Me Too: A single, Christian woman bears all

1 09 2014

Vulnerability-Just-Ahead

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Dr. Brené Brown

 

It’s 4 a.m. and I haven’t been able to get this short burst of bravery out of my soul. If I wait any longer, no doubt I will question my actions, sloughing them off as stupidity in action. I fell asleep to Bethel’s “You Make Me Brave” on repeat and woke up a few hours later with my story forming in my head. I felt like I had just enough courage to share with the world a piece of me that I rarely ever expose. Should it bring courage and comfort to just one person in the world, then it is worth it. Even if it doesn’t, I still can rest knowing I was obedient and my wings grew slightly stronger in the effort.

 

I write this for every girl or woman that has ever felt the pangs of rejection or loneliness. You couldn’t ask me to write on a more painful and personal topic.

 

“The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” Dr. Brené Brown

 

I am two months away from my thirty-second birthday, and I am as single as a Kraft cheese slice. And that stupid cheese slice has been the source of a decade of deep sorrow. Until now, you never heard me addressing it to friends and definitely not acquaintances. If it came up, I quickly joked it aside and put on an air of confidence that probably fooled the world. But deep down I was sheltering a torrent of rejection and loneliness, that, given 9.3 seconds for my heart to dwell on, I would be in uncontrollable tears about. One of my greatest desires in the world is to have that best friend, that companion to adventure through life with, share all with, conquer the world with, someone to strengthen and be strengthened by. And having my hopes deferred year after year has led to pain after pain.

 

I do not doubt for a second that many of you in my position can relate to how I feel. For a decade now I have heard words like “He’s just around the corner. I know it.” At 22, my heart leapt at those words. Ten years on, my heart despises them for I find I am unable to match the hope in their voice with the dwindling hope in my own. I’ve heard those close to me attempt to comfort my temporarily exposed pain by saying, “Marriage is overrated,” crushing my moment of vulnerability by trying to discredit my feelings within. I’ve even had those close to me openly question my sexuality. But most of all I’ve heard the screaming voice of societal standards telling me I must not be worth someone’s love; if I am single this late in the game, then something is wrong with me (I’m not attractive enough, flirtatious enough, not this and not that); if I am not married by such-and-such an age, then I am doomed to forever be a Cat Lady. A Kraft Single Cat Lady, the third wheel in all my friend’s marriages. Whether imagined or not, I feel society’s sympathetic eyes on me at all times, a look that simply says, “Poor girl.”

 

For the past ten years I have violently and quietly struggled with every possible rotten yet thriving branch that comes from the roots of rejection and loneliness. The select few in my world were privy to the pain I endured and the pain I brought on. Sin had a chokehold on me. But at the beginning of this year, I reached an all-time low. My thoughts and my actions had led me to a place of utter self-destruction. I hurt myself and almost threw away my future, I rejected God, and I deeply wounded those close to me. In that moment of “I can’t believe I have allowed myself to get here” weakness, and in that state of “Never ever ever would I have imagined I could have done this and that,” I wept bitterly and cried out for help. Ten years of keeping God the Father at arm’s length, and I was finally ready for Him to truly be my all. No longer would I think He was withholding the gift of a husband from me. No longer would I believe He had forgotten about me. No longer would I shun His perfect creation, me, by thinking He had messed up when He made me. No one else, no boyfriend, no husband, no best friend, no family member, no counselor, no Christian leader, could fulfill the deepest longings in me. In that moment, I gave in and gave way. After a lifelong journey as a Christian, I cried out even louder for my Jesus.

 

I haven’t chosen to fall in love with Jesus because it’s the cool thing to do. I haven’t chosen to fall in love with Jesus to prove a point to anyone. I have chosen to fall in love with him because it is too painful not to. In a sense, this is my last resort. You may huff and call me pathetic. Or you may entirely relate to the ache and desperation. But He is my only hope. I have tried everything else to find fulfillment and everything else has left me emptier than before. He is honestly the only source of true fulfillment out there. One day I do expect to get married, and without doubt, because we are all imperfect humans attempting our best in this world, my husband will not meet the standard of Hollywood’s Knight in Shining Armor. He’ll misunderstand me. I’ll misunderstand him. We’ll miscommunicate. He’ll smell. He’ll forget to buy cheese slices or cat food at the store after I reminded him three times. I’ll need forgiveness from him throughout our marriage, and he’ll need it from me. And instead of my foundation of love shattering beneath my feet in those moments of human error, I am going to have to lean on the One that never fails and always forgives in order to find the strength to say, “I forgive you. I still love you.” As long as I have my husband, my friends, my family, or Christian ministers on pedestals, my world will crash when they err. The faithfulness of Jesus is not just something I want to sing about anymore. It is what I want to rely on and experience day to day, it is who He is, all He encompasses, and it is who He wants to be for me.

 

“Only the one who has experienced it can know what the love of Jesus Christ is. Once you have experienced it, nothing else in the world will seem more beautiful or desirable.” From Brennan Manning’s The Signature of Jesus

 

In these few months of absolute surrender, I have experienced comfort and assurance that no person could have ever given me. Jesus has gently taught me where I lack trust, where I lack hope, and where my faith is frail and feeble. I’ve clung to His words and whisperings:

“Know that I am good.”

“Come to me with any desire.”

“MY testimony about you is TRUTH.”

“I have your best interest at the center of my heart.”

“All my intentions for you are good.”

“As you know Me, you will come to know the true you.”

“Sin does not hold you. Trust in My power.”

And, “Believe Me.”

 

He sees my rejection and knows it all too well. He knows what it feels like to truly be despised. He can recount stories of utter loneliness, when those closest to him shunned him entirely. But he can also define true love for me, for his name is the definition, his actions the catalyst of that love.

 

“For love of you I left my Father’s side. I came to you who ran from me, fled me, who did not want to hear my name. For love of you I was covered with spit, punched, beaten, and affixed to the wood of the cross.” From Brennan Manning’s The Signature of Jesus

 

There is nothing more that I want right now than to know him intimately, day by day, more and more. I have become that girl that I used to despise who would say, “Sure, I’m single. I’m chasing Jesus right now.” It is no longer an excuse or a spiritual bandage to mask the deep pain. It is an honest and heartfelt maneuver to expose and eliminate the pain as I stand naked and vulnerable before the only One who can heal me. May my freshly forming scars ever point to that beautiful Healer and may they ever remind you that He’s there for you, too.

 

“I desire to know the Father’s heart toward me and put to work the power of the cross in my life, to have the brokenness in my life made whole. I want to be restored to a place where I am my whole self, able and willing to give of myself freely to others. I want to be made well for the sake of others. I am believing for a whole, healed, content, joyful, faith-filled, and fully trusting heart. I feel my ministry calling will be an outflow during the journey and process of this healing.” My journal entry at the beginning of 2014. I stepped away from the traditional goals or New Year’s resolutions, and in a state of total brokenness simply listed my heartfelt desire. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the route to fulfillment would be vulnerably sharing what is most precious to me.

 

(Part 1 in the Me Too series)


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15 responses

1 09 2014
Jennifer Lee

Wow, goodness!! This is really just so good. Even though we’ve only ever shared a basketball game in Boise and a few mutual friends, I feel like we could have endless conversations. I know the vulnerability it takes to share your story, and I admire your courage (as well as, your writing style and humor!). I’d love to read more of your perspective & experiences!! Your honesty & depth of emotion help me know a bigger story than my own, with an intense commonality of the desperation to know our wounded Healer more (I’m reading “The Signature of Jesus” right now, also!). Next time you’re in Boise, let’s hang out! And maybe have a bball rematch.

1 09 2014
pb&shelley

Jenn, thank you so much for your comment! Knowing there are others out there that “get it” is a huge comfort. Your encouragement to continue to write and share couldn’t have been richer. Thank you!! I’ll be in Boise in Oct for Ebie’s wedding and at church the day after. I expect to see you!!!!

1 09 2014
Me Too: A single, Christian woman bears all | Christians Anonymous

[…] Source: Me Too: A single, Christian woman bears all […]

1 09 2014
Anne

Shelley! This is beyond beautiful! And Impacting! You are marvelous and I have so many Things I want to say, but my words are just not working that well. Thank you for sharing, I think you made my heart bigger!

1 09 2014
Becky Dorman

Shelley , you are a wise and strong woman…you are becoming wiser and stronger!!Love you!! Your very personal sharing is exactly what would minister to a beautiful Christian woman who is 34 years old & single. Lives in Tulsa and wants a husband but is waiting , waiting

1 09 2014
pb&shelley

Thank you, Becky! Please feel free to share this with her. 🙂 I honestly hope my words bring people to Comfort.

2 09 2014
Jessi

Reblogged this on Running Inside Me and commented:
A great post about being a single Christian woman (men as well can related to this too!) a must read!

2 09 2014
Jessi

Reblogged!

2 09 2014
pb&shelley

Thank you, Jessi! What an honor!

2 09 2014
Lynn Briggs

Your vulnerability is a priceless treasure and stepping stone for the beginning of healing for others. Thanks for being brave with your life so others can be brave with theirs.

5 09 2014
Me Too: Not Enough | peanutbutter and shelley

[…] response to my first blog, “Me Too: A single, Christian woman bears all,” was humbling and eye-opening. I saw women, men, single people, and married people relate. I saw […]

7 09 2014
Paloma Salazar

This morning I woke up from a nightmare . As I looked over my phone I realized there wasn’t anyone to share my thoughts and feelings with . I at times feel lonely , and I’ve tried and tried to fill my this whole and emptiness in my heart . I talk to God and I question many things that have happened in my personal life . I still don’t seem to get it . After reading your blog I began to feel this sense of “I’m not the only one ” . Your words gave me hope and I thank you for that .
Paloma Salazar

19 09 2014
Krystal

God once said to me “your investment in him is an investment in Me.” He was speaking about a past relationship that led to years of adult singleness for me. And He was right – all the hurt, the years, and the feeling of precious time lost was actually just part of a deeper investment in my relationship with the Lord. My faith and hope grew in ways it wouldn’t have without the struggle. And those are essential parts of myself that feed my daily life and walk. You, sweet girl, are investing in the greatest relationship you will ever have – the one with your Savior. And you will have an appreciation for your future husband that goes much deeper than it would had he come along a decade ago. I know, because I have lived it myself. And I can say without hesitation that he was worth the wait …

20 09 2014
pb&shelley

Krystal, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this. I’ve read and re-read and re-read it. Thank you for sowing hope and encouragement and perspective on investment…I truly value it!

17 04 2019
Trust or Bust: When God Asks You for Your Weakest, Neediest, Most Vulnerable Area | peanutbutter and shelley

[…] know that—besides walking through the grief of losing both my parents—my greatest area of vulnerability has been trusting God to fulfill my desire to have an amazing husband and family. I determined long […]

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