It is a question that has settled into the deepest levels of my consciousness over the last few years. I have grown accustomed to its constant hum, learned to live with the slight but noticeable discomfort of uncertainty that shades how I think about the things I most desire.
At first it was an exciting question—I couldn’t wait to see how my life would unfold. What stories would I someday tell my children? But in the last few years I have started thinking about marriage and family as an “if” rather than a “when,” and I have been trying with all I have to accept the possibility that God’s answer to my question might very well be “never.”
Tied to the Timeline
It wasn’t always this way. For a long time singleness was pretty easy for me. Not that I never lost myself in crushes or cried when they failed to materialize into actual dates, boyfriends, or relationships—I have spent more time than I care to admit doing both—but even as the disappointments rolled in over the years, I still believed that God had a plan for my life and that all the pain would be worth it when I finally had what I really wanted.
Even though God’s plan wasn’t unfolding exactly as I’d envisioned, there was still time for it to line up with the plan I had in mind. In this perfect version of my life, I would get married at 25, start having kids between 28 and 30, and write on the side while I stayed home to raise my kids. I knew it was no guarantee, but at 21 and 22 it seemed reasonable to assume this was at least roughly how my “real life” would unfold. I could give or take a few years. My deepest and most consistent desires have always been to get married and have a family, and surely, I knew, God must want those things for me too. He wouldn’t have given me those desires if he didn’t mean to fulfill them, right? But, as I have learned over and over again, these aren’t things you can make happen through sheer force of will.1