What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.
Today’s guest post is by an anonymous reader.
My name is Sarah. I am 33 and single. I will be 34 in a few months. This was not my plan. My plan was to meet my husband in college, get married at 25, have my first child at 29, begin the adoption process, have another child at 32 and have all my kids home and under my roof by now. Not that I'm much of a planner or anything...(!) But I want you to know it is disorienting to be at this place in life. I am not dating anyone and I wonder if I will meet someone in time to have my own child. I started babysitting when I was 10 and have loved lots and lots of other people’s children, but I always wanted my own. I wonder if I should adopt as a single person...
I want you to know how excruciating hope is. I think if I knew that I'd be single for another 10 years, I could let the dream go. I have a good life. I get to work with kids who I know and love. But it’s the “not knowing” and the scoping out other guys, and the staying 'open' and 'available'--it’s this hope that just won't die, that is just excruciating. When I read infertility posts, I feel like I can relate, I have an infertility problem too—I can't find the husband/sperm donor who will help me raise these kids!
I want you to know that I have prayed and prayed for God to take this desire away from me because it is too painful to live in this in between place. I want you to know that when I meet an attractive single guy I start doing the math—if we dated for 8 months, got married in a year, started having kids in 2 or 3 years....and I want you to know that I know that is SICK, that it's not fair to that unsuspecting nice looking man, who it turns out is only 24 anyway!
I want you to know that I am tired of doing everything by myself…going to every holiday party by myself (or worse yet having a guy friend go with me and having EVERYONE at the party ask me if he's my boyfriend or 'the one'). I want you to know that I'm tired of always being the driver, of cleaning my own car, of sleeping in a twin bed, of taking out all my own trash, of not having anyone to make dinner for, of deciding about retirement options and investments and of making every decision about my life without the input of someone who will live it out with me.
I want you to know how terribly alone and unprotected I sometimes feel. I have a great group of friends and a wonderful community. I see them as a gift. I cherish their support. And yet I still long for something different.
I want you to know how important it has been to me to have people pray for me and stand in the gap when it was too disappointing to keep praying. How I've needed friends to say “there has got to be someone out there for you” and keep hoping when all hope was lost. I want you to know that when you've passed my name a long to a good guy, or I've contacted someone you've suggested and it hasn't worked out, I'm still grateful. Grateful that you would take a risk, grateful that you are 'for me'. I want you to know if you prayed for me right now or hooked me up with the guy who I end up marrying I will be forever grateful for you (...and there might be a little cash prize in it for you! Just sayin’!)
I want you to know that I know marriage is work. It's not an idealized picture of some non-existent man in my head. But that doesn't make me want it any less.
I want you to know that I have gone to myriads of showers for friends whom I dearly loved and am truly happy for—yet also slightly jealous of. I want you to know at those showers I've had people lean over and whisper to me “you're next” and felt a little hope in my heart rise, and then fall at the next shower when the scene repeats itself. I want you to know how odd it is when I hear about kids I babysat for getting married and having babies, because I so want that myself...and I somehow felt entitled to that experience before them because I am so much older. I want you to know that my sense of entitlement bothers me and smacks me in the face with this 'marriage' thing….all…the…time.
What I want you to know is when I attend the women’s' retreat at my church, and meal after meal I sit with women who complain and roll their eyes and make fun of their husbands and children, and they talk about how thrilled they are to be away from them, what a drag they are....I would switch places with them in a heartbeat.
I want you to know that when my pastor talks about his struggle to conceive their 3rd child and how for 6 months they prayed and then she finally did, and now their son is one, my faith falters. I have been praying for my husband for 12 years. There must be something wrong with me/my prayers...or maybe worse yet, the desires of my heart are not the desires of God's heart. And I start to wonder about this God.
I want you to know that when you flippantly ask me if I've tried eharmony or match.com I feel like a failure. This is not a helpful suggestion, and every single person I know has tried these websites. I've been on them for years. I've met some really great people and some really crazy people, but none of them have turned out to be 'the one'. And the vast majority of single women I know did not actively choose to be single. They want to be married. They are trying what they know to do.
I want you to know how tempting it is to lower my standards...I get asked out by non-Christian men all the time. I know I'm sending out the right vibe (that I'm open and available and interested), but I want someone whose faith matters to them. Sometimes I feel like I'm choosing between God and my husband. In fact sometimes people tell me that “Jesus wants to be my husband, wants me to love him more than anyone else...and aren't I so lucky”? I want to tell them that “I don't think Jesus is very good in bed”, and “it doesn't feel all that lucky”, but instead I smile and let them feel better, let them feel like they've really helped me.
I want you to know that I'm starting to think Christian guys are incredibly weak and lame, at least at my church, because they are not taking initiative. If you are a single Christian guy reading this, I want you to know that you don't need to know if it will work out, or that I'm 'the one', in order to ask me on a date. I realize that it’s a discernment process and I'm willing to do the discerning with you. And I'm willing to still be in community with you if it doesn't work out. So just ask me out. I want you to know that I struggle with knowing how much initiative to take, and that people love to give their advice about letting the man lead, or making the first move etc. I want you to know that I'm tired of playing those games. I want you to know that abortion and homosexuality and divorce aren't the only things that are threatening families today. I think singleness should be on that list too—as it keeps Godly families from being created in the first place. So my friends and I pray regularly for the men in our community.
I want you to know that I've wrestled with marriage being an idol. I've surrendered it, prayed over it, and gotten moments of peace. But like dandelions, I can't seem to eradicate this dream from the landscape of my heart...every few months it springs back with a vengeance. I want you to know that I have given up some of my dreams or delayed them at times to be faithful to the other things I felt like God has asked me to do with the poor. I don't regret those things, but sometimes I realize that I set myself up by believing that if I sacrificed, if I did things “right”, didn't sleep around, lived overseas, if I loved the poor until my heart broke, if I worked to help God's 'kingdom come' that I secretly believed God would reward me in the end with my dream of having a family...a family with a fathers influence.
I want you to know that every New Year, when I read over my journal from the past year, I am disappointed that my husband isn't in it...but I'm also afraid to write 'maybe this year I'll meet him' in my ‘hopes and dreams and resolutions’ for the new year because it's been so sad and painful to read those words over and over again, year after year. Those of you who say to me, “cherish this time, you'll look back on it so fondly” obviously haven't read my journals filled with ache and longing and disappointment.
A friend of mine lost her right leg in the Haiti earthquake. When I was with her a few weeks ago I had an odd realization. I feel like a one legged person, in a two legged world. It feels like there is something clearly wrong with me—everyone can see I don't have a partner. I know that having a partner won't change these deep seeded feelings inside me. I know that I've got more work to do.
However, that being said, I want you to know it is a married world out there people! I know marriage is work, that it's not perfect, that it causes growth and growth is painful, but I still want it. And if you're reading this right now and you’re married, I want you to know how incredibly blessed you are to be married and have someone who is committed to you for the journey. In the end, I've come to see relationships, all relationships, as gifts. Not perfect, not painless. But still undeserved blessings, that we didn't 'earn' and oftentimes don't 'deserve'. I don't know if I'll ever be gifted with a husband, but I want you to know there will be a serious celebration if/when I do!