I’ve had to adapt to life rather than allowing life adapt to me.
It’s wasn’t supposed to be like this, ya know. By twenty-five, I was going to be married and soon thereafter, have a little girl, whom I’d name Monroe (after my G’ma who was Miss Monroe County, NE). My baby girl would have ridiculously curly hair, big blue eyes, and a snarky disposition… just like her momma.
But when the husband never arrived, the child never arrived, and now in their place lie awkward pauses in polite conversations with people who are one and two circles removed from my “stage of life.”
“How many kids do you have?” they ask.
“None,” I respond.
I even speed the forced conversation along by quickly adding, “I’m single. With zero kids” — because I know marital status is up next on the verbal agenda.
The facial expressions that follow are as varied and uncomfortable as the venues and events they happen in.
“Believe me,” I want to say, “I’m far more surprised than you to discover that I’m still without a husband and children. I mean look at me! I’m like the catch of the day at Dolphin Mall!” HA.
And for some reason, I tend to want to free people from the discomfort they’ve bound themselves to with this line of questioning — as if it’s my fault they asked something that is in no way relevant to who I am at the depths of my soul.
“What kind of car do you drive?”
“Were you in a sorority in college?”
“How many kids do you have?”
If I am honest with myself, and you, I want people to ask me something to which I have a comfortable answer. Comfortable for me. Not them.
Ask me something that doesn’t leave me wanting to high-tail it out of this mixer back to my empty house. Something like “What in your life do you feel most grateful?” Or, “Do you like chicken and waffles?”
For the love of the Lord most high, ask me ANYTHING, but please don’t ask me about my non-existent husband and kids. To that, my hands remain emptied of an answer that doesn’t make me feel isolated and alone.
Ugh. And it’s getting more difficult with each passing year to walk this life without a life partner.
But we all have something for which we hold out our hands and pray, “Lord, fill these empty hands.”
…Fill them with a job, a spouse, healthy connective tissues in my body, a child free from DIPG cancer. “Lord, fill these empty hands!” (You fill in your own blank).
I don’t know why the waiting lasts longer for some than others. And I don’t know why some never receive that for which they long.
One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, says this of suffering:
Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands. In Christ, we see God suffering – for us. The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ. Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.
When you live a life of faith, you raise your empty hands knowing they may never be filled. There is no promise that because I seek a husband, I will get one or that because I pray for healing that healing will come. (Despite what Joel Olsteen preaches).
But my faith is anchored in a larger hope — a hope that trusts that the God of my life knows the desires of my soul. And thus, I’m prayerful that he will fill my emptied hands with a husband.
And if not with a husband, then at least with a bean and cheese burrito. HA!
Until that time, however, I will own my loneliness, trust that it will not always be there, and continue to answer questions from strangers as graciously and honestly (and quickly) as I can.
In His Grip,