When I was 22, I was on the brink of graduation and a wedding. I had a dress, I had the bridemaid’s dresses being made, a color scheme, and a diamond ring, that I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of wearing. I was taking a leadership class at the time and we had to write a 5 page paper on our “5 year plan” and I gave a cop out answer. Because truthfully with all the “plans” I was making I wasn’t really sure what my future was going to look like other than the fact that I was going to be married. I guess as a naïve 22 year old I just figured that life was going to work itself out. Because when you’re 22 it always does.
Just a couple of weeks into being 22 I was sitting on the other end of my dorm room telephone. (I didn’t get a cell phone until after I graduated.) On the other end of the line was my fiancé of a year and boyfriend of 3 1/2 years. He was explaining to me how I was his best friend, but he just couldn’t marry me. The funny part is, is that somehow deep down I knew it needed to happen, I just didn’t want to be the one to admit it. When you’re 22 and everyone around you is getting engaged or are in serious relationships it is SO easy to get sucked into that mindset of marrying the closest person to you at the time. I realized over the next few weeks that I too had fallen into that trap.
Fast forward 4 months to the summer of 2006. I had decided to do a summer discipleship program in Tennessee on the advice of my college mentor. Because what else was I going to do now? I had lost the map to my future after my big wedding breakup. A few weeks into the summer, a young man began ruthlessly pursuing me. It’s hard to say no to those kinds of pursuits. He was good looking, persistent, and volunteered as a leader with his youth group. It was easy to let him pursue me. Until I realized that he may or may have not been a little obsessed and I was NOT ready for marriage. Surprise right? So what was the point of leading him on? Two things that changed my interest in him 180 degrees: He began mentioning kids only 5 weeks into the “dating to get to know you” phase, and he somehow began calling my house and having random conversations with my mom and then sending letters to my house. I realized this was WAY more serious than I was ready for. So, I did the mature thing and quit talking to him, avoiding his calls, and making up excuses as to why I couldn’t hang out. OK on retrospect it wasn’t the maturest path I could have chosen, but I hate the impending doom of the end, and you just don’t know how to break it to the other person.
This brings me to the point of this blog. Turning points. Those times when you make a decision and you have no idea at the time just how much it is going to affect your future. Tuning back in: I finally got the courage to at least call him. (Though on my way back to Ohio from Tennessee 300 miles away. Something about that much distance makes you braver somehow.) As I listened to him try to analyze why I had been ignoring for him for a week, and try to work things out, I stopped him. And in one phrase took a turn on the road of life that I have been walking on ever since. I said, “Look, you’re great, but I just feel like God is calling me to a season of singleness, and I am going to walk that path as long as He has me on it.” At the time I didn’t know how strictly God was going to hold me to those words. Like 8 years.
The funniest though, sometimes most frustrating, part about this journey has been just how much God knew I needed this season. Yes, at times it’s been hard, it’s been daunting, it’s been lonely. I’ve ended many of my days looking at my ceiling wondering if we were “there yet.” Only to hear, “Not yet.” But I will say this, being single for most of my 20’s has enabled me to glean A LOT of information about myself, and what I want for my future, and about others. It has taught me the value of other friendships, about what healthy relationships should look like, and just how amazing my family really is. It has given me wisdom to pass on to another generation, and it has given me a sense of purpose, confidence, and trust that I never would have attained.
So, the next time you see another bend in the road approaching, don’t shy away from it. Don’t slow down, don’t change lanes. Go in the direction that He is leading you, even if it seems like it’s going nowhere, and there are no posted mileage signs to even let you know how close you’re getting to your destination. Because all the things that you’re learning along the way are things that you’re going to need to know by the time you reach your intended destination. And when you do, you’ll realize it’s only a pit stop on your way to the next turning point. And I promise you this, you’re gonna make it, and it will be worth it.
May truth change us.
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