*Below is a personal post about my Halloween birthday on Facebook from 3 years ago and my commentary and an update on it at the end.
~~~ I really debated in posting this real, raw, and vulnerable post, but in hopes of sharing my heart it makes someone feel less alone, encouraged and understood, then it’s worth it.
Another year older. Another year not any closer to the desires of my heart. Seeing everyone dress up in witty couples costumes and taking their cute kids trick or treating. Pumpkin carving as a family and fun, Halloween parties together. It’s torture. Just right there in my face every year. A painful reminder of what I don’t have, but have dreamed of my whole life. What was once a fun birthday as a child, is like a Groundhog Day birthday on repeat, that I have now come to completely dread.
It gets real tough to stay positive, continue to have hope and be happy for others, especially when what you prayed for feels like it happens for everyone else but you. What do I do with myself when I wish I had a husband to cook for and kids to read bedtime stories to? Where do I find purpose?! What do I do with my time when I wish it were spent loving on a family of my own?! How do I handle the intense embarrassment of still being alone? The struggle is real. The pain and emptiness is real. (Maybe this scenario isn’t your exact battle in life, but has life turned out how you thought it would for you?)
You see things like divorce and death get a lot of compassion, as they should in our society, but what about women desiring a family of their own, who have never gotten to experience those big moments in life-a man getting on a knee and proposing, walking down the aisle, a honeymoon, seeing the ultrasound of a life inside you and feeling baby kicks, experiencing a child you created placed on your chest for the first time, first steps, first words, holidays filled with Santa and the Easter bunny, taking cute family photos. The list goes on and on. I’m not writing this for people to feel sorry for me, but for awareness, understanding and for people who feel this same way- unchosen, not enough, left out- I so get you! For anyone going through disappointment, loneliness, frustration, I get it. You are not alone!
Marriage and kids have problems of their own. I am not naive to this. I’m just ready for the next chapter of my story that has been stuck on the same chapter for endless years now. Except now I am stronger, more resilient, more confident and have learned so much along the way. Not everyday do I feel this way. But I try. And I try hard. To focus on the good and what I enjoy and less on what is missing in my life. (Except the dreaded week of my birthday when it hits the hardest.)
We all have struggles and disappointment, but how do we deal with that pain?? I’ve made good and bad choices in dealing with the heartache, but what has gotten me through it all, is the endless, loving comfort of God, my supportive (most of them) family, good friends, and the unconditional love of my dog and the adventures we go on. Just getting out in nature and exploring can be the best remedy. Or lost in the characters of a good book. Volunteering where you are humbled and reminded how much more you really do have. Or to a church service that speaks right to your heart. Or making your favorite meal and putting on your cozies while pushing play on a movie you have wanted to see. Or putting your favorite song on repeat 45 times. (There is no one to annoy and tell you to turn it off.) There is always good and a silver lining. What is yours?
Devastating disappointments and seasons of suffering are inevitable and part of what make us human. What if we shared more of those low points in our life instead of just the highlight reel? What if we were more vulnerable with one another so we could support one another? We grow in the tough times when we are stretched and push ourselves. Not in our personal comfort zones. But in the hard parts of life, that is what connect us. Make us feel less alone. Sharing the good and the bad and loving others unconditionally.
I know God has a plan for my life and I’m eagerly waiting for it to unravel. And it’s not easy being continually patient. It would be easy to say that God had a plan all along, if I had arrived on the other side married with kids and looked back at my path. But no, I’m still in the very thick of it. With days of doubt. And as someone that once just wanted to get to the destination, I am learning to live in the journey. And enjoy the journey. This crazy, uncomfortable, painful at times, but beautiful journey that we call life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted. And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18
“Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 13:25
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34
Wow. That was three years ago and I feel every word of it so deeply, like I just wrote it today. My heart aches that this woman is still in the same place. Nothing has changed in my circumstances. Still single. Still live and work in the same place. I still yearn for those things so much in my life and it’s a bit of a trigger in reading it, because part of me feels like I have had to deny that part of my heart to survive. But I’m also proud of her for sharing so vulnerably her dreams, her deep feelings and thoughts, and her personal faith on a public platform like Facebook that tends to be more kittens, politics, and vacation photos.
This is year is the big one. Something I don’t like to say out loud, but the big 4-0. Yep, I am turning 40 and I’m trying to come to terms with that. My biggest insecurity in my life right now, is my age. Not only am I am not where I want to be in my life at 40, but I just feel like the fear of being single forever and not experiencing motherhood is intense. I can't help but mourn my 30's and all I have missed out on. It’s been a nonstop flashing light in the back of my mind, blinking 40 to bring a pit to my stomach and reminds me of the harsh reality of it all. I’m not going to lie, it’s been extremely hard to hold on to the faith God put in my heart regarding this topic, when I see zero happening in this department. Like nothing. Not even any dates. I just don’t meet any Christian and single available men around my age. Anyone around my age in the Christian community is in the height of their married with kids stage. And it seems like any guys that are, aren’t interested in a nearly 40 year old. Ageism is real and I feel like they always want younger and it’s a double standard. Guys can date and marry younger and a lot younger at times, but women are automatically named “cougars” if they are even a year older. I’m not insecure if guys were to meet me, but if someone describing me to a guy said my age, I feel like there is an automatic judgement. Or if they ask my age right of the bat without getting to know me a little bit first, then I clam up a bit. And forget about the dating apps, I won’t even match with any guys because they don’t even set their age parameters to 40, even if they are that age. (Heavy sigh.) But, since I don’t have control over any of this, all I can do at the end of the day, because it’s happening regardless, is give it to God and pray about this huge insecurity of mine. And try to find peace around it, embrace it and find joy in what I do have going for me. And work on my personal goals, which I talk more about in my next blog post. And focus on my birthday trip planned!
One of my favorite cities is Charleston. The charm, rich history, and gorgeous homes of South Carolina are so inspiring and comforting. So, my family and I rented a beach home in the blissful Isle of Palms area and I look forward to a week of family meals, golf, sightseeing, and just relaxing on the beaches there. It was a little of an up and down situation getting it booked, but I do feel really blessed to celebrate this big birthday in this style and I feel like this Halloween birthday will sting just a little less this year….