Waking up from my turkey-induced coma on Black Friday, something that I wasn’t expecting crept into my soul. Loneliness.
I haven’t felt that sort of longing since I was single. Not that I’ve been married long—not even a Kim Kardashian yet. But I remember how much I used to complain around the holidays because I have a small family, and I was single. I dreaded the holidays because they made me feel so alone.
Every year, I was famous for checking out. I craved the evening more than dessert because then I could curl up with my favorite One Year Bible, devotional, and journal, and whine.
God, where’s my husband?”
Without waiting for an answer, I’d pop open my laptop and rejoin all the popular dating sites before the ink dried in my journal.
It’s not like all holidays were that bad. One of my fondest memories growing up was Christmas Eve, which is also my half birthday. My mom cooked up a delicious Christmas meal that we usually ate after attending churches Christmas Eve services, followed by presents—My favorite!
I don’t know how or when I lost the wonder of Christmas because I used to love the holiday season, but as an adult I struggled to celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth because I was thinking mostly of myself.
When did my family become not enough?
When did I begin caring more about my singleness than celebrating Christmas?
Why did I feel so hopelessly alone?
Waiting…and more waiting
If I’m honest, whenever I resurrected my online dating profiles I always felt guilty. The tug in my heart felt more like a gentle but firm whisper that said—“Wait.”
My mom, who I’ve always look up to, assured me that God would bring someone into my life if I just stopped searching. She said I didn’t need to search or go online. Of course her clichés made me even angrier, and I felt like I had to hide my online dating from her. At best, I would meet a guy and we’d date a few times only to realize my mother was right. Yuck. I couldn’t stomach her saying, “I told you so!”
But seriously God—where is he?”
When I quit my job at the age of 27, I wanted to write more books and use my spare time to launch a ministry to 20-somethings I called Throw Mountains. I felt my calling was to use my hunger for the Word to reach out to my peers with similar hunger pangs in a way that wasn’t preachy or overbearing but honest, open, and transparent.
For the first time in my life, I had hope. I felt empowered. I even thought I’d meet my future husband online this time because things were different. Right, God? Nope. Then I thought I’d meet him traveling through one of my speaking gigs. Nope.
So I pulled the author card
I got tired of asking God to write my love story and wrote my own called Not Another Dating Book. Because I grew up reading books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story. I got tired of watching my Christian girlfriends find only dissatisfaction or destruction in dating. Some got pregnant and others—like me—couldn’t get a date at all. It’s difficult to find wisdom for both situations when most Christian dating books assume you’re (a) a virgin or (b) dating. Most of my friends, couldn’t relate.
Personally, I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was a lifelong Christian who had prayed hard for a future husband, stayed pure, and was still single.
I got mad at God when I wrote the section of the book on boyfriends. I remember sitting on my bed arguing with Him and refusing to write. The gentle but firm response I heard this time wasn’t, “Wait.” It was more like, “If you refuse to write this section I will not give you any more words to write this book and you can pretty much kiss your future boyfriend goodbye.”
Shocked, I grabbed my keys without thinking and drove to the nearest place that sold colored paper and made myself a new list of what I was looking for in a boyfriend.
I didn’t hesitate to write down ideas and I certainly didn’t think God would fulfill all of them. I just wrote. Sixty-three items later, I finished. I had this queasy feeling in my stomach like God was going to do something bigger than I could ever have imagined, but I kept my mouth shut.
I finished the book and moved down to San Diego to pursue seminary. I thought that was the next best step for me. Those who don’t marry go to seminary. See? It even rhymes.
God is faithful
In San Diego, I began leading a growth group through my church that still met at my parents’ house. I asked my friends Logan and Marc, who were new to the group, to help me move. Marc asked me out that week.
I screamed. I cried. I had noticed Marc in the group before, but I didn’t think he liked me. The guys never liked me. I assumed he liked my best friend, Amy, who was also in the group with us.
Marc overturned every jaded word my editor asked me to change in my book. It was unreal. Each date brought a fresh new perspective and softened my heart a little, bringing new hope and helping me to finally overcome my sense of loneliness and despair.
I had been single for twelve years, ten months, and twenty-four days to the day Marc proposed to me at Coronado Beach. Words could not describe how happy I was to say yes.
My mom tells the story a little differently. She says God brought Marc to me.
I met Marc—or should I say—Marc met me at my house. He joined the growth group that was at my parents’ house. He found me. He asked me out. He put a ring on my finger. Because of Marc, I had to change the ending to Not Another Dating Book.
The thought that God can actually do what He promised baffled me, which is why I had no fear of facing the holidays this year. My first Thanksgiving as a married woman—I couldn’t wait! So why the heck did I wake up on Black Friday to those same feelings of loneliness?
What is it about the holidays that increase my physical and spiritual appetite?
Maybe it isn’t about me so much as it is about being God’s Bride.
Maybe there will always be a sense of loneliness until I’m united with Christ.
Maybe there are feelings that my husband will never touch, never compare to—and shouldn’t.
Once again, the feelings of hope flood over my soul as I turn my desire back over to God. I ask Him for His companionship and eagerly wait as He meets with me. I ask Him to make good on His promise,
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6, NIV).
And I am full. So incredibly full.