Today's post was written by BH member, Amanda Seibert.
I’m afraid I’ll never find love.
I’m in no rush. Despite the fact that everyone around me seems to have already found their perfect match, that I have six bridesmaid dresses hanging in my closet, I’m honestly happy with my single life... for now.
But sometimes I wonder if it will ever be my turn. And often, I’m afraid that it won’t.
It’s a fear that comes and goes like a ferris wheel, sometimes stopping, rocking a bit, and then moving along, smoothly unnoticed, but always cycling back to the same place no matter how many times I’ve gone around.
I remember the first time my ferris wheel really “rocked”—I was a sophomore in college, and my roommate, also a sophomore, was asked to the Junior/Senior Banquet and I wasn’t. Not only was she asked, but she was asked by the campus heart-throb, a studly senior, who posted signs all over the school asking her to be his date. This of course got the attention of every girl on campus, dozens of which, I’m sure, stopped by our dorm room to squeal and gush and hear all the juicy details of this dreamy, developing relationship.
I sat at my desk, pretending to do my homework as I listened for the 800th time to the same stories about the same signs and the same dates and the same surprise flower deliveries.
Jealous? Not me. Well, maybe. Just a little.
Not necessarily about Studly Senior, but about the sudden attention my roommate was getting. I tried to be happy for her—I think I faked it pretty well—but inside I was being subtly destroyed by a terrible case of comparison.
Now I’ve learned a few things about this disease: first, it’s always fatal. Either you come out on top, and you’re proud. Or you come out on bottom, and you’re depressed. “All unhappiness is the result of comparison.” That’s what my mom says, anyway.
But I also know that comparison is highly contagious, meaning that it starts in one area and will quickly spread to the rest of your life before you even know it. For me, it started with relationships. I am boyfriendless...which must mean I am undesirable...which must mean I am not as pretty or funny or godly or thin or blond as other girls. Insert any adjective, and I’m not enough of it.
Yes, comparison is a deadly poison, and it was running rampantly through my veins.
There’s only one cure, but I didn’t recognize it as a cure until it happened and I suddenly found myself healed. It happened that summer when I worked as a camp counselor. For 8 weeks, I was so busy getting pied in the face and doing silly skits and eating s’mores and laughing and singing and praying with kids around a campfire, that I forgot all about myself and my relationship woes.
That’s when I realized that the times of greatest contentment come in times of service. Times when I stop thinking about ME. There is simply no room for self-pity (or self-elation, for that matter) when all the pieces of my mental “pie graph” are filled up with serving others. Personal concerns disappear. I heard an acronym once that JOY is when you put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. A bit cheesy, perhaps, but certainly true.
Back to college, graduation, now preparing to leave for Spain—a few more rounds on the ferris wheel, and again, I’d come to a halt, paralyzed this time not by jealousy or comparison but by the fear of a seemingly impossible love life. I’d graduated from Moody “Bridal” Institute without even so much as a boyfriend, and leaving the country certainly wouldn’t increase my chances.
Although I was genuinely happy with my current singleness, I was afraid that by choosing to go overseas—to Spain and then India, the very places that I felt God was clearly leading—I was choosing isolation. I was going to be that 82-year old single missionary lady, I knew it.
Missions had to mean singleness for me because, after all, in my prime time of “eligibility” I was taking myself off the market. If I really wanted to find a husband, I would find the church with the biggest “Singles Ministry” or sign up for E-harmony—but certainly I would not go to India.
In my mind, missions and marriage were mutually exclusive. And although I desired both, it seemed that if I pursued one, I would be denying myself of the other.
What a fool I am to limit God to my own expectations, to assume that He will not take care of His own. I could have stayed back out of fear and tried to manipulate my way into a pool of godly bachelors, but, as I learned in a Beth Moore Bible study that summer, “anything you have to manipulate to get is rarely yours to keep.”
The truth is, I couldn’t have manipulated a “2-year marriage plan” if I tried. It’s all up to God’s timetable. What I could do, however, is head toward the mission field, simply walking through the doors that God was clearly opening and believing that He always blesses our obedience. He blesses us with Himself.
My dad says there are two ways to approach a relationship. You can run, or you can fish. Fishing means putting yourself out there, like bait, and waiting for a good catch. Running means moving forward at full-speed and then looking over your shoulder to see who’s running beside you. I chose to run. To run the race marked out for me in advance, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
I’m still on the ferris wheel. As many times as I’ve tried to get off, tried to release my plans and my desires and my future to God’s control, I don’t think I’ll ever be done.
Sometimes (most of the time) I’m enjoying the ride so much, I wouldn’t want it any other way, and then sometimes I feel hopeless and throw big pity parties, imagining that if I keep it up long enough God will start feeling sorry for me and actually do something about it. Is that totally blasphemous?
But it seems every time I come back to the same prayer, opening clenched fingers and laying down my life, my heart, my singleness at the foot of the cross.
Maybe God has someone out there for me. Maybe not. But I do know, no matter what, He never gives second best. If I’m single ‘til I’m 98, it’s not because God forgot about me or was holding out on something good. No, it’s because in His all-knowing plan, He wanted me, all of me, all to Himself. And I’m okay with that.
Five years have passed since I wrote those words—five wild and unpredictable years in which God led me to The Church at Brook Hills (a northern girl finds her Sweet Home Alabama!), surrounded me with this new faith family to love me through one of the darkest valleys of my life, and when I least expected it, brought me a godly man to be my husband. We just celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary, with a two-month old baby girl by our side. I praise God for His abundant & undeserved goodness towards me.
And yet, even in this new season as a wife and first-time mom, I am learning all over again that comparison is deadly, obedience liberates, and contentment is found in fixing our eyes on Jesus and taking them off ourselves. In singleness or marriage or any season of life—for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health—may our anthem be that Christ is our joy, and He is enough.