Julie R. returned to teaching after taking a hiatus to earn an M.A. in Popular Culture. She teaches high school English and Composition, and Media Studies classes somewhere in middle America. When she isn’t at school, she’s teaching piano lessons, baking, watching movies, or hanging with her family. She blogs when she can at Welcome Back Kotter.
I’m having one of those moments.
A rare, fleeting moment of peace and understanding that I really am okay.
It snuck up on me, to be honest, especially since I thought for sure I would have something profound and groundbreaking to say about my experiences as a single and childless woman in a predominantly married and child-filled church. I could paint the picture of the woman-scorned-by-many-an-RM-yet-remains-faithful. I could give advice on any of the following:
How I cope with loneliness (best answer: be a friend, actual answer: watch TV)
How I cope with bitterness (best answer: pray, actual answer: list the things I’m able to do, unsaddled by a spouse or children)
How I cope with insensitive comments at church (best answer: smile and nod, actual answer: rant to my sisters)
How I cope with a shrinking dating pool that more and more resembles Table Number Nine from the film “The Wedding Singer” (best answer: have faith, actual answer: endure random occasional set-ups, and rejections via phone, text, Facebook, etc…)
How I cope with not being a mother (best AND actual answer: teach, love my nieces and nephews)
But no anecdotes, snappy or sappy, are springing to mind. My mind is void of epiphanies to share, unless you consider this an epiphany: for the first time that I can recall, I’m not thinking of myself as a single person; I can’t focus on what I lack. I can only think of what I am, what I do, what I have.
Moments like these haven’t come easily to me, and they don’t usually last too long. But when they do, I feel empowered. These brief moments remind me that my career is valuable—and valued–and not just something to do until I get married. I focus on how much I love being an aunt, and remember how my nieces and nephews clamor for my attention when I’m around.
But more important, I glimpse how I hope Heavenly Father sees me: not as a “single person in a married church,” but as a daughter working hard at life, trying to fix her mistakes and find joy in the life she’s leading. Because single or married, isn’t that all Heavenly Father wants from his daughters? In these moments of clarity, I am equal to my married, mothering sisters and friends.
The loneliness, the bitterness, the insensitivity, the childless-ness, the lack of dates—all of it is just part of my life experience. Just like my sisters are shaped by the trials in their marriages and in raising their children. The endgame is identical: purification, sanctification. My process is different, not inferior.
Recording a moment like this gives me the opportunity to re-read and remember it when I am feeling lonely, when I am feeling “less-than.”
But in this moment, I am a daughter of God, pure and simple.