Turning 30 has made me quite reflective as of late. Probably in part because my life looks pretty much nothing like I thought it would at this stage.
My plans were to be married, already have my 5 children and probably have a little nook of a house in the country somewhere in the U.S., hopefully in the mountains and near a river.
Today I find myself living on an island near the equator in SE Asia. Still childless. Still single. And living alone on the 13th floor of an apartment complex.
Apparently some things didn’t quite pan out like I’d hoped.
But I’m here to honestly, 100% say that I’m OKAY with that. I really am.
I’m actually THANKFUL that my life didn’t turn out like I planned. And here’s part of the reason:
In my late teens and early 20s I somehow came came into agreement with a lie from the pits of hell that whenever I got married my real life would start. That’s when life would begin. That’s when I would be worth something. I was waiting on a man to show me that I was valuable, and so at 18 years old I was already desperate to get married. The thought of being alone would shake me to the core, and I had to push back that awful fear with extreme force because the possibility was just too much for me to even consider.
Now I don’t know when exactly I decided to believe these lies or precisely where they came from.
My parents never pushed me to date or told me that marriage was the highest goal. My relationship with my father was solid so I didn’t have “daddy issues.” My mom encouraged me to actually not be so focused on that. But somewhere along the lines of daydreaming and struggling to find identity I believed the lies of the enemy.
Maybe it came from all the Disney movies that I was obsessed with as a child (and maybe still am…). The prince comes in and rescues the damsel in distress and they live happily ever after. One glance, one kiss, is all it all it would take and then BAM. True love and happiness and security.
It could be in part that I grew up in an environment where a good majority of people that I looked up to got married in their late teens/early 20s. Isn’t this what’s supposed to happen? I’d also get comments like, “By the time I was your age I was married with 2 kids.” They weren’t meant to put me down, but they were careless remarks that should’ve been left unsaid.
And let’s not even get caught up on all the books and tv shows and commercials and magazines that place women’s value in the hand’s of a man’s glance.
Wherever the lies came from, they were deeply ingrained in my heart and tell all of us what our 20s are supposed to be like.
I felt like the odd one out. I was doing everything “right” as a good little Christian girl. I was saving myself for marriage. I was reading my Bible and going to church. I was active in my youth group.
I went to college after high school because that’s what I was supposed to do. I was really just biding my time until he came along, and I could start living my real life.
Because you see, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up – a wife. Even though I was a good student, I never had big career goals and had little interest in a Bachelor’s degree because I had no vision for it, therefore no drive to obtain it.
Things started shifting for me in my early 20s when my singles Sunday school class (of about 3/4 people) went through a study on singleness. It was though this study that I realized my “real life” was NOW. I couldn’t wait around for this prince charming guy to come along. I mean, where in the world was he anyways?! My life had to shift as this new perspective began to take over.
Things didn’t magically change in a second. It actually has taken years to reveal the depth of the lies that I believed, to uproot them and replace them with His truth.
I had opportunities to be in relationships or at least explore towards that, but I just never had peace about it so I’d always bow out when the opportunity came up. I felt like I was always trying to make it fit, but it was never right. And I had determined long ago that I would never settle.
It wasn’t until I was almost 25 that I was able to trust the Lord with my singleness and let Him lift that weight off my shoulders. Cue signing up for the World Race.
Something shifted when taking that leap and being okay with guaranteeing my singleness for yet another year of my life. I finally felt the freedom in being single that I’d only heard people talk about. It was real! I really could be okay with being single. Wow.
As the journey has continued it’s been quite the roller coaster. There have been so many moments and experiences that I achingly wished I could share with my future husband. Things I longed to talk with him about.
Through these difficult times of feeling left alone, I now realize that the Father was drawing me to Himself. He has actually been showing me who I am, who He has created me to be. It’s been a beautifully painful journey of discovery and healing and taking courageous steps when I had no courage of my own.
He’s shown me that I don’t need a prince to rescue me. I don’t need attention from a man to have value. I don’t need a husband to fulfill me or complete me.
The Father has taken me through a journey of actually coming to a place of liking myself, of finding my value in Him, of taking away the fear of being alone by filling me in my deepest parts with His extravagant love and showing me that He is trustworthy and dependable.
Thank God I didn’t get married 10 years ago! I would’ve set some poor man up for complete failure. He would’ve never been able to fill my insecurities the way that God does.
I still believe that I will be a wife and a mother one day, and I’m filled with joyful anticipation for that season. It’s not the desperate need any longer, but it’s a deep desire in it’s proper place in my heart now.
But as a friend recently told me, now I will be more than just a wife. My identity will not be rooted in being a wife or a mother because it’s firmly grounded in who He declares that I am.
He is making me whole. He is making me free to love and be loved. He’s inviting me to dream big dreams.
So I’ve learned that we absolutely CANNOT compare one life to another.
Single or married, we’re all on a unique journey. Whether you’re a stay at home mom with children hanging off your limbs and dark circles under your eyes, or a lawyer living in a high rise in NYC or a woman traipsing around the world with Jesus – your life is important.
This season is purposeful.
Don’t skip today dreaming about tomorrow.
As the lovely and wise Betsy Garmon once admonished, “Be women of faith and not fantasy…Be in your life.”
So take heart dear ones. Take courage all you single ladies and men. Lift your eyes to Jesus.
It’s actually not so much about what we’re doing, but it’s all about who we’re becoming in the process.
I know it’s not easy. There are still theses deep longings inside of us. There will still be those lonely nights, those dateless weekends and those solo trips to the movies. Let’s not avoid the pain, but let’s press into it and allow Him to form something valuable in us.
You are loved and valuable and capable because of Jesus, not because of anyone else.
He created us for eternity. This life is just a breath.
Let’s live it to the fullest and not sit around and wait for someone else to tell us we’re okay before we start living fully.
Through the blood of Jesus we are enough, we are loved and we are valuable.
Don’t wait another minute.
Live fully and joyfully today.