This is the first year I’ve experienced a little tinge of sadness around the holidays. It seems that as each year passes life gets a little more “real”. As I’m getting ready to enter into the last year of my 20’s, those difficult things that we all walk through in life have seemed to have added weight as I realize I expected to be walking through these things with someone by this point in my life.
Yes, I am still wildly single. I say wildly because it sometimes feels like a wild ride, this whole single existence. What has it been… 8 years?!… since I’ve been in a relationship? Yikes… this is real life, people.
But oh, the things I have done while being single… I have made sure not to waste these years! I’ve moved across the country, learned new skills, traveled, poured myself into 60 hour weeks at a job I loved, experienced the loss of a job I loved, made new friends, tried online dating (yes, I have stories), lived in seven houses/apartments in four years, served in new ministries, started a job in an entirely new field, been kicked out of a jacuzzi by the cops, experienced the joy of getting rewarded for my hard work, led missions trips to Europe and Asia, mentored students, taken cooking classes, gone through counseling, created art, and so much more. No, these years of singleness have not been wasted. I have lived so much life!
But this year something changed. Early in 2015 I recognized something different about me. My usual acceptance of my singleness and ability to be content in this season shifted into a very uncomfortable state of feeling ready for something more. This was uncomfortable because in the past I have lived in (what I now realize was probably a pretty uncommon state of) peace and contentment with my singleness. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was no longer satisfied with being alone… and boy did that freak me out. I so badly wanted to continue to embrace my independence as I always had… and yet I found myself unable to coax myself into that state of mind anymore.
Thankfully, God had something pretty great to say to me right then and there, back in January/February of 2015. I think the conversation went a little something like this:
Me: Hey God… soooo, what the heck?! How come all of a sudden I’m no longer content with being single? I’m not used to feeling this type of pain… the pain of being alone. This actually really sucks. How do people go years and years and years feeling this way?! Holy crap, are you going to make me be single my whole life? That would just be mean. Haha. (nervous laughter) God? Seriously. Where are you doing here?! You know I’ve always wanted to find a great guy and get married, and I’ve tried so hard to be patient all these years, but for some reason I feel impatient right now. The desire to be married and start a life with someone has grown insane amounts, and I don’t know what to do with that. Is this a reflection of me not trusting You? It doesn’t feel that way… I still believe you are writing my story and that it will be beautiful… but today, something changed, and I feel ready for something different than the life of being single. The single life has lost some of the charm it once had… so where do I go from here?
God: Hey Megan… you’re right, I am still writing your story and it WILL be beautiful. I knew this day would come – the day when you’re ability to fully embrace the single life would get harder and you’d long for something more. Know how I know this? Because I made you! I made you to be strong in your singleness… but I also made you to love people and to long for intimacy. Megan, there is still work to be done. There are things you need to grow in, heal from, and be free from before you will be ready to fully be in relationship. I’ve seen the journey you’ve had and I know the pain you’ve experienced. Life handed you some unexpected turns and I’m glad you’ve allowed me to walk with you in those things… and this is one more thing I am asking you to trust me in. I am going to ask some things of you this year… things that will be uncomfortable, even painful, and things that will take commitment. But, in return, I am promising you FREEDOM. That is your word this year. I desire freedom for you…. freedom from what other people think, freedom from how other people have hurt you, freedom from religious attitudes that have shaped you, freedom from insecurities that have hidden you, freedom from men who have abused you, freedom from the chains that have bound you, freedom from any voice that has spoken lies to you, and freedom TO BE FULLY YOU. You will experience freedom this year, but it will be a process that is difficult. You will learn to love more deeply, feel more openly, relate more intimately, speak more daringly, and sacrifice daily. You may feel intimidated, overwhelmed, uncertain, scared, ridiculous, embarrassed, surprised, and impatient. Take it one day at a time. Allow me to work. Trust in my promise to you. Keep your eyes on me and never lose hope. You are not alone.
So it was pretty clear to me at this point that God meant business. You don’t get a download from the Lord with that type of verbiage and think, “Meh, should be an interesting year.”
Nope, I knew immediately that action was required. First, I knew that I needed to go to counseling. Actually, I’ve known for about 7 years now that I needed to go to counseling, but I guess this year God knew I would actually be ready to put in the time, money, and energy to really dig in… plus, like I said, I knew God meant business so I figured I better “grow a pair” and actually take the leap. I also knew that instead of the plans I had to travel to Australia and New Zealand, that I needed to be a part of the Ex Creatis missions trip that would keep me focused spiritually and artistically… rather than traveling just for the sake of traveling. Finally, I knew I needed to be willing to cry, and cry in front of people, and cry about things that I feel stupid crying about, and to feel all the feelings that I hate feeling and learn from those feelings. (insert annoyed acceptance of the fact that I am human… a human who has lots of emotions and feelings and needs to express them for the sake of my own health – and others haha).
So what I just described pretty much sums up the last year of my life. I’ve gone through 7 months of counseling, ended up being a co-leader on the month-long Ex Creatis missions trip to Spain and Berlin, and have done oh-so-much crying and have felt oh-so-annoyed about it…. but have learned OH SO MUCH because of it. And no, I can’t sit here and say that everything has been solved and my life makes perfect sense and all of those longings and desires have left me (nor do I want them to leave me)…. but what I can say is I am day by day and month by month stepping into greater amounts of freedom! I’m a work in progress… we all are… and the sooner I can accept myself for who I TRULY am, the sooner I can accept others for who they TRULY are.
There’s this fantastic quote that I’ve long loved, and it has become so appropriate for me this year:
As we are liberated from our own fear,our presence automatically liberates others.-Marianne Williamson
I’m still praying about what God’s word for me will be this upcoming year… but I already know that it will be a continuation and a response to what has taken place this past year. As I get ready to step into a new year, I am praying that the freedom, restoration, and liberation I’ve tasted this year will continue to grow and spread into my relationships.
I am praying that you will seek the freedom that is found through Christ, recognizing that sometimes it takes a lot of work… but that it is so worth the sacrifice. I also pray that you will grow in your grace towards others… that you will recognize that we are all on different journeys, but none of us are perfect. I pray that you’ll acknowledge the messiness of it all, and still commit yourself to loving yourself and others selflessly and beautifully.
And for those of you who still find yourself wildly single… I pray that whether you are loving or hating it, that you would seek intimate and raw relationship with Christ first and foremost, because that really, truly is the only relationship that can satisfy. I feel like christians and/or the church have done a good job of making that sound really cheesy… but I think you could talk to married couples who would say the exact same thing… that no matter how much they love their spouse, the only relationship in their life that is never failing is the one they have with Christ. So I say we start practicing that now, while we are wildly single, and wildly uncertain of the future. Let’s commit ourselves to intimacy with Him.
So long, 2015. It’s been a wild ride. Thanks for the life-changing memories.