By: Leah Vanden Bosch
There is no worse time to be single than this time of year. For over a month, “All I want for Christmas is you” captioned every other picture on my newsfeed, greeting cards from married friends filled the side of my fridge, and every jewelry store commercial was a reminder that there would be no little velvet box under the tree for me. My kiss-less New Year’s wrapped up the holiday season appropriately, but the relief was temporary. Pink and red hearts started taking over the Target bargain bins before I even had time to get my hands on the after-Christmas sales. Can a girl browse some 50% off holiday decor without being reminded she’s braving the season alone?
I know how to put up a good front by now. I’m 28, I have a couple excruciating heartbreaks under my belt, and I get asked why I’m still single on a regular basis. At this point, my explanations are recited verbatim. I’m focusing on my career, I have a lot going on, I want to get settled into my new city…the list goes on. Whatever response I can give to change the topic of conversation as quickly as possible.
It can be difficult to not think that I’ve done something wrong, that I made a mistake along the way. Have I set my standards too high? Did I not try hard enough? How is everyone else making this seem so easy? What if this is it, just me, my fur babes and a box of wine? These questions can weigh heavily, and they did on me over the past year.
This past year started with a break-up that altered my world and ignited this fear of being alone. I ended a relationship that had taken me as close to my dream ring as I’m going to get without actually having it on my finger. I did, at one point, only trying it on for size. I was captivated by the stone I had dreamed of for so long, continuously turning my hand under the light. While I was enchanted by the sparkling, oval cut solitaire, I felt increasingly ill. The one standing next to me was not the one who would put that ring on my finger. It was the last thing I wanted to acknowledge in that moment, but you can’t ignore that kind of comprehension. There has never been a decision more painful, nor one to raise so many questions. How could something be taken so far, only to be wrong?
I had been in this relationship for quite some time; single felt uncomfortable and strange. Seeing other girls get engaged and pose in their gorgeous, white dresses had been routine for a while, but now they were cutting into cakes to reveal their baby’s gender and asking for opinions on strollers and carseats.
I no longer felt as if I was just taking a little more time considering my options. I felt as if I was getting left behind.
I wish I could tell you my immediate reaction was to rely solely on my faith for comfort and peace, but I hadn’t pursued a relationship with God in years. There is much more to the story than a break-up. I have strayed further from God than I care to admit, so at this point in our relationship, I was incredibly skeptical and deeply ashamed. I didn’t initially go to Him in faith. I went to Him in desperation. Without even knowing if He was actually listening, I cried out to God for direction, and for the first time in my life, I started receiving clear answers to my prayers. Feeling as if I had nothing to lose, as unsure as I often felt, I started responding.
For a type-A personality who always has to have a plan, giving up control has not been easy to do. My faith has wavered, and I’ve questioned decisions made. The answers to my prayers led me to a new city with a new job and little explanation as to why. Going to God in prayer did not come naturally. I had to make a continuous effort to seek Him in moments of anxiety and fear. I’ve trusted Him in guiding me to my new home, in challenging me with a different job, and I need to have faith in knowing He has plans for my love life, too.
Easier said than done.
The first step to letting God lead the way in my love life was truly believing that He is enough.
I know of God’s power and ability to provide, but I had left Him time and time again. His forgiveness and grace for my disreputable wrongs already felt undeserved – why should He go so far as to fulfill a desire so great? My inexperienced, raw faith hardly seemed sufficient. This very thought was on my heart when I opened the first pages of a devotional sent to me from the most thoughtful friend, the opening passage Matthew 17:20. “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” God does a phenomenal job of putting my doubtful self in my place when it needs to be done.
Giving up control to God tends to lighten your workload, so without having to worry about where in the world my man is, I have some free time on my hands. In an effort to avoid obsessing over His agenda and make the most of this season, I’ve decided to soak up being my naturally independent self while I still can. I’m as spontaneous as I please to be, not having to check in with anyone before planning a ladies’ night or weekend getaway. I’m easily able to schedule in what I most enjoy – a lazy afternoon writing at my desk, going for long runs with my dog and much needed time on the yoga mat. I don’t have to explain the amount of money I spend on sushi and coffee to anyone, and I never need to clean beard trimmings off my bathroom sink.
Instead of focusing on what God has yet to give, I like to remember the love I already have.
My siblings and I are exceptionally close, and my parents are my rock. They’ve gotten me through a few hot mess phases. I have the most loyal, genuine, supportive group of friends, and though they may be a small crowd, they are the definition of quality over quantity. I’m having the best time living with my favorite ladies’ night regular. After a long day of work, there’s nothing better than coming home to a bestie, your fur babes, and glass of wine waiting for you. I won’t sugar coat it – it’s not the same kind of love. When it comes to the desire for a significant other, it’s natural to feel lonely. When I start to feel it, I take a moment to think about the bond I have with my siblings, the parents who live for the four of us, and the close friends I can go to with anything, and I remember life is actually really good right now. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
There are still days when I know I’m distant, but God has captured my attention. There were way too many doors opened at the perfect time to not think it was Him, multiple examples of almost immediate response to a prayer. I have given up, only to come crawling back a handful of times, but He has brought me to the point of never wanting to go without again. I can’t imagine not trusting that He will take care of what is out of my hands.
I dream of the comfort and safety that the love of a husband could bring, but I have an even more assured, overwhelming love from a source much greater.
I never imagined I would be single at 28. It took about that long to realize I’m not the one who gets to make that plan. When I start to question that, I look back on the unpredictable, messy, beautiful journey God has taken me through to get here, and I remember that His timing is perfect.
Leah Vanden Bosch works in leadership with Wells Fargo and recently relocated to Des Moines, IA with a friend and her fur babies. She graduated from Adelphi University with a BA in English and enjoys freelance writing, running, and spending time with family and friends.