Yesterday a dear friend of mine encouraged me with really great words. This was after a tricky conversation I had with myself about my real and true intentions and feelings for a particular fella. I’m grateful for time spent with myself in silence, for the space and moments needed for conversations with myself. I’m even grateful for tears, because there’s something cathartic about the tears nobody else sees. After my tricky conversation with myself, in which I was very honest with myself, self-honesty being the only way for growth to occur, and after some time spent crying alone on a very comfortable bed in the mountains, I felt relieved and renewed. I felt ready to hear some tricky to receive words from a well meaning friend who loves me and only wants what’s best for me. I received them, puffed out my cheeks, breathed out air, and said, “Okay. Well, that’s okay.”
And I really meant it. I’m not in the habit of saying things I don’t really mean. When someone asks me, “Are you sure?” I almost always reply, “If I weren’t, I wouldn’t have said it.” Like I said, honesty – it’s important.
(It smells like rain. Beautiful.)
So after the tricky conversations – the one where I had to ask and answer hard questions and the one where I just had to listen and absorb and decide how to react – I got to debrief with that dear, encouraging friend of mine. She said, “Hey how are you feeling about that fella?” And I puffed out my cheeks, breathed out air, and said, “It’s okay.” I told her about the conversations, especially the one with myself. I told her about how happy I am for the friends of mine starting new relationships and getting married and BUYING HOUSES (it still blows my mind that people my age have enough fiscal responsibility to buy an actual house) I can’t help but wonder, with a self-centered part of me I’m not usually fond of, “Will that ever be my story? Will it ever be me telling the story about the cute guy who actually asked me for my number, asked to spend time with me? Will that ever be my story?”
(Now the rain is coming down and I never appreciated rain until I moved here. It’s rainy season now and will rain almost every day for months. Add that to the list of reasons why November is wonderful).
And here’s the thing, I have great, huge faith that one day that will be my story. I really, really do. I also have great, huge faith that in the mean time I will get to tell other stories. Stories like, “Yesterday I made white chicken chili, and I read Gone Girl. Have you read that book? It’s insane!” Stories like, “SHE SAID A WHOLE SENTENCE IN ENGLISH! Yes, her! That little princess girl fearless one to whom this whole English thing does not always come easily. She did it!!” Stories like, “Then he said that there weren’t any bus tickets left for the rest of the day! And for a second I wanted to cry, but I didn’t! I just asked for help and found a way.”
I think I’m facing a commonly-faced phenomenon among us twenty-somethings. There’s always been a next sure thing. High school. College. Summer internships. Finally a real job and independence and whatever the heck adulthood is. And I thought that since “everything else” had been taken care of (high school, college, summer internships, a “real job”) that the next sure thing would be marriage and a husband. But here’s the thing. IT’S NOT.
I can say pretty confidently that my next sure thing is not a husband. And I can say almost as confidently that that is okay. Not just okay like I’m begrudgingly resigned to it, but okay like I’m saying brightly and with enthusiasm and energy, “Okay! So what’s next?” Because the future is bright, bright, bright, almost as bright as the love that my Savior God has for me. And He is faithful, faithful, faithful and He has promised good things. (SURPRISE! “Good things” does not just mean “husband and babies.”)
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve read about my singleness, about how I’m settling into it, stretching around in it, feeling free in it, feeling good in it, and it probably won’t be the last time. The truth is, I am defined by my singleness. And that is okay. Because I am also defined by my fearlessness, by my cat-lady-ness, by how I love my friends, by my teacher-ness, and my writer-ness. By all my light and dark, good and bad. This is a part of who I am, this on-my-own-ness, and I know I’m only supposed to boast in Christ and Christ crucified, but I’d like to also boast in idolatry and idolatry-crucified and expectation and expectation-crucified, because it’s all kind of the same thing.
I’m crucifying my idolatry and expectation. I’m opening my cage. I’m flying free and fearless into whatever the heck the next sure thing is, feeling confident that the only sure thing is that there are no sure things.
(That being said, as far as it depends on me, my next sure thing is a self-published book!)
I forgot to swing things back around to my friend’s encouraging words, not because we need to hear more about how great I am, but because we do need to hear more that your truth matters and if someone makes you feel good and fearless and brave things, you should tell them. Because they aren’t as good and fearless and brave as they make you feel. Not always and especially not always in their own eyes. Sometimes we all need to feel giddy with good words, but someone has to provide those good words. Try it. Tell someone how they make you feel (in a good way – build up, don’t tear down!). Don’t worry what they’ll think about your vulnerable self. They’ll be so focused on the good things they’re hearing about themselves the only thing they’ll think your way is a heartfelt and sincere, “Thank you.”
Be brave. Be kind. Included in everyone’s list of next sure things there should be encouragement and tangible love. Right?