Sometimes God uses the most uncomfortable situations to remind us of who we really are—and who he really is.
A few weeks ago, I got together with my old college roommates. We do this every few months, and have ever since we graduated four years ago. The odd part about this particular weekend was that this time around I felt like an odd duckling.
You see, my friends are all married now—and I’m single. They’re looking into buying houses with their husbands; I’m just trying to pay my rent every month. They’ve made the leap to adopt dogs and cats; I’m still nervous about killing my new office plant, Alan (yes, that is his name). And soon, they’ll start having babies, and I will be not one, not two, not three, but four steps away from the path their lives have taken them down.
I sat in silence as they discussed what they did for Valentine’s Day with their husbands. I smiled and nodded through extensive discussions about how excited they are to begin decorating their new homes. And when asked, I tried my best to make my dating life sound much more exciting than it actually is. While they listened intently, seeing dating in your 20s as mysterious, dramatic, and just like the movies, I felt like the circus freak friend who still couldn’t get her act together long enough to commit.
The change I felt in my friendships was odd and unexpected. Suddenly I didn’t know how to relate to these girls whom I stayed up with until 3 a.m. all through college, running to Target in our pajamas to buy Ben&Jerry’s. We have so many memories together. They shaped who I am today, and I’m grateful they’re in my life. But being around them made me feel weird.
As a matter of fact, I spent much of the weekend feeling out of place and awkward.
As I drove home, thinking back over the weekend, I realized it wasn’t only awkwardness I felt. If I had to admit it, I also felt grateful.
I’m happy for my friends. They have wonderful husbands and I’m proud of them for the commitments they’ve made. But I didn’t drive home feeling envious of their lives; I drove home feeling content over how thankful I am for my current place in life. I like—nay—love, being single. And I know I’m not ready to be married.
It occurred to me that God doesn’t allow us all to tread down the same path at the exact same time. He holds us back, he spins us around, and sometimes he pushes us forward into new places and forces us to cut down bushes and forge our own paths.
For them, that means planning and waiting on new houses and future babies and all sorts of wonderful things.
For me, it means exploring this world on my own for a while. And now that I know myself a bit more, I think that’s a good thing. I probably would have been miserable if I’d gotten married right out of college, and God knew that before I did. Growing over the last few years has brought me back to who I really am: a girl who loves art and music and people and writing and chocolate and lost souls and Harry Potter.
In this “awkward in-between time,” God keeps showing me that he can take care of me better than anyone else. When I needed a job, God provided. When I was lonely and prayed for friends in Illinois, God gave me some of the most incredible men and women I’ve ever met.
Of course, I’d be lying if said I don’t feel like I’m waiting, a little, for the next phase. Singleness isn’t as exciting as my married friends seem to think, and there’s nothing glamorous about painful first dates or getting your heart broken. But I’ve learned to stop trying to push my life forward, and to start loving the here and now. In a twisted way, I’ve learned to love this awkward phase, because most of the time it’s downright funny and makes for great stories.
God’s timing is perfect. And right now he sees fit to use the version of me that has an undivided heart.
So who am I to argue with God’s logic?
The sad thing is, I see a lot of single, Christian women (and men, for that matter) who live with the mentality that they’re at a bus stop, waiting impatiently for the marriage bus to whisk them to their happily ever after. They seem bored and unhappy, but I suppose anyone would be, spending their lives on a hard, wooden bench by the curb, day after day. It’s no way to live. It’s a waste. I think it might even be a sin.
God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that he knows the plans he has for us. His plans are not to hurt us, but to give us hope and wholeness and a future. And with that promise, I’m given the freedom to live everyday as an adventure, and more important, to live in the present. I no longer have to wonder anxiously when the next step is going to happen, or if it will be the right one. God knows. He knows me, and he knows his plan. And that’s all that matters.
Although I might be at an awkward stage, it’s in those awkward stages that we do the most growing. Physically, it’s how we move from childhood to adulthood. Spiritually, I think it’s the same.
What is your awkward stage right now? Are you waiting for something? Is it holding you back from living to the fullest?