I've spent my life trying to protect myself from them, in fact. I call ahead, I google, I talk scenarios to death. I consistently try to know things before they happen. (I have never been successful in this).
Recently, I've been asking to see. I've been trying to open my eyes wide and avoid expectations, worry, doubt and preconceptions and just see what is in front of me.
I've been surprised.
With my eyes tightly shut, I don't see the messes around and inside me. I don't see the infection, the scars, the drive-by shooting. But it all still happens, it's still there.
I've been afraid to open my eyes because of what I'll see, and it's jarring, certainly. This processed blog post cannot speak to the pain, grief and horror I've experienced looking inside myself.
But even as I recoil, I'm also sighing with relief. When I take a hard look, I'm finding that nothing is as bad as what I've been imagining with my eyes closed. Admitting my need, my humanity, and depravity is freeing. When it's out in the open, God can start to deal with it. When I'm open about it, it stops haunting me.
I'm learning that seeing goes both ways, instead of having preconceived ideas about what I'm going to find in situations, in people, in circumstances, I'm asking to see. I can't begin to tell you how great, how shocking, how radiant my surprise has been.
I think I've feared surprise because deep down I've always been afraid of anything out of my control. I've never trusted anyone to do the best thing for me, not even God. Never mind that looking at my life will show a line of surprises, some of them hard, all of them transformative and, eventually, positive. In fact, the hardest, most painful things in my life have been, without exception, the things I tried the hardest to bring about.
Something wonderful happened to me this year. For the first time, I had real peace about being single. I started to speak without worrying about how people might take it. I started to get dressed in the morning without wondering if my outfit was appropriate to meet my future husband. I stared into the future and smiled fearlessly.
But I moved too far into that idea. Instead of embracing not knowing, I decided that I knew that I would be single forever. I stopped considering the possibility that God would bring someone into my life. When people suggested that it might happen, I responded the way I do when someone suggests that God could call me into the military: well, of course if God made it clear that I was supposed to. Meaning: no.
I had gone from being certain that I would meet someone and live happily ever after to being certain that I never would. I exchanged one preconceived notion for another.
Recently, this changed. I was driving home and I breathed in an unexpected scent. I can't really put a finger on it, though it smelled like rain, hard work, and a warm kitchen, all rolled into one. I shivered like I do when someone else washes my hair and warm water pours down the back of my neck. You see, I forgot that in my heart, I don't want to sleep alone forever, I don't want to go to a million weddings and never walk down an aisle. I want to have inside jokes and nicknames and know the security of strong, loving arms around me. I want to cook and laugh and clean and balance the checkbook and fight and go on adventures, knowing all the time that marriage is like a good bottle of wine, it's silky, powerful and heady, producing occasional side-affects. It costs you something, sometimes more than you want to pay, and when it's gone, it's gone.
I want a relationship. I want a marriage.
It's been healthy to be happy here in singleness, but it's unhealthy to be afraid of my own desires.
I always think that it's easier to be broken all by yourself. No one has to run into your edges, no one has to pick up the pieces when you break further, no one has to put up with you.
But that's fear talking. It sounds noble to say that no one will have to put up with me, it's much more honest to say that I've been afraid that anyone would.
I've been braver about my rough edges lately. I've been more honest about some of the roots of sin that live inside me. Not everyone has been happy about it, but a few relationships have been strengthened as a result. It's like I've said the password and now I'm part of this group of broken people, completely aware of how far from perfect we are.
I've spent my life trying to avoid surprises that seem to find me anyway. But even as I've run, a part of me has always hoped that someone would see through the disguise and realize that I'd love a bouquet of flowers or a date I didn't plan. I've never really stopped hoping.
As you can see, Single Minded Mondays is in a bit of a new season. I hope that my journey lends another perspective to the voices in your head, whatever they might be saying.
Thanks for coming on this journey with me. Here's to being surprised by what happens along the way.