A scene from my past rises in my mind. The scene is of a bride with a radiant smile on her face as she stands at the alter exchanging vows with the man who, in just a few moments, will be her husband.
My eyes pan to the left, ever so slightly, and see the bride’s sister smiling and looking on. Then a slight ache in my heart causes the joy of the wedding to recede just a little.
You see, the sister is older than the bride by several years. The older watches the younger enter a world that she has yet to experience. The little sister does the leaving while the older sisters stays behind in the world of singleness.
Today, such a scene haunts me. For in a few months or a few years, that older sister could be me.
It never used to bother me, the idea that one of my sisters might marry before me. Years ago, a boy asked my dad to court my younger sister. When I heard this, I went to my room, sat on my bed, and took a few moments to ponder the reality: it could happen.
After five minutes of getting used to this thought, I was able to rise again, comfortable with the possibility.
A year or so later, I remember telling three of the four younger sisters that, in the event that one of them actually did marry before me, I did not want them to rein in their excitement because they were worried about me. I wanted them to know that I rejoiced with them and would not let this hinder their joy.
Today, the fear of the possibility tries to take control of my thoughts. I fear what people will think. I fear that I’ll be the bridesmaid that people ache for. I fear I’ll be the object of pity. I fear I’ll be the object of ridicule.
And then I fear no one will care. I fear one day to be cast off as the spinster sister that no one expected to get married anyway. I fear the comments of, “she had her chances but she blew it,” or “I think it’s too late for her now.”
Then I recall things. The Holy Spirit brings things to my mind. One of which is a question: How many of the things we fear actually happen?
Elisabeth Elliot records in her book Quest for Love this conversation that a single woman has with God.
The woman says, “[God] You promised to supply all my needs. You said that they who seek the Lord will not lack anything good. So where is my mate?”
God replies, “In my sovereign wisdom, knowing…the fulfilling life which I now have for you, singleness is my most precious gift. Do not use my promises against me as though by loving me you would be able to obtain your own ends.”
The woman then asks, “Why did you pass over me and not my friend?”
God responds by saying, “I have other things for you, specially for you. She walks a different path with different problems which would only bring you much unhappiness. Do not envy, but rejoice and be glad for her.” Pg. 150
Do not envy, but rejoice and be glad for her.
By God’s grace, if the thing I fear comes upon me, I’ll be able to rejoice and be glad. I’ll be able to recall the truth that God has different plans for me. I’ll be able to recall the truth, that in a few months, I could be just like my younger married sister, but she will never be like me, single and able to relate with other singles. One day I will experience what she experiences. But she will never experience what I experience.
I have a gift, the ability to know what it’s like to be single and wonder When? Where? How? And I wonder, maybe the world doesn’t need to see more marriages or hear more amazing stories about how someone met their spouse. Maybe the world needs to see happy single people who are content to be so until God leads otherwise.