Actually, this is not a blog about marital status. This is a blog about the thing in your life that is bothering you. The thing that is bothering me is a pressure (possibly imaginary and possibly not) to justify my life in what I believe is a different way than if I were married. There are a great many things I like about not being married. My life is undeniably, un-ignore-ably, rich. It is filled with deep friendships, God’s word consistently coming alive to me, books, poetry, my beautiful city, travel, the best coworkers, I could ever ask for, the worlds’ most hilarious students, a ridiculously close and fun family and a church where I’m known. Of course, none of these things satisfy ultimately, but they are great life bonuses.
But one of the things I hate about not being married is that it makes me a SINGLE person, and that raises a question sometimes actually asked aloud by the occasional middle school student or grandparent: why am I not married? I could offer some thoughts, but the truth is, I don’t know. I am just simply not. It is not my story right now. It would be easier to handle this question if I didn’t want to be married. But I do want to get married at some point. And this makes me vulnerable and being vulnerable makes me mad. Sometimes I don’t actually even want to be married. I just want to be un-singled so that I don’t have to deal with this particular vulnerability.
And that is one of the reasons I think it is so good that this is my story. My thing that if I were writing the book of my life I would have changed, my thing that is a little confusing and sometimes scary, is just kinda hanging out there on my naked ring finger. Of course, this is not just the case for single people. People who are dealing with infertility, sickness, divorce, and addiction, often their thing is exposed, too.
I have been aware recently that I am actually blessed to be exposed in this way. If I were married with 2.5 kids I might feel more externally “normal.” (Maybe. No doubt I would still be neurotic.) But I would still have a thing. A good friend who is happily married friend with five kids, a beautiful house, an incredible relationship with her church and a flourishing lay-counseling career told me a secret that I believe. Being married and being single are the same: life sucks without Jesus.
This is also not a life sucks blog. The truth is that with Jesus at the center, with his glory lighting things up, with his love and care and promises and personality and just HIM being a hero and infusing even the tiny interactions with deep deep purpose, things can be pretty incredible here on earth. Even my sadness can be offered up as beautiful gifts to him. All gifts. My melancholy, my gratitude, the times I love my students well or when I repent because I didn’t. When I tuck an eighth grade girl’s hair behind her ear as she cries and tell her, “Guess what, darling, Jesus can meet you here. Even in this pain.”
I guess this is a blog about letting people in on your “thing.” Life is precious and horrible, and it is hard without people knowing what you are up against. I have to ask the questions: “AM I FUNDAMENTALLY UNLOVEABLE?! DID GOD FORGET ABOUT ME?! AM I ALONE?! ARE MY EGGS DYING?!!!” And then I cry on my roommate’s bed or my sister’s lap or over a beer with Doug Serven (so thankful to have a patient pastor) and they remind me that they love me a LOT and then I usually remember how awesome my life is and that it’s going to be okay. Your questions might be, “What if I can never connect with my husband again? What if I don’t make enough money to care for my family? What if my addiction is exposed? What if I told a big lie? What if I don’t get well? If the doctors don’t figure it out? What if I can’t hear God? What if I can’t have children? What if I do have children and they turn out horrible? Where is God in that?”
Or there is a chance that you have reached a danger zone of apathy, of no great wonder to give to the Lord. Of ease and comfort, and then you should ask the Lord to press you. To give you a great question, to show you your cross to bear.
When we ask our question, when we have a little occasional meltdown, we are met. Met by assurance and Jesus and eventually, our tears turn into laughter. What on earth, what on earth, can we fear. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for us. We shall spend eternity glad for every moment we chose to trust and obey him.