the life you were given vs. the one you think you should have

If I don't meet a guy today, I told my roommate, Melly, I'm going to lose it.

I was at my wit's end. I felt like I couldn't go more day being single. I was lonely, felt stuck and wasn't enjoying this season of my 20s at all. I felt so far behind my friends; it was as if they had all boarded a cruise ship and I was stuck on the shore, waving goodbye, holding back tears.

I liked my job and loved Atlanta, but the life I had created felt secondary to the one I was waiting for: the one that included a husband and babies. I felt like a casette player, cycling through the same tired magentic tape, waiting for someone to switch it out and give me a new song to sing. 

The loneliness felt unbearable. The waiting unrelenting.

I tried making plans to meet a guy, thinking that perhaps he, too, enjoyed dinner at Whole Foods or a 6 a.m. Flywheel class. I gave myself pep talks, repeating the not-so-encouraging platitudes I'd been given: You can meet a guy anywhere! Stay positive; positivity attracts a relationship! 

One day after church, an older woman stopped me as I exited the pew. As she took my name and age, I thought, Yes! This is it! She's going to set me up with her son! I was already planning a happy dance. I'd love for you to babysit my grandchildren, she exclaimed. It wasn't quite the Friday night I was looking for. 

I stalked other couples' relationships on Facebook, trying to figure out if they were older than me so I could calculate just how far behind I was. When I'd meet an engaged girl at a party, I'd ask very pointed questions: How did you meet your husband? What did you talk about? How long did it take for you to go on a date after meeting? I thought researching enough would provide a formula for how and when you can meet your husband. 

If you've been around this blog enough, you know I quit dating for a while before I met my husband. This was an essential step for me to break free from the idol that marriage had become.

I also had to break free from the future I'd planned, the concern that my ovaries were going out of commission and the belief that my life would begin when I met my husband. 

Those things are lies and those lies will suffocate you. They will take all of the joy out of this season of life. They will paralyze you, give you anxiety and make you panic every time you near your birthday. 

I've learned lately that singleness isn't the only thing that will do this to you. Every step throughout our lives has the power to make us believe we are behind -  but only if we let it. As we enter into our second year of marriage and begin discussing a house and a family, it would be easy to lose touch with the phase we're currently in. It is tempting to look to that future with wanting eyes, feeling stuck in our rental.  But we aren't going to do that this time around. 

I've learned we have to let go of the lives we thought we'd have in order to embrace the lives we are meant to have. 

I recently heard Deidra Riggs speak about expectations vs. reality. She said she's learned you have to walk through the doors that are opened to you and stop trying to knock on the ones that are closed. Her message resonated deeply with me.

For years, I was banging on doors that were not meant to be opened. I wasted a lot of energy looking for keys to those doors. As I've gotten older, I've tried to leave the closed doors alone and, instead, run through the ones that are already opened to me. 

I can't help but wonder how many of us are standing in front of doors that aren't meant to be opened today. Perhaps it's a relationship, a job or grad school. Perhaps it's followers on social media or business success. Perhaps it's a new baby or city.

I'm learning that there are so many doors that are already opened to us, but so often we get stuck standing behind ones that aren't meant to be ours. When we stop resisting where we are in life and, instead, open our hands up to the possibility of each season, we unlock the beauty in it. 

Nothing has changed my life more than learning to embrace the one I already have - the messy, the complicated, the unplanned - and resisting the urge to covet what I think I should have. Comparing where I am to where I think I should be is like swimming up stream - it's tiring and you don't get anywhere in the end. When we learn to move with the rhythm of each season, not against it, we wind up exactly where we are meant to be.