The Blessings Of Not Being Married As Planned

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This was not the blog I had planned.  I have two finished blogs and had told a friend I may flip a coin to choose between them.  However, I was thrown a major curve ball which has caused me to wish to delay release of those blogs to go with a third option: Write this blog and share it first.

Enjoy…

When life does not go according to plan and you end up single, like me.

My plan was to be married by twenty-one.  I’m the relationship kind of guy.  I wanted to share my life with someone special more than anything else, wanted children, and therefore had planned to be married as soon as possible.  However, my plans to marry that high school crush passed along with my twenties and, despite my heroic efforts, I remain single to this day.

Anyhow, I decided to write this blog so my single (and wanting) friends can have a reason to smile.  I’m single, it was not entirely my choice, it has been extremely painful at times, profound loneliness stinks, and yet God has been faithful.  There have been many moments of deep despair and hopelessness, but I am here to tell you that there’s reason to hope and be happy.

I’ve decided to write about the things I would have missed out on and what I would not be today had I married when I planned.  It is hard to imagine what I would be for certain today had I married young and we have no way to know that counterfactual reality of might have been, yet there are some things that I am fairly certain about.

Six things I would not be had I as a married planned:

I would not be a blogger.  You are reading this blog because I have time to write it as a single person.  Writing is something I do not completely enjoy, but it is something that seems to be a gift I have and I do it mostly as an act of faith.  This blog was started a couple years ago as a response to the questions in my mind about my purpose in life that came after a “no” from a girl who was the embodiment of a the Mennonite ideal for a wife.

I would not own an awesome car.  Earlier this year it was my privilege to buy something most married men can only dream about and that being a brand new Shelby GT350 Mustang.  Sure, we should not live our lives for such material things, but it was nice to see my hard work and diligent saving pay off in a tangible (very thrilling) way.  So, while I would trade this mechanical beast for a wife and family in a heart beat, I still enjoy the memories of many grins and the experience.

I would not know the pain of rejection.  Pain is bad, right?  Well, not entirely actually, pain is temporary and with pain comes empathy and the ability to appreciate pleasure all the more.  Sure, we avoid pain, we probably should avoid unnecessary pain, and yet pain helps me to identify with those who suffer.  More significantly, it has allowed me the privilege of a deeper appreciation and understanding of my Lord and Savior who suffered for our sins.

I would not have the unique perspective that I do.  My experience as a single person with unfulfilled desires and social needs often unmet gives me a special vision for the church.  I say unfulfilled needs thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the idea that people need deeper connection to thrive.  I can recall the many times I felt spiritually deficient, isolate from human touch and longed for a church that was more than superficially concerned.  The fact is, we were made for meaningful human connection and without it we become unhealthy.

I would have missed out on many wonderful friendships.  As part of my dealing with my own disappointment I became more open to being the answer for the needs of other people.  Because of what I had gone through it was my desire to help others in similar circumstances.  I have stepped out in faith and as a result have been very blessed.  The friendships gained would likely be impossible had I been a married man.  Investments made in Christian love for other people always seem to pay back in surprising ways.

I would not have been asked on a date.  There is a first time for everything and I had a first over the weekend.  When I wrote my last blog it was not with a clear personal agenda or self-pity.  There are some unanswered questions right now that keep me from being ready to make a serious romantic commitment.  My blog was to create awareness of an issue that is not being adequately addressed in the conservative Mennonite church that I know.  One thing for certain, I had not planned on being asked out on a coffee date by a very intriguing young woman.

But I do like my unplanned blessings and especially when they come because of faithful actions.

I have much to be thankful for as one blessed more than he deserves.

My next blog will be on the topic of marriage as martyrdom.  But before that I wanted to encourage my single friends to see the bigger perspective.  Those who remain single (because they were rejected by the world’s standard and not for prideful selfish reasons) may obtain the bigger crown because they are most like our Lord and Savior. 

So, to my single friends, remain faithful.  God may have some unplanned surprises in your future of a very pleasant variety.  Trust God, the one who holds the future, and not your own human perspective or a worldly understanding.  Live in true faith today and may God soon grant you the desires of your heart.

Smile too, it’s attractive.

Broken noses, mangled plans and perseverance

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“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson.

I believe most reading can identify in at least a small way with the quote above. If you have ever been hit so hard that you don’t know if you will be on your feet again then you probably understand completely. Hits come in many forms in life and can interrupt even the best of our plans.

I have not taken a hit from a professional boxer, but I have had my nose bloodied a time or two.  My list including the vicious hit delivered by my brother during a pickup football game; that an episode that ended with me being hurried to the emergency room having suffered a deviated septum.  I had caught a lateral pass, turned, then *WHAM* a shoulder smashed into my head and suddenly I am on the ground (still clutching the ball) dizzy wondering where all the blood was coming from. That day my immediate plans were altered as severely as my visibly mangled nose.

Everyone has hopes, dreams or plans and success does often depend on hard work, discipline and execution of a plan.  However, planning is easy but real life isn’t always and the truer test of resolve is when an effort is met with a unexpected and disorienting blow.  It takes courage and strength to stand back up again, after looking at the lights above the ring, having been knocked flat on your back.  Our plans and the realities we will face can be vastly different things.  I believe most people who live long enough will experience times where perseverance requires overcoming obstacles of pain, loss and fear.

I have withstood many setbacks or small disappointments in life and have usually been able to keep a positive attitude about it.  I have built up a tolerance for physical pain. But there are other types of injury other than physical that do not heal in weeks or months and those are the real trials of my faith.  There have been a few moments in my life where it seemed as if all hope was sucked from my soul and faith was nearly impossible.  It is only, by the grace of God, with the help of good friends that I have made it this far.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one.  The death of a close friend’s child was on of the hardest hits of my life.  I felt totally helpless, I could do nothing to ‘fix’ the situation for my friend and my heartache lasted for years after. My hopes and plans built around that child died on a Thursday afternoon with a piece of me.  I got out of bed each morning, some days better and other days worse, but down inside was a deep pain of heart that I could not solve.

I have found peace for the questions that raged inside after the death.  Still, there are scars for each battle I have faced and some circumstances remain that I have no clear answer for.  It can be easy to be discouraged when past experiences haunt you and is tempting to give up when overwhelmed by an opponent seemingly too big or powerful to defeat.  Each blow is different, every day of overcoming is a new battle and each one requires new courage and fresh resolve.  We can only pray for the wisdom and for sufficient provision of hope to get through each day.

We all have obstacles to face, blows to our confidence and our faith to overcome. Things like a cancer diagnosis, the agony of a rejection, or death can continue to trip us up spiritually or emotionally and sometimes for years.  It is in those moments where character is formed; one can become bitter, cynical or jaded and otherwise defeated by the odds against them, or one can also keep faith alive, believe tomorrow will be a better day and live to overcome.

Real strength is not quitting when a harsh reality smacks you in the face. Faith begins when it seems like giants stand in the way of promises for a future and when hope feels quite delusional.  Plans change, life hits us in the face, but with God all things are possible, so do not wallow in despair; regroup and get back in the fight.

Life and faith require perseverance. That, and some appropriate protective gear may also help as well, and especially if you are up against Mike Tyson or younger brothers.

Take care!