But to be honest, the thought foremost in my mind when my sweet cousin asked me to be part of her big day, was this: YES! I’ll be your candle lighter but .. 24?! 24?!You’re just now getting married at 24 years of age?? You are so old! I thought Kathy was ancient! At 24, my mom was married and had two children.
My assumption (shaped by years of watching romantic movies, reading teen novels, and discussions with girlfriends) was that you go to college, meet the man of your dreams, get married and ride off into the sunset together. That was my expectation when I entered college the Fall of my freshman year. I knew that in the next four years I would:
- Meet a lot of people, make lifelong friends and have lots of fun (check! check! check!);
- Take my newly-minted Journalism degree and embark on my career as a reporter for a local newspaper (never happened!); and
- Meet the godly man of my dreams and get married at the ripe old age of 21 (oops! Slow that train down. I met several godly, dreamy men but none that were the Dream-fulfiller).
My senior year of college I began a kind of mental game with myself. It was called, “If I meet him today, how quickly can I plan a wedding?” By spring break I knew no one was going to meet me at the end of a church aisle in May …. or June … or even July. That realization, although not as devastating as you might think for a girl who was shocked at a 24-year-old bride, did have a profound affect. It sent me to the chapel where I spent some serious time with God. I can remember being as honest with Him as I knew how.
I told Him all the fears I had about being alone, about having to make life decisions by myself, filling out a tax return (seriously, I have no idea why this was a big deal to me, but it was). I talked and I listened. A sense of peace filled my heart and I knew He would take care of my needs. He would carry me through whatever lay ahead. “Okay, God,” I said. “If I can make it through a year, I will know You will always take care of me.” Don’t you know He just loves that kind of bargaining! Ha!
Obviously I survived that first year. I continued to watch friends – many, many, many friends – get married. 20s ended … still single. 30 … still single. 35 … still single. 40?? Yep, still single. Can you imagine the size of my collection of bridesmaids dresses? I dated. I dated a lot of sharp men. I dated a lot of toads. Let’s be honest, sometimes I was the toad! Ouch! That hurt to say!
But as I walked longer and deeper with my Maker I became more comfortable with my singleness (“For your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name.” I mean, is that not awesome to know God is your husband?!). And one day I realized I enjoyed being single. Did I still have moments of panic? A fear of being alone? Yes. But for the most part I began to see my singleness for what it was – a GIFT. A perfect, good and wonderful gift from a Father who loved me more than I could even begin to calculate. A Father who enjoyed giving good gifts to His children. I wasn’t just treading water until something ‘better’ came along. I had a calling from Him. I was called! What joy! What peace! What a sense of purpose.
So … here are my Lessons Learned in the Trenches of Singleness:
Isaiah 54:1says, “‘Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord.”
Singleness is a blessing … to those of us who are single and to those who are blessed to have us in their lives.
The Rest of the Story:
In the spirit of full disclosure I must confess that at age 43 God changed my calling from single to married. Honestly, I never thought that calling would change. But as only the Master Musician can orchestrate, He brought a godly, loving man, a widower with two awesome children, into my life. They remain three of His greatest blessings. However, I am thankful for those years as a single woman and the Truth He taught me in those quiet and solitary moments and the joy and laughter and people He brought to my life.
Carol is a former single woman who loves Jesus, studying His Word and her family. She spent 30-plus years as a public relations professional and now enjoys spending time with two precocious and precious grandchildren (with hopes of many more to fill her grand-quiver). Her life verse is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”