Years ago, I did what fools do. I planned out my life.
Ever heard that joke that says, “Want to make God laugh? Then tell Him your plans for the future!”
Well, I did. But I still didn’t think the saying was applicable to me. In my delusion, or umm, pride…or maybe, naivete, I thought God and I were so tight that, well, “He wouldn’t play me on my plans.” I had some learning to do about God, and, well, life in general.
The thing is, I had my life planned out, but I left room for waiting. Or so I thought. After letting go of the man I loved, I prepared myself for a “time of singleness”. Even a very long time, by some people’s standards. Still, it was not long enough.
I was taught that I should be “doing something in the meantime” while I waited for this man to come along, and so I set out to “do those things”.
I wrote books. Got my MBA. Started a business. I did speaking engagements. Counseled others who needed to “overcome heartbreak.” Went on trips. Spent time with friends. Bought a home. I created a full life. And still, no husband.
Then, the unthinkable happened. 35 hit. I was officially in my mid 30s and single. But worse. I was alone. Really alone. Not like the alone I feared (like I was just single), but the alone that accompanies loss and grief and no kids, when you are fastly surpassing the child-bearing age.
I was blessed with plenty of people who surrounded me. They were there for the times they could be, but I was no longer “someone’s only”. I was no longer someone’s point person. The way that I had been for nearly 35 years of my life. And that reality, has been a hard pill to swallow. I, in fact, have been trying to swallow it for 2 1/2 years now.
I have enjoyed the gifts God has given over the years of following Him. He has been very intentional in His blessings. The thing is, those blessings do not remove the constant ache for what I gave up all those years ago. And what was removed just 2 1/2 years ago (which was family).
Still, I wait.
Thanksgiving was a hard one. I have struggled every holiday for as long as I can remember. I was just re-reading a journal entry from several years ago where I admitted this. But I had never been truly alone. I just seemed to have less (in this area) than what others had. What my friends had. What society had.
I did have a friend eventually join me for Thanksgiving, though he was delayed. And the food was good, along with the company. So in that sense, it worked out. But those hours leading up to it, well, they were just painful.
I say all this to say, the journey is hard. I have tried for it not to be hard for so many years. But it just is. At least, in this area.
Today I was reminded that even Jesus needed help carrying His cross.
I had this thought out of nowhere, and I like to think that it was from God. Certainly it was full of grace and compassion. So the fruit of it, at least leads, back to Him. My interpretation of that thought, was that it is ok to feel weak. The word He keeps sending me in this season is actually that He is perfect in our imperfection. He is strong in our weakness. When we fail His love never does. That is a blessing, because I am unable to be strong. At least, in the way that I used to be.
Years ago, friends and I watched a documentary of black women in their 40s who were single (and did not want to be). I looked at these women who were successful in business. They were homeowners. They took trips. They lived very full lives. But, they wanted love. A romantic love. I looked at these women, and I thought, “That won’t be me!”
Now at 37, I admit to myself. It is me.
I sit here in my new home, with my cat at my feet and my wine in my glass, and I see. It is me. It is the life I did not want.
I suppose that’s what sacrifice is. Laying down what you want, for what He wants.
Choosing His way over your own, in hopes that one day there will be a reward. Either on this side, or in eternity.
But I have met my match with this path. I have realized it will always be too great for me. I guess that means He will get the glory if I overcome. He will get all the praise. It will only be Him.
I miss my mother everyday. I miss the parts of her I did not appreciate when she was here. The consistency, the devotion, the hope she had for my life. I struggle to remember that she is full of joy and love in a way that she could never be on this side. I give in to those feelings of grief and loss, even when they are untrue. I simultaneously feel grateful and disappointed with God’s plan for me. It is not like that for other people, at least, per social media. They do not mourn the way I do. They bounce back from hard things. They let it roll off their backs.
But that is not my way. And At 37, I realize, life is simply never what you expect it to be.
Here is me and BJ, after I decorated my tree with loved ones.