Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A post about being single (after much time has gone by)

When my mentor called me in Washington, DC one night before my roommates and I went to eat barbeque ribs and beans and rice at the place down the street, she told me that she thought my posts about being single weren't from the quiet place. And that, honestly? I sounded a little obsessed about it. 

I bristled at once, and told her that I was NOT being obsessed and I was NOT thinking from a loud place or a semi-noisy place I was just writing what I wanted to write. I hung up the phone in a huff and pouted all the way through my mac n' cheese side dish at our kitchen table. But she was right. 

Those blog posts: The Last Christian Man (a myth you shouldn't believe), Single and Annoyed, Impatiently Waiting to Become Patient ... they all express something honest. They tell you a story of how I was wandering through being single and wondering about what it meant. And they're funny, and they make me laugh to remember the conversations that preceded them and my mischievous smile as I planned one great angsty metaphor and witty zinger after another. 

When I realized that my mentor was right, that the posts were honest, but not true, I took a break from writing about being single. I took a break from the snarky comments, the exasperated verbal sighs, and I talked and explored and wrote about other things. 

But I have been asked a few times this week if I'm dating anyone. And when I smile, and I shake my head, and I say, "No," and they ask, "Have you?" and I say, "No, never," the conversation moves on but I don't. Does it make any difference that my answer is "no, never"? In that small moment, when they say, "Oh, really?" and I can't tell if it's sympathy, or bewilderment, or a nonchalant remark designed to move the conversation on - what's happening in the crawl space between my head and my heart? 

I'm wondering if. I'm wondering when. I'm smiling and feeling my voice grow smaller as I silently finish the story for myself: it may never happen, and shouldn't I be content and dwell here and be pleased and love my life, just as it is? And why do I feel disappointed by my answer, when there is so much fullness everywhere I look? 
(Mandie Sodoma, sindisiwe photography)

The hard truth is that it's easier to be jealous and upset than to be trusting. It's easier to say, "I don't know that anyone is going to see me like that," than to say, "I trust God with this piece, too." Maybe it's because these questions feel tied to being beautiful, to being noticed in a way that can't be replicated by friends or family. Maybe it's about not knowing how to hold a desire unfulfilled in your hands without worrying or doubting. 

I don't have answers, and I don't have contentment (not yet, in any case). But the thought I offer to you, and to myself, in the midst of that "No, never" answer is this: 

That answer has been a part of the becoming, too. That answer that you wish you could change, that you long to sweep off the table forever, is an inextricable and beautiful part of the story of you, the questions you asked, how you heard Him say, "wait.," and everything He taught you about Himself. 

He didn't forget that your answer is, "No, never." And He didn't forget that it's a hard answer to hold, to reconcile with the dating couples and the wedding seasons and the blissful relationships you see around you. It is not lost on Him who gives all good things that you will see what He's giving others and want it for yourself. But He wants to teach us to love what we are given, and trust what is unseen, and place our hearts firmly in His hands. 
(Mandie Sodoma, sindisiwe photography)

We learn that in the deep, hard, patient, and beautiful answer of, "No, never."



  1. Hilary,
    as i sit here, married with four kids, it would be easy for you to dismiss my comments as "what does she know?" and, indeed, i ask myself, "how can i relate?" but i remember the days before it was so, and the same questions going through my mind, and the same wrestling. and i have to tell you that your questions are valid, your thoughts are beautifully put, and your God is great and good. . . all the time. and while none of us knows what your future holds, He knows your dreams and desires. and He holds you closely no matter what the path to fulfillment looks like for your story. and if your future contains a husband, you will enter that relationship strong and sure for having gone through the questioning. the molding. the firing. you are a beautiful young lady, and i really delight in reading your words here and keeping up with a younger person's perspective on life. don't despise these days and the influence you have on other young women around you. God bless you this day!

  2. So glad you decided to write this - true and honest and vulnerable and graceful. Your words spell out a quiet patience, friend, and I'm so glad you revisited this topic in a space in your life you felt like you could. Keep writing about it.

  3. "It's about not knowing how to hold a desire unfulfilled in your hands without worrying or doubting." Precisely. Show us how, God.

  4. Hilary, thank you for this. I get it. But it's an ache that I think I try to disguise from others, from my own heart, and, comically, even from God. Sometimes it's easier to shrug off the 'no, never' than to admit that it stings. Thank you for the courage to admit, to write, and to share.

  5. Oh, I hear your heart and in so many ways, I "feel" your feelings. I was almost 28 when I get married, so the waiting was oh-so-very-real, and now my husband and I have been struggling to get pregnant, so I am again in the "No, never" season with being a mother.

    It's hard. It sucks. It's lonely.

    And yet somehow, nothing is wasted in His beautiful economy, even when if feels like there are pieces that are just unwanted and full of pain.

    Sending you hugs and love from across the miles!


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