This past November two of my friends turned 34. I celebrated them as best I could with one being overseas and the other out of town. Flowers were sent, videos were made, and long distance phone calls were had. But in spite of the attempts at celebrating we could not deny the pain beneath the surface of those conversations—they were still single and did not desire to be.
Isn’t it funny how society maps out this checklist plan of milestones and accomplishments that normally includes a degree (or two), an amazing job, an amazing spouse, amazing kids and a house crafted on HGTV? Isn’t it funny how TV, books, and social media paint this picture of an ideal that in reality no one has the drawings to? Many of us have degrees, some of us have houses and some of us have kids, but none the picture-perfect ideal of the American Dream. And certainly not in the order we are told to have it in.
When I was 19 and fell in love with Jesus I thought my late twenties left me with plenty of time to marry. I was a planner, and when my first plan fell through and my fiancé cheated on me at 21, I figured my late twenties was surely enough time to recover from heartbreak, meet a new boo, and pop out a couple of kids! All after getting my second degree, of course.
Well, I did get the second degree, but instead of checking off this spectacular checklist, I laid it before the King of Kings and let Him instead show me His plan. And my friends did the same.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
Apparently marriage was not on His list for us at 34 and often that is a hard pill to swallow. For those who are wired like myself, numbers are significant. For me, turning 34 is being in the mid-30s. No longer can you be lumped into the “young adult” category in your church small group. Truth be told, you were only lumped in because of your single status and lack of children. But now, there is no turning back—you are GROWN. And what do grown people without marriage, children, and possibly a house crafted on HGTV do with their lives?
Well, they live with purpose.
My friend’s purpose consisted of leaving her Fortune 500 job and putting her 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom home on the market and becoming a missionary in Haiti.
Another friend serves tirelessly as a counselor for children, transforming the lives of youth one kid at a time.
And me? Well, I became an author and shared about very personal happenings in my love life in the hopes of bringing healing to others in similar situations.
Some look at us strangely because we are “alone.” They wonder why we have been single this long since we are “so great.” But one thing they cannot say is that we live stagnant, bored, or pitiful lives. No, we’re always moving forward in His plans, even when they do not look like our own. Especially when they do not look like our own.
I’ll be turning 34 in a few months. I normally start the birthday countdown a few months in advance mostly to get adjusted to the new season so I guess this blog post is right on time. And though I have mixed feelings about it, I can certainly see God’s hand directing my path and keeping me when I did not think I could be kept.
I hope you do the same.
There is grace to do the same.