I didn’t get married until I was 32 years old. No, I wasn’t a feminist who had sworn off marriage until I had climbed the corporate ladder. Nor was I a free spirit who was resistant to settling down into the comfortable rituals and responsibilities of holy matrimony.
I was simply waiting. Waiting, as a young child petulantly waits for Christmas morning to arrive so that she can finally steal downstairs and experience the wonder and excitement of gifts hidden from her. Waiting, as one who hopes and dreams of something that day after day seems just beyond her reach.
Yes, I grew up in the South. And like all good Southern girls, it seems you are expected to marry by a certain age — that is, if you don’t want people to put you in the “What’s wrong with her?”, “Is she a spinster?”, “Poor thing,” category. Add to that, the strong encouragement from the church to find a mate and begin building your family.
By the time I was 27 years old, I was feeling the pressure. Not just pressure from everyone around me. Pressure was growing into a vicious powder keg deep inside of me. The pressure of uncertainty. The pressure of identity. The pressure of needing to feel chosen, valued. And yes, the pressure of desperately wanting to feel loved.
Looking back on those years, I wish that I had been able to remove the pressure and enjoy that season for what it was and what it could have been. Safely on this side of marriage, it is easy to see that God indeed, was faithful. He did bring my husband in just the right way, at just the right time. The ironic thing is that my husband was right next door for three years, though I never knew him.
Yes, I knew him in the friendly way when you back out of the driveway and raise the obligatory hand to wave at the stranger standing in the driveway next to yours. I knew him in the sense that his father would help keep me informed, the only single female in the neighborhood, as to the precise times to fertilize the lawn, water the lawn, mow the lawn and treat the lawn.
Yet somehow I had missed him. Sometimes I wonder if I was so preoccupied, obsessed perhaps, with making a fool of myself in the attempts to find my husband that I missed what was right before my very eyes? I wonder.
If I had it to do all over again, there are three things I would tell the single me to do while I was waiting for the love of my life.
- Relax and enjoy the ride. Take the pressure off. It’s coming. The life you’ve dreamed of is coming. I know, easier said than done. Yet, if we believe that God wants to honor the desires of our heart and that He has created a special, unique person just for us, we also have to believe he’s coming at the exact hour, on the exact date that God has purposed for him to come. So why not enjoy life a little more in the meantime?
- Focus on the love that is around you now. God knows your desire to experience love. He wants you to experience it from Him. He wants you to learn how to love yourself. He wants you to embrace the love He has placed around you right where you are. Romantic love is but one kind of love God has created for us to cherish and celebrate. Invest yourself in others and you will find love. Look for it. Give yourself to it. Nurture it. Love is found in the miracle of now.
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- Live your best life now. Don’t wait until you find your husband or wife. Don’t simply put life off until you fall in love and get married. Love is a blessing for sure, but a complex and often complicated blessing at that. Take the time you have right now to become the best you possible. Take the time to discover your core identity. Explore new interests about which you are passionate. Uncover the gifts that make up your unique purpose. Take the time to cultivate a strong, deep foundation in your relationship with God. Begin living your bucket list today.
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Life doesn’t start one day down the road when… Life is happening inside of you. Life is swirling around you. Breathe it in. Hold it close. Experience every morsel of love and joy and passion and purpose you possibly can.
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Life comes in seasons. This season won’t last forever. Other seasons will follow. For most, love will come, your mate will come, in due time. You will experience the love you desire most in life. For others, though you may not experience love in the way you believe you need it, God will be faithful to bring you the love you desire. It may come in different ways — through the love of a friend, the love of serving others in need, in mentoring children whose love is untempered and unconditional. Yes, you will experience love.
Be open to love. Look for love in every flower, every child, in every word and in every friendship. When we’re in the process of engaging life right where we are, that’s usually when we are startled to discover the love of our lives.
Don’t miss the love that surrounds you looking for something that is not yet here. Don’t live paralyzed. Quit waiting and start living. Start loving — right where you are.
lead photo used courtesy of Anne Twitchell, https://www.pinterest.com/LadyGiggles97/