“Enjoy it while you can, honey, because once you’re married you’ll just wish you could be single again.”
I’ve heard this one a few times, along with various other pieces of jaded advice from unhappily married women or well-intentioned friends who are trying to make me feel better. I’m sure most singles have experienced this — the “You should be happy you’re single because marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be” pep talk. When we’re thinking about something we don’t have yet, it’s easy to console ourselves by writing it off and saying it must not be that great anyway.
This isn’t just about singleness, either; we all have things we’re longing for. Maybe you desperately want children, but are struggling with infertility. Maybe you long for a career change or a simpler life that isn’t dictated by the unfulfilling 9 to 5, but you’re just not able to make ends meet financially. No matter what it is, I think most of us have heard at one time or another that the elusive things we’re waiting for won’t fulfill us. We’ve told ourselves that if the day we’re eagerly anticipating ever comes, we will just be disappointed.
Now it’s true that nothing here on earth could possibly fulfill all of your hopes and dreams and make you completely content until the day you die. I think we all know that. However, sometimes I wonder if we’re hurting ourselves by anticipating disappointment instead of living within the longing for things that are good, but not for us yet.
Suddenly, everything changed.
In the book of Genesis, Abraham and Sarah longed for a child. They waited for years, until Sarah was well past childbearing age, but then suddenly, everything changed. They conceived a child even after they lost hope, and Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” (Genesis 21:6, ESV) While there are no guarantees we will be given everything we desire, sometimes we truly have moments like this where everything changes, and we can’t help but laugh. Like in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, God comes bursting through our doubts and appears in a miraculous way, providing tangible evidence of his goodness.
We were designed to love and be loved despite human imperfections and to create new life and to live out our unique purpose. If we experience any one of these miracles, it would be a shame to miss it because we’re expecting to be disappointed. These are the moments that can give us abundant life on this side of heaven, and we can know that even when hard times come later, we are living a life that was completely transformed.
Expect to be gloriously surprised.
How do we live now, waiting for the not yet, or maybe even the not ever? Even during a time of waiting, we can identify the small moments each day where God makes himself known to us and transforms our lives little by little. And even though we can’t know the future, we can know God is for us. According to G.K. Chesterton in Heretics,
The man who said, ‘Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,’ put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth ‘Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised.’”
Sometimes, I imagine God writing this great story of humanity, and as he is writing about the events in each of our lives, he laughs. He laughs, knowing a secret we don’t know yet, saying, “Wait for it! This is the best part!” It may not be the life we expected or the story we envisioned for ourselves, but it will be a beautiful surprise in our small chapter of the best story ever written. In the moments when everything changes, we can laugh too, knowing that we’ve finally been let in on the secret.
If you know someone who is struggling with disappointment over unmet longings, will you email them this post to encourage them?
Photo credit: Barry Chignall