It was probably a little over a year ago that I saw several moms from my church post the same thing on their facebook statuses. "Children are a gift from the Lord." They were all posting this because that was the topic of the recent MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. As a woman without any kids, my knee-jerk reaction was to sarcastically think, "Oh, so God doesn't give gifts to single, childless people?" This reaction didn't last more than a few seconds, because I realized that children aren't the only gift from the Lord, and that the people at that MOPS meeting were all moms who needed that encouragement. And I much later realized that they were quoting a specific Scripture passage:
"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." -Psalm 127:3
I like that verse. I think it's true. And if it is, then I'm a pretty gifted person.
I'm single and childless, and lately I've been thinking a lot about that, but not in a sad way. It's just been something I've been thinking about. For one thing, I'm still working on starting this website/blog on singlehood and Church unity. I've also been up to my armpits in other people's kids. Oh, and I had TWO dreams in ONE night that I had gotten married--in each dream it was to a different guy. One of my "dream husbands" (and I use that phrase loosely, because he was NOT the man of my dreams at all) had a last name that had a lot of syllables and silent letters, like Crickenquallabonutickleishon or something, only it sounded different than it looked. So the joke in the dream was that I couldn't pronounce my own last name. I laughed and woke myself up, which happens to me fairly often. My dreams are hilarious.
Anyway, with all this thinking about kids and singlehood, I guess it's easy to feel depressed. Only, I'm not depressed. The way I see it, I have it pretty good.
Without getting into details (I don't mind sharing my stories, but when they involve others, they're also other people's stories), I got my heart broken when I was in my mid-20s. We're not talking a little crush heartbreak. We're talking, "So, I was kind of hoping to spend the rest of my life with you, and now I can't because you don't like me anymore" heartbreak. And that took me several years to get over, at least as much over it as I'm going to get. I say this because I want people to understand where I'm coming from. I've had some people assume that after getting hurt once, I'm too angry/hurt/bitter/etc. to consider dating again. That's not the case. I have considered dating again, but it's just not a priority. Bottom line: I haven't been asked out once since that break-up, which was almost seven years ago. In fact, I haven't even been interested in anyone. And that doesn't bother me. I actually kind of prefer it that way, because if it's not something God really wants for me, then I don't want any part of it. If God wants me in a relationship, He's going to have to clearly be in the midst of it. If He doesn't want me in a relationship, then there's no reason to strive for one. I'm not afraid of getting hurt again so much as I'm afraid of hurting someone else by being in a relationship that I'm just not supposed to be in. So...I'm cool. More than cool, really.
And God's allowed me to have some conversations with some neighbors and friends recently, people I would never have imagined myself talking to. I have had conversations with people who have been through difficult divorces, some of them involving kids (which takes divorce to a whole different level--you're not just considering your wants/needs, but the kids' wants/needs as well), and all of them involving deep heartache and pain. The pain I went through is just not comparable. I hurt. I hurt for years. I still hurt, but it doesn't affect my daily life at all. Divorce is something that sticks with you. Aside from the emotional turmoil, there's judgmentalism from others, there's legal stuff, there's probably a lot more hurt feelings, feelings of failure, etc. I understand some of these things, but only to a point, because really, my heartbreak wasn't as deep. And I definitely don't understand the wisdom it takes to deal with divorce and kids. A lot of these single parents I know AMAZE me. I don't know how they do it, but I guess when you've just got to do something, you somehow find the courage/grace/strength to do it (AKA God enables you). At least in my own less-difficult experiences, that has been true.
So basically, the Lord allowed me to love this guy, and having the grace to love someone is always a gift. I'm extremely grateful to have been granted that beautiful knowledge. When that relationship ended, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been (that would have been hard to believe at the time, but I certainly believe it now). True, it would have been less painful if it hadn't ended at all--or so I think. I'm finding out that I don't know as much as I think I do, so now when I pray for things I want, I usually say, "But you know better than I do, Lord. Give me what I need and what glorifies you best."
Yeah, when I was eighteen, I prayed for two things: to marry a minister and to have a LOT of kids. Looking back, I'm glad God didn't say "yes" to that first prayer. Why? Because I would make a dreadful minister's wife. It's not that I think minister's wives are extra Spiritual or something, or that I don't make some kind of "holier than thou" cut. Minster's wives are just women--amazing, lovely women. It's just that most of them have to have a certain level of tact that I do not even come close to possessing. I'm honest to a fault. I say the first thing that comes into my head, and then spend several minutes trying to get my foot out of my mouth. Being a minister's wife? Not for me.
And yeah, being single has it's perks. I go to sleep at night when I want to. The only time I'm woken up by snoring is if I'm the one snoring (that happens too sometimes--either because my dreams are so hilarious that I snort-laugh, or because my dreams are so bad that they bore me into snoring. I like to be entertained when I sleep). I have my own space, my own stuff to deal with. I'm not consistently, totally responsible to another person. Sometimes it might be nice to have the constant companionship, another person to be there to help me feel loved--but I have so many friends that I don't feel slighted. Don't take this the wrong way, but other than the no sex thing, being single isn't so bad. And even though I'm pretty sure I have a fairly good idea of what I'm missing (not from experience, but just because I'm human), I'm also pretty sure there are a lot of things that are better than sex. And here's a plus: ZERO chance of me getting pregnant, unless the angel Gabriel comes to visit me or something.... I've come to the conclusion that I never want to be pregnant. If I ever get married, I'm ALL about adopting some kids, but there's something about carrying a
That second prayer request? The one where I asked for a lot of kids? For a long time, I figured God had said "No" to that one, too. But the more I think about it, He said "YES" to that. I DO have a lot of children. I work in four childcare jobs. I see dozens and dozens and dozens (etc.) of kids every week. I form relationships with them and their parents. I love these kids. I miss them when they're not around. I worry about them and want to know what's going on in their lives. They're other people's children, but in a way, they're also mine. And I'm grateful for the wonderful parents who share them with me.
So children are a gift from the Lord. A reward. And though I'd still like kids of my own, and though quality beats quantity ANY day, I've gotta say that I "have" more kids than anyone else I know. I'm like the little old woman who lives in the shoe...only my life probably doesn't stink (literally and figuratively) as much as hers.
A dad recently asked me how I'm able to watch kids ALL day long, day after day. I told him, "Oh, it's because I get to go home at night and have all my time to myself. I go to sleep at night and don't have to worry about one of my kids waking me up." He looked at me with a hint of jealousy in his eyes, and said, "I see your point."
I've got it pretty good, yo.
The moral to this blog: When you ask God for something, be specific. He has a sense of humor.