Waiting for a Real Life

“So, God, I was just wondering,” my hand shaking with fear, “well, you know, I was thinking,” I was so afraid of writing this that you could barely make out the words on the paper, “that um, you know it would be really cool if you, well you know…”

Should I ask? What if I’m asking out of anger or mistrust?  What if I am trying to push God’s will? What if I get the opposite of what I ask because God wants to teach me a lesson about patience? Or worse—what if I get exactly what I ask for and it’s wrong?  

“Um, well you know I was thinking that I am getting older, and well, it would be really cool to you know, maybe get married….have a family…is that ok? Could you maybe send someone my way?”

There. I did it. I wrote it down. I asked God for a husband.

I really wanted to write that maybe the girl dating my future husband would need to move away, or that she would just break up with him already. But honestly, I really just wanted to trust God to bless me with what I thought would be a real life. That was all I wanted. I felt like admitting this to God was just the last step on the path to finally getting to start my real life.

It wasn’t.

The Life I Hadn’t Wanted

If I’m honest, I don’t want this to be my story. I grew up watching fairy tales which turned into romantic comedies and deep within me the assumption grew that my life so far was just the first half of the movie and eventually I’d get to be the girl who finds the guy and we’d get to live happily ever after. But God chose differently. 

I turn 30 this year and have been single for just about my entire life. Sure, I dated here and there in college and had a short-lived relationship a few years ago, but those points were more the exception than the norm.

I am not one of those rare types who couldn't care less about dating. I’m the opposite. From the age when I learned that boyfriends were a thing, I wanted one. And trust me, I tried. I walked into college convinced that if I went to the right parties and flirted with enough guys, eventually someone had to stick.

But after going on plenty of dates and then drunkenly kissing my fair share of frat guys, no one did. Thank God for that. As I graduated from college, I knew something needed to change. So I dove fully into church life, and like any good Christian girl, my desire for a boyfriend shifted into a desire for a husband.

My goal and methods may have changed, but my heart hadn’t.

This desire seemed good and right, and all around me friends were walking that same path. I rejoiced as friends entered into relationships that turned into engagements that became marriages. We all assumed I’d be up soon. But years continued to go by, and God seemed to remain silent on the matter.

Instead of answering my request for a husband, God seemed to keep my path completely void of any prospects.

Bridesmaid Down

Along the way I have found deep hope and satisfaction in seeing God’s plans turn out far better my own, but there have also been very real points of deep pain and despair. I remember one of those moments very clearly. After being a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding one weekend, I woke up the following Monday totally exhausted. Being in a wedding, no matter how much you love the couple, is not for the faint of heart.

As it usually does, the weekend left me very aware of my singleness. What didn’t help was that after work that Monday, I got in the car and headed to help another dear friend pick out her wedding dress. But instead of gearing up to be a joyful bridesmaid again, I was emotionally crashing. I called my mom to chat while I drove. I told her what I was up to and she asked how I was feeling about it. I was brutally honest, this was the last thing in the world I wanted to do that night. And she was right there with me. I remember her softly saying, "I'm looking forward to when it's your turn, honey."

I barely got out the words "me too" before breaking down and weeping.

Single, But Not Alone

I rarely acknowledge to others how I feel in moments like those because it's hard and vulnerable, yet in that moment I realized that I wasn't alone in hoping and praying for a spouse; my mom was hurting with me, too.

Thankfully, throughout this process I have been surrounded by an incredible family of people at Sandals Church. As I’ve invested in other young women and lived out my life in small groups with people in various seasons of life, I’ve been able to share my real feelings with other people and with God himself.

After years of frustration and growing bitterness, this community of people helped me face the harsh reality that I hadn’t been living my life, because I was still waiting for it to start. I was living a life of comparison as I spent my entire post-college life waiting to get married. I was weighing positives and negatives, trying to match the categories that I was supposed to fit in.

Even the friends I shared my life with had been pegged into categories, which were pretty much only: single like me or lucky enough to get married.

Doing Things Differently

I struggle with pride and can tend to assume that the way I see things is the best and only way they can be. But over the years I've learned that just because I've always wanted things to be a certain way, that doesn't necessarily mean that's the only way they can be. Maybe every girl doesn’t need to go to college, find a husband and start a family by the time she turns 30. Instead, I realized that I am exactly where God wants me to be and I am living a real life.

Even when it comes to dating, I am coming to learn that it won’t go the way I had planned or expected either. I’ve recently even tried out online dating, which a former version of myself would certainly have judged me for doing.

I’ve always thought "that's nice for other people, but I'll be over here trusting God."

That line of thinking was just more evidence of me being super opinionated and prideful yet again. But some very trusted advisors in my life mentioned it might be a good idea for me. So, I went for it. Part of me thought that maybe this was the magic step I had missed, and that the perfect guy would be there waiting as soon as I hit "enter."

It wasn’t.

Turns out, I've faced plenty of temporary excitement, disappointment and rejection there too. But this time around, I’m not frustrated or bitter, I’m actually happy to see what God will use this process to grow in me.

Looking to What’s Next

My story is still in progress, whether or not I get married. Along the way I have realized that God knows my heart and he is not offended when I tell him my hopes. The truth is he knows my desires, and while God hasn’t promised to give me a husband, he has promised to be with me. I feel his presence.

It's comforting and convicting, all at the same time. It's empowering and frightening and it makes me feel like the best kind of small.

This didn’t just happen one day though. It has been a process that I have seen in the midst of desperation. But it has taught me to hope in God alone, not the circumstances I thought would make me happy. I see now that I can trust him. Isaiah 26:3 says it perfectly, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on you, because they trust in you.”

I used to be afraid to ask God for what I really wanted because I felt like it made me a bad Christian, or showed that I didn’t trust God. Instead, I have learned that I don’t have to worry what I should ask God for anymore; instead I deeply want God to do what he wants to do, in spite of me. I have found my deepest satisfaction in pressing forward, regardless of the situation or circumstance, with confidence that God is fully in control and fully loving. 

What he has given me now is my real life, and it is good.

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