This time last year, I lurked in the bookshelves of a large church in DC, reading titles about being single and how not to screw up your next relationship (yes, indeed, they exist).
I wrote in a flurry of words sitting at my kitchen table, with the smell of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and fresh clean air, and wind, and sunshine wafting through the apartment. A year ago, I wrote...
Oh yeah. A book that you can buy from amazon.com for a whopping $3.99. That's right folks, for a measly $3.99 you can solve your screwy relationship or find untold intimacies in the goldfish bowl of your single life.
I have to laugh when I hear this. Why do we say this stuff? Why do we publish books that analogize (that is not a real word, is it?) our lives to that of a cold-blooded, scaly orange sea creature with a memory of less than 30 seconds, who lives on smelly fish pellets and dies within three months' of living in your dorm room? Why do we promise that in a few short pages your intimacy will be found, your mistakes will be solved, in a word, that you will be the perfect relationship guru? If you're going to make promises, I vote you bring out the big guns. Here are some of the titles of books I'D write if I was in the business of relationship advice.
#1 From Lamezoid to Lucky: How to Manipulate Random Chance to get the Spouse of Your Dreams
#2 If Mother Teresa Was Single, Why Can't You Be?
#3 Single and Lonely? Stop Complaining! (And Other Forms of Tuff Luv)
#4 Dirty Martini, No Olive: What Your Single-Ready-To-Mingle Go-To Bar Order Says About You (and Your Dateability)
#5 Ring By the 15th of April: The REAL Timeline for Christian Dating (And When To Max Out Your Credit Card for the Ring She Doesn't Think You Know She Wants)
#6 Woe Is Me, I Got "Juliet" On A Facebook Quiz and Now I Think I'm Doomed to a Life of Young, Tragic Love (A Memoir about My Twenties, Taylor Swift, and Life in America)
#7 A 2 Page Guide to Finding Your Soulmate (You Thought You Needed to Read a BOOK?)
#8 Church Shopping When You're Single: How to Tell The Cutie from the Desperate from the 'Taken'"
#9 How (Not To) Lose a Guy in 10 Years: What You Can Learn from Sappy Teen Romance Movies About Making A Relationship Work
#10 You're How Old? The Age When You Should Start to Worry About Being Single Could Be Just Around the Corner
I think if I went to the gum chewing, cigar smoking publisher with these snappy titles, I would be a billionaire before you could say "Pat Robinson" or "Jerry Falwell!". In all seriousness, though, I want to know the purpose behind these books that seem designed SOLELY for the purpose to broadcasting to the world that you are, in fact, single. It might be easier to tattoo to your forehead - "Single. Stop Staring." Maybe we write the books because we feel like it's "not so bad" if we are addressing the problem. If we read the book and follow the steps, pray the right cycle of prayers, mingle with the right small groups and social events, make our hair wavy one day and straight the next and buy our clothes at the cute boutiques on M St. that scream, "I'm super trendy but also cute but also very sexy but also eco-friendly and caring towards the environment!" - if we do all that, the magic formula will work and we will no longer be single.
How much has changed, I think as I reread my words, filled with impatience and unrest and indignation. And yes, I am still often impatient and restless and indignant that I do not have a boyfriend, that being chosen and pursued by someone hasn't appeared in my life. I spill a lot of ink still wondering why we insist on keeping this wound raw, on reminding each other through our expectations and our vague comforting words.
But God has been quieting my heart about this, too. In slow, small steps, in trembling forward, I have begun to find a voice for the hope that lives in my heart. I have begun to put words to this new question, how do I hold a desire unfulfilled in my heart?
How things change in just a year of wandering and stumbling, tripping and racing forward. How things change when we begin to hand over the small jigsaw pieces of our selves to Him. How things change when we let the loud voices of hurt and discontent and frustration go silent... and let the quiet voice of peace begin to speak.
Laugh with me, won't you? That in the landscape of a year He has taken my chaos and begun to make calm? That between a guest post here, and there, and prayers flung up to Heaven and grace rained back down, the peace has begun to make a home in me?
All my love, from all this messy growing heart,