Here are some of the most common things women want to know when they discover I didn't marry until 44.
As a woman who married for the first time at 44, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and speaking with many single women before and after my wedding day. Because I understand the struggles of being single for a long time, many women feel comfortable asking for my advice and wisdom. While their questions focus on how to best cope with being unhappily single, their questions are relatable to anyone who’s waiting, confused, and wondering about their future.
Here are the three questions single women most frequently ask me, and what I share with them to reinforce their hope and faith in what feels like a discouraging search for love.
“How should I live in the meantime?”
In addition to praying for an openness to the love that God has to give you, having hope and being happy in the moment ultimately comes down to trusting that you are right where you’re supposed to be, that God is big enough and powerful enough, that He loves you, sees you, and hears every cry of your heart. God has not forgotten you and He has a purpose and a plan for you including being happy right now.
The Ignatian “Examen of Conscience” says that “Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God.” When you look at each day through the lens of gratitude for the gift of your life, the gift of each and every moment, and every little good thing you take for granted, it will transform your heart into a place of peace and hope. St. Teresa of Avila speaks about humility being the necessary ingredient in our relationship with God. Humility is also key in this giant quest. We have to believe that God has a plan and He who made us knows us best.
“What would you tell your 30-year-old single self if you could?”
I recently met a young doctor who asked me this question. By all counts — in addition to being an exceptionally warm and a naturally beautiful woman — she is super successful in the eyes of the world. She confided in me her own struggles with disappointment and frustration with dating while trying keep a positive and hopeful perspective. Adding to the challenge is that while some days are heavy with her own internal battles, she must still continue to minister to her patients and make their days as joy-filled and comfortable as possible. It is a lot to balance.
It took me a little while to know what I wish I could say to my younger self but this is it: “Self, you have no idea how great God’s plans are and how happy they will make you!! God’s plans are worth the wait! So, relax, do not fret, and do not waste one single day in anguish, wishing these years away! These years that you spend waiting and living your life to the max, will be happy memories and you will not regret waiting for your mate.”
So live each day as if it were your last, look for the love that God is sending you right now and do it all with NO REGRETS!
“How do I deal with discouragement?”
We need to become aware of the conversation in our own mind and heart. Don’t allow yourself to listen to discouraging thoughts. This state in life is indeed a struggle. It can feel like grief — it did for me. The reason is that I believed my childbearing years were dwindling before me and I felt both panicked and grieved by it. It was precisely that huge issue, which made dating even harder. Though I really wanted to, it was hard to enjoy “the journey.”
This can be compounded by the sense that we’re not supposed to admit to this or we’ll look clingy and desperate. The fact is, however, you need to admit this to yourself and be honest with someone else about it — a friend, confidante, counselor, coach, spiritual director. Your self-worth can’t be based on the right relationship or attention from a man or anyone or anything else. Those are shifting sands for all of us at every stage of life.
One of the most healthy and loving things you can do for yourself is to recognize where you may need to seek healing. We all have wounds — some from the deep imprints of childhood and some from unhealthy dating relationships or traumatic events. Most of us know what we struggle with. All of it is completely normal and human. Seeking healing, counseling, spiritual direction, coaching and learning how to grow past those areas will help free your heart, and allow you to grow in peace to be able to be open to love.
Waiting, however impatiently or imperfectly, is not desperate. It’s active and it’s hard work, so give yourself a break and allow yourself to admit what is happening in our own heart without feeling scorn or shame.
As Shakespeare said, to thine own self be true! Be you! And just for today, set your sights on what you can do today that makes you happy. When you are open to what God is sending you, you will see things from a new perspective you will find the peace for which your heart longs.
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