I was 27 years old moving from an apartment with one single roommate to a house with three single women. I felt like I was moving backward. It was disheartening. I was running out of money, working full time, finishing 2 degrees at once and gearing up for another year of teaching. I was figuratively kicking and screaming my way back to school at the end of the summer. I was depressed and felt as if an anvil landed on my life that said, “Your dreams haven’t come true.”
My own hopes had been crushed time and again—always liking the wrong guy or having disappointing experiences with online dating. I felt maybe there was no hope for me, which was more depressing. I wasn’t ready to resign myself to the fact that I was to be a spinster teacher for the rest of my life.
Like many girls my own age, I had dreamed of finishing college, moving to a new city, finding a job for a couple of years, discovering the love of my life, and settling down to have a family. I disguised my disappointment well, with independence and loud exclamations of contentment. However, at my core, I thought someday I would find a weirdo just like me.
So I started to build a temporary life. I found temporary dishes, temporary furniture, and developed a temporary lifestyle. I said things like, “This will do for now” or “One day I will try that.” I held off on making travel plans because I wanted to do all my traveling with a significant other. I held off on going to restaurants because they were “date” restaurants.
I was holding off on things because my “dreams” hadn’t come true yet.
For the past year, I kept thinking about the dreams, these plans that hadn’t happened. I was overly anxious about it—so much so, I had actual anxiety issues. It felt like everyone had moved on without me, like everyone had started their dreams and I was still in the background not even beginning mine. I would end up on the floor of my closet with crippling fear that my life would be nothing if my dreams didn’t come true.
My solution for my anxiety was to stop hoping and stop dreaming about these things that hadn’t happened. I went through the motions of living. I also wasn’t very fun to be around. I believed the lie that it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I also harbored anger about it and resentment toward God that my dreams—my deepest desires—weren’t important to him since he wasn’t answering my prayers.
Then something happened.
When taking a break from “trying” not to be depressed, I rested. Simply that. I created space in my life to examine those hurts and disappointments.
I dove into scripture, particularly Joseph. I read about his struggle and his life. In so many ways, God had promised him great things, but none of them had come true. He lived and struggled through a lot of life before any of those dreams came to fruition.
I realized that as much as I didn’t like the idea of living the single life, I didn’t like the idea of living a life of anxiety, anger and bitterness either. I started to examine where those feelings were coming from, and I looked around at those living the single life to the fullest and I was envious of that.
I gave myself permission to start dreaming again. I began hoping for things that had nothing to do with getting married. I allowed myself to envision a life without marriage. I began to look forward to things that revolve around using my current life to glorify God.
Nothing has changed as far as my relationship status, but the status of my heart and the joy I have in my current stage of life has changed drastically. It is actually extremely liberating. Allowing myself to dream new dreams when the old ones haven’t come true is one of the hardest and most difficult things to do. Sometimes, though, the hard things in life allow us to experience joy in a deeper way.
If you know someone who is struggling because their dream of marriage is unmet, will you email them this post to encourage them?