about to turn 30.

And she's single...with no prospects.
Thirty, flirty and thriving, right?

13 Going on 30 made this year as a single seem a little more glamorous than my friend probably feels. Because when you're in your late twenties and you're single, you kind of just feel old and decrepit and unwanted. Kind of like you missed your shot. Kind of like the world is passing you by with how it's all supposed to go: marriage, house, kids... and more kids. Don't forget that white picket fence and those darling matching jumpers (yeah, my mom made me wear those with her).

The thing about my friend turning 30 and being single is that, when I put myself in her mind (you know, imposing all of my own thoughts and feelings on her), I suddenly realize that my near-decade of singleness isn't enough. Because, if I'm her, I would think: Debbie, I know you were single until you were 29, but you have no idea how it feels to be turning 30 with no romantic prospects. Because, when you were turning 30, you were engaged to be married. How I'm feeling is a totally different ballgame.

And while I get it, I can't quite put my single-for-a-decade-card away (because 20 is the standard age at which marriage becomes acceptable- just ask the bride of the first wedding I was ever in). And because I can't yet pocket that card, I would also tell myself (or people who are like me) that it's a lie. I think I do understand more than you might imagine. I think my years of singleness allow me to resonate with the pain, the not understanding, the doubting in the Lord's goodness... no matter the age. It may not be perfect and my experiences/challenges may be different, but I also know that it sucks. I can still feel the suckiness of it, the weight of it, the hopelessness of it... and I'm so sorry that it hurts so much.

And while I can tell you a multitude of things (don't focus on it, don't let it be your end goal, trust the Lord, know that He is good and all of this is FOR your good, be patient, keep seeking the Lord, etc. etc.)-- I know that on some level those words just go in and out. Because as much as those things are true and as much as they are actually necessary to functioning and living, it doesn't change the fact that oftentimes it still hurts and it's still all-consuming. It doesn't change the fact that you feel like a minority, that you feel like a third-wheel, that you don't always know how to relate to the world around you when they seem to be experiencing these other components to life that you can pretend to understand, but honestly have a hard time with. It doesn't change that you can't shake feeling like when the world looks at you, they must think: I wonder what's wrong with her? There must be a reason why she hasn't been chosen yet? And sometimes you can't help but wonder if that's actually true of all the current prospects out there who are of an eligible age (sometimes I joke that that's why I got married to a man 5 years younger than me- he was still cool-ish).

So, to catch any of you up to speed who don't really know me yet, I started dating my husband around three years ago. I was 29. He was 25. I was a rule follower. He was a rule breaker. I had long hair. So did he (he actually still has longer hair than me, even after we both got haircuts yesterday).

It wasn't anything I expected.
He wasn't anything I expected.
In reality, he wasn't initially anything I thought I would want. Quite a bit younger, rambunctious, hyper-active, seemingly cocky and too much of a dude who led girls on without even realizing he was doing it (you all know the type I'm talking about). So, my desperate 29-year-old self thought: why not? What have I got to lose? Why not just talk to him and flirt with him? And my broken, 29-year-old self also knew that I didn't want to waste time and that I wasn't interested in becoming one of the girls left in his wake, wondering what had happened and how I could have mistaken his kind, listening ears for genuine interest in me as person, as a woman.

But I was wrong.
About all of it.
The seemingly unlikely quickly became likely... in fact, it just suddenly happened.
I became the story that single girls gag over. Within 10 days of dating we were talking about marriage, within three months we were engaged. Gross. I became the Christian cliche. The type of story I would have rolled my eyes at (I maybe felt like people were cheering more for me only because I was 'so' old and had waited 'so' long). But I've loved almost every minute of it.

I want my story to continue to remind single ladies that hope doesn't have to be lost. To remind them that sometimes it actually does come in the most unlikely ways. To remind them that the Lord hears us, even in our darkest, saddest moments... and that He really is working everything out for the good of those who love Him. I would have waited even longer for my husband, if it meant that I got to marry him (especially if the alternative meant marrying someone else). Because, as cliche as it is, he was worth the wait. The Lord knew what He was doing...and He knew that I didn't.

And while I want to urge you to not place your identity in being single or your hope in not being single forever, I know the reality of that is hard. I know that living a life outside of the realm of your relationship status is hard when your empty ring finger is constantly glaring at you and when all of your friends are, if not already has-beens of a blushing bride, bursting at the seams pregnant. I know that you're constantly staring into a future of figuring out at what point you need to stop thinking someone might just come along. A future of constantly struggling with being content and weeping alone at night. And I know this happens when you're19 and probably even more when you're 30+ (although I can't speak to that from my own experiences anymore).

But I do urge you to cling to Jesus throughout it all.
Be steady in that.
Be faithful to Him through it.
Weep to Him.
Confess your doubt, your fears, your hurts to Him.
Trust Him. 
Lean not on your own understanding (because you'll never understand it, even when/if it happens).
Ask Him to remind you over and over again of your ultimate purpose and ask Him to show you how to live each day fully invested in that.
It doesn't negate the hurt and the doubt, but it keeps you focused on what matters above all else, even if you can't possibly be perfect in keeping that as your number one priority.
And know that it's okay.
You're human.
You have desires.

Be open to the world of unexpectedness. Be open to being wrong. Be open to the different journey that you're on without so desperately trying to change it.

It's an age-old song, I know. But it's always good to be reminded.
God is good.
Life is hard.
But God is still good.
Walk in that today, friends.

P.S. To anyone who is single: ENJOY your time!!  I know many of you are watching friends getting married and having kids, but you were uniquely chosen to NOT have this happen in your life just yet. Don't spend all your time dreaming or crying over the should-be's... there's so much life to be lived that can be lived because you don't have a spouse or children. Know that you are blessed where you stand, that you've been given much and that the Lord intends to use all of you for His glory. I love what He can do through willing hearts and how that oftentimes has nothing to do external circumstances.

P.P.S. To anyone who is married: be aware that your single friends may be struggling, hurting and secretly dealing with stuff you may not understand. All of them will need you to respond differently to them, and differently in different situations. Just be aware. And don't be afraid to ask them about it. Sometimes they just need you to ask them about it, to ask them what they need. Avoid trying to constantly set them up and always be aware of how your own actions and invitations may make them feel alienated/awkward/like a third wheel.

Your entries will remain anonymous

No comments:

Post a Comment