If you talk to anyone who has known me over the last ten years (or more!) they would tell you that they’ve heard me say some version of this rehearsed lie:
“Yeah, I’ll get married on the 1st of Never.”
Ha! It’s true. I have proof. This is a text exchange I just had recently with a friend of mine:
Her text actualIy made me laugh because I was already in the middle of writing this post. Clearly I was like a broken record when it came to dating and marriage. I basically told anyone who would listen: “I’m never getting married.” “I’ll probably never have a husband.” "Just waiting to find that blind, deaf guy who wants to date me." I was constantly reminding myself and others that there was no guarantee this would happen for me - trying to make sure my hopes didn’t get up too high. Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe you are this person, repeating the same stale phrases. But, do you know what I was doing? Self-protecting. Shielding my heart because, you know, Proverbs says to, “Guard your heart,” and they told me to do that a lot growing up in youth group. What would it need protection from more than the devastating heartbreak I felt over being single?
I used to tell myself I wasn’t getting married because I was cushioning the blow to my own self. If I never did get married then at least people wouldn’t feel bad for me, they’d just say, “Well, she always knew she wouldn’t. I guess she was right.” Instead of something like, “I wonder why she’s not married?” “She must really suck for no one to want to date her.” “I can’t believe she’s still alone.” I didn’t want people to pity me and I didn’t want them to talk bad about me - especially my exes. Gosh, how quickly they all moved on with their lives and got married while there I was, still alone, feeling like a loser.
But the problem is, when you tell yourself something for too long, you start to believe it and you start to live it out in different, perhaps subconscious, ways. Like I started to embrace my "single forever" identity. I convinced myself I wasn't worth dating, which caused me to never seek anyone out, even if I liked them. Then I scoffed at anyone who showed the slightest interest, because, see reason #1, I wasn't worth dating and I knew they'd figure that out soon enough. Super fun and helpful to your emotional well-being, right? I know.
Another way to deal with disappointment in one area of life is to find other areas you can control. Like you can work like crazy to have the perfect house. You can be the perfect friend. You can be the perfect daughter/sister/volunteer/employee because at least you can control that aspect of your life. That’s what I found myself doing. I would grip tightly to control some other area because I knew this one wasn’t happening for me and I felt so useless and rejected. Gosh, this smells an awful lot like pride.
Remember a couple of years ago when the book The Secret was a really big deal? (And by a couple of years, I mean 11 because I just looked it up, and by "a really big deal" I mean I think Oprah latched on to it, so whatever.) I never read it but from what I hear it talks about the law of attraction or “like attracts like.” According to the easiest of Wikipedia searches,
The Secret posits that the law of attraction is a natural law which determines the complete order of the universe and of our personal lives through the process of "like attracts like". The author claims that as we think and feel, a corresponding frequency is sent out into the universe which attracts back to us events and circumstances on that same frequency. For example, if a person thinks angry thoughts and feels angry, the author claims that said person will attract back events and circumstances that cause them to feel more anger. Conversely, if the person thinks and feels positively, they will attract back positive events and circumstances.
In this case, my negative attitude about dating was attracting negativity. It left me sitting in complacency and discontentment and actually embracing my identity as "single" even though I actively hated it. Have you ever heard that phrase, "Your vibe attracts your tribe"? Unhealthy people attract unhealthy people. Negativity attracts negativity. To be clear, I think this whole idea of sending frequencies into the universe leaves a glaring God-sized hole in what ultimately determines the path for your life, but I still believe there is some legitimacy to the thought. When I let go of my assertion that I would never get married, when I focused on other things, got involved in other areas, really focused on obedience to God in different areas of my life – my general attitude about life changed and I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have. And that’s precisely when Aaron walked into my life.
I’m not saying this is a magic bullet. I’m not saying that you’re going to find health, wealth and happiness if you just think positive thoughts as often as possible. If you’re positive every single day, bad, awful, wicked things might still happen in your life. And that is the result of living in a broken world. But I can tell you that positivity and a grateful heart will at least help the level of joy you experience in your day to day. I can tell you that finding other areas of your life to focus on - other ways you can serve and love and give back - will cause you to be less concerned with and have less time for self-protecting.
So if you find yourself saying, "I'm never getting married" or any other "never" phrase in an effort to self-protect, please stop. Even if you're joking. Don't say it. Stop yourself from rehearsing those lines. Focus on a better dream and tell yourself the stuff you WILL do. I will buy a house. I will have a baby. I will join that group. I will start that company. I will start working out. I will get married. I will finish school. I will ____. That's a much better use of your time. I know it’s hard to hope in the midst of loneliness. I know it’s hard to get your hopes up only to have them come crashing to the ground over and over again. I know that it’s hard to pray for good things when it seems you’ve only been given a double helping of heartbreak. But find people who will hope for you. Find the people who will lift up your prayers when you can’t.
I just don’t want you to grow weary. I know weary well. But I heard the verse again last week in a sermon I was listening to from Levi Lusko. Do not "grow weary in doing good..." Don't grow weary in waiting for your dreams. Don’t grow weary. I read a quote from Elisabeth Elliott that said, “God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” Yowza! I know I always felt like I knew what I needed and I knew how I felt and, “Come on, God! Don’t you think it’s my turn now?” But instead, we need to find some better dreams. Find some truths we can rehearse. Put them on sticky notes in your car, on your bathroom mirror if you need to – tell yourself the things you’re going to do instead the things you will never do. Tell your friends to help you remember.
I want to speak confidently of what I know my God can provide. I want to be sure of his faithfulness and speak it with conviction rather than shrink back in self-protection. I want to believe for certain that whatever comes will be exactly what I need and at the most perfect time. He knows all your dreams and desires and plans and wishes and hopes. He put them there as he carefully fashioned your very heart. So stop doubting and start declaring. Stop doubling down on what you’ll "never" have and start proclaiming the truth that he will provide ALL that you need. Not all that you want, but all that you need and I find that to be much more comforting than someone who gives me all that I want because my wants change by the hour.
I wish I would have shut up about never getting married because here I am about to get married. And now I feel like my tantrums and cries over singleness were so silly. I know they weren’t – I know God doesn’t feel that way either. But they feel kind of dumb now in light of all that has happened in the last year. So I’m sorry if you heard me at any point in my life say, “I’m never getting married.” It was birthed out of a tightly-held insecurity that maybe I wasn’t worth marrying. And that was something I needed to deal with in my own heart. Maybe you do, too. What are you telling yourself you won’t do and why? What’s the reason for not believing he will provide at exactly the right time? How are you holding yourself back from all that God has for you?
He'll provide all you need. If you don't have it yet - you don't need it yet. Go boldly into the world today believing that truth over any lie.