Well, that is unless you count that one time in 8th grade (I’m still not sure if I’ve told my mom about this… if not, sorry Mom) when this boy and I moved into the state of what you call “going out” (not really dating, or even speaking for that matter, just a boyfriend and girlfriend couple who glance awkwardly at each other from time to time). For most of my life I’ve had to pretend my singleness doesn’t bother me. Why? Because we live in this weird society that in order to be single you’ve had to fit into one of two categories.
Society, both Christian and secular, has this warped idea that if someone is single, they either need to be totally obsessed with getting un-single as soon as possible OR they need to embrace their singleness to the fullest with this tough, independent attitude that pretty much is like wearing an “I HEART CELIBACY!” shirt for all the world to see.
Truth is I’ve never fit into either of those categories… I’ve pretended to be more of the latter, when in truth; my singleness has bothered me for a long time.
Basically, I’ve been on some dates, but even those leave much to be desired as far as being “in the know” when it comes to romantic attachments. A Mexican restaurant here, movie date there, an art museum, a hiking trip, and some coffee shop chats on the side… truth is I am NOT the most romantically competent gal on the planet. My history, it seems, goes no farther than a “two-date wonder”.
So, you can see I’ve set the stage for this pitiful girl caught between wanting to be a strong, independent woman, but also not nearly content with her singleness. Meanwhile, the world around me is screaming at me to pick a side.
As far as relationships go, other than the example of my parents and far too many friends who have married young, I’m on my own to figure out what my problem is. To this day, the only boy I can say I ever “truly” loved died from cancer when I was sixteen. While sixteen-year-olds may not really understand love, I know for a fact they understand heartbreak. Since him, I’ve had a few crushes, all secret obviously because you CAN'T have crushes and be proud of your singleness at the same time.
Or maybe society isn’t to blame for my silence about liking someone. While I’ll give you my opinion on everything from wildlife conservation to “Twilight”, expressing attraction is not one of my vocal tendencies...like EVER. I’m pretty sure my group of friends from high school sat around talking about how strange it was that from age 16-20, I refused to show ANY interest in boys… and I mean AT ALL (unless you count fictional characters because I had a thing for Prince Caspian for a LONG time lol). I’ve been a 3rd, 5th, and 9th wheel for more times than I care to count, but I’ve never been somebody’s “#1”.
Yet while I acted, and still act, like boys aren’t an issue… boy, oh, boy they’re a big one. In my senior year of college (as in six months ago, lol) I had a moderately significant crush on this guy in one of my literature classes. He was the stuff dreams are made of (too cheesy? YAH.)… AKA totally my type. He was tall, dark, handsome, blue eyes, adventurous spirit, with a heart for God AND missions, and GREAT taste in music. Not to mention he was super smart. Having this "school girl crush", though 22 and most independent in nature, I didn’t know what to do to get him to notice me. My solution? I tried to engage him in conversation whenever I saw him; at meals, in class, in the hall, if we passed in the library… One time when he helped me with a writing project, I took my biggest step yet to let him know I was interested. I wrote him a thank you note and put my phone number in it. SCANDALOUS, RIGHT?
I do not throw myself at men, but that was about as close as I’ve ever come to being “the pursuer”. Nothing happened, he was polite and obliging, but it never went beyond that. He never called or texted and in a few weeks we graduated and went our separate ways.
I spent quite some time after texting a close friend, being the classic over-dramatic-scorned girl. I think the phrase, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME!?” was sent more than a few times. But seriously, all around me society is pointing its fingers saying, “You are 23 years old, you’ve yet to have a serious boyfriend, or even get past a second date! Obviously, you’re doing something wrong, girl! Half your friends are married by now!” Whether it was extended relatives asking about my relationship status, newlywed friends, friends in relationships, or most commonly those beautiful people in movies, every once in a while I would feel The Look. If you’re not in the same boat as me you’ve probably not even realized this Look exists. When people talk to you they all get it… this sad, curious look that says, “Poor dear, still on your own? How are you going to change that?” Followed by each and everyone one of them giving me their advice on how "not to let it bother me" or how to get myself in the proverbial “game”.
Some have said, “Stop, pursuing… the ones worth keeping will pursue you.” Yeah, I want that, I totally want that, what girl doesn’t want to be pursued by a boy? However, the truth is if I’m not “pursuing” them, all I’m doing is just here waiting. Waiting to be wanted… waiting to be noticed… it feels like I’m waiting to matter.
I’m sitting here now wondering… is this my life now? Being interested in someone for a little while, doing everything in my power to get him to notice me, pursuing him in whatever awkward way I attempt to, realizing it’s not to be, and then waiting around for the next interesting man to come along? Pursuing… and waiting… waiting and pursuing… all with this pitiful hope that at some point the man will eventually turn out to be that cheesy Hallmark movie “ONE”. I don’t want to live that life.
I don’t want to have to choose between strength in myself or strength through a significant other… Why does strength have to come from me or someone else? Let’s be honest, if history is anything to go by, we both fail.
The standard “Christian” alternative to this is sitting around telling the world that I’m perfectly and totally content to be single… that I’m waiting for God’s timing… when in truth this “waiting” for my husband to get here is making me unbelievably miserable. Why? Because my waiting is really just building expectation that reality NEVER meets up with. That’s a sad place to wait.
So here is where I find myself, with a question. The question is, what is the place between waiting and pursuing?
So, what do I do? Keep holding onto the good girl’s Christian idea that God will bring the perfect guy along when the time is right? People say, “It’ll happen when you’re not expecting it”, which if I’m honest is ALL THE TIME… and still a form of expecting something. That’s still waiting… Where is the bridge between waiting and say… acceptance? Accepting things will be okay one way or the other.
In church we are taught that the Bible says, “Wait upon the Lord”. I think subconsciously that verse has been combined the verse in Psalms 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This then turns into my own version that reads, “I must wait upon the Lord and he will give all my deepest wishes.” Which in turn is translated as I'm actually ONLY willing to wait on God as long as He is going to eventually give me what I want. That is so NOT Biblical. Misguided Christianity for so long has begun to scream a twisted, “Wait upon the Lord… to bring you a husband,” but do you know what that really is saying? What that really boils down to is forget God because what I’m actually doing is just waiting on a husband.
That is not truth. The Bible says “Wait upon the LORD.” Wait upon God alone, nothing else, no "Wait upon God..." whens, ifs, ands, or becauses. What God is really saying is to wait on Him, delight in him, and watch His desires become mine.
This realization stopped me in my tracks. This exhausting and frustrating process of pursuit and waiting… I’ve had it all wrong. There is only one Being I should be pursuing or waiting on. And it’s not the one both Christian and secular culture alike throw at me. I want to pursue God for God… not for a husband. I want to wait on God for God… not for Him to provide me a husband.
The best part is that God is already pursuing me. He has been pursuing me for ages. He pursues me every day of my life. He displayed his immeasurable devotion and passion for me by sending his only Son to die in my place. He waits for me just as I am called to wait on Him. Waiting on God means living the life He has established for me and following where He leads me. Trusting him on this beautiful, but often rocky path called life.
So yeah, marriage, a husband, kids, as much as it embarrasses me to say it they’re something I want. I don’t fit into that one of the other. Yes, I’m a strong independent woman who is proud to be capable on my own, but I’m also this fanciful romantic who desires to find marriage, human love and commitment. Marriage... it’s something I want, but NOT something I NEED. I trust God with this path. Trust… faith… Hebrews 11:1 reads, “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living…” [MESSAGE].
You see, I’ve come to discover that the place between waiting and pursuing is FAITH and TRUST in God. Not always easy, but always worth it. The voices around me are still telling me to pick a side, but luckily I don't have to depend on myself or a significant other to be my strength. Only GOD’s strength has the power to withstand ALL trials and hardships. At the end of the day, it's ALL ABOUT GOD.
So there isn’t anything wrong with me, or YOU, if you’re reading this in the same position I am. I like to think of it as God wanting me to himself, which He does, whether I’m in a relationship with someone or not. I am fully His first. And I don’t have to choose between embracing singleness or celibacy because my focus is not on the things of man, but on the things of God. The things of God are so much bigger than my little world can possibly comprehend and I love it. Where I'm standing right now... it’s not a normal place to be, but I’m done waiting. I’m done pursuing. Instead I’m longing to be consumed by trust and faith in the most mighty and glorious King of the Universe… and it’s kind of amazing.
Besides, my adventures with Him being my pursuit and my pursuer, my challenges waiting with Him and on Him are so much bigger and better than silly boys.