I'm writing this as I get ready to head out for a week at the beach with my extended family. I am grateful to have a family to go and be with, a beach to lie on, and little people to boogie board with in the waves. It is a gift. I really do know this. But I can't fake it; I'm also daunted. Everyone there--and there will be 35 plus folks--over the age of 18 will come with his or her spouse/partner, except me. Every other female adult my age or younger (there are 8 of us in that category) will have--within the last year--gotten married, gotten pregnant or had a baby, the one exception being one sister-in-law whose first child is college bound. Whether or not you are a woman, if you have ever been single longer than you thought, or been in situations where you can't escape that "odd man out" sensation, I think you might understand why ... this scenario gives me a rather large internal wave!
Truly, there's no way around the wave. As one dear and honest friend said to me, "That's just an awful scenario. Ugh!" And yet, there is one thing I have learned in the past few years: while I can't avoid the waves, God can give the means to surf them.
In the last 24 hours, with a few different friends, I have entered into and been sheltered in a handful of conversations/prayer sessions around this vulnerable part of my life: the hard side of singleness. And I've been amazed how once again my friends, male & female alike, remind me of the truths that often melt inside my mind when life's circumstances don't play out or feel like I hope. These friends believe like crazy that I am exactly where God wants me to be in life, bearing fruit exactly how he has currently called me. And these friends pray into my soul the reality that God is tremendously pleased to call me his beloved daughter, a daughter's whose story is far from over--both in this life and the one to come. I think of the paralytic whose friends brought him to Jesus on a mat. My friends hop on the boogie board with me, helping me to ride the waves into Jesus' presence. They can't stop the waves, but I'd be stuck in the shallows or crashed up on the shore without them.
So my encouragement to you, male or female, married or single, is to remember when you are hit by waves (and they can come in many contexts, for many reasons), to risk reaching out to the people around you. Ask one or two of them to listen, ask them to pray, let those who are willing, ride the waves with you into Jesus' presence. And, when it's your turn, be willing to hop on that boogie board and help ride your friends through the waves as well. Jesus said in Jn 15, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." That is what I'm going to picture every time I wave hits me on this trip, my friends and me, laying ourselves down on one another's boogie boards, paddling and kicking and surfing one another into the Presence of the One whose love never fails.