(The In Search Of Mr. Darcy Series is a look at the often humorous stories, the lessons and the experiences of a single gal in her 30s who also happens to love Jesus. This can be funny and I’ve learned more than a lesson or two. These are topics and discussions I know I (and my friends) have dealt with (or am still dealing with) as a single lady living life. From funny things I’ve heard, mistakes I’ve made, to the joys of watching my jeans shrink, here’s my story (so far) in this wonderful decade known as the 30s. You can find past entries here!)
I’m going to start with this:
These dating shenanigans are not what I thought they were going to be.
I thought I was pretty smart in high school. Trust me, at that age, I had things figured out. All of the things (of course), but especially when it came to the romance department. I watched plenty of chick flicks and by 17 had read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. If those credentials don’t prove my doctoral status of love, then I’m at a loss.
I was convinced I knew my future and as I started college, I could see it all laid out before me. I’d obviously meet the love of my life in college (going to a private Christian University was bound to secure that right?) and get married the summer after I graduated. We’d have 2-3 kids by the time I was 26 or 27. We’d have a house close to my parents and we’d daily give each other a high five for fulfilling the American dream.
Since you might not know me personally, let me tell you: that’s exactly how things turned out.
Except for everything I mentioned.
I’m single. I have no kids (just a needy fat cat). I have dated those who definitely do not qualify as “love of my life” and more as “well, at least there’s a lesson from that.” Oh and I live over 1,300 miles from my parents. Like I said, exactly how I thought it would pan out.
If you would have told me I would be single at 32, I would have either laughed hysterically or wept in the corner. Because how would life be of any significance if I wasn’t married? HOW WOULD I SURVIVE?! Ah…. youth and all its wisdom.
Like I said, not what I expected. And while I would have it absolutely no other way, I still have to say, the movies you watch as a teenager sit on a throne of lies. Whether it’s the times you’re the only one not asked to dance at a dance hall (been there. done that) or compared to Gollum (that funny story can be found here), or a spell of no dates at all, it’s more of an adventure than originally thought.
Lest you think I’m never to blame, I promise I’m no saint either. In college there was a boy I liked and he liked me, so we were “talking” a lot (why call it dating right?), but there were factors that made me realize it wasn’t going to work (which were actually legit), so instead of having a conversation about it like a normal human being, I just slowly stopped communicating with him.
I was super mature back then.
Then there’s the not so funny stories. Those times when your friend knew to pick up copious amounts of chocolate, possibly some beverages that fizzle and a movie that involved things blowing up. Some girls go for the chick flicks when sad, I go for explosions, bows, arrows or swords. Preferably all of the above. Although I go for those on any other day too, but that’s for another blog post.
While what’s happened in my life thus far is not at all what I expected (or my parents, let’s be honest right?), I wouldn’t want it any other way. The funny, the sad, the hurtful are all part of my story. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I didn’t make those choices or live through those experiences. Plus they’ve taught (or re-taught) me a few important things like these:
It’s okay to admit it sucks sometimes.
Can we give each other permission to be honest? We all have desires for our lives. It can be marriage, parenthood, a specific career, a ministry calling. So when we’re in the waiting period or God is in the midst of reshaping that desire, it can be hard and frustrating at times.
I don’t say this for pity, I say this so people know they’re not alone. Somewhere in the “funny” Christian bubble, when you voice frustration over a longing yet to be fulfilled with something like marriage, people either want to pity you or act more spiritual because they don’t “suffer” from such frustrations.
Having a desire for marriage isn’t bad or wrong. It’s human. Will it happen? Maybe yes, maybe no, but don’t fear the desire either.
And friends, there is a drastic difference between leaning on the Lord in all things and faking it. Pick out almost any psalm and you’ll see David crying out from the depths of his soul. Granted his wasn’t about dating (he’s dating history is a bit different from mine), but he didn’t fake fear, frustration, hurt and even when he repented, it was from the depths of his soul.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
While it might seem dramatic to use a psalm referring to suffering about lack of dates, my point is, the Lord cares – even when you feel ridiculous. Yes, for some people, being single, can become a focus and can become unhealthy (as can anything), but if you’re seeking the Lord and still have moments of frustration, know you’re not alone.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
Where my worth comes from
I’ll talk more about this in a future post, but this is one lesson that changes everything. The French have a saying “Coup de foudre.” (My people make things sound so pretty non?). The closest thing we have in the English translation is “Love at First Sight,” but it’s a little more than that. It’s like when lightning strikes. It doesn’t refer just to “first sight,” but speaks of a love that makes you come alive. Maybe you’ve once experienced it yourself, but it’s a beautiful description where a man and woman absolutely treasure each other.
And while beautiful, it’s got nothing on how the Lord sees us – His love is ridiculous, overwhelming and amazing.
Trusting in the Lord
Whatever I thought my life was going to look like, I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way. It hasn’t always been easy, but with each new twist and detour life has thrown at me (dating related or not), the Lord has been faithful. Sometimes I see why things happened and there’s some things I still don’t know the why behind, but I’ve learned over and over to trust in His plan and that He has used all for good.
Every so often, I’ll hear of a young couple (early 20s) getting engaged. I’m happy for them (although it freaks me out that that means they were born in the mid 90s), yet I can’t help but PRAISE SWEET BABY JESUS that wasn’t me. I’m a completely different person than I was 5 years ago, much less 10 and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I entered wedded bliss at 22. Again, for some people that’s amazing, but I look back at young Jamie and chuckle at all the adventures and more importantly the life lessons that were waiting for me. It’s these moments I can look back and see God’s hand. Those shenanigans I didn’t expect, but it’s made life much more interesting, stretching and adventurous! Here’s the more adventures!
Alright, your turn! Has the dating life met your expectations? If you’re married, what are some wise words you’d pass along to your younger single self and current singles?