Everyone was playing in our backyard and I was gathering a bunch of different weeds and flowers to make a pretend dinner. I found the biggest leaves I could to use as plates, and when everything was finished I called them all over to sit at the picnic table and we pretended to finish our meal as family. Afterwards, I sent them off to keep playing and I stayed behind to clean up. Which essentially was just throwing the dinner back where I found it…the yard. Not too hard of a day for a 10 year old who just wanted to play mama.
Although it’s one of my favorite memories, it also made the list of times I idolized being married and having a family. Singleness wasn’t a trend in my upbringing. It was actually something I watched women in my life fight tooth and nail to avoid. There was a lifestyle that I saw that said I could never fully love myself if someone didn’t first do it. It told me, even at 10 years old, that the only way to be happy was to never be alone. That moment made my list because it wasn’t just an innocent game of house, it was a young girl trying to live out a unspoken expectation.
Years went by trying to live up to what I had grasped as happiness. Before I knew it, I was moving in with a married couple from my church after the end of a tough breakup. I had never really been single and If I was, all my energy was spent in making sure it didn’t last long. I spent a lot of time wondering why it didn’t work out and if maybe I just wanted it a little more than I did already, things would be different. I cried over my bible wondering how it was possible to want something so badly but not be able to have it. I see it now like a parent who notices their child is playing with something that could potentially harm them. As a child, you’re reluctant to hand it over because you want this thing and you can’t see and understand why you can’t have it. As a parent, you just want them to trust that your intentions aren’t to take things from them, but protect them. Although I was still hurting, I was ready to hand it over to my good Father and trust that He was capable of bringing clarity and understanding.
A common factor in what I was learning was that my desire was selfish. I felt like I had something to prove. I just needed to be a wife so badly to show everyone that I was worthy of love and capable of growth. But, what it came down to was that I thought marriage was going to be the place I did the most growing. I knew that there were things I needed to be healed and free from, but I didn’t want to do the dirty work by myself. I wanted a husband because I needed someone to take my mess and live up to the expectations I had been placing on him since the start. To fix me.
This was such a hard thing to process because I had always felt like my want to be a wife and a mother came from a good place. I didn’t want to hear that my heart was wicked. Honestly, I praise God often I wasn’t married or had a family before He revealed these things to me because Lord only knows what kind of mess I would have created for my spouse and children if it went the way I had planned. Even years later Jesus is still showing me parts of my heart I can’t stand to look at for too long, but praise there is grace and room for continuous growth.
A sweet moment in that season was finding out there were also really beautiful things I was craving. I wanted companionship and partnership. I had a soul longing to just be in community. I often recharge from everyday life the best when I am around my favorite people. We sit around talking about our dreams, our fears, we pray and cry together, and simply just laugh. I saw that this void could be filled with genuine and intentional friendship. I could set aside the idea that only my husband would be capable of doing that.
Another beautiful thing was the way God restored my view of giving and receiving love. My mom’s favorite saying growing up when she wanted something done was “you’ll be my best friend”. Although it wasn’t her intention to make me think the only way to receive love was to constantly give, that’s what my little heart clung to. I had to unlearn a work based love and understand that there is actually a love that is alive and willing to see you through to the end with no strings attached.
All of the things I learned about myself, good and pretty disgusting, ultimately pointed me back to Jesus. Now as a single woman I can say confidently that I have a new desire to love, cherish, and steward myself well alongside Jesus himself and the community of people He has placed around me. I can set aside the idea only a man could ever love me at my worst and bring me joy. There was no man that would ever be able to carry my baggage, love me unconditionally, and see the depths of my heart and stay the way Jesus does. If I am ever going to be satisfied in my relationships, all relationships, I need to first be fully satisfied in knowing that who Jesus is, is substantial. I know now the danger of wanting something that isn’t under the protective covering of Jesus. My desires are safe as long as they remain where they belong…under the throne, not on it. If I never meet my husband, He is still good. If I never get to make that memory a reality, He is still good. Ultimately, the greatest joy I will ever experience in this life is being known and loved by Jesus. A scripture I cling to often is that God withholds no good thing from those that love Him. If the good things He promises for those that love Him is nothing more than a deeper knowledge of Himself, wife and mother aside, I am all in.
Written By: Marilyn Migliaccio