Monday, February 13, 2017

But What If I Never Get Married? + Party Pics

Happy Pre-Valentine's Day, guys! I know you probably expected dinner party photos (yay, here they are!) but I also wanted to break the fourth wall and reach out in a personal way to those of you are spending another Valentine's Day without a date. Awkward to come across on a food-blog, but I really felt like sharing something deeper than a recipe this time. And forget only single people, I also am reaching out to those of you who do have a date but are somehow missing a purpose. I hope you'll forgive the lapse and enjoy the post and the photos taken by my long-suffering, light-chasing friend, Arielle.

There have been many articles written on “ the blessing of being single.” There have been many more written on the pain of it. This one isn't going to be a disclaimer of either one because joy and pain go together like dark chocolate and sea-salt. Amiright? Okay, let's get down to the details:
Guys, I am reaching my mid-twenties. I don't have a boyfriend. I've never had one. Unless you're strangely un-tempted by the idea of marriage, to be twenty-some years old and very much single is probably not where you pictured yourself when, as a little girl (or boy), you thought about grown-up life. At least it's not where I pictured myself.

Every time February 14th rolls around I seem to be given a merciful break from feeling particularly, ridiculously single. Maybe I realize the holiday is over-hyped or that I can buy myself flowers and chocolate if I actually want it. And yet, every February 14th the thought crosses my mind,
“You know, I'm going to enjoy this year an extra bit. It could be my last Valentine's Day as a single girl and I know I'll miss these solo missions once I'm married.”
And, ironically, every February 14th I realize that I'm still as single as I was the year before, only older and wiser and hopefully farther along in the things that really matter. For all this unexpected contentment which oddly descends on me just at the time I probably ought to feel most single, there is one question I used to avoid answering entirely. I had never wanted to make eye contact with this thought because I wasn't sure what little corners packed full of doubt it might upend. I wasn't sure that I would have the strength to meet the idea face to face because it was an idea that I disdained my entire life.

Disdain: the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect.

Yes, I disdained this idea so much, I feared this idea so much that I would never ask it to myself outright. I would only speak of it in the negative, as a sort of anti-idea. One of those things that “of course would never happen.” What idea held so much sway over me? What question did I hold in such frightened contempt that I would never ask it?

What if I never get married?

There it is – just a little phrase that my mother laughs at. So many, many, many girls before me have thought the same thing and have lived to be married and have families and laugh in their turn at their daughters who won't look a little question square in the eye.

Sometimes it turns out that we don't really want what we thought we wanted. I did not get several of the things I thought I wanted this year. But as I stood beneath the blue-white moon tonight wrapped in a pink plaid blanket with my heart laid open, I found myself overwhelmed with gratefulness for not being given those things. Because a year down the road I no longer want what I thought I did - that position, that friend, that relationship. And I wonder how different my life would have been if I had got my way. Because of not getting what I thought I wanted, I have grown stronger. I have grown wiser. I have grown more capable, truer, and more tender-hearted. And most importantly, I've seen Jesus cultivate in me a great joy in just...being His and learning to care for what He cares for and to see what He sees.

So it has only been recently – in this last year mentioned– that I have been able to really consider that one forbidden question with abandon. And the moment I considered it, I found it lost all of its spooking-power. As of publishing this article, the male population has exactly one day to keep me from spending my twenty-fourth Valentine's Day "alone." That's not much time, is it? And somehow, the idea of spending twenty-five, fifty, seventy more of these holidays alone does not frighten me. Because here's the funny, funny nature of forever: it's only today bound to tomorrow and multiplied forward. Forever is only today. It is the only math problem I look at with excitement rather than dismay. Forever is only today. May I tell you about today?

I woke up to my 6:30 alarm of "Another Day of Sun" from La La Land. Early, rose-colored light peeked through cracks in my curtains. I stumbled out of bed into the bathroom to brush my teeth and stare in stupid satisfaction at the pink lemonade sunrise. You can't just let that sort of thing go by without watching it because there'll never be another one like it. I grabbed my Bible and journal and tried to avoid the creakiest steps as I crept downstairs. Without turning the lights on I made a breakfast out of the leftovers from the dinner party (holla) I hosted the night before: good bread and butter. Some dill Havarti and Jarlsberg. Strawberries. Cara Cara oranges same color as the sky. Reheated coffee. Sweet memories of laughter and old friends and new ones. I pulled a fuzzy blanket over my lap and sat under the fairy-lights (also left from the party) and met with Jesus. I took my time with my few chapters, writing down the quiet thoughts His word had placed in my heart, lifting up in prayer the things He brought to mind. Specific people and situations. The things I think I want right now that may or may not play out. My morning quickened. I drove to work and the familiar collage pieced itself together: little girls, lesson plans, deep questions, classic literature, gorgeous art, chili on the stove, muffins in the oven, tickle fights, dance parties, finches outside, pure white pansies and green, green grass. I drove home, cleaned my room and my walk-in closet, lighted a honeysuckle candle, chose outfits for a photo shoot. Enjoyed a hot shower. Ate Domino's with my family (not all food is posh). Washed a sink full of dishes. Laughed for the twentieth time at a YouTube video of ridiculously adorable British kids. Opened my laptop and started to write the words that I'm sharing with you now because if I could persuade you to understand anything this Valentine's Day it is this: you are never alone. Not today. Not forever. Never.

Look, I get that not all days begin with raspberry sunlight. There are car accidents and bills, bad attitudes and health problems. But when the idea of living the rest of my life alone scares me, it's not the prospect of living without a husband, one day at a time, that frightens me. It is looking at forever in one sweep. Forever, bleached of all of today's color and subtleties. Forever stared at as a concrete, immovable, communistic lump of fatalistic disappointment. That is what I fear when I fear never marrying. I fear always being left. I fear always staying behind. I fear nobody to hold me when I am tired and worn, nobody to cheer me on, nobody to devote all my love to specifically, nobody to kiss me, nobody to steal my my crème brulee (en garde, villain), nobody to make a home for. But that isn't how we are meant to take forever. That is not how children take forever. That is not how creation takes forever. Forever, anyway, extends so far past my life that my human brain cannot fathom its breadth. So if I live for the rest of my life without a husband, my life will be like today. And today was beautiful; enriched; fulfilling; surprising. Tomorrow will be like it, even if I find the resemblance a little harder to see.

Why do I say that? What gives me that assurance? I speak boldly about a fulfilling life of singleness (or marriage or widowhood) because I know that just like I did today, I will walk through the next day totally abandoned to Christ. I am being led and worked in and changed by the love of Jesus. Every. Single. Day (ahhhhhh, puns). To worry about being single forever would be to worry about having a life as beautiful, purposeful, full, and specifically-created as today was. I was not put on this earth as an infant and left to stumble through it alone. I walk with my God's hand in the small of my back, guiding me along and giving me confidence to know that wherever He is, there is life more abundant than anything I could make on my own. A life full of the things I find I need rather than the things I thought I wanted. This is why I can laugh at the question I once feared addressing. The prospect of a life attuned to Christ fills me with gratitude for the chance to go where He directs. I know that today is not about drudging through my own plan but living out His perfect one. I know that forever is actually today, since tomorrow isn't even promised.

So, what if I never get married?

I can't pretend that I don't look forward with hope to the day when I'll have a companion who is wholly mine and whose I will wholly be. The nature of life is that we join together and move together. For the single among us that means we will have a lot of chances to say hello and a lot of chances to say goodbye as our friends and family members pair off and settle down and new friends come and old friends go. We don't have the permanency of settling down with a husband and raising a family. We don't have someone whose life syncs with our own over a thousand commonplace breakfasts and a thousand sweet “goodnight”s. We don't have that sort of covenant bond with another human soul and yes, some days the missing-him aches very much. I have no promise that he is even in my future, and that thought is sometimes painful to the core.

But today, my single life is joyful. Tomorrow my single life will be wonderful. Forever, my single-or-married life will be excellent. Why? Because I am spending today and I am spending forever under the Mercy of the One who created it to begin with. I'm spending my life (married, unmarried, widowed, whatever) in pursuit of more than companionship. I'm spending my life pursuing Jesus and the particular story He's writing with the ink of my life. This is why I can laugh at the days to come and look forward without regret to February 15th. Cos guys: single or not, everybody can get down with Half-Priced Chocolate Day. Amen? Amen.


  1. Amen, indeed.

    I've been thinking about this same topic lately I'm 25 and single as a Pringle, while my younger sister just got engaged. And I'm happy for her and happy being single, but I have been thinking about singleness lately. This post is encouraging. I hope that whether you marry one day or stay single, that you will always continue to write posts that encourage us to pursue a closer relationship with Jesus.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Katie. I think one of the happiest things about the internet is our ability to find out we aren't as "alone" as we thought we were. Hold fast. :)

  2. Wow... this is beautiful. "Forever is only today" rocked my world. And I'm with you, whatever happens, adventuring with Jesus for the rest of my life is pretty awesome :) We get to spend our lives pursuing and being pursued by sweet Jesus, and I can't think of anything more lovely.
    Thanks for this today- And gorgeous photos!
    -Rachel Emily

    1. Rachel Emily: I'm so glad you could identify with the sweetness of walking with Christ - it's really groundbreaking, isn't it?

  3. This was SO encouraging, Rachel! I appreciate that you acknowledge our deepest fear as single girls--that awful, gut-wrenching feeling of aloneness, of being left behind--and yet you still point us back to our greatest hope and joy. Thank you so much!

    1. <3 Thank you for your encouragement and for letting me know I'm not alone in occasionally letting that gut-wrenching happen. :P

  4. This is a super encouraging post! Thank you for that, Rachel! :)


  5. Rachel, this spoke to me. All of the obligatory Valentine's Day posts on the web tend to be repetitive and uninteresting, but this post was refreshing. Your words are so beautiful, and you stated exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you! Oh, and your party looks absolutely stunning. (That copy of Robin Hood...!) You inspire me! <3

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Emily! I had been worried this would just be plucking the same nerve that everyone else plucks, haha! So thanks for consoling me on that point.

  6. This is so beautiful and encouraging! I love your vision of forever. :)

  7. So good, Rachel. Thanks for inspiring us all!

  8. Thank you for the encouragement! :) I appreciate your reminder to enjoy each day and not look at the word "forever" with fear because we have a God who gets us through one moment at a time.



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