Have I ever mentioned that I’ve been single for a very long time? Maybe I haven’t fully explained to my faithful readers that finally connecting with the man I believe God ordained for me to spend my life with is something for which I’m full of thanks?
Throughout my single years, I’ve dreamed about this time in my life – how I’d feel, what I’d say, things I’d do. It seemed so far from my reality that I knew I’d be the most grateful, kind, gentle, and gracious girlfriend/fiancée/wife anyone could ever imagine. I’ve often joked around with my family that when I’m finally pregnant, they’ll find me throwing up with a smile on my face, just so joyful to be having a baby of my own.
And yet, as I’ve settled into this relationship and this new role in my life, it feels completely natural and normal. I’m the same woman I’ve always been, just with a new set of responsibilities and relationships to nurture. I’m very thankful for Rick, but I don’t find myself trembling in gratitude and overlooking every little frustration because I’m so happy to have that promised mate. In fact, I may speak my mind more often than a younger bride. I know that this relationship is IT, so I want it to be right and good. I don’t mind sharing my thoughts on that with Rick – setting the record straight, making my feelings known, and standing up for what I have come to know is true.
The funny thing is the near offense I have caught myself feeling when well-meaning friends who prayed with me for years to be connected to the man God had for me congratulate me, or indicate that this situation is unbelievably good. Something inside me tenses up, wondering what they thought was so wrong with me that they now have to congratulate me for finally landing A MAN. I want to snap at them, “Hey! I’ve turned down a number of marriage proposals.” But I know that isn’t what they mean. They were so gracious to listen to me whine and complain about my frustration and pain, never feeling peace that the man who was interested in me was the right one, and then dealing with my fears that God didn’t want me to get married. They prayed for me, anguished with me, and now they are thrilled for me that the time has come. I accept their joy and am so glad to be able to share the obvious answer to our prayers with them.
Being single this long brought with it a sense of shame and a feeling that I could be married if I would just work out whatever was wrong with me. If I could just love God more, have a better figure, wear the right clothes, say the right things to men, and so on – THEN the magical moment would come and I could be a bride. But that didn’t make any sense. I had single friends with near perfect figures, great relationships with God, killer fashion sense, and great personalities – yet they faced the same struggles. I knew married women who were terrible messes and whose husbands adored them anyway. I rejected the idea that something about me needed to be better before the time would come for the right man to love me. Even in my rejection of the idea, the feelings came back from time to time. How did THAT woman find a husband before me? Why did he pick HER and reject me? If that woman would just fix that one thing about herself, she could find a husband. Ugh.
God’s been leading me back repeatedly to a Scripture He laid on my heart several years ago. It’s Isaiah 54, which begins, “Sing, oh barren! You who have not borne, break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than those of the married woman,’ says the Lord.”
Believe me when I say I began to sing! Every time I had an opportunity, I sang. I sang loudly. Sing, sing, sing! I sang as I worked around the house, as I walked down halls at church, belting out the lyrics in services. Judge me if you want, I thought, but my God has told me to sing and I’m not going to do it half-heartedly! I sang and sang and sang, thinking there are more types of barrenness than just those who are physically unable to bear a child.
During my engagement, God has repeatedly drawn my heart back to this chapter. It speaks to my heart and stirs my emotions. It goes on to tell me not to be afraid because God will make sure I’m not ashamed. “For you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.”
That phrase, you will forget, echoes through my mind. God promised that I would forget the way I felt, ashamed and afraid, and He’s done it. It’s hard to remember those feelings any longer. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was nothing wrong with me (or Rick), but God just had some things for us to do alone before we needed to be together. God will make sure we have the things our hearts desire. It’s just happening later than we expected it to, later than what many other people experience.
One final thought… I was walking on the treadmill at the gym the other night. There aren’t many treadmills there and they were all being used. I kept having this thought that I was just taking up space for the real athletes as I plodded along, huffing and puffing at my slow speed. But my heart rate was at a good pace, I was sweating nicely, and I was making personal progress even if I was moving much slower than most of the others. I finally decided to tell the voices in my head to be quiet. I made a choice to stop comparing my speed to the speed of those around me. I decided just to pay attention to my own body and what I needed, do the best I could, and forget everyone else.
What I can remember about my years of singleness is that it was hard for me to make that same decision then. It was hard to stop comparing myself, my progress, my barrenness to those around me. Dear friends had been married for 10 years already and had gorgeous homes with handsome, faithful, hard-working husbands and several kids! If I could’ve just told those voices to be quiet and focused on doing the best I could do, those years would’ve been much more pleasant. I don’t think I would’ve gotten connected with Rick any sooner. I do think I would’ve had a lot more joy in the journey to him.
I don’t want to forget it all. I want to be able to encourage others who wait. But I am thankful to forget the shame, the fear, and to move forward with my life. I’m looking forward to getting married and filling our home with love and joy and yes, even at times, raised voices and challenging words. It takes all those things to make a family. I’m happy to have my chance.
In closing, I want to also acknowledge you all, my faithful readers. I am so thankful for you. I can see how many people read my blog every day, but I cannot tell who you are unless you specifically subscribe to my blog. Then I only see your email address, so if I don’t recognize it, I still don’t know who you are. But it’s such an encouragement to my heart when I run into someone who may have never commented on a post I’ve written, but who mentions something I wrote that touched them. It’s such an encouragement when I see a jump in the number of typical readers in a day and I know that a group of you out there who I’ve never met are reading it together and discussing it. It makes my day. I haven’t been writing as much recently because I’ve been so busy preparing for married life and my upcoming move, but I plan to continue to blog and hope to have a lot more time to write once I’m a farmer’s wife. I hope you’ll continue to read.