Chelsea Cote is a Type A twenty-something residing in Charlotte, NC. A non-profit development director by day, Chelsea loves Jesus, fashion, her family (including her giant cat Liam), decorating, art in all its forms, gummy candy, thrifting, liquid eyeliner, and watching The West Wing and Friends reruns. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and read all of her thoughts on faith, fashion and everything in between at www.bloomingbranchblog.com.
It's Valentine's Day again. And while I generally keep most of my frustrations as a 28-year-old single gal to myself, I'm going to attempt to be really honest for a moment. So, here it is - for the majority of my twenties, being not only unmarried, but not even really dating has been unbelievably frustrating and painful to say the least. I don't even really like to admit it, you see, because I never want to be "that girl". You know the one I'm talking about - the one who isn't fully complete until she has a boyfriend. The one who needs male approval to legitimize her. The one who chases after men she knows aren't right for her and needs constant male attention. The one who can't be happy until she has a two-karat ring on her finger.
I am not that girl.
But I've still cried when guys didn't call, brushed me off, or liked my friends instead of me. I've still pleaded with the Lord to bring the right man into my life. I've still been distracted by the wrong guy. I've still wondered time and time again why I'm never the girl who is wanted or pursued. I've still decided that I was not pretty enough, not interesting enough, not special enough. I've still hurt immensely when every girl I know is announcing her engagement, new baby, new house on Facebook. There were still times - are times - I still feel like my "real" life is waiting to start.
But my real life has started. I love my job and my family. I'm involved in my community and have excellent friendships. I'm doing things that I love and having fun doing them. I'm really busy and sometimes wonder how a boyfriend will someday fit into my schedule. I've learned an immense amount about myself in these eight years of being a party-of-one. I've wrestled intensely with the Lord and His will for my life as I've tried to let go of control, learned where I'm headed and who I'm becoming in Him.
And I wouldn't trade any of it. Truly.
This will mark my 29th Valentines Day without a Valentine. The only flowers I'll get this year will be from my Dad. And I can say this honestly and truthfully for the first time this year: it's okay. I'm not particularly saddened by it. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am having an easier time of waiting quietly and patiently on the Lord to manifest His will for my life, to bring me the man He wants me to marry in the right time. Because time and time again, He is faithful. Even when it takes time, even when it hurts. It's taken me so long - years and years - to come to this point. A point of freedom, trust and letting go. There are still days where I snatch this desire back from the Lord in fear that it isn't safe in His hands. But on the whole, I am finally, FINALLY, learning to rest in His goodness, His faithfulness and his power. To say without fear, "and if not, you are still good". To know that the Lord's plan for my life is beautiful in His time and meant for my good. To learn that more than anything, my desire for a husband and a family is safe in the hands of the One that formed my heart and put it there.
Singleness is hard. I don't believe it will stop being hard. I doubt that there will ever be a time that I don't wish I had someone to share my pizza on Friday night, run errands with me on Saturday or sit beside me at church on Sunday. God shaped this desire in me and unless He takes it away, it will remain there until it's fulfilled. There is no shame in this. There is no shame in wanting to be married. It doesn't revoke my independence or overall fulfillment in the Lord. It doesn't make me needy or "that girl". But what a beautiful, peaceful place to be when singleness doesn't pervade my happiness, doesn't stop me from fully surrendering to the Lord. Doesn't keep me from feeling confident and content. This year, the Lord's peace and fulfillment - freedom in finally knowing without a doubt that He is for me - is the best way to celebrate this Valentine's Day. From a girl who never thought I'd find my way to this place, who thought I had to stop wanting a spouse before the Lord would allow me to have one, who couldn't let go of my fear that God was going to ask me to be single forever: I am working hard at finding rest, grace and fulfillment in the arms of my Savior. And it is my prayer for each of you single ladies this year that you find the same.
Happy Valentine's Day!
image via Jodi Miller Photography