By Wendy Widder, Author
I've got a few unanswered questions about my life. I'd like to know if I'll ever be a homemaker and homeowner. I'd like to know how to sell and buy, as well as manage maintenance on, a car as a single woman. I'd like to know if I'll ever walk down the aisle as the main attraction instead of as a member of the supporting cast. I've discovered, though, that I rarely have to ask questions like this. There are plenty of other people in my life asking them for me.
At a church event one evening, I was serving punch, stocking cookie trays, and cleaning up messes, when a mere acquaintance asked one. Punch ladle in hand, attention focused on stirring pink sherbet, I heard his voice. "So, isn't it about time you got married?" Glancing left and right with the desperate hope that he was speaking to anyone else, I slowly looked up. Nope, I was the lucky target, and he hit the bull's-eye.
"Isn't it about time you got married?" He voiced one of those questions that lurks in the heart of every single adult who desires to be married. It resides next to half a dozen others we've been asked over the years--questions for which we either don't have the answers or don't like the answers:
Do you have a boyfriend?
You're a nice girl; why aren't you dating anyone?
How's your love life? [Would you dare ask a married person this?!]
Are you looking for a husband?
So, you're still single?
Do you want to get married?
If you are single, you've fielded most of these and countless other remarks for which any answer seems inadequate. You've probably mastered the courtesy laugh and polite smile, and chances are you're an expert at shifting conversations away from your marital status.
While I laugh at both well-meaning friends and rude acquaintances for asking such bold things, they are really only voicing questions I have in my own head. I just don't ask them because I know there aren't answers.
If I'll marry, who I'll marry, when I'll marry, are some of God's question marks in my life, unknown obstacles in my race. That's the way God planned it. After wrestling repeatedly with these and other questions about singleness, I've resigned myself to the fact that God is the only One who knows the answers, and He's not telling. Most days I can live with that. Not everybody in my life has struggled through these issues, though, and so for them, I sometimes just don't fit into a preconceived mold.
One of my sisters is an expert puzzler. She holds the box in one hand and stirs through it with the other, looking for certain pieces. When she strikes, she's rarely wrong. Her practiced eye knows where pieces fit without even trying them. I love puzzles, too, and while I learned much of my skill from watching my sister, I can't compete with her prowess. I have a knack for picking a piece that looks like it should fit, but no matter how many times I try, it doesn't. I turn it and try again. Nope. I set it down in the corner of the board and when I come back to it, I think all over again that it must fit in that place. Like a dull-witted dog chasing parked cars, I keep putting the same right piece in the same wrong place. It makes no sense to me--how a piece with the right coloring and the right shape just doesn't fit.
To married friends and relatives, singles are sometimes those puzzle pieces. It looks to them as if we should fit in a certain place. In attempts to make us fit, they often ask bold questions. At times they answer their own questions when our responses fall short of what they hoped to hear:
God has someone very special for you.
You just wait--your day is coming.
You'll make somebody a perfect wife.
He just doesn't know what he's missing.
You never know who you'll meet.
I hope you meet someone special; I really want you to be happy.
Begging the forgiveness of my friends and family, I don't have nearly as many problems with the unanswered questions in my life as I do with their answers! I wholeheartedly recognize their good intentions. They never mean to be invasive or rude; they really want only the best for me. I love them for it, and I've learned to laugh at them for it, too.
Like I said, most days I can live with God's absence of answers. But sometimes, I allow myself to listen to the well-meaning advice of bystanders, and I choose to hear their answers above the silence of God. When I filter their pieces of intended encouragement through my emotional sieve, I want to believe them. I want to take their statements as divine wisdom.
Maybe time will prove their words correct in my life, but I can't afford to live with that expectation. If I do, chances are good I will park myself on the side of the road or hoist a heavy bag over my shoulder and squander this leg of the race.
Excerpted with permission from Living Whole Without A Better Half by Wendy Widder, Copyright Â© Kregel Publications, 2000.