This post is dedicated...with love...to some pretty amazing friends...
We tend to associate with those we have a common bond with...with those who are in the same stage of life as we are...and as a result I know a lot of amazing single women...women I love and admire and strive to be like.
When I knew that Jason was the real deal...when I realized that I wouldn't be single very much longer my first emotion was guilt...guilt because I knew at least 20 amazing women who were more deserving than I, women who were yearning to be a wife, women who wanted nothing more than to be a mother...and yet for some reason I was the one getting married. The guilt didn't last long, because if nothing else, I believe completely in a God who has a plan for my life...and a plan for each and every one of my friends.
We, my friends and I, had similar upbringings for the most part. We grew up going to church, praying, trying to keep God's commandments, being taught right and wrong, and being taught that the greatest roles we could have in life were those of being a wife and a mother. And while those roles were not something I always wanted to play in my own life, I believed that being a wife, and especially being a mother were some of the greatest things we could do. We are creating a life...with God...and I can't think of anything more amazing and sacred than that.
I don't remember my leaders in church ever telling us that we might not get married, or that we might get married and then divorced, or that we might not be able to have children, or that really horrible things could happen to us...of course they wouldn't say those things because doesn't everyone who loves us only want what's best for us? And doesn't everyone who loves us want us to believe only in the best possible outcome?
As I got older being single became more of a struggle...not because I was miserable...but because everyone around me thought that I must not have been happy...not truly...because I wasn't a mother. I remember my grandma said to me once, "If you had only gotten married at 18 you wouldn't be having these trials in your life." She loves me, and she means well, but I have never wanted to tell her off more than I did at that moment.
Well-meaning friends and neighbors would ask about my life. Cousins I hadn't seen in ages would start every conversation the same way, "Are you dating anyone?" Everyone offered suggestions...everyone gave advice on things I should do differently...on ways that I should act differently. The same grandma, who I love...really...once told me, "Noelle, you need to be more righteously seductive." My brother still teases me about that.
"Are you going to dances?"
"Are you dating?"
"Are you putting yourself in situations where you can meet people?"
"Are you flirting?"
"Are you praying hard enough?"
These and many others were questions I heard frequently.
And I knew that if I wasn't careful, I was going to eventually let these well-meaning people define my life...and to be honest, it would have been an unhappy life.
We are NOT who we are based on our marital status or based on the number of children we have. We are NOT any more or any less in the eyes of God because we're married or single or because we have 10 children or none. We simply ARE...and that is enough.
In the months since I've been married I've heard from several friends who are struggling with their lives...who are wanting something they don't have, and who want peace to deal with situations that are completely out of their control. And in each situation I wish more than anything that I had the answers. I wish that I could say to some of my friends, "If you do this you will have a baby." I wish that I could say to others "If you do this you will meet the man of your dreams." And to some I'm closest to I wish I could say, "If you do this, you will have your financial burdens lifted."
All I can say...over and over again...is that God has a plan...a real and definite plan...and trusting and believing in His timing will bring us the most happiness in the end.
In the mean time...just live. Embrace life and make the most of every single opportunity. Just be...just be the best person you can be and do the most with what you're given at the moment. If what you're given at the moment is an empty field, plant wildflowers. If what you're given at the moment is a mountain, just climb it and enjoy the view at the top. And if what you're given at the moment is harder than what you can bear, just dig your heels in a little deeper and trust that God is there.
I have two greeting cards that I've framed and put in my office. The first says this:
"There are many people who go their whole lives without living one day. She did not intend to be one of those people."
The second says this:
"Any given moment can change your life. You just have to be there."
If I've learned anything in life, it's that even in the midst of disappointment, I can find a silver lining if I'm looking for it. Some of the biggest disappointments I've faced and some of the greatest heartaches I've felt have brought about some of the biggest blessings of my life, and looking back, I wouldn't change a thing...