Table for one

There comes an age when every single man and every single woman ask themselves, “Will I ever meet The One?”  For single men, that generally happens sometime before age 47 – give or take a few years.  For single women, it happens around…oh, I’d say age 5.

Growing up in the Midwest, the standard age for marriage is 22 years old.  By age 25 I had been a bridesmaid in eight weddings, sporting halters, strapless, spaghetti straps, updo’s, down-do’s, and a few “don’t-ever-do’s.”  With every wedding came personal showers, church showers, bachelorette parties, family showers.  It didn’t take long before the baby shower train began, and there was less shopping for teeny-tiny black underwear, and more shopping for teeny-tiny baby clothes.  {clearly a direct result of my former gift…}

These events have always come with mixed emotions.  Always there has been joy.  And always, there has been the question, “Will it ever be me?”

Moving to Colorado in 2010 brought about a refreshing new definition of Single-30-Something.  My community has been deep and it has been wide in regards to single community.  One of my great friends travels the world working for Compassion International, making a difference in the lives of kids in need.  I have a friend who’s a dentist…and on the weekends he volunteers at an orphanage and uses his money to bless everyone he interacts with.  Another friend left a financially successful career and pulled a “sell-all-you-have” to pursue a life of simplicity in the Rockies.  I’ve got about 5 amazing girlfriends who are all elementary school teachers.  They are funny, smart, beautiful, encouraging, great listeners.  I’ve got a friend who is taking cooking classes on the side after his long workdays…he wants to open up a food ministry to the Homeless someday. And these are just to name a few of the Single-30-Somethings that I so dearly love out here…

I’ve been inspired to live life deeper, called to live life fuller, and been invited to live life…period.  Last weekend a few of these single-30-somethings’s and I went to a hippie music festival in the mountains.  One of the guys and I were headed up after work, and as the city roads began to wind up into the quiet pine forests, we got into a conversation about “life as a single.”  Both of us had gone through miserably painful break-ups this past year…and the two people we were meeting up with in hippie-land had as well.  All three of them are 36 or 37…I was the punk-kid of the group, at age 31.  I asked him if he had ever met someone he thought he was going to marry.  He said yeah, there was a girl once.  We talked about what happened…and for the next half hour, our conversation dug a little deeper into our philosophies on singleness.  Then, in true man form, our conversation was abruptly interrupted by his tires screeching into the parking lot of a local pizza place.  Men.

This past year I met someone who, for a time, I thought was “the one.”  Not only that, but he had two little kids that I fell in love with as well.  This morning I burnt my toast, and I burnt my bacon, and my omelet was less-than-par…and as I sat there crunching away on the carcinogens alone, I thought wow…what I wouldn’t do to have a couple little Kool-Aid mustache, toothless smiles sitting around this table right now…complaining about how crappy this breakfast is.  Sometimes the ache to wrap a little guy in a fuzzy towel after a bath, or suds up a few shampoo-mohawks in the tub, or have some footsie pajama-clad kids snuggled around me as I read them a story before bed…sometimes the ache is too strong to bear.  Sometimes the ache makes me feel things I have no desire to feel…like jealousy, discontent.

It’s hard enough to say goodbye to one person…let alone three.  And it’s harder still to say goodbye to a dream.  The dream of being a mom to two little guys that I love so very much.  That entrusted their tiny little hands in mine and snuggled close to me.  Though it is SO SO clear that this person was not the one for me…and though I am SO SO thankful that we came to an end when we did…I find that all of this thankfulness and all of this relief does not make it easier.  And I think all of that has less to do with saying goodbye to a person, and more to do with saying goodbye to a dream.

Today I showed up at church and the usher asked “how many?”  As I whisper “one” he holds 1 finger up high above his head, marching down the aisle, in search of a place for me.  Of course church was absolutely packed, however he did find one spot…right between the newly engaged couple who thinks making-out in church is appropriate, and the family of 6 on the other side…with mom and dad hand-in-hand and a pile of squirmy kids bouncing down the row.  Today would have been a nice day to be seated in between a couple of single men…but instead I found myself seated in a place where I could not escape the hurting places of my heart.  I was trapped.

Over the course of the next 40 minutes, I listened as my Pastor passionately and tenderly spoke directly to me.  I didn’t catch it at first.  Probably because I was so distracted by the couple sucking each other’s faces off on my left.  Tearing into the book of Exodus, the Pastor took me to the moments after an entire nation {led by their God-fearing leader, Moses} was brought out of slavery.  They had definitely been experiencing mixed emotions.  The moment brought radical feelings of JOY…followed by deep and powerful feelings of “Wait a second…”  They were freed from slavery, but now were living in the desert.  It was not a proud moment for this recently-freed nation, as they began to complain about the life they were now living. We don’t want to be in the desert anymore, they say.

Oh how I can relate. I don’t want to be in the desert anymore either.

God, who has just given them a chance at NEW LIFE, away from their old life in slavery, is listening to their broken record of complaints.  God reaches a point where he tells Moses (their leader) to pass on the word that: He will send an angel before them to drive out the other people currently in the Promised Land (their enemies).  The only catch?  But I will not travel along with you, for you are a stubborn, unruly people. If I did, I would be tempted to destroy you along the way (Exodus 33:3).  Turns out their complaining was getting them somewhere after all…the deal was they would “get what they wanted”…just without God at their side.

Moses, their leader, was in the desert as well.  He was right there in the middle of all the complaining, the heat, the dryness, the lack of “abundance” and resources and joy in the land.  While the thought of moving on from the desert to a Promised Land – the land they had all been dreaming of – must have been heavy with appeal, he stopped the nation in their tracks.  He stopped them from getting what they all so desperately wanted with a powerful one-liner to God:  “If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).

John Bevere, author of Drawing Near, defines that last word…”HERE:”

We must remind ourselves where “here” was. It was the desert; the place of hardship; a land void of comfort and pleasure! . . . There was nothing of beauty in this place, yet Moses declares, “I would rather have your presence in the unwanted and uncomfortable than a land of abundance and beauty void of your presence!”

As I drove home from church today, I reflected on the layers of my heart.  I cannot deny a very deep and sacred place of my heart that yearns to be loved, have a family, build a home, wash sticky hands, bandage cuts and bruises.  Yet on my drive, I let the tears freely fall as I whispered to God…but I want you more.  There is a layer of my heart that sits just a tiny bit deeper than all other aches that I have.  Some days it is harder to find than others…but it is there.  This place within me that whispers, “If your presence does not go with me, do not bring me away from here.” 

9 comments On Table for one

  • You my friend are beautiful and I love you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart and wisdom.

  • I think that there is someone for everyone out there…it’s just amazing how long it takes for that someone to come into other people’s lives…
    You’ve had some amazing experiences…thanks for sharing them…

  • I love you Jenni

  • Hey Jenni,
    unrelated… sorry,
    I tried calling today but your phone told me that you were not taking calls at this time..
    So I’m wondering when are you taking calls?.. and is it still at the temporary number or back to your regular one?
    call me.

  • Tammy & Barb – thanks for being such amazing, encouraging women/mentors in my life! Love you both!

    Gina – I gave my sister Lisa a necklace for her birthday that said something like, “I know he’s out there…he must have gotten lost!” If that’s true, with my luck and “his” sense of direction, we’re a disaster waiting to happen 😉 Thanks for your kind words!

    Jill – Haven’t you been listening to the news? Colorado has blocked all of out state numbers…just on Wednesdays though. 😉 Let’s connect tomorrow. (yes, old number is back in action. you can delete that temp number)

  • Jenni, as I was reading your blog today, tears welled up in my eyes and I could have sat here and cried for a long time. Knowing that does not help I prayed for you. I do this often for all of you grandchildren as I think of all the struggles, ups and downs there are in life. How I wish I could take you all in my arms and make everything perfect in each of your lives. Life is not easy. We all have times of going into the valley and we wait for the mountain top experiences. Why this Mr. right has not showed up is very hard to understand. It is not because of your looks, your wonderful personality or your love of life and your compassionate heart that is for sure. There arn’t any answers as is the case with most of our problems. As hard as it is the Lord says to wait. Wait upon the Lord and how hard is that? God does have a plan tho’ and because you are on His mind He will be there for you. He is our comfort, our joy and our hope. Through all the years I lived with your Papa and the problems we had, I asked the Lord to do something to help us. I can say that I didn’t feel He was there and things always seemed to get worse. During those years I prayed, went to church, was involved in music ministries, women ministries and Bible studies. What went on inside of me was quiet suffering and anxieties. I could go on and on about the loneliness and despair and I really didn’t think anyone cared let alone God. I probably felt much like you do at times so I can relate to how you were feeling. Now that I am passed the struggles and I can look back on those years, I know God loved me and He was working out what was best for me and my family. I kept my eyes on Jesus just waiting for His plan to become evident. I learned sooo much during those years about what life on this earth is all about. Hang in there Jenni, keep the faith and never, never give up. Since you were little many prayers have been offered that God would protect the guy that would someday show up and be just the right one for you. I wish who ever he is, that he would wake up and see what he is missing. I love you with all my heart and I am so happy that you feel free to bare your heart with all that read your blogs. It encourages me to be praying all the more for you. May the God of all comfort surround you with His loving arms and give you the desires of your heart.
    Love, Nan

  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4

    I am so thankful that you choose Jesus above all else. I am so thankful, too, that you are willing to share some of life’s journeys with those of us that read your blog. As you write from your heart – I know that I -and I believe many others – are touched and reminded of our own need for a Savior, a Comforter, Counselor and Friend. (Love you)

  • Proud of you! He’s out there. Trust!

  • Oh Jenni. I just love you. Know that I often pray for Mr. Right to walk into your life. XOXO

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