Never Enough (Seriously Single - Part One)
Disclaimer: I am a fan of the institution of marriage. I love my married friends, my married mom, my married mentors, and my cousin and sister who are about to be married. I hope every single person on this planet finds someone to walk beside and build a life with. "Yay marriage! Go married people! Thanks for being such an important pillar in the community of Christ! Love you ALL!" Imagine pom poms, streamers, and fireworks. The flags are waving and the sparklers are sparkling for you, my wonderful married people. I salute and honor you, your gorgeous spouses, your beautiful children, and your cuddly grandchildren. But this blog is not about you. Don't be shocked by that. I'm telling you up front. :-)
"Tom and Brenda sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Brenda with a baby carriage."
Do we even pay attention to the narratives we mindlessly perpetrate? How old are Tom and Brenda? Do their parents know where they are? Why are they in a tree? Are they attempting to escape an animal predator? Were they rescuing a kitten when they got distracted? Have they considered that climbing up into a tree actually increases their chance of exposure to wandering eyes and gossiping tongues? Why does the kissing come first? (Someone jump on the organ.) How quickly are they headed for marriage? Why do we automatically assume it will be Brenda pushing the carriage? Are Tom and Brenda aware they are not the only people on the planet right now? CONTROL YOURSELVES TOM AND BRENDA! A STRANDED KITTEN DEPENDS ON YOU!
Cultural narratives. Just because we don't think about them, call them out, or acknowledge them, doesn't mean they aren't there. Tracee Ellis Ross gave a poignant speech about this. (It is poignant not perfect. I do not agree with every syllable of it. If you Google it there will be language. #disclaimer) She talked about how society is perpetually reiterating this narrative:
"Husband + child = woman."
She's not wrong. It's hard to go to dinner, read a book, watch a movie, see a billboard, visit a museum, or navigate society with any measure of emotional health unless you constantly guard against the feeling that as a woman you will always be a third of a person until you have those other two components. Without them, no matter what you do, you're just never enough. I've had friends that made me feel that way. I've heard songs that make me feel that way. I've sat through sermons that have done more to perpetuate that philosophy than anything society has ever said. I know I'm supposed to take society with a grain of salt. The preached word from the pulpit seems a little more profound.
"I'm Melinda, it's just me. Reading underneath a tree."
It's not just me though. Y'all are out there. I know it. Reading under a tree. Taking care of other people's babies under a tree. Giving everyone advice about their love lives under a tree. Feeding the homeless, running a business, starting a charity, getting a degree, administrating an office, crafting sermons, going on missions trips, writing books, composing lyrics, branding cows, serving coffee, "seeking wool, and flax, and working willingly with your hands." Some of y'all have gone and chopped the whole tree down and built a student outreach center with it. I know this. You're out there doing the work of three people, going to bed by yourself at night, crying yourself to sleep because you feel like a third of a person.
Let me tell you something. The 31st Chapter of Proverbs would be a LOT shorter if the most important thing in life were having a husband and popping out babies. I mean it. It does not say "She married her husband and gave birth to some children and that somehow magically set her apart from everyone else who also had a husband and gave birth to some children."
I had been discussing singleness with a friend of mine and the conversation had moved on to my telling her how I'd visited a Sunday School class in another state. The class had been using my book and the teacher was telling me how every time he read it he was struck with the realization that the words weren't just for the kids but for him as well. He said "I mean, I have chills right now just talking about it." And I said to her, "And I just couldn't help thinking..." and she interrupted me and said "This moment would mean so much more if I were married?"
Her point was well taken. No. No that is not what I was thinking. That would be ridiculous.
But I do think like that. Often, if not all the time. Maybe you do too. It isn't founded. It is ridiculous.
Even if you haven't seen "The Greatest Showman" it's doubtful you've escaped hearing the song "Never Enough." It's breathtaking. Look it up if you haven't. (And for sure look up Natalie Grant's instagram version because wow.) The lyrics say:
"Because darling without you, all the shine of a thousand spotlights, all the stars that fill the night sky will never be enough, never be enough. Towers of gold are still too little, these hands could hold the world and it'll never be enough, never be enough, for me. Never! Never!"
It's wonderful. I love it. There's only one thing wrong with it. Your "darling," when you have one? They'll never be enough either. I know it's not romantic, but it's true. All the love in the world will never actually be enough for you. When you get the husband you'll want the house and when you get the house you'll want the baby and when you get the baby you'll just want some sleep or to go back in time to a place where you could find the house you wanted so badly under all the laundry from the baby and the husband. You will never be satisfied outside of Christ. You won't. I promise. It won't ever be enough. And until you realize He is enough you won't ever feel like enough either.
There are two (and ONLY two) components of being a whole person. You + God = whole. You know, Tracee Ellis Ross, she also says that she came to the realization "my life is mine." I understand where she's coming from and what she's getting at but our lives - they do not belong to us. They belong to the Lord. The ultimate goal in every season is to give Him glory. And every season? Every season can be glorious if you let Him make it so.
Let Him be enough, because He is.
When He is enough? You'll find you are too.