As soon as I was born, and it was clear I was born the much wanted granddaughter my late grandfather was certain would be a boy, my late grandmother started working on my trousseau.
She was really good at weaving lace, like all accomplished women of her generation, and failed throughout her life to pass it on to me. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a wife and mother, I grew up to die inside whenever someone asked when I would get married at any family reunion since I was about 14 because I wanted it more than anything. I just could never imagine spending my afternoons making lace when there is so much history to learn about (I was truly obsessed).
And there I am, at the ripe old age of 28, single and a historian (no surprise there), wondering if maybe I shouldn’t have closed the door on being the kind of woman my grandmother was. I look exactly like her, and may have inherited some of her good nature as well as her big eyes, although mine are deep blue while hers were grey with violet undertones.
What if my own selfishness and ambition closed my door on motherhood? In the lowest moments, when I’m the most insecure, I can picture God saying: “You made your choice”. Except that it doesn’t really feel like a choice, it’s more the result of growing up in the 1990s with a working woman as a mother and a proper feminist as an aunt. Long before I embraced the faith chosen for me long before I was even born, the idea of what woman I was supposed to be had been imprinted on my mind. I have to fight really hard not to resent the people who impacted my upbringing when I feel like I would never fulfill my purpose until I say “I do”.
Suddenly, one day, I woke up to the realisation that I got it all completely wrong. There is only one “I do” that can fulfill me, and that I do I nearly shouted at my first Easter vigil when renewing my baptismal promises. I may, one day, be someone’s bride, but that’s Jesus letting me take a second husband. He would always be the first, or I wouldn’t be a Christian.
That day wasn’t just any day, actually. It was the anniversary of graduating from the IMPACT course (a leadership course targeted at Christians with an interest in public life). I have made some friends for life through it, and in a way found myself. It was an intense journey of prayer and learning, and it was an extraordinary opportunity. I look back to it with a little more pride than I should, but that’s how I’ve come to realise that being single is not a curse, and it doesn’t mean I’m not fulfilling my purpose or I’m any less valuable than if I were married. And the future has a way of surprising us, as one of my friends from that course is recently engaged.
I looked back to that year and I can’t see what difference a husband would have made, except being one more person to support me (but what if he didn’t?) and the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to complete the course because expecting. With the hindsight of how much I’ve changed and grown and how my relationship with the Lord has deepened, and where learning to walk by faith has taken me, I’m grateful that wasn’t the case. If I will be a wife and mother now, I will be a better one, because I am a better person. But to be completely honest, the way I picture my future has changed too, and I’m not sure I really see myself as such anymore. Or I ever truly have in the past beyond the feelings of inadequacy and the need to be liked.
Sometimes we are so focused on what we lack to be fully aware of how much we truly have to give, and unless we know that deep down, there’s no amount of Psalm 139 being thrown at us to stop the “but” sneaking in. I used to worry way too much about what people will think of me if I never find anyone to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve spent too much time chasing the wrong people out of fear, and mourning losses that I should have celebrated because I invested too much in being loved by another human. I still do, at times.
Being single is a time of my life that I missed out on cherishing because I didn’t realise I wasn’t at the cinema during the trailers and adverts waiting for the film to start. The film started at 3:45 am (GMT +1) on January 2nd 1989. And I’m not the kind of woman my grandmother was, and there’s no point in wishing I was someone else. God didn’t need to make me, He made me because he wanted me, and He made me as He pleased. Intellectual, stubborn, kind and principled to a fault.
So much is being written in the Christian blogosphere (and beyond) about making sure you make a good use of this time of waiting and preparation, but there is this rather scary question at the back of my mind: what if I’m not waiting for marriage at all? God may have other plans, and as a recovering control freak I just can’t deal with it, so the perspective scares me. My first reaction is to just-do-something-about-it. Join a dating website, go to dating events, while a voice at the back of my mind reminds me that actually who has the time for that? Maybe if I cut down the Jane Austen marathons in bed in what is left of my free time..or maybe I just need someone who would like to spend hours watching adaptations of Jane Austen novels in bed. Or maybe I just need to stop fretting because I’m exactly where God wants me to be or I would be somewhere else.
I have many qualities that are good attributes of a wife and mother, but my identity and my purpose aren’t that. Wife and mother are just assignments (cheers Fearfully Fashioned for reminding me that), and they’re not mine right now. They may never be.
I don’t know where I will be in one year, but I hope to look back on the coming 365 days and see that I’ve done something amazing with my purpose rather than letting time pass me by while my focus is on the wrong thing.
This blog post is part of the #LoveBlog2017 blogging challenge and linkup. Meet your co-hosts for the day:
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.
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Charlene is a 20 something wife and fur mama living in Ohio. She uses her blog, “Enduring All Things” to inspire young wives to keep God first and their husbands second in everything they do.
Also I’m so excited to introduce a new thing this year: a giveaway!
The #LoveBlog2017 giveaway started 01/02/2017 and runs through 28/02/2017. While we love our international readers, this is limited to US residents only due to legal restrictions. To learn more about all the sponsors, check out Belle Brita all month long!
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