How do you tell someone that you are actually okay with where you are? How do you admit that you were always convinced that you wouldn’t marry until you were at least 30? More importantly, how do you admit that you allowed other people’s insecurities, life plans and expectations drive you to live outside the peace of God that you had so closely held onto all your life?
For me it was a shameful thing to admit.
When I was about 17 years old I had a very strong vision for my life, one that I do not recall sharing with anyone. It was like a snapshot of my life over the next 15 years, I saw myself in university, I saw myself moving away, I saw a beautiful apartment and a life to be envied. Most strikingly I saw myself single…and really really happy.
So off I went to university and was a happy girl. Sidenote: although I really would not change my life I do still have moments where I wish I had followed the dream and gone to Wellesley, studying only with women who had strong academic goals. Anyway, back to my life…
I went off to university and begun having those conversations. You know them, we all have them…so, when are you going to find a nice boy? Did you hear so and so hooked up? He really likes you, you should date him. The worst was one car ride where my friends spent the entire time driving up to the cabin matchmaking our group of friends so that we were almost all related or connected by marriage. It was a nightmare.
I dated some throughout university, had my many crushes…but really, looking back there was always the prevailing thought, that nagging voice that said “Michelle, you are destined for something so much more than what you would get if you settled here.”
(disclaimer: I have no inherent issues about marrying young, or dating, or any life choice that is different than mine. This is about MY choices and MY destiny (and consequently the man I marry and our children)…
My life was a battle between what was “expected” of me and the vision and dreams God had placed on my heart. Amusingly enough none of the relationships that I had worked out and God used a pretty supernatural moment to get me over to Europe. I moved and settled in my life there.
I love God. I love the hope that Jesus brought and the life that He has given me. I am a person who naturally puts her heart and soul into what she does and so when I moved to London and got a just okay job (because I was so scared to fail) I put my entire heart and soul into church. Understand that I will always do that, but instead of finding a balance on a day to day basis I made my work second and my life at church the priority. I was not actually honoring God in a HUGE part of my life and yet I seemed like I was this good girl. Praise the LORD that we have grace and my life still had fruit and that God used me because of my willingness to serve him. However, on the professional side of my life I was lacking. I was not happy. I hated Sunday nights. I had lost sight of my goals. In actuality I had lost sight of what God put on my heart and therefore almost lost sight of him.
I spent many years pretending. I was sort of happy. I was sort of present in my daily life. I mean, I really do not know of how many people knew that I was not all me…but I knew and God knew. We can so easily hide ourselves in today’s world. Again it is only by God’s grace that I functioned, but this is a WHOLE other topic that I need to save for next week.
So, here I was living my life, going along, making friends and serving in church, but that path that I saw when I was 17? I was so far from it. It hurt to think about all that I was missing. I knew that when I got up each day and went to my various jobs that I was not on the right path. There was something missing, something akin to what I think it feels like to lose an arm. It was a phantom pain.
During this time there was also a lot of guys. Oh gosh. I will not get into detail, but instead of just enjoying friendships and seeing what would happen I began to feel the pressure of the people around me (again) to be discontent in my singleness. It says in the Bible that nothing can be taken away or added that is not from God. Ask me about that one day. I have 100 different stories. In hindsight (so wise hindsight is) my struggles in dating and relationships came from the fact that I was fighting God’s plan for me. He makes straight our paths, he levels mountains…he goes before us (Is 45) but if we are not following behind him…we can still be walking crookedly and climbing mountains when the narrow, calmer path sits parallel to ours.
I was a lost little soul and it was not until I felt like I had hit rock bottom that something changed. Work, love…it all escaped me. I was not even myself completely. I prayed and asked God to reveal who he wanted me to be again. My journey, too long for this post, took a number of steps including spending a 6 month period praying each week to make a commitment to love God. It meant jumping in deep and looking for a job that would be put me on track (even if it meant a pay cut). It meant giving up on dating until I could see clearly again. My vision so blurred by the expectations of others.
In life, some of us spend too much time listening to what others think or say. I believe the term for it is people-pleasers. I remember Phil Dooley speaking about this, about quitting people pleasing and chasing God instead.
It was in my lowest point where I turned my neck and started really chasing God. It was not that I had been away from Him, but that I conveniently allowed others to speak into my life.
You know, it was not all as bad as it seemed and if you speak to those around me now, who knew me then, you would never say “Michelle was not with God”…but there is a difference between loving God and seeking Him first.
It was when my priorities really changed that my life changed the most. Now, I am 31 and God has put me in a place, not without challenges or difficulties, but in a place of GRACE.
I wish some days that I could have just gone back to 17 and kept my eyes and heart focused on what He showed me at such a young age. However, now when God speaks directly into my heart, when He shows me His promises; when he whispers secrets to me that show me what is next, I listen. I listen and I take hold.
I no longer care if my FB feed is COVERED in engagements, weddings or babies. It does not phase me when my friends complain they are single. I do not long for another job or a different life, because I am living my life, my destiny and with God beside me, I will not falter.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2