I was the girl who didn’t bother much about boys. So many things occupied my time that it never concerned me that I was single. It changed when I got to college. I dismissed this change as a byproduct of collective peer pressure, but I didn’t realize at the time what an effect those dashed relationship hopes would have on me, and how deeply those experiences chipped away at my trust in God.

Several years in the trenches as a teacher kept me so buried, that I couldn’t do much more than eat, sleep and spend time with family. It wasn’t until December of my twenty-fifth year the first pangs of loneliness hit me. They appeared in the form of an entirely new, uncomfortable thought: “What if I grow old alone?” This was deeply unpleasant to consider. It was also a symptom of a strong desire I hadn’t realized was growing in me until that moment.

A few disappointments later, I started to get disillusioned and upset. And who was I upset with? God, of course, although it took me some time to realize that. (It’s so much easier to blame God than ourselves, isn’t it?) I grew too discouraged and tired to trust God did want good for me, and that good could ever come in the form of marriage. So I began to resent him, to give up asking him to help me trust him.

Then the pandemic hit. My life was placed on hold, except for the fresh waves of intense loneliness that crashed in like a flood. But what I began to realize (after I stopped asking God to help me trust him and obsessing over possibilities) was God was not to blame for my pain and disappointment. This was always true; I just couldn’t see it until I stopped imagining my future and who I would spend it with. Instead, I realized I was the one placing expectations for what I wanted onto God, and I had believed this was the specific way in which God would show me his goodness. I felt I deserved to get married (at just the right moment I wanted it to happen), and was angry at God for not delivering.

I am learning once again to trust my Father. Is it bad that I still want to be married? Of course not! However, God is calling me to trust him, especially at those times when I feel least like doing so. How do I live in the tension of trusting that God will bring me good things, but not expecting specific good things? I’m still in the throes of figuring that one out, folks (God’s gonna have to help me!). But I’m also rediscovering, in my heart of hearts, that God wants to lavish good things on me. It grieves me to look back at the time I’ve wasted feeling sorry for myself since God just wanted to shower me with goodness I kept rejecting because it wasn’t the kind of good I wanted. But this is now a part of my story, and God is using all these lessons to draw me back into his presence.

Instead of getting stuck in regret and dwelling on all I’ve missed, I’m reminded of what Paul exhorts us to do in Philippians: “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:13-16). So let’s press on toward that prize, brothers, and sisters–no matter what our pasts or futures hold–and not grow weary; let us remember that our Lord is beside us when we are at our weakest!

Ashley Carr

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