I’m watching two baby boys sleep on a Saturday night. To be quite honest—when I was 12 years old I definitely thought I’d have 2 babies of my own by 24. Let me be clear….when I was 12 I thought 24 was a very grownup age. But still, I think there’s an expectation that others place, and we place on ourselves in the South that you graduate college, get married and have babies. And that’s it. That’s the pattern, that’s the plan, and that’s what feels good.
But at 24 that’s not how it looks for me, and that’s not how it looks for some of my friends, both my age and even older. I’ve cried with friends through breakups, given words of advice about dating (don’t ever take my dating advice people) and prayed for strength for all of us going to wedding after wedding with the constant reminder that we’re the outliers.
It’s tough- I can be vulnerable and say that. I don’t typically talk about this part of my life so this is weird for me to reflect on. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve sworn off dating for seasons. But God designed us for companionship, so of course there’s heartache without it.
It’s a strange thing to not be part of the group who’s in love and picking out white dresses and praying for babies.
Nothing can replace or heal that wound. I know that and believe that to my core but lately I’ve been trying to find good distractions. I found myself feeling icky and unloved a few weeks ago. Somewhere in between the wedding invites on my fridge and the realization that 24 feels a bit old I lost my perspective. I went into this strange place of wondering and being oh so scared that maybe God didn’t design ME specifically for marriage. Maybe it’s not in the cards. Which led to some self-loathing and a lot of questioning.
Last Friday I was in the thick of it and had agreed to babysit the SWEETEST four kiddos in the world. I barely made it through the door before their mama- and one of my dearest friends- said “oh Pres, you are so loved. By me and by these kids”. Something just switched and I realized that while I am not picking out bouquet flowers or staring at a sparkly ring on my finger…..I still am surrounded by love. And that was such a note from God in a moment when I needed it deeply.
Love is so much more than dating someone, or even marriage- and switching perspectives makes this in-between stage of life much sweeter. For me right now…love is the sweetest faces peering over my bed at 7 AM and waiting for me to open my eyes and say good morning. Love is my Mom’s face when I surprise her with flowers after a tough week. Love is the feeling I have in my stomach watching my brother do something he’s passionate about. Love is sitting at a table with my best friends giggling over nothing. Love is hearing my Dad say he’s proud of me.
Several of us are in that stage- standing by friends as they marry the loves of their lives while aching because we aren’t there yet. Dealing with never ending questions and often times wondering what in the world is wrong with us.
Yes, we are in a different stage. And yes, it’s often times uncomfortable and different. Heck, even physically painful sometimes. But rather than seeing it as a burden or something to be angry about…I think it’s okay to try and find contentment. Even if just for a day or two every now and then. Contentment and joy in it. Perspectives can change- it’s kind of an excruciating process but nothing worthwhile is easy.
We’re human, and we’re sinful, which means we’re just going to long for things. I think that’s okay too. Acknowledging that this isn’t where we want to be for long is important. It’s okay to question God on this….I question it often. And it’s in the moments when I question it the most that He shows up with a love note— a reminder that while life is different, it’s still sweet.
Finding ways God shows you love is important for everyone to do- but I think it’s especially important for those of us single and unhappy about it. Just because he hasn’t sent us our soulmate yet doesn’t mean He isn’t showing up in a million ways every day to show us love.
So I’m not registering for wedding gifts or even trying to decide what to wear on a date tonight. I’m watching two babies sleep while their parents are at a wedding. I got to dress them in the cutest pjs and hold them while they watched cartoons until bedtime. Someone trusts me with their babies. Those babies looked up at me and smiled before rolling over to go to sleep. I’m not currently loved by a significant other…. but I feel so much love from God right now and I’m content. I hope it’s in the cards for me, and for the friends I love dearly, but for now I’m praying extra hard for God to love us well in the meantime.
“As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”
This has been taped to my car dash for 2 weeks now. It’s a reminder that we can’t understand what He’s doing always, because we are not meant to. I don’t know why I’m still in this life phase, but just as He so perfectly forms a baby in its mother’s womb, He has a perfect plan for my life….for OUR LIVES. And right now it just doesn’t include being married. And that’s okay.