My life this year has alternated between bittersweet and wonderful moments. Friends came and went, one job vanished and a new one turned up, and new hobbies took over my free time. I’m surrounded by fantastic people and am incredibly blessed in many things.
It’s just not how I saw it turning out for me.
The most bittersweet thing so far has been buying a house. While walking through places I couldn’t help but think, “I really thought I would be doing this with a fiancé or a husband.” I had to laugh – it feels like it shouldn’t matter if I buy a house alone or not. Yet I know that, like me, there are many singles out there experiencing bittersweet milestones.
Call it growing up in the Christian bubble, being influenced by a society obsessed with romance, or just plain dreaming, but it honestly never occurred to me that I wouldn’t get married soon after college. When it didn’t happen right away and it kept on not happening for a long time afterward, I realized this waiting game was not going to end when I told it to.
God and I often sit down and have long talks about it. I know some singles have vibrant dating lives and have met some really great people, but that’s just not how my life goes. All the great men I know are married to my gal friends. I told God this and he told me to be patient. With all the times he’s said this to me, you’d think I would have gotten a clue and let him lead this dance.
A little-known fact about waiting is that it is, in all reality, exhausting. Sometimes it devolves into a brand of worry because we humans like to control things. When we are stuck waiting for something to happen, two things often happen. First, we tend to worry that it will never happen. Then we get some confidence, but we still worry things won’t happen the way we want them to. When I get like this, I jump into the Bible to find some verses to give me hope. That book is full of people who had to wait, and if you read their stories you discover a trend: Most people had to wait for years. No, not just years. Decades.
Just look at Abraham. This guy heard God’s voice, packed up shop, and moved. And he did it right away. Even then he had to wait several more years before God gave him the desire of his heart: a son.
One thing I love is Abraham’s approach to waiting. The moment he was told to make a move and go places are handled well. But when he set up camp and needed to wait for God to move, he was terrible at it. Honestly! If you look at his timeline, there are several times God could have worked miracles, but Abraham got nervous, jumped to conclusions, and did things his own way. There are moments he was very shrewd, such as in Genesis 14 when he refused to take money from the king of Sodom. And then there are the moments he told Pharoah that Sarai was not his wife (Genesis 20).
Overall, Abraham was truly a righteous man after God’s heart. Abe didn’t wail or whine. He didn’t wait perfectly, but he showed trust and hope. He had complete faith in God. His entire life was bittersweet – the bitterness of waiting coupled with the joy of God’s plan. In the end, he didn’t get to see his family as numerous as the stars, but he saw many other amazing things.
With perseverance like Abraham’s come two great things:
When I think about Abraham, I see I have a long ways to go before I can wait like he did. Yet I know that no matter what God has planned for me, it’s better than anything I could come up with. In fact, the more I pray and think about it, the more that bittersweet sensation fades into peace. Romans 5:2-4 says hope is born of perseverance.
No matter how much waiting we have to do, God promises to wait there with us. One lovely verse that expresses this is Zephaniah 3:17: “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
God has never broken a covenant, and there’s no way he’s going to start breaking them now. What God has planned and when he decides to bring it about are all his business. That’s not to say the bittersweet feeling is wrong – if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that emotions are natural. If sadness comes, however, I don’t have to stay sad. If joy comes, I can hold onto it.
We can all take a lesson from Abraham and maintain an attitude of trust, and everything else will fall into place.
If you know someone who is struggling through bittersweet milestones, will you email them this post to encourage them?