Note: This post was first published three years ago today, on August 9, 2014. Much in my life (besides my hairstyle, which, by the way should not be the focal point of this post!) has changed since then. In particular, I am now joyfully married to a godly man whom I will love gratefully “for all of our tomorrows” (as we like to say to each other daily)! But the truths I learned on this date (in 1986) and shared publicly on this date (in 2014) are just as true today. And had I remained single, God would have been just as good and kind and holy and loving and sovereign as He is today, because what God does is always good. As I read this post aloud to my husband this morning, he said, “You need to share that again.” And I agreed.
“Any regrets I may have over that which I have lost are swallowed up in relief over that which I have escaped.” ~Unknown
That quotation has been my annual “mantra” on August 9th. However, I take it one step further and use it to realize that it is because of the goodness and wisdom of God that I can view this day in that way.
Some may read what I am about to share and think that I should “be over it by now.” I am.
Some may read what I am about to share and think that I am in some way bitter. I am not.
Some may read what I am about to share and think that I must somehow despise men. I do not. Unh-unh, no way, no how!
I’m going to share it anyhow—but not to prove anything or to defend myself against those whose thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. I share this because somewhere there is a girl, a family member, a coworker, a friend whose life plans just changed, and I want her to know that she’s not the only one, that joy will come again, and that hope will return.
With my wedding plans nearly finalized for my—you guessed it—August 9, 1986 wedding date, I received a call mid-April that changed everything. The wedding was off, and the reality of an uncertain future loomed before me, taunting me with its emptiness and lack of hope. I had cancelled my contract for teaching the following year (and my replacement had already been secured), and there I was, twenty-five years old, with every well-laid-out plan beyond that minute suddenly erased with the giant pink eraser of “there will be no wedding on August 9th.”
Before I continue, I will be transparent and tell you that it hurt deeply, and that for several months, when I looked at what I was “missing out on,” I was bitter, angry, and, quite honestly, a little ticked off. But when I looked at how God used that one single moment in time to change my life—and my heart—I became grateful, encouraged, and comforted. God knew best. The man to whom I was engaged married not long after, and his wife is the perfect match for him. They faithfully serve the Lord together, and the choice to put an abrupt end to our plans—in the long run and in the big picture—was the right one.
When I was finally able to take the blinders off of my view of things, I saw so clearly that I was in love with love, and he and I both deserved more than that. God’s love runs so much deeper than anything we can “muster up” just because we long for marriage.
Sadly, I primarily received the empty platitude from so many people that I had probably even said more than once myself: “God’s got someone better in store for you.”
First of all, just because he chose not to marry you does not make him a bad person. Though many people use that expression to “console” someone who is sad after a breakup, it’s not a great expression. In fact, it’s kind of tacky and lame to attack “the bad guy” or “the bad girl.”
Secondly, maybe God has singleness, not “someone better,” in store for you. But be careful here. Don’t follow my poor example of saying (as I did more than once at that time) that “I’m never going to get married. No one’s going to ever hurt me like that again.” I feel that I can say this because I’m single, but I can generally recognize the woman who is bitter or desperate because she is so verbal about her singleness—and usually in loud and brash ways, accompanied by sarcasm about the subject. I long to go whisper one simple thing to women like that: “Shh.”
Am I tickled pink about not having an earthly life companion? No, I’m not. Am I thrilled to be exactly where God wants me to be at this moment, in this place? You bet I am! Because His way truly is perfect. God didn’t bop Himself upside the head that April morning of my phone call and say, “Oh stink, I forgot all about Brenda.” He knows what’s best for me. He allowed me to learn things that I would never have known otherwise.
So be careful about the “consolation” you give to others:
“It’s good to be single. Think of all the things you couldn’t do if you were married.” “It’s better to not be married than to be married to the wrong person.”
And on the opposite side, when someone becomes engaged:
“Oh, you’ll love married life. Being married is the best thing ever!” “There are so many more ways you can serve as a married couple.”
Instead, we as the body of Christ need to joyfully serve in whatever way—at whatever time—God has for us. Perhaps what we should simply say (and what we should simply teach our children and those in the church pews) is:
“The best thing you can be is what God wants you to be today, in this moment, in this place. His way is perfect.”
When we view life through that lens, we can, with sincerity and a joyful heart, be thankful for the day that never was because it has been a vital part of making us who were are today.