Will I ever be loved? Like, Pride & Prejudice-Mr. Darcy loved?
A few months ago a friend of mine who is a pastor approached me and asked if I'd share some words of encouragement for a girl he knew. He and his wife have been blessed with the opportunity to pour into the lives of young people, and with that comes the need to counsel and guide people through navigating the many questions that come with adulthood. This particular young lady was worried about whether or not she'd ever get married. My guess is that she's seeing a lot of her friends date, get engaged, get married, and maybe even starting a family.
Here's the funny thing - almost a decade ago, I was that girl. I've always been an extreme romantic, but I never dated much. Oh, but I loved. I pined. It was SO bad. I have to laugh when I think back on it, but I'll never apologize for the way God wired me to be passionate and deeply feeling. If anything, I've always been true to who I am and true to what I feel. And my friend, the pastor, remembers meeting me at this point in my life when all I wanted was to get married. I'm thankful that he reached out to me recently, and my hope is that the words I penned will not only help that one girl, but help anyone else who may choose to read this. So, for all the girls who are wondering if it will ever be their turn . . .
Advice to girls who want to get married some day but feel like it will N E V E R happen . . .
There’s a John Mark McMillan song I love called “Heart Won’t Stop” and it’s all about how God is going to keep coming after us no matter what. I think as girls, we crave a heart connection at that deep Iamgoingtochaseyoutotheendsoftheearth level. I don’t know about you, but I’m an extreme romantic. It’s seriously bad. I love every love story ever. I’ll rewatch the movie twenty times (I might even cry, but crying is almost like sweating for me it’s so normal, so I tell people not to worry about it. Freakin Publix commercials, amIright?) I’ll re-read the book. I’ll listen to that song on repeat 100 times as if I’ve never heard it before. I’m a deep feeler, so if that’s you, too, I get you, girl.
I’m also an incredibly independent person. I’m strong willed. I can move the heavy furniture by myself, thank you. And yet. After attending a Christian college where I felt sometimes like engagement spread around campus like a disease, I really started to wonder at 22 if it would ever be my turn. Don’t get me wrong - I was totally happy for my friends who were entering their own universe of wedded bliss, but when you go through college for four years and you don’t have a S I N G L E date, you really doubt if this marriage thing is ever going to happen for you.
When I was in high school, I was told to make a list of things I was looking for in a future partner. I don’t know why, but I was a big believer that having a clear idea of what I was looking for would help me avoid the guys who didn’t measure up the guy I wanted to marry someday. To a certain degree, I was right. If you’ve made one of these lists, that is awesome. I would encourage anyone have a clear vision for where she wants to go in life, and this includes the type of people she’s going to spend time with. In some ways, this list protected me. In other ways, I think it hindered me. Looking back, I wish I’d been a little more open to talking to that guy friend who - in my eyes - was nice enough, but didn’t measure up. In reality, he probably did measure up, but I was closed off. Don’t get me wrong - I love my husband (more on him later) - but I think I confused being open with compromising my standards. Those two things are not the same. So, don’t be afraid to be friends with a guy just because you’ve decided he’s not “marriage material” for you. Remember those four years of college I mentioned that were completely dateless? I learned a few years later that two guys I had crushes on actually liked me. They just never asked me out. Not my fault as far as I’m concerned, but my point is that I don’t want you to buy into the lie that no one is noticing you or that you’re not good enough. The guys are trying to figure all this stuff out just like you are. Sometimes (I know, it’s frustrating, but hang in there!), they just don’t know what to do when they’re interested.
You know the love story where they both instantly knew they were in love with each other? The one where she K N E W he was the one? Yeah. That's not my story. I borderline hated my husband when I met him. Legit. In retrospect, I married a man who measures up to that list from high school in many ways, however, he does not fit that list to a tee. I was blinded by all the things I thought disqualified him in the beginning. I almost missed him. If you’re a planner like me, negotiating your expectations can be difficult. I’ll give you a superficial example. One of the things on my list was that the guy I married needed to be taller than I am. I am 5’8’’ (on a good day). My husband is 5’8’’ (he would totally argue he’s 5’9’’. whatevs). This meant wearing flats on my wedding day, but I’m a casual girl, so that didn’t really bother me. Is height really the reason to pass on someone? Absolutely not. Is the guy you're interested in a bit of a jerk and not very kind to the people around him? Hmm. You might want to think on that a bit longer than, say, whether or not he likes your favorite hobby as much as you do.
This might be a good time to mention I made a radical decision when I was 14 related to dating. In my head, I had this thought process that if God intended for me to marry one person then why would I ever be physically intimate with someone I wasn’t married to? I decided that I didn’t want to kiss anyone I wasn’t married to. At 14, this sounded like a great idea. At 25, I felt like a freak of nature and was embarrassed to admit that I’d never been kissed. Also, one brief dating relationship I had in high school ended when he realized there was legit going to be no making out, etc. He disappeared and my heart was crushed. Did I mention he was tall and handsome (tall? check. handsome? check. same values? um . . . but did I mention he was tall??)
Back to my overwhelmingly-romantic love story. Where was I? Oh, right. I hated him. We were so incredibly different. I thought God had lost his mind. I thought, “There is NO way I’m going to date this guy.” Well, we’ve all learned an important lesson thanks to the contemporary singer-songwriter, Beiber. Never say never. Because if you do, God will lovingly laugh and say, “Oh, yeah? Watch this.”
It’s good to be protective of your values and standards. It’s unfair to ask a guy to measure up to every single one of your expectations. No guy you meet with ever be Jesus. Guess what? I want to throw heavy things at my husband sometimes (no, I’m not violent, and I’ve never thrown anything at him (except a pillow or two), but marriage is not all roses and unicorns). Every guy you meet - no matter how wonderful he is - is going to be a sinner just like you. My husband is the only guy I’ve ever kissed. I treasure that. So does he. I married a guy who on our very first date said that he hoped that when he got to heaven that God would know who he was. Talk about being in two completely different places! In the months to come, I challenged Adam. I asked him to read faith-based books with me and to listen to sermons I really loved. He rose to the challenge. He recognized that he wasn't going to get to me without going through the Father first. Oh, and he was Catholic and I was Protestant. S O M A N Y T H I N G S not on my list.
I’m sure at some point you’ve read this and thought, cute story and all but . . . I’m still V E R Y single over here and this isn’t really helping me. Maybe not. I keep thinking back to the majority of my twenties (I started dating my husband-to-be when I was 27) and remembering the the days, months, and Y E A R S of wondering if it was ever going to happen for me. What’s wrong with me? Where’s my dream guy? Am I pretty enough? What if I never get married? You’re engaged? Cool. I need to buy A N O T H E R bridesmaids dress? I’m happy for you, but do I have to?? Who are all these guys I am not interested in and why are they in front of me? Ha. I know exactly how it feels to be told by someone who I S married that I shouldn’t worry about it and it will happen when it happens and blah blah blah. I get it.
Here’s the truth of it. For the rest of your life, you’re going to have something that you’re waiting on. You’re going to have something you’re looking for. Something that you and God have talked about a billion times and you’re still waiting on an answer. A husband. A child. A job. A house. Healing. Provision. The list goes on and on. Some days are easier than others. And then there are the moments where you’re in the deep. There are tears. Maybe there’s anger. You try to negotiate with God (That’s not how He works, by the way. He’s far more generous than I think we'll ever fully understand). You cry out to Him. Maybe you feel forgotten. The truth? His heart will not stop coming after you. That perfect love you’re longing for and wanting to feel the reality of? It exists. It is real. It is in front of you. The hard part? It’s often not tangible, and that’s what we often crave. I get it. It can be so hard. You want to feel the warm, strong arms wrap around you and know that you’re loved. Girl, you’re already being chased after. Don’t you know it? He’s after you every day. He's so real. I’ve been both miserably single and happily married. I've also been happily single and miserably married. I will tell you right now that while my husband makes me happy most days, he’s not the source of my happiness. There are days he makes me furious. The only true relationship I have with a man in my life is with Jesus. He is the O N L Y one who has never let me down. He’s the only one I lean on to take care of me.
Maybe you will get married some day. Maybe you won’t. I sincerely hope the Lord gives you what you desire, but you have to T R U S T him when he doesn’t give you what you’re asking for. He’s such a loving Father. If there’s a guy out there for you, God knows exactly where he is and He’s watching over him for you. My husband and I would never have worked out if we’d met earlier in life (we kind of did - we went to the same elementary school, but that’s another story for another day). I’m begging you to put your trust in God’s timing. He knows the longing in your heart. He knows what you’re hoping for, and he wants not only to give you those things, but to give you what’s even better. There are qualities about my husband I would have never thought to have written down on my list in high school, but I’m so thankful God graciously didn’t limit his gift to me based on what I wrote on that list all those years ago.
My advice (that you didn’t ask for) is to be honest about what you’re looking for. Talk to God about this guy you’re looking for. Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment if you date someone and you’re not sure if it’s a good idea. And, finally, if you’re on that #foreversingle grind, trust that God has not forgotten you. He’s written a love story just for you. You’re already part of it. If He has a guy that is good enough for you, He’ll put him in your path to join the story. Just don’t miss out on the incredible Iamgoingtochaseyoutotheendsoftheearth love that is already in front of you. It’s real. He’s there. He’s perfect. H E is the adventure you need to chase after. In the waiting, C H A S E the adventure that is this beautiful life that is already in front of you. You're breathing. Go live.