Today I’m starting a series on how to prepare for wedding season. Not as a bride, groom or family member, but as a single person. Weddings can be tricky and confusing for those who are single and these are a few tips I discovered along the way. For the next few Mondays I will post on different topics related to weddings (avoiding questions about singlehood, the bouquet toss, etc).
Lately I’ve noticed that I enter into weddings either incredibly optimistic about meeting someone or despairing about being single at another wedding. There are the weddings that I just look forward to – the ones where I know lots of people and know that there will be a great DJ (my one weakness at weddings: dancing). When I’m despairing, I end up pretty defensive. If you want to see defensiveness as an art form, witness me in all my glory at a wedding I don’t want to be at. I’m silent, force fake smiles and leave the moment I can. Now I tend to avoid those weddings and just send a gift.
I’ve found that being overly optimistic hasn’t worked out great either. I was at a wedding a couple of years ago, with high hopes of meeting some new guys. As part of the wedding there was a dance lesson. So, I stood on the women’s side, keeping my eyes open for who would be my partner. I kept looking around until I finally looked down and saw the six year old across from me. I laughed externally, but internally I said, “Yes, this is how my life always goes.” And in that moment, I felt such despair. I ran through the lines that accompany many/most of us when we lose hope over meeting someone:
This is my lot in life: the token single woman.
Why does this always happen to me?
I’ll never get married.
The despair remained with me into the next day. In those moments I feel stuck. Stuck in an intersection of emotions that all cross at my heart. Anger. Fear. Loneliness. Deep sadness. Eventually I open up and talk to God about my heart.
This all or nothing thinking has made appearances in most areas of my life. In can be an emotionally turbulent place to be, overly high expectations crashing down to despair. Neither place is good for me. Neither place is realistic. When I was in seminary, the profs in my department would talk about being open. This terminology was used all the time:
Open to God.
Open to what’s going on in your heart.
Remain open to what might happen.
The term “open” has been such a grounding concept for me. Being open means allowing things to play out instead of trying to control the results. It means trusting God and that he knows what he is doing. It means finding my hope in him, and not in the hope of getting married.
I still find myself horribly in process when it comes to remaining open. Some days, it feels easy to trust God. Other days, it is the last thing I want to do. Especially when it comes to weddings, an event that lately has seemed to bring up all my insecurities. I relate to Katherine Hepburn’s brutally honest line in “The Philadelphia Story”:
Oh, I’m such an unholy mess of a girl.
So, from this unholy mess of a girl. This is my truth. For now.
As you approach this wedding season, take a moment to consider with God:
What does it look like for me to be open at this wedding? How do I keep you as my hope, and not some unrealistic expectation?