There’s something deliciously empty, in a way that is both painful and yet satisfyingly poignant (the way pain can strangely become companionable after a certain amount of time), in the fact that I’m alone at this point in my life.
There’s an irony that me, the girl who wore a purity ring from age 13 through 25 and wanted nothing more than to be a stay at home, ‘best selling author mom’, is the last of my friends to “find” romantic love. Or should I say, ‘to stumble into love’ as none of my girls, with the exception of one, were actively looking for love when it so swiftly found them. They do say that true love comes calling when you least expect it. This has definitely proven to be true for most of my girls. Right now, today, in this moment, if you were to ask me…then no, I wouldn’t say that I’m looking for love. Not anymore. I’m not actively looking. But that wasn’t always the case.
Right now, I’m trying not to over-analyze things.
In this present moment, I’m trying not to second guess, not to doubt, not to regret or revisit past events that have now become harsh memories.
I’m trying not to think ‘what if’ or ‘what should I have done?’
I’m trying to just trust. I’m trying to “Let go and Let God.” I’m trying to remember that He, God, has a master plan that I’m inconveniently ignorant of.
I’m trying to recognize God’s sovereignty and thus my inadequacy and obvious lack of control over my life and life in general.
I’m trying to remember all the adages : Good things come to those who wait. Trust in the Lord. Have faith. Everything Happens for a Reason. God knows my heart and He will grant me the desires of my heart. God knows best. God is good and He wants good things for me. God has a plan and He is always on time.
I’d like to say that my trying does work… about 75% of the time. Most days, I wake up every morning, so damn OK and grateful for my life, it’s almost sickening. There are things that I want. Oh, are there things! OF COURSE, there are things…There’re goals I’m trying to accomplish, heights I’m still striving to reach. I’m focused on my career right now. I know you’ve heard that before but I have never meant a cliché saying more in my life! However, despite all of the “I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man!” fervor, there are still those odd days, those seemingly ‘one off’ days, when I wake up with a gaping hole of despair in my stomach. When I feel like crying out and breaking down but I know deep down that it won’t do any good. Except to release an offering of my tears, my cries, outward in the hopes that things will change if not around me, then inwardly, within me. You know what they say (and they’re right too)-God doesn’t often change our circumstances. At least, not right away and not in the ways that we expect or desire. Oftentimes, He changes us instead. He molds us to fit the challenge; to rise to the occasion and to overcome the situational pain.
As the years have passed and I’ve grown older, more recently leaving my 20s behind and plodding swiftly into my 30s, I’ve often wondered if God would take the desire for marriage- for a partnership, for Eros love- and a home full of many children away from me. He never has. Not yet. Not today.
It has become my daily prayer, my mantra : “Lord, strip away from me the desires that are not of you, that are not for me and that I shouldn’t want for my life. Instead, fuel the fires of purpose. Deliver me into my purpose or call me home.”
This is an extremely powerful and risky prayer. I’ve only prayed it once before. It ended up destroying my entire life-well, the life I had at the time. It was about 7 years ago now, in 2011, when my life changed forever and for good. Overnight, I lost friends, my boyfriend, my jobs, my apartment and even my family for a time. For a while, I thought I was losing my sanity! My life exploded and a new life was birthed from the ashes. It was in that time I learned what it truly means to survive, to stand strong and to surrender everything to and for Christ. That prayer is risky indeed because instead of going quietly into the night, what is stripped away and removed from one’s life often leaves in an emotionally violent manner, leaving gaping holes and bringing out intense feelings of devastation and loss. It’s a time to grow closer to one’s creator. With the loss of what was, there’s nothing but time for self examination and even self recrimination. Because suddenly, you are so very alone. And in order to accept the grace that a life with Jesus embodies, first you must accept the guilt, the fear, the regret and the sorrow. These feelings must be purged and there’s a process of repentance that must be walked out.
It goes like this : You meet up with God for the first time in your life. It’s frightening at first but once He becomes all you have, you grow more comfortable in His presence. You start to walk through life together, day by day-you and your creator. He’s changing you from the inside out. You can see it and eventually, others can too. It frightens you and delights you but you’re not opposed to the changes, although some are pretty drastic. You meet up with God. You talk about the changes. You grow closer to Him. You grow closer to yourself. You discover your purpose.
As the years go, you discover one indelible truth: Time is one of God’s most powerful tools. His timing is always impeccable.
Ever since I was a young girl of 7, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I want to find the love of my life too but I’m not so much worried about that part. I don’t so much care when he comes. I was made to love, whether it be a dog or a man or a friend. I know that romantic love, great romantic love, will come into my life when the time is right. I was created for it. It’s something I’ve felt in the marrow of my bones and the foundations of my soul, since I can remember. I don’t so much doubt true love or agonize over the timing of it. The truth is, I’ve never enjoyed dating. I can count the serious boyfriends I’ve had on one hand, less than 3 fingers. And that’s because when I know it’s not meant to be, I move on. Quickly. I don’t’ want to waste time with someone who’s not my forever partner. It’s harsh, yet makes things so clear and simple. So I don’t much care about the single part of things. I actually enjoy being single. I find fulfillment in being alone. I’m a solitary and at times, extremely introverted being. I enjoy doing things by myself. I genuinely enjoy being alone. I don’t feel any emptiness or any lack within myself. I like that I’m independent and self sufficient.
However, with this whole mom thing, It’s getting harder and harder to hold on to hope and to trust. There’s something about the reality of what my body won’t be able to easily do in a few years that’s holding me hostage to doubt. I’m pushing through because I have to. Also because recently, I’ve gained an appreciation for my childless state. For these years of getting to know me and nurturing my inner child instead of nurturing a child. There’s a great amount of privilege contained in the selfishness of being able to put oneself first for 31 years. Mothering comes with a reality that’s engineered in self sacrifice and layered with unconditional love for another being-an initially innocent and helpless being-whether borne from one’s body or not. I have come to fully appreciate the years I’ve had to develop my own mind and heart, making mistakes and missteps easily without the burden of them affecting an innocent soul that I’m responsible for rearing. I have come to appreciate the fact that once I do join the ranks of motherhood, I will do so eagerly, with arms wide open to the great responsibility and without a shadow of a doubt of my readiness and my desire to finally join this very important club.
It’s within revelations like this that I can finally unpack and demolish my doubt and fully admit-God knows what He’s doing. God knows who I am and what’s to be done with me and for me. What I thought was meant to curse me, to bring me low and cause me pain, God has actually decreed as a blessing for me and a building of me.
God’s timing. Is. Impeccable.
I can’t help but think that my satisfaction in my singleness, in my childless state, is a subversive act. A society that values me directly in correlation to my desirability to men and my ability have children, is also a society that tells women we are useless if we don’t have a man. Or rather, if a man hasn’t chosen us.
I can’t help but think that every time I scroll through my various social media feeds and see engagement announcements, pictures of wedding ceremonies and pregnancy/birth announcements, my ability to genuinely be happy for people’s joy, other people’s successes-mentally celebrating with them while verbally congratulating them via commenting on their posts- is a subversive act. It’s practically a middle finger to all of the negative and jealous thoughts and feelings that try to burst through and make these landmark moments in others’ lives about me and my supposed lack of desirability. It also doesn’t help that I seem to be stuck in a place of perpetual teenage-hood simply because I live at home with my parents and honestly, outside of societal perceptions and expectations, I have no problem with being a 31 year old, able bodied and gainfully employed woman who lives at home with her folks and her 2 year old Maltipoo. I know there’s a purpose to my being there. I know that soon, this season of my life will change and I’ll be on my own again. I know that I’ve been on my own, for many, many years and this season of my life is all about saving money for greater. I know that I pay all my own bills and pay my own way. I know that despite what the world sees and thinks from the outside looking in, this is a season to savor, a sweet season. My parents are growing old. I wish it wasn’t so but it’s the truth and me having this much time with them outside of childhood will most likely never come again in their lifetime. However, I can’t always staunch the whispers of ‘loser’ I sometimes hear when I think about how much I’m supposedly failing at life by “Successful American Standards.” While these past 5 years certainly haven’t gone according to plan, despite my failures to build a home for myself independent of my mother and father, I have also failed to acquire the thing that society deems me most valuable for : a husband. And it’s not just american society. Oh no.
My Nigerian parents very much look at me at times and sigh. As each year passes and with each birthday celebrated, though now halfheartedly by me, my mother declares that she’s still praying that this mythical husband will materialize ‘this year’ and ‘this’ will be my year. She does this with a slightly desperate and agonizing tone as she looks at me as if to wonder “Where did I go wrong?” She often brings up her friends, many of them still back home in Nigeria, who are all grandparents now and how they often wonder about my unmarried state, making comments that while seem helpful, only remind my mother of what a failure she is for having an unmarried daughter of my advanced age. I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for her disappointment although I myself know deep down that my lack of a man by my side does not make me any less valuable or worthy as a person and as a woman. My unmarried status might carry a stigma due to my advancing age, but while I tenaciously hold on to the truth that my value lies outside of my ability to get a man to tie his life to mine in holy matrimony, society, both American and my native African one, is doing it’s best to shame me in to some sort of compliance.
Don’t get me wrong. I do want to get married. But more than that, I want to find love. I’ve never had a serious monogamous relationship and it’s been something I’ve always desired : to have a partner and support system through life and to be that for someone else. To build a family. And my greatest dream outside of writing novels and creating art is to be a mother. Since I was that little girl of seven, motherhood has been my dream. And it still is. My number one dream of dreams. And I’ve always wanted to have a large family. Although, as the years go by and I get older, I’m now having to contemplate the fact that having a large family biologically may be difficult and adoption may be something my future partner and I seriously consider by the time we’re ready to have children. The thing I do have going for me is that the women in my family are insanely fertile, some having children easily well into their forties and early fifties. I cling to this. Because now, being in my 30s, my child bearing years and the countdown on them is constantly on my mind. And yes, I know that I can have children on my own but I want the whole dream : loving partner and then children. So old fashioned of me I know, but it’s what I’ve genuinely wanted since I can remember.
I say all that to say, I refuse to allow my worth to be determined by something outside of my control. I fully believe that finding a partner : a lover who will be faithful, kind and supportive, is something not all people have the blessing of having in this life. It’s all purpose and fate really. I can’t control it and so, I’ve had to learn to relinquish control. So many things have happened these past 5 years that have thrown my life completely off track. As I suffered through transition after transition, setback after setback, trial and tribulation, I had to ask myself : “What track? And I’m off of this track according to whom?” How much of how I view myself and my self worth is through my own beliefs and feelings and how much of it is due to social conditioning and societal norms, pressures and expectations? How much am I willing to allow an event I cannot control at all to dictate and define my existence and my value? It sounds so silly when it’s spelled out like this. I am more than my supposed marriage value and the viability of my eggs and ovaries. I am more than all of the pressures society places on me as a woman, especially as a black woman. I live in a society that constantly tries to brainwash me to believe that I am the least desirable of all women not only because I am black but also because of my dark complexion. I live in a society that would have me believe that my desirability or lack thereof is a major component to the label of success as it applies to my existence. I live in a society that values me by my supposed desirability to men. I say no. I say I reject that. I say I rebuke that. I will not allow that pattern of thinking, that ideology, into my reality. I will not allow any of it to be the bedrock of my identity. I will continue to exist as the free, wild and fully whole woman that I am, even if it means that I walk my life path alone with only Jesus God to walk beside me. I will continue to be the living and breathing embodiment of an ever violent rebellion and subversion against a culture that would seek to demean and devalue me for their own nefarious purposes that stem from white supremacist beliefs and the capitalist greed that unfortunately is the bedrock of our current civilization. I rise up in faith, love, hope and peace and I declare that I am worthy, I am enough, I am mighty, I am black and proud. I am magic. I will not break, I will simply bend and continue to stand strong and get back up again. I will not give in. I will continue to hope and pray for that life partner because every human being who desires romantic love deserves to experience it but that does not mean I lack or am starved for love. I am actually very blessed to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who see and celebrate my value and worth, even as I arrive to events alone. I acknowledge my blessings and I am happy for them.
I’m proudly sitting at my table for one, waiting for the one who would join me but not pining or holding my breath. I’m enjoying my own company and that’s the way it should be.