Tonight I listened to a 22-year-old pour her heart out. Three months ago she broke up with her boyfriend of two years. He is now dating someone else; someone who, in her words, could be a top model. She spoke of a damaged self-image and not being good enough. She’d stayed with him for so long, despite bad treatment because who else could love her? And now she’s left alone.
In a room full of married women, they were quick to jump in and give her hope. Everyone has a similar story about the boy they dated that they weren’t meant for. And then they found Mr. Right. And while it’s not quite happily ever after, it’s exactly what she wants to hear. She smiles a teary-eyed smile and realizes that could be her too. Mr. Right could be at the next Bible study or at the next job; who knows, maybe she’ll meet him at the grocery store tomorrow or bump into him on the church steps this Sunday.
As the oldest single in the room, I listened. Like I said, everyone has a similar story. I could have been her 4 years ago. A two-year relationship ended. And basically my life was over. I stayed strong on the outside to anyone who asked. But I was broken inside. That was probably my only shot at happiness- gone. And I didn’t stop thinking about him two months later or even two years later. Every sappy song, every romance movie brought up what could have been.
So I sat and listened to the married women give hope to the single, young woman and I remained silent. I did not have the words that she wanted to hear. I am the portrait of what she does not want to become. I am a reminder that not all journeys have a storybook happily ever after with Prince Charming on his knee at age 22 or 25 or 27.
But if I were to speak with her, this is what I would say. I know you’re afraid to end up alone. So am I. But God is bigger than our fears and He is there to comfort us in our pain, broken-heartedness and anguish. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18.
And then I would tell her that no one should bring someone in to share their life if they do not know who they are with Jesus alone. Todd Wagner, pastor of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, puts it this way, “Any relationship is only as healthy as the least healthy person in it. […]Some people are single and God’s grace is sufficient for them. Some people are single because God is gracious to others.[i]” So often I see my friends go from relationship to relationship. They are serial daters and the lucky (or maybe not so) get married. They do not know what it’s like to be alone, to depend on God alone. They may need validation, or constant attention or someone to nurture or change. I pity them.
God still has things in store for me before/if He decides to bring someone else in to add to the picture. I am wholly invested in becoming who He wants me to be in the meantime and following His path for my life even if I must follow that path with His company alone.
Sometimes I feel lonely. Sometimes I want to have someone to call my own, to do their laundry and make them sandwiches. I desire to have someone depend on me and love me as I am. But ultimately, this will never satisfy my deepest desire to be known and loved by God and to love him in return. The prayer of my heart is clearly spoken of in Psalms 63:
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
It is still hard but God’s grace is sufficient for me. And it can be for you too. Even without the traditional happily ever after. That’s what I would tell her.