On my 24th birthday, I sat at our family’s computer desk and cried. Not sobbing; it was far less dramatic than all that. Instead, the tears slipped quietly down my cheeks as I stared at the wall above the desk and quietly relieved my heart of the words I didn’t want to share.
“I’m afraid I’m always going to be alone.”
* * *
I’d tried my hardest to make it work with a guy who looked perfect on paper. I fasted and prayed, wanting a burning bush moment to tell me what was wrong. Why my heart wasn’t in it. When I finally quit fighting what my gut knew was true, I slipped to my little sister’s bed and cried on her shoulder.
I was afraid I was always going to be alone.
* * *
I went to a wedding and enjoyed every single moment of it, genuinely feeling joy for the couple as they embarked on a life together. But a moment of sadness snuck up during the reception and I leaned my head on my mother’s shoulder while my eyes watered.
What if I was always going to be alone?
* * *
I came home from that wedding, sat on my front porch, and wrote in my prayer journal. I cried and scribbled across the page, writing by the dim glow of a security light. The words weren’t pretty, but they were real. “I’m lonely, God. And it hurts. It aches. There’s a longing here that I can usually quiet, but not today.
But I’m giving it to You. Whatever that looks like. Whatever that means. I love You.”
* * *
It’s been a long road to get here, to this place where I allow myself to grieve the life I thought I’d have while also acknowledging that the life I have is so good. It doesn’t look the way I planned. It doesn’t feel the way I imagined. It doesn’t include a dude I’m absolutely crazy about who is absolutely crazy about me.
And yeah, there are some days where that’s hard and it hurts. And my Real Life People™ usually get to hear about those days. But that’s the reality of unmet desires and unanswered prayers, even when you trust the sovereignty of God. It’s messy, emotional business. I think we can be honest about that.
I’m finding that I have the capacity to hold lovely and lonely in the same hands.
I can trust God with the result even if the process hurts a little. (And in case you’re wondering, so can you.)
I can hope without being crushed by it. And God can strengthen my heart when it grows weary from the weight of longing, from the wait itself.
I still have brief moments of fear that I’m always going to be alone, that this foolish heart that loves until it’s all spent will never have anyone to call home. That I’m doing this all wrong and I’m not alone because I’m supposed to be, but because there’s something broken in me and I can’t quite get my act together.
But with God’s grace, I’m fearing less and trusting more.
A month after that wedding, in the midst of this incredible work God’s been doing in my heart, I wrote in my prayer journal again.
“Is it possible that You could use me here? Even now? That this life, as insignificant and small and so far from what I imagined it to be, could be exactly what You have called me into?
I look back on the things I’ve missed and I think You are wiser than me.“
Amen and amen.