A Life You Can Fall in Love With

“Is it weird,” she asked, “to see Josh get married when you’re still single?”

“No,” I shrugged. “I’m used to it by now.”

Which is true. I mean, it was weird when she got married. She was the first of the “younger generation” to tie the knot, and she married my baby brother who was certainly not old enough to get married, right? But the next three years have been so full of both bridal and baby showers that I hardly blink at the news that yet another kid is getting married and having kids of their own.

As I sat there watching the bride and groom share their first dance, I pondered my sister-in-law’s question a little deeper. Is this weird? Is it strange to watch Josh—this boy I’ve known all his life—get married?

Yeah. Maybe a little. After all, last time I looked, the kid was about twelve. But is it weird that he’s getting married when I’m still single? No. Not at all.

I don’t expect everyone to wait on me. They could stay waiting forever and, as you all should know by now, waiting is not what I am about.

I watched Josh’s hands dance up and down Maria’s shoulders and wondered (as all good writers do), what if?

What if I was living for this, hoping for this? What if I spent my single years obsessing over the thought of having my turn on the dance floor? Would it be weird then, to witness this moment?

I think, in that case, the answer is yes. Yes, this is weird and hard and decidedly unfair. I’m twenty-five years old; Josh is just a baby.

But I don’t live for him.

Him—the elusive someone who is supposed to come sweeping into my life and become my everything. The someone I’ll wear a white dress for. The someone I’ll devote the rest of my days to.

If I’m going to be honest, I thought I’d be married by twenty-five. As a child, it seemed as good an age as any to start settling down. As an adult it seems sort of like a cruel joke I played on my future self.

That’s right, make plans, Rebekah. It will be so amusing to see how unexpectedly your life actually plays out.

This is perhaps the part of the story where I’m supposed to become angry and jaded and bitter, but that seems to sad of an ending, so I rewrote it. I took this unexpected mess of a life and decided I wanted something different than a fist to shake at heaven.

I wanted something more magical, more unpredictable, more poetic than that.

I wanted a life I could fall in love with.

So I threw myself into my work, and befriended coworkers and customers alike.

I signed a lease and started collecting things to furnish a home of my own.

I filled journals with stories and ideas and words that may or may not be better left unsaid.

I started taking ice skating classes and, you guys, you guys, I am learning how to twirl. (Well, pivot, really, but it’s where the spinning starts… so maybe soon?)

I am trying to be spontaneous and adventurous and vulnerable. I am striving every day to let down my hair.

Would I like to be married? Sure. Maybe one day.

But not at twenty-five. Twenty-five has a different ending in mind for me.

And that’s okay. Different than I once expected, but okay.

Some people say that every girl deserves a man who will treat her well. And maybe they do.

But what I hope that every girl has, regardless of her relationship status, is a life she can fall in love with.

Love your life, darling, and if you don’t, rewrite it.

Make it the kind of life you can be proud of. Make it the kind of life you can find joy in. Make it the kind of life you can fall in love with.

You deserve that.

You really do.

Life As I Don’t Know It

Hopes and dreams and time wasted wishing I could fast-forward to the big moments already. So much of my life is spent waiting for things I never make happen. And I wonder where I would be right now if I pursued things as recklessly as I dream of doing.

So many hours compiled of wasted moments, strung together on the threads of my distraction. And I think it’s because there’s a shadow of doubt in me.

I’m not brave enough to challenge You to catch me when I leap.

But what if I was? What if I plunged headfirst into the unknown? What if I charged into the places I want to claim without fear or trepidation? What if I lived fully abandoned to You and the calling You have placed on my life?

Why is it so easy to cling to the comfortable and familiar when the after effects of the two are but a shadow of what my life was meant to be?

But somewhere in the corners of my mind, I hear You whisper:

“Life. Abundant Life.”

Bubbling over. Bursting at the seams. Spinning in ecstasy.

Life.

I settle. For so much less than You would offer me. For a life much simpler than Your grand design.

And I convince myself that this is the best there is while my heart remains carved out like a tree a woodpecker has claimed for its own—hollow, empty, resounding.

And You come knocking, knocking, knocking… to reveal what I’ve been missing all along.

Life. Abundant Life.

Life as I don’t know it.

Keep Running {A Beyond Waiting Success Story}

It has been five years since my brother used a couple of pencils to explain his frustrations in searching for a wife. Five years since I watched those pencils dance across a counter as he described how easily distracted he is by his search for “the one.”

“The girl who is right for me,” he began, “is not the one who will cross in front of me, leading me off my path. When God brings the right girl, she will come and run alongside me.”

And even when I published those words last year, I had no idea how close he was to finding that one. I had no idea how soon he would glance over and realize that someone had been running alongside him all along.

If you’ve noticed a silence in this corner of the internet recently it’s because I spent the last two weeks in Europe where I witnessed the wedding of my precious brother Donald and his beautiful British bride.

You know, a lot of people have told me that I’ll have to write a sequel to Beyond Waiting  once I get married (and I just laugh like, “Sooo not happening”). While I’m not anywhere close to doing that, if you open that book to page 39, you’ll find the beginnings of a love story that promises to be absolutely beautiful: My Ugandan-born brother, his English wife, and a calling to reach the lost people in Mexico.

Only God could ordain that. Only God could bring those two together. Only God could make them realize they had been running the same path all along.

So I sit here and watch as God knits three nations together like some sort of beautiful patchwork quilt.

I sit here reminded that part of living the Beyond Waiting journey is to never slow down, but to make my prince catch up. Which reminds me that it is possible. He can  catch up. Somewhere in the world, there’s someone running the same path I run and we’re bound to find each other.

As I celebrated with my brother and new sister-in-law, I was so inspired by their story. By the way God slowly knit their hearts together. And I was reminded to keep running—just keep running—knowing that one day I’ll look up and find I’m not alone. Knowing that God is writing a story more beautiful than I can possibly imagine, just as He did for Donald and Becky.

So here’s some advice from my brother and his new bride:

Don’t. Slow. Down.

Don’t let yourself become distracted.

Just keep pressing on toward the dream God has given you until you realize you’re no longer alone. And when that day comes, keep on running—just keep on running. Because that makes for the most beautiful love story of all.

Donald and Becky

The Alleged Singleness Expert

Once you’ve written a book on singleness, people tend to assume that anything involving singleness, marriage, or dating must interest you. If I had a dollar for every time someone came up to me to point out yet another book, blog post, seminar, etc. about relationship statuses, I might actually be making decent money off this accidental venture of mine. And I might be less inclined to roll my eyes every time someone approached me with yet another you-name-it.

Because, seriously, it happens all the time and, honestly, I’m not all that interested in talking about romance and relationships.

So when a friend of mine posted a link on my wall saying she thought I would like it, I had one of those “ugh” moments. Except the title of this blog really intrigued me.

“I don’t wait anymore,” it said. So I clicked the link and read what may honestly be the best message on singleness I ever read.

Seriously.

Go read it and see what you think.

“’True Love Waits.’ Waits. What’s it ‘waiting’ for, anyway?”

Apparently I’m not the only person in the world who discovered that waiting is not always a good thing. Someone aside from me realized that the pat answers we give single people do more harm than good. And someone other than me decided that she wasn’t okay with it anymore.

“Whether it was the fault of the leaders, the fault of us girls, or both, a tragedy happened back then. A lot of girls were sold on a deal and not on a Savior.”

Somewhere along the line, we started to get this idea that singleness is an if/then agreement with God.

“If you seek Me first, then I’ll bring the right guy into your life.”

Well okay, God, but is that sort of like how my dad promised we’d get a horse after my brother was potty-trained? Because he’d been wearing big boy pants for seven years when we finally got one, and I don’t know that I can wait seven years for a guy. I’m sort of satisfied now, so could You hurry up a little?

“What if we as girls had learned early on that having Him was everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have?”

I completely and totally, wholeheartedly agree with Grace on this one. Somehow we’ve taken something as beautiful as purity and waiting and distorted it until it was all about a guy. But God didn’t give us a season of singleness so we could spend it searching for Mr. Right; He gave us that time to fall in love with Him.

We’ve lost sight of that. We’ve let our focus shift. And we’re insecure and unsatisfied because of it.

“I’ve planned major life decisions around possibilities. I lived like I was waiting for something.”

But you know what? There’s something bigger out there. Something better. God desires so much for you in this season of your life and He is simply waiting for you to reach out and take hold of the life He intended for you.

“I just didn’t want to wait anymore – didn’t want to live like I was waiting on anyone to get here.”

So maybe instead of “True Love Waits,” we should be saying it this way:

It can wait. It can wait until we’ve figured out what’s truly important in life. It can wait until we realize that what we’ve really been missing has been right there all along. After all…

“I already have Him … and He is everything.”

I Refuse to Wait

My roommate and I have decided that we’ve missed half of the year. What I mean by that is, it’s the last day of August and I hardly remember experiencing the first. Thus far, 2012 has been one, big blur which is kind of disappointing amidst all my “live the journey” talk.

Because I haven’t been living the journey. I haven’t been embracing the moments like I should.

I’ve been getting caught up in the big things and allowing the rest to simply slip by. But the problem is, life isn’t comprised of the big things. It’s the little things—the everyday things—that I’m missing. And there went most of my year…

Sometimes living Beyond Waiting is easy, but lately it’s been hard. Sometimes I can lose myself in wonder without even realizing I’m doing it, but recently I’ve had to remind myself to be impressed by the little things. Recently, I’ve been repeating the phrase, “I refuse to wait.” Because living—truly living—it would seem, is a choice. And waiting—merely waiting—comes far too easily.

Time and time again, I find myself getting caught up in anticipation of the big moments, forgetting that each day is a gift. That the day I’m living right now will never be lived again. (And some days I’m thankful for that, but for the most part…)

I’ve spent most of my life waiting for tomorrow and missed far too many todays.

But right now, in this moment, I have a chance to change that pattern. I can choose not to spend my time waiting. I can turn my mind from future worries and live—simply live—today.

God gives me a handful of moments and it’s up to me to decide if I’m going to cradle them to my chest or watch them fall around my feet.

Today, I can boldly say that I refuse to wait, as I take my first step toward embracing wonder anew.

Unfinished Stories

Once upon a time there was a girl who weaved stories in her spare time ~ a girl who dreamed of touching the world in a way that was deep and true, poetic and magical. But this girl was told that she would never touch the world in such a way, that such dreams were made for the fairytales, and that “real life” as we call it doesn’t work that way. “Impossible,” they told her.

And sometimes she believed them.

But then there was Hope ~ a flimsy, fragile creature that alighted on her shoulder and whispered endless possibilities in her ear. And the heroine of this story had to choose between the cold reality the skeptics screamed and the joyous promise Hope offered.

The end.

Because, as Laini Taylor wrote in her book Daughter of Smoke and Bone, “The story is unfinished. The world is still waiting.”

The world still waits for hope and dreams and magical things that flutter around on fairy-like wings. The world still waits for promises kept and tears of compassion that haven’t been wept. The world still waits for someone who will step right over What Hasn’t Been Done and embrace All That They Should Do.

The world is waiting for you.

And while the unfinished story that started this post is entirely mine, you are an unfinished story, too. You’re an unfinished story with intricate details of a plot and a purpose that hasn’t been fully formed. You can write whatever you want on the pages of your life. You can choose to listen to what the skeptics scream or step up and embrace your impossible dream. And while what you should choose sounds so easy in writing, it’s hard to silence the skeptics. It’s hard to hold onto Hope.

That’s why I determined to let God finish my story. Because while I so often lose sight of the things that are important, God never does. So I promised Him that I would hold the pen if only He would guide my hand. And in light of my dangerous promise, God asked me to do something I had decided I never wanted to do again ~ at least not for a long time.

I’m working up a proposal for another non-fiction book. It’s about hopes and dreams and how God turns nobodies into somebodies, but that’s all I’m going to share for now.

After all, the story is unfinished, so I’ll have to leave you waiting.

In the meantime, go write a story of your own.

Moving Beyond Waiting {A Guest Post}

I won’t be writing an article here on Beyond Waiting today because Love and Grace Media has been kind enough to let me share my story on their site this morning. (Thanks, Love and Grace!)

It all began with a single conversation. Just two girls talking about the unwanted absence of Mr. Right. It was one of those typical conversations where the one girl laments to the other girl that she’s tired of waiting. This forced the other girl to wonder, “What does it actually mean to wait?”

So I (who have, until this moment, been referring to myself in third person) went home and looked it up, thinking there was something we single women were missing, knowing there must be more to the waiting dilemma. Well, Google both did and did not answer my question. What it did not tell me was a great definition for the word “wait.” Quite the contrary, actually.  It seems that waiting, by definition, is just as discouraging as my friend expressed it to be.

Want to hear the rest of the story? Hop on over to Love and Grace Media and check it out!