I had a lot of wisdom bestowed on me today, and interestingly enough, the same message came from two different people.
There was an event tonight addressing singleness, and I've been venting to my friend about how annoying it is being single in your 30's--not because I'm in a bad place, but because it feels as though the rest of the world presumes there's some wrong or pitiable with being single. The pinnacle of achievement seems to be getting married and after that, life is just a joyful breeze of family building and bliss.
Okay, fine. That's lovely. But if you marry the wrong person, there's no Joyful breeze and bliss. There's a lot of tension and misery. Even when you marry the right person, life is hard. Problems arise. The world does not stop spinning the moment you say, "I do."
It's taken me a while to realize that what my friends perceive as "too picky" is just my choice in saying: hey, is this person making me into a better person by being around him? Do we have the same vision and goals and moral compasses? If tragedy were to strike, such as illness or infertility or layoffs or loss, would we be able to handle it? Would we pray together, support each other, remain faithful?
If I can't get through a second date without dreading a third, I'm sorry, but the answer is no. That doesn't mean I'm choosing the single lifestyle, or that I hate men, or that I'm being irrationally choosy. I'm just trusting that there's something better.
This conviction is a struggle, though, particularly when people start offering me advice on how to alleviate my singleness. "You're not putting yourself out there enough," or "You don't give guys enough of a chance" they say. So I log into the dating apps, I talk to strangers, I go on dates. And yet when I return with stories of failed endeavors, or the fact I'm just not attracted to someone, I'm told--usually by the same people-- "Well you know, love comes when you're not looking for it," and "Maybe you're trying too hard."
Anyway, I was venting to my friend Sheri about these and other certain things, and her wise words are as follows (I share them because they are applicable across genres):
"But I came to this point where I said, 'I know how this ends if I try to force it myself. God might let me have what I'm trying to take- but if I do that, I could still end up miserable. If I let God have control, no matter what that ends up being, I can rest and know that I'm not missing out on something better.'"
SO SMART AND SO TRUE.
And reinforcing that message was Corrie Mook's message tonight at the event. I honestly loved everything she said, talking about Corrie ten Boom (after whom she was named) and what it means to live a meaningful life. No one was pitying Corrie ten Boom for not being married after she saved 800 Jews from the Nazis. Life doesn't start when you're married. It starts when you listen to God's voice to be exactly who you are at this moment. How much do we miss (whether we're married or unmarried, have children or not, are in school or working or are retired) waiting until the next thing happens to start living?
Her message was an echo of Andrew's sermon on Ephesians 5:15. Make your time count. Live now. Be wise because the days are evil. Our days have a number, and when we realize that, we fill them with what's important.
I'm writing this mostly as a reminder to myself when the pity party starts to happen. How much time have I wasted wallowing about what I don't have instead of looking around me to see what I can be doing to serve others? I'll tell you. A lot.
May each day be a day of living in the present.