All the Single Ladies

It is here again, February. The month that single ladies seem to dread, and I am already hearing the complaints about “Singles Awareness Day”.  Every year on Valentines Day I end up making a Facebook post in response to all the posts by my single friends. This year I thought I would get ahead of the curve.

A little history of my history with Valentine’s Day is in order. Growing up we always made Valentines cards for family members; they were works of love involving doilies, lace, scissors and glue.  For many years when I was small we had small fabric hearts, which at Christmas would hang on the tree, then when the tree was put away, they would hang on a row of nails across the beam in the middle of the house. Some years we had a Valentines tree, pruned branches of fruit trees that were forced into bloom by being brought inside, we would make small valentines to hang on the branches. When I got older my dad would always bring home potted primroses, cards and candy for my mom and I.

Fast forward to the first Valentine’s Day I went out with a boyfriend. We went to a concert at our church, I can’t even remember who was playing. He picked me up, for the first time ever, and we were just so happy to be driving alone that we took the long way around to church. I had made him chocolate chip cookies. He had nothing for me. I still remember the sheepish look on his face as he handed me a lollipop he got from the sound room. Fast forward again, to the Valentine’s Day before I married that same boyfriend. He gave me a salad spinner, (I really, really wanted one) and inside it were snickers bars and homemade coupons for back massages. (Which when I ran across one, years later in our marriage, he refused to honor.) In nine years those are the ONLY two valentines days I remember. (actually, I remember one more…but that memory is terrible, and I would rather not talk about it.)

I have way more memories of family Valentine’s Days then of romantic Valentine’s Days. In the last 6 years of I being single again, I have had great Valentine’s Days with my family, we lay out our cards and gifts at each persons place setting for dinner. Several times my mom has made a delicious heart shaped pizza. Once I went out with a friend for dinner and a sappy chick flick.

Why do I tell you all this? Because being with someone is no guarantee of a happy, satisfying Valentine’s Day. And NOT being with someone doesn’t have to mean a sad, disappointing Valentine’s Day.

The point is: Valentines Day is just a day. It can be good or bad depending on what YOU make of it. You can choose to wallow in your singleness, be hyper sensitive to all the hearts and flowers, and make comments about how stupid it is. (And can I just mention, self-pity is NOT attractive) OR you can chose to make the most of the day, by showing those around you that you love them. Make cards. Have friends over for dinner. Decorate. Make it about giving love, not selfishly wanting romantic tokens. Don’t let one day ruin your month, your week, or even your day.

So what are my plans for Valentine’s Day this year? My best friend and I are taking our sons to their first rock concert. Definitely cracking up to be the most memorable Valentine’s Day date I have ever had.

Thirty

Today I turn thirty. I had big plans for my birthday, as mentioned in my last blog. Not only are those plans not coming true, no plans are happening today. Both my son and I are sick, so celebrations plans have had to be postponed.  The one thing I most wanted to do on this milestone of a birthday, besides spending it with friends, was to thank my friends and let them know what they mean to me. So I am going to do that. This originally started out as a speech for my imagined party, but given the circumstances I thought I would share it here. The upside? You won’t see me cry as I try to get through it.

My life at thirty is totally different then I had ever planned, and it is better than I could have imagined, in large part because of the friends that have come into my life. At thirty I think I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and that is in due in large part to the people I am lucky enough to call friends. While there have been many people who have influenced my life in big and small ways over the last 7 years, these have had the largest impact on getting me to where I am now. I am going to list them in order of how long I have known them.

Justin- You are one of the few friends that carried over from my “other life” We have know each other since Jr. High, that is a long time to know someone. We haven’t always been close or even kept in touch. But you were there for me at my darkest moments. You were the only friend who walked with me through my divorce, who saw the good, the bad and the ugly. Who always listened, and never judged. For this I will be forever grateful.

Lia- You are an answer to prayer, literally. I needed a friend so desperately and I prayed and prayed for one. I wasn’t so sure about you at first, but I am so glad I took the chance. You have been the most amazing friend I could imagine. You have been with me through all the ups and downs of figuring out my new life. You always have a listening ear, encouraging words, and good advice. You always tell me how you are praying for me, and that means the world to me! I can’t imagine doing life without you.

Henry- If Lia was an answer to prayer, you were the answer to a prayer I didn’t know I prayed. For the last few years I have seen you more often that anyone else in my life, other than my family. There is something about seeing someone that often, you can’t hide. You see each other’s ups and downs and everything in between. Somewhere in the middle of nursing school you became more than just a friend; you became family. Watching out for me AND making fun of me, in true big brother fashion. You kept me from losing my sanity. Thank you for walking through life with me.

Elizabeth- When I met you I was in a lonely place in life, I felt like I just didn’t fit in anywhere. Then I met you; the crazy tattooed lady. And with some other friends we spent the summer just doing life together. No one cared that I was a single mom with a crazy kid, and for the first time since my divorce I felt accepted. I felt like I fit. You have seen me fall apart more than anyone else on this list, (which may only be twice, but still) you have seen me cry and eat Oreos off your floor. You have always been willing to watch my son when I need it, and have always opened your home to me. Thank you for being there when I need you.

Cara- Honestly, when I first met you I was a little intimidated by you. You were beautiful, funny, and confident. All things I didn’t feel I was. But as I got to know you, I couldn’t help but like you, you were real and honest and kind. As we became friends your confidence started to rub off on me, and not only was I no longer intimidated by you, I started to be less intimidated by other people and situations. You helped me learn to not take myself so seriously, to lighten up and have some fun. I needed that so much, thank you.

Aundria- When we started talking I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I have never become so close of friends with someone so quickly. But just like with everyone else on the list it was obvious that God had brought us into each other’s lives for a reason. After Baby was born, it may have seemed like I was helping you; but really you were helping me. You helped me see a purpose for my story, as I was able to use it to help you. I love your blatant honesty; it has helped me to be honest and real with you and with others. Thank for sticking with me, even when I could only be your Sunday friend.

The most amazing thing about this list is that, except one, none of these people were in my life just 5 short years ago. If that doesn’t give me hope for what the next 5 years hold, I don’t know what will.

And even if we never talk again

“And even if we never talk again, please remember that I am forever changed by who you are and what you meant to me”

This quote hits home and has inspired me to write about something very personal.

This time last year I was in a relationship, my first (and only) one since the divorce. I had told God that if he wanted me to be in a relationship with someone he was going to have to make it very, very clear, because I was too afraid to trust myself to make a decision like that. Of course being God he came through, and not only did he make it very clear, but just so I couldn’t talk myself into thinking it was coming from me, he made it someone I would not have chosen on my own. And in the process, taught me a very important lesson that He “does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance (and circumstances), but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16: 7)

So knowing 100% that this was a relationship that God wanted me in I entered into it with my heart open, not holding back.  I have never known anyone who probed so deep into my heart and required so much honesty from me. As a result deep places of fear, scars, and confusion that I didn’t even know were there, were opened to the light of day. God taught me so, so much and I had a period of very concentrated spiritual growth.

Then it ended. I was confused, hurt, and angry, not with him, but with God. Why had he put me in this relationship, just to take it away? Had a misread the signs? What was the purpose? It took me a while to wade through the emotions. But I came out the other side with a better understanding of God and of myself.

A bit of back-story: I was raised with I Kissed Dating Goodbye and was taught not to give my heart away. I married my high school sweetheart. It was what I always dreamed of, I didn’t want to give pieces of my heart away; I didn’t want to have a broken heart. After less than a year of “dating” I told him I didn’t want to be in a relationship, if it was just going to be a short-term thing, he agreed and we decided that our intention in dating was to develop a relationship that would lead toward marriage. Heavy stuff for a 16-year-old. Fast forward. After 5 years of marriage, we separate and eventually divorce. And here I am, single for the first time since I was 15. Never having “dated” and left to sift through my previous thoughts and convictions on relationships and dating. Talk about baggage.

Based on my previous “dating is bad” and “don’t give your heart away” ideas, I never would have opened my heart up the way I did, if God hadn’t been very clear from the beginning that I was supposed to be in this relationship. My problem was, based on these ideas, I assumed that because God led me into this relationship that it was going to be a permanent thing. I assumed I knew what God’s purpose was and it was only my assumptions, me trying to be God, which caused me hurt.

As I sorted through things, God was very clear with me, the relationship was exactly what it was supposed to be. He used it to bring things to light that needed healing that I didn’t even know were there. He used to test me, and grow me. He used it to make me a better person. He used it to change my assumptions. And most of all He used it to show me how much he loved me. Based on my old view, by loving this man, being emotionally open and vulnerable, I would have somehow lost something. But I didn’t lose a thing; I gained so much!

He also used it to change my views on relationships. There is no “right or wrong” way to go about “dating,” as long as I follow His lead I will be doing the right thing. If God brings someone into my life, he has a plan for that person, for that relationship, and for my heart. I have learned to have an open heart, that there is nothing to fear. I don’t need to fear loving, and I don’t need to fear losing.

Again it comes down to “do I really believe what I say I believe”. If I believe that God loves me and has a good plan for me, how can I not trust him with my heart? If I open it, it might get hurt, but if I keep it closed I will miss the opportunity to learn and grow.