"You aren't married yet?" The person looked at me with both disbelief and disapproval. "You better hurry up and find someone. You're running out of time... So what's wrong? Are you too picky?... You know you're not getting any younger!" Depending on the day I either fight back the tears, or bite my tongue so I don't say the sarcastic and potentially hurtful things that sometimes cross my mind in those moments because I've heard these statements over and over and over again. If I got a dollar for every time I was made to feel less then, or told in no uncertain terms that I must have done, or must be doing, something terribly wrong and that's why I'm not married yet, I would be rich.
I was sharing this a while back with a friend of mine who, unlike myself, had gotten married quite young, but who didn't have any children yet. As I shared, tears welled up in her eyes and she looked at me with empathy. "Maria I can relate. Only the comments I get from people go more like this: "So how many children do you have? Oh none? (Shock and disbelief.) Well how long have you been married? (7 years.) And you still don't have any kids? (Insert look of disapproval.) "You better hurry up. Your time is running out... You're not getting any younger!" Then come the stories of so and so whom you knew in college who has 6 kids and on and on it goes. In those moments, my friend too is faced with the choice to fight back the tears or to unleash.
The thing about these comments is so often the people saying them haven't walked the journey with those of us who have experienced this kind of particular heavy cross. They weren't there when the break up or the miscarriage happened. They weren't there when the pregnancy test was taken and it came up negative again. Or when it just didn't work out with that person--not because something was so wrong but because it just wasn't right, or they cheated, or were abusive. They weren't there when the tears and ache in the heart had gone on for so long, one wasn't sure whether the tears would ever dry or the pain subside. They haven't experienced the bravery it takes to "try again," to walk through the fear of hoping again, of loving again, knowing it might not come to be.
When the girls and I talked about this blog, I wasn't sure which direction to take it. Because on one hand I want to speak to my sisters and brothers who are struggling with being single, or struggling with infertility. I want you to know you're not alone! Those are such heavy crosses. But we aren't all carrying them for nothing. The Lord is forever reminding me over and over again that both His timing and His plan are perfect and for our good!
I want to encourage you to keep hoping and risking and persevering. Keep being open to love, to try again. I want you to know that the work the Lord has you doing right now, whether married or unmarried, whether children or childless, is just as important and needed as those who are in a different place than you. Each step of the journey is important and the Lord is working through it all with us. These moments of darkness and pain are priceless, beautiful moments we can offer Him even though they don't feel that way.
I want to remind you that this life is truly so short and ultimately we were made for heaven, for the Lord. And that deep hunger we have in our hearts for "more" will only truly be filled by Him. Even if we got married today to the person of our dreams, even if we had 10 children, there will forever be in our hearts a place of longing that points us back to Him.
But on the other hand, I also want to speak to those who perhaps have said things carelessly, rudely even, but been unaware. Perhaps I've even been that person. I want to remind all of us, this: MERCY. Mercy towards each other. We can't know another person's story fully and so often we are quick to make snap assumptions about someone and their situation and we need to be aware of those around us, of the recognition that everyone has gone through or will be going through or is currently going through some kind of heart break. We can't escape it. It's part of life. But I beg of you, and me and us, to think before we speak. To recognize that our words can build up or tear down. They can bring life and hope and encouragement, or death, pain and discouragement.
On our Makeup-less Monday, we talked with Teresa Peterson about the "Trap of Time" and how so often we can get caught up in thinking that such and such has to happen at certain times because that's the way it should be. I think even those who make careless, hurtful comments aren't usually saying them because they have cruel hearts. More often it's because they also have gotten caught in the trap of time.
Heck, if it had been according to the plan and timeline I originally had for my life, I wouldn't be writing this blog post. I wouldn't be part of His Own and singing Christian music. I definitely wouldn't be speaking or doing stuff on social media. I wouldn't be living in Nashville. I could go on and on. But I also wouldn't have learned how to open up, how to be vulnerable, I wouldn't have gone through some big healing processes He has taken me through as a result of random valleys, twists and turns. I wouldn't have had the joy of spending so much time with amazing, beautiful people who have helped me become more the person God has created me to be. Not that God couldn't have used another route to get me to this place (He works with every situation in our lives bringing good!). But for whatever reason, right now, this moment, this is the way He chose.
God is outside of time. He is working and moving and aligning everything in the most perfect way possible for our good. It may not make sense right now, but I want to invite you to join with Teresa, Christine, Kara and me in trusting even deeper in the goodness of our Father. That He is good. His plan is good. That He will bring all to fulfillment in His time and in the end it will bring more joy and love and peace than anything that we could dream up.
His dreams over us are bigger than our own.