That Question…

“So where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is actually one of my least favourite first date questions ever. I can see why a person would ask that and props to him for wanting to know about what is going on in my head in regards to my future but I always find myself squirming and trying to decide how honestly I should answer such a question. I have a bit of a reckless impulse to say “married to you, carrying our third child, living in a giant house on a large body of water, and finally being able to pursue a full time writing career.” But that kind of answer would pretty much erase any hope of a second date and would probably end the date right then and there. So I tend to hold my cards close and yammer out some words about not knowing the future and hopefully being married and published and …. vague stuff.

I feel like as a single woman in my mid thirties, I am at a standstill when it comes to a 5 year plan. There is something I very much hope and pray happens in the next 5 years but I am also quite aware that my search for a “lifetime emergency contact” might not come to anything and I could very much be in the same position then as I am now. And so I’m left trying to figure out what kind of a 5 year plan do I need to have. I don’t want to be paralyzed in waiting for something that might not happen and I also don’t want to be so busy that I don’t recognize it if it does but it’s important for me to set some goals and have some sort of plan, whether that involves another person or not.

And so I think about my 5 year plan, I think about my goals and what the picture perfect ideal scenario would look like and I think about what the opposite of that might be and I grapple with setting a plan that works regardless of my relationship status. And then it gets quite simple. Of course there are some financial goals, fitness goals, writing goals, etc but at the end of the day I want to be serving God in the right place and the right way. I want to be part of a caring community and I want to be growing in my faith and love for his people. It’s not about the checklist or stocks portfolio, it’s about being willing and available to be used by God this year, next year, 5 years, 10 years from now and so on.

So next time I get asked about my 5 year plan, I won’t shirk away from the question but boldly give a new answer that really does embody my goals and desires for the next 5 years…

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Mingling with the Singling..

┬áBeing single is hard. Being a Christian single woman is even harder. It’s hard for several reasons, many relate to the common and troubling belief that all the “Good ones have already been taken” but also hard because contentment does not always come easily. It can feel like a part time job trying to deal with finding happiness solo, being okay with not having a plus one, being brave about the future, trusting God that His plan is the best plan. Trying not to play the comparison game, trying not to be jealous of other people and their situations, trying not to be judgmental…We spend a lot of our time talking ourselves through this and praying about this and asking God for patience and to provide and to change the desires of our heart if it’s not His will to have us married. It’s actually quite exhausting. And yes, much could be said about the amount of energy spent in single girl angst and how it could be spent more wisely on other pursuits but it is what it is.. Some days, weeks, months are easier than others but then something triggers something and the questions eventually come back and we work to climb back to contentment once again.
Needing to “deal with” or “come to terms with” our relationship status is on-going. We’re confronted on a daily basis with the always asked dinner party question: “So how’s your love life?” This happens… a lot. But even worse than that question is what people say in response to our stating that “nothing is going on in that area right now.” We get the sighs, the pats on the shoulder, the assurance that “the one” is out there. We get to hear stories of so-and-so who was single til she was 73 and now is happily married and says the wait was worth it. We get to hear about all of the unhappily married people and statistics about divorce rates and facts that are meant to assure us that we’re better off than some of those people… Our answers seem to provoke a lot of responses.
However, one of the most unsettling things is that our answers about our lacking love lives seem to derail the people asking the questions.
Our single status is stressful enough for us, it shouldn’t stress other people out. And true, I can’t say that there is a right way to talk about this topic because yes, sometimes we need reassurance but … sometimes we don’t. Sometimes all we want is for someone to promise us that there is some amazing man out there for us and let us believe that they know what they’re talking about … and other times, that very suggestion is enough to make our hearts sink and our blood boil simultaniously.. have I mentioned I’m not a biology teacher?
I think ultimately and seriously, when it comes right down to it, we need to be reassured that our value as a person, our success in life, really does not depend on our ability to land a man. We can still be functioning, contributing, living members of society without a man in our bed. Just because we don’t have children, doesn’t mean we aren’t fulfiling God’s plan for us. Maybe there isn’t actually anything wrong with us at all.
So that’s what I would say.. people should not treat us like our value as people depends on our ability to get a date, a second date, a ring. We should be asked about other things, asked about God or the gym or what we think about some other issue. We have things to say.. and we have lots of things going on. Generally we’re very busy people. We shouldn’t be defined by our love lives or lack thereof.
Now I feel that I should add a bit of a note saying that everyone is different and I know that when certain friends ask me about my love life, I’m more than happy to talk about it for hours and hours.. yeah they love it. Every relationship has different boundaries. What I’m trying to stress is the idea that we are more than our relationship status and we don’t always need “comforting” things said to us when people find out we’re checking the “single” box. The situation can’t be fixed right then.. unless the person is wanting to immediately set us up with her husband’s new colleague who is a tall, dark, handsome, wealthy, entrepreneur with tons of airmiles, “a good heart, soft touch, fast horse”… but I digress. The point is.. our single status shouldn’t define us, nor should it stress anyone out.. we are working hard not to be stressed out ourselves and honestly.. sometimes, it’s really not all that bad! Sometimes it’s actually quite great!