Iâ€™ve been single for longer than I expected. But this relationship status hasnâ€™t kept me from having rich life experiences and a lot of fun. It hasnâ€™t been a breeze to be single, but I would say that Iâ€™ve felt a singleness of purpose â€“ a devotion to God that has been an unfailing strength and the most meaningful thing that I can share with other people.
While I was visiting a friend in Mongolia last year, it took a lot of courage for me to go out and explore the city and countryside on my own. Everything was different there â€“ the three sets of doors and locks to my friendâ€™s apartment, the Cyrillic writing on street signs, people speaking a language I didnâ€™t understand. I had to trust unmarked taxicabs to take me where I wanted to go. Through it all I gained a greater conviction in the goodness of people â€“ of Godâ€™s perpetual care for everyone.
When I was younger, Iâ€™d always thought it would be great to take that kind of trip around the world with a spouse. I also thought that I would be married with several children by this point in my life. But there comes a time when we just canâ€™t wait. Though my path has been different from what I anticipated, Iâ€™ve learned to be humble and grateful for every bit of kindness along the way. I call it â€śtagging it back to God,â€ť or crediting Him with the blessings in my life.
My travels throughout Asia and my recent experience starting a business have been really â€śout thereâ€ť adventures that have helped show me that itâ€™s impossible to be alone â€“ God is ever present. Thereâ€™s a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and the Monitor, thatâ€™s been particularly encouraging. She wrote: â€śThe wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heavenâ€ť (â€śScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures,â€ť p. 57). To me this reassurance applies to those times when life takes a U-turn or weâ€™re faced with a difficult challenge.
The story of Jesusâ€™ birth has also taught me a significant lesson. A few years ago, I was talking about it with my Sunday School class. I asked them, â€śWhat is so amazing about this story?â€ť One teenage girl spoke up: â€śAnytime someone has a baby, thatâ€™s a big deal, not to mention that this baby was Jesus!â€ť
I started to reflect on the awesomeness of this story and how Maryâ€™s courage can be a guide for us all. Though God was asking a lot of Mary, she wasnâ€™t required to do it alone.
Mary must have felt much relief when the angel spoke to her directly, saying, â€śDo not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with Godâ€ť (Luke 1:30, New King James Version). She had the help of others. There was Josephâ€™s steadiness of character. He helped find a place for Jesusâ€™ birth, safe from King Herod. There were also the attentive shepherds and generous wise men who followed the angelâ€™s admonitions to come and welcome Jesus. Each person was acting with courage.
While God asked Mary to do great things, it was not without the support she needed. Obviously none of us is giving birth to a Savior. But when we feel alone with the demands given to us and they seem great, we can take a lesson from Maryâ€™s courage. Our reinforcements may come as spiritual inspiration, as a co-worker pitching in to get a task done, or simply as a friend checking in. The bottom line is that regardless of our relationship status, none of us is actually going it alone.
When my life plays out differently from how Iâ€™ve planned, Iâ€™m learning to bless it â€“ to know that God is working with me. As Godâ€™s children, we have holy work to do, and we can trust that our support will come in whatever form we need.