5 Reasons I’m Not Pouting [Anymore] About Not Being Married

1441354_10201012908673555_1984515154_nIt’s no secret that I’ve been in a wedding or two in the last few years. I wish I had a date for every time someone said “Have you seen that movie 27 Dresses? That is so you!” Not for the dating experience, but because I would never have to pay for a meal again. 
 
I haven’t been in 27 weddings. And the weddings I have been in have been delightful. I mean, the last one was in a castle. You could say my friends are pretty cool and have great taste. 
 
I’ll be honest though, when these weddings first started happening I was a little bummed. Not that I got to be a part of some of my favorite people’s big day though. That part was awesome and I got to treat my sweet friends like celebrities (because they totally were). I was just disappointed that I wasn’t there yet. 
 
The disappointment came in waves and the reality is, my friends met great guys. And those guys are smart and realized they should spend the rest of their lives with my friends. So naturally, my excitement should and has exceeded any and all emotions. But jealousy pops in every once in a while.
 
This last year brought on something new though. I started getting over the things that were outside of my control and started claiming the greatness that my life could be, even if it’s just me. So, it’s a process, but here’s why I’m not pouting about it today:

  1. I’m busy.
    Not in a “I’m too busy for a relationship” kind of way, but in a way that means I’m not sitting around waiting. I’m called to do youth ministry and that takes up time. Work doesn’t look like 9-5, Monday-Thursday. It looks a lot like volleyball games for kids that are not my own, weekends out of town, and girls taking over my living room at least once a week. When I meet someone, that stuff will stay. Busyness is a part of everyone’s life, mine just looks a little different. There are times when I notice I’m not married, but there are more days when I don’t walk into my house until 9 pm. Being busy may be a distraction, but it’s not a bad one.

  2. I’m confident in where God has me.
    It’s taken me a long time to get there. It’s taken prayer and people having hard talks with me where I cried a lot and demanded a different outcome. I had for sure thought that God had forgotten me on some days. “Surely he didn’t mean to marry off every single one of my friends except me…” But that’s not really a fair way to look at things. I still need a reminder on this one, but it’s important for me to claim confidence that I am not forgotten and there is still goodness to be seen in my life.

  3. I’m not alone.
    I’ve said goodbye to a lot of cool people in the last few years. Not forever, they just moved. Because they got different jobs, or their spouses got different jobs. Or life just took them in a new direction. Those days have been sad and I’ve really missed the people who have come and gone. But the great thing is, I haven’t really been completely alone. I still have incredible people that invite me to be a part of their lives. They invite to grab lunch after church or to run errands or just pop over because they were on my side of town. I’m really blessed in that sense. Though I’m not married, my married friends still include me in on their adventures.

  4. I know how to be alone.
    It’s taken a really long time for this one to sink in. Not that I haven’t been alone before, or a majority of my life. But understanding how to truly be alone takes time. In the past year I have learned how to go to the movies, kill spiders, and decorate my Christmas tree all by myself (cue Céline Dion…no wait, don’t. That song is way so sad). Those things take time to grow into if you are constantly pouting over not being able to do them with your future spouse. I love that one day I will be able to say that I learned how to do those things and I can’t wait to learn what else I can do on my own in the next year (except hang shelves or curtains…I don’t care if I’m 70 when I get married, I will not know how to do those things).

  5. I know marriage will be great some day.
    The cool thing about having friends getting married right now is that I get to see different marriages. I get to see different struggles and watch as they navigate this new stage of their lives. I get to see all of those things now, and feel pretty good about having that in the future. Sometimes I really want cheesecake, but I know I have to work out for like, a week before I feel like I should have it. Not because I don’t deserve the goodness of cheesecake, but because wanting it right now doesn’t mean I should have it right now. I don’t think marriage is like cheesecake, I think I’m just hungry.

Pouting isn’t fun for anyone. I have gone through some down days and I’m sure there will be more days where I’m not throwing a party because I’m still single. And there will be days where I’m a little jealous. Like when my married friends cook dinner and I’m at home melting cheese between two pieces of carbs because singleness (and because cheese and carbs are delicious whether you’re married or not). But all in all, I think these things have stood as a reminder that being single in your late 20s isn’t bad. And being married in your late 20s isn’t bad either. Your life may not look like your friend’s lives and that’s just not really worth pouting over.

To Those On the Fence

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This past Saturday I decided to venture downtown to watch the Georgia vs. Clemson game. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that college football can draw a crowd nearly as heavy as St. Patrick’s Day. We finally made our way into a packed bar before the end of the first quarter.

Then the guys next to us strike up a conversation. Please, no…just let us watch the game in peace.

After trying to politely carry on a conversation while I pick over my pizza and wings, one of the guys finally asked my favorite question. The one that can end someone’s interest in a heartbeat if I answer it the right way.

“So, what do you do?” Now’s my chance…we have two more hours of this if I don’t answer this right.
“I work at a church.” Silence. Finally.

And then the unexpected happened. This guy had questions. Struggles. And a desire to know more about an establishment that had certainly let him down and offended him. And over the yelling and cheering in this crowded bar, Jeff and our table began what is now one of my favorite Spiritual discussions to ever take place while watching college football (my hope is that it won’t be the last).

All of that being said, I have sat with a heavy burden on my heart since then. My mind racing with the ways that we, as the Church, have failed our friends. People that were close to encountering Jesus, who wanted to know more about the Gospel, only to be let down by a Christian in their lives. So, I guess I wanted to write an apology. It’s going to leave out a lot, may overstep boundaries, and has the potential to bore you. But if you’re on the fence, I want you to read it anyway.

To My Friends Who Are On the Fence About Jesus:

I hope this finds you well. I know you don’t want to hear it. “Here goes another Christian with an agenda”, you’re grumbling. But wait, hear me out.

I’m sorry.
We’ve done some really crappy things. And not just in the sense of history. Just in day to day life. Because we’re not perfect. And we’ve poorly represented Jesus. I’ve seen it and I’ve taken part.

For when we’ve expressed anger and bitterness before love.
For when we’ve been late, or even worse, not shown up.
For that time you came to church and no one greeted you or made you feel like you shouldn’t be there.
For when we’ve made you feel like you don’t belong.
For when we’ve been unapproachable.
For when we’ve made you feel like you had to walk through something hard alone.
For when with the same tone we’ve led worship or prayed words of healing, we tore someone else down and ripped them apart.
For when we’ve been the last to forgive.
For when we’ve cut in line to take for ourselves, leaving others in the dust.
For when we’ve spoken “Christianese” without truly being genuine about the words we’re speaking.
For our sometimes questionable appearance in the media.
For when we’ve proudly rocked our Jesus bumper stickers as we cut you off in traffic.
For when we’ve claimed to care, and yet stood by doing nothing.
For when we’ve presumed to know your side of the story without actually listening.
For when we’ve intentionally danced around your questions because we’re too uncomfortable to address them.
For when we’ve led you to believe “being good” gets you into Heaven.
For when we’ve said “I’ll pray for you” and forgot.
For when we’ve said “I’ll pray for you” and used it as a chance to air your dirty laundry.
For when we’ve skewed Truth to match our perception of who we want Jesus to be.
For when we’ve done something to cause you to use the word “hypocrite” or worse.
For when we should have been a calming and comforting presence, and instead we just brought chaos.
For these and the many times you’ve had to say “Wow, so that’s what a Christian is like?” with disgust dripping from your tongue. 

We can be bad messengers. The Gospel is better than this. Don’t let the actions of that “one Christian you know” drag the perfect image of Jesus through the mud. I’m sorry, Jeff. And I’m sorry to those that we’ve pushed away with our actions. We should be living and breathing the Gospel and sometimes we just fail. Please show us the Grace that we have failed to show you.

I wish I could tell you I won’t be guilty of the things on this list of apologies, but the reality is, I’m a work in progress. My new friend won’t ever get to read this, and that kind of makes me sad. But I can try to continue to shape other’s vision of what a follower of Jesus should look like.