Today was an emotional roller-coaster. Yes, this post is going to be heavy, philosophical, and religious. If that’s not your cuppa, come back tomorrow! I won’t be offended. If you like it when Jesus teaches you angsty lessons, then read on, my friends.
2011 has been a very confusing year thus far. I’ve spent the last few weeks clawing my way out of an emotional pit. It all started a few days before Valentine’s Day. The day usually passes me by as a minor annoyance, but this year it hit me: I am 22 and single. Not just single, but perpetually single. That’s right, ladies and gents, I am that rare class of loser that is 22 and has never had a boyfriend.
That truth hit me very hard and nothing anyone said could do anything to pull me out of the spiral I was entering. I turned inward, thinking that if I was 22 and single, it had to be my fault. I started asking “What’s wrong with me?” And I began analyzing and cataloguing everything that I perceived as being a flaw, as part of this nebulous sum that crossed some imaginary line drawn in my head that meant I was unlovable. Instead of turning to God, the source of holy and perfect love, I turned away from Him.
I gradually stopped reading my bible, stopped writing in my prayer journal. I barely prayed and when I did, all I did was fight with God. I became angry, belligerent, and disobedient in my relationship with Him. I became obsessed with singleness. And God responded in a way that I saw, in my narrow-mindedness, as cruel.
He started changing every relationship that held a constant in my life. Friends that have always been there for me started getting boyfriends or getting really wrapped up in their boyfriends. I didn’t begrudge them their happiness, but instead it just made me feel single on a whole new level. Friends that are single became obsessed with their own singleness so that we were really just tearing each other down instead of bringing each other up, or we just didn’t talk at all. And still more, a few friends that have hurt me in the past and have had me trapped in toxic relationships “magically” stopped talking to me of their own accord and did things like unfollow me on Twitter or block me on Facebook.
The only constants in my life were a few friends who were there for me, even if they didn’t understand what I was going through, and, of course, my dear family. But who complains about being single to their little brothers? Weird people. (No offense if you do that. Glad you’re so close with your family.)
And still I didn’t turn to God. I sat for days, in my internal darkness, filled to the brim with self-loathing, going over and over again the catalog of imperfections that made me awful. Then God began to call to me. Not in a burning bush, voice from the skies sort of thing. But in that soft, quiet voice that we sing about on Sundays but rarely experience. I’m not sure I was even conscious of it for a while, but I began to slowly claw my way out of the pit into which I had melodramatically thrown myself.
God didn’t swoop down with wings of fire (which, why would he? That doesn’t even make sense.) and pull me up. Instead, I saw Jesus on the horizon, waiting for me, calling for me. And I slowly crawled toward him, twisted and broken. I sat at His feet for a couple of days. I had some good, honest talks with Him where I did most of the talking. I stopped obsessing over my singleness and started thinking about God a little more, each day. Last night, as I was falling asleep, I spiritually stood back up, on solid, high ground, and rededicated my life to Him.
Today started out normally. I snoozed my alarm, rushed through my reading, did some cleaning, and went to class. However, I couldn’t get the lyrics to this John Mark McMillan song out of my head: “Then all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory. And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me.” I even posted them as my Facebook status, if you’d like to do some fact-checking. It’s not unusual for worship songs to be stuck in my head, but these lyrics would hold special meaning for the rest of the day.
On my way to class, a guy checked me out. We’re talking a full-on double-take here. I’m not the kind of girl that happens to very often. At least, not that I notice as I trudge along thinking my depressing thoughts. At first I panicked, thinking he was looking at how ugly I was or how fat my legs looked in my jeans, or any number of irrational thoughts. But he didn’t have any hint of repulsion on his face. So we both kept walking and after I checked my reflection in the screen of my phone, I felt very flattered. I heard a small voice telling me that I was not repulsive.
After class, I stopped by Wendy’s for a salad and their addictive chili, and stayed awhile to work on one of my scripts. I was texting ElizaMacbeth and we were talking about Jesus and how awesome He is when a guy approached me. He said he recognized me from the Women’s Chorus and asked if he could sit down. I’m a nice person and I don’t like being rude to people, so I said yes, even though I was a little creeped out.
We had a stilted, awkward conversation for a bit, and so then I kicked on my charming little charisma switch and took over the conversation because I don’t believe in suffering through awkward conversations. I could tell he was really nervous and that he liked me, or, at least, whatever he had observed of me in choir. Which is kind of scary, because I am a total freak, especially in choir, where I feel at peace with the world. He was much younger than me, and though I dropped many hints that I was busy, and I was so old, he stuck around. After we had covered all the first conversation basics, I said I needed to get home and get back to work. He offered to walk me to my bus stop, which he did. And waited for my bus with me. And then we parted ways.
This might not seem clandestine, but it truly was. I felt, in such a moment of clarity, that it was Jesus, telling me to follow Him and that He will lead me exactly where I’m meant to be. He brought me to that encounter with the nice (if kinda creepy) little boy (he was a sophomore) to show me that He is not only in control of my future, but He is my future. He is a constant and He has a plan for my life. As Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
And that’s exactly what those encounters today did for me. Reminded me of my hope and my future in Jesus. Not to mention the amazing conversation I was having with ElizaMacbeth about how we need to stop worrying about flirting and boyfriends and marriage, and know that Jesus is enough. The only man we need to worry about pleasing is Jesus, and in that, we will become the women that our future husbands need us to be. All we need to do is follow Jesus.
After my uplifting Wendy’s experience, I stopped to grab a coffee at the Union and to keep working on my script. I called by friend Fred to tell her about the Wendy’s incident, and after a quick chuckle, she had to go because she was about to start her bible study. Another reminder of God’s presence in every moment of our lives. After I had been working in the Union for a while, a loud group of 3 guys sat down right next to me and started talking loudly about the basketball game on the Union TV. I moved over a few tables, and the next bit of conversation I heard drifting over was from a group of guys. They were talking about my church here in Austin, and ways to serve God, to serve the church, and to be Godly men.
It is relatively rare to hear Christian conversations on campus, and extremely rare to hear it from a group of young men, gathered in public to talk about the Lord. It was incredible and completely happenstance. And by happenstance, I mean just another example of the way Jesus was orchestrating His plan and proving His point.
When I returned home, I received a text from one of the friends who had stopped talking to me. We talked about what happened with us, and while it wasn’t resolved and I fear this friend will have a bad taste in their mouth, I was able to maturely say my piece while being truthful and holding strong in my decision to take a step back from the relationship without being petty or rude. It was painful, yes, but now I have a strong sense of peace and closure, since this lingering feeling would creep up every once in a while concerning this particular issue.
I then jumped immediately into great conversations with my friends ElizaMacbeth and C, in which I shared some wisdom, they shared some wisdom, and I think we all had our spirits lifted by our Facebook Chat Fellowship. Which should be a thing.
I am floored and overwhelmed by the love I experienced today. Just like the John Mark McMillan song, I am unaware of my afflictions, as they have been eclipsed by His glory. And I am renewed and excited for my future. Because if my Savior can do this for me in the span of 8 hours, what does He have in store for my life?
Oh, how He loves us,