Things you hear as an “old maid”

Hello, My cousin Amanda over at Home Husband Hounds, shared her thoughts on some things she and her husband have been told since they’ve been married. Her post mentions comments from people who were shocked that they were married at a young age (21 and 22).

Her post got me to thinking about my situation before and after I got married. Here is part one in what people used to say to me when I was single, and I’ll have part two soon about what people said to me when I was dating and then part three will be about what people say now, or since we’ve been married (almost two years).

“You’ll have a boyfriend soon too!” (or, “Where’s your boyfriend?”)

My sister is 19 months older than me, and about two years difference in during school. When she started dating her second year of college/university, I started to get comments of  “Just wait, when you get to college (I followed her to the same school) you’ll have a boyfriend as well!”

I would naively reply “give me a year” thinking that I would have a boyfriend by a year into university like my sister did. (Yes, growing up, I was a bit of a tag along. My poor sister. Sorry, Meg!) During those college years I had a number of crushes on guys and some guy friends, but no one special. And no one who paid much more attention to me other than saying “hi”. Many of the special concerts and events on campus were required and the social expectation was to go with an escort (a guy). I had a few guy friends who took me once, but most of the time I had to find some girlfriends to join because few guys asked me out.

That is really hard on a-romantic-at-heart when you see your friends pair up. Each summer was a round of weddings. It’s hard to go to a wedding alone. This happened for years and years (not decades like some people have gone through).

My brother-in-law’s brother set me up once for a blind date and that was fine, but all in all I graduated from university a rather lonely and a bit frightened single girl. At 24 years old, my dad was my leadership, who encouraged me and helped me know it was fine to wait until God had someone for me. I had started to wonder if something was wrong with me.

“Are you lesbian?”

Err. No. Just the right guy hasn’t come yet. Just because I didn’t have a boyfriend, didn’t mean that I would rather be with girls. This was a really sad question and the person who asked me this, was a confused girl who had been abused and mistreated so she took that to mean she was a lesbian because she thought all guys were horrible.

She did let me witness to her, but she was very confused and sadly I think that’s where a lot of people are today in their thinking.

“You need to be where the guys are, so they can see you!”

My fundamental/conservative faith gives men the responsibility and challenge to lead in relationships and expects men to be gentlemen. With those values, I expected a man to step forward and make the first move to start a relationship with me. Yes, I’d say “hi” and be friendly and such, but for starting a dating/courting cycle, I felt like it was up to the man. So to say to me, “be where the guys are”– was pushing me to have a wrong motivation in going out of my way, just in hopes to be seen or noticed by guys, and maybe meet one who might want to be my special someone.

There are several problems with that, but for me (I did go out of my way in hopes of seeing someone who I had a crush on) that only led me to build up false hopes and fantasies  about relationships that had no true base. It wasn’t healthy for me to be doing that.

“Where are all the guys? Someone needs to snap you up!”

Each year as my birthday came around, I felt like I was getting older and older and still no special man in my life. My family/friends were kind and made my birthday special, but I started to feel a bit hopeless. I hadn’t been “snapped up”. That must mean there’s something wrong with me.

I’ve since learned and been encouraged, that no, nothing was wrong with me, it was just not God’s timing yet for me to meet my special someone.

“There’s someone special out there for you. You may even know him and don’t know yet that he’s the one!”

Um, once I heard that I analysed EVERYTHING any guy said to me, and even filtered guys through a process in my mind with “this could be my one day husband” labels. It wasn’t healthy because I didn’t have the right motivation again in how I was acting or interacting with people.

It’s true. Any person you meet could be your someday spouse, but it’s not a good thing to tell a very young girl. (I think I was ten or so when someone told me that.)

“It wasn’t until I was ready to give my all to God, even love life, that God brought this man in my life”

This was another comment, I heard a few times in college. It was said like a formula. Do this, be ready to say this, or pray this and God will provide the man.

No, it’s not meant that way, but often single girls will take it like that.

Pray “you have me Lord” = man appears and all is well.

False.

I tried not to think of it as a formula. It wasn’t meant to be that way.

I had been praying and trying to give my life to God and be ready to live for him, single or not, I needed to trust Him with whatever came, whether or not the outcome was what I thought it should be.

With many tears and times of unknown, I learned that God will do wonderful things

in my life if I allow Him to work.

Now, knowing that we can’t bargain with God and knowing that I needed to be willing to give Him my all, no matter what, I did pray many times these prayers:

“Lord, please help me wait in your timing.”

“Please, help me keep myself pure for my someday husband if your will is to give me a husband.”

“Lord, please protect my someday husband if he is out there.”

“Lord, please be my comfort in these lonely and scary times of uncertainty.”

This next prayer was one I prayed continually and still try to pray often, because (spoiler, I’m married now…) my husband can’t give me all I need. Only God can fully satisfy all my needs.

“Please help me be content in you no matter what.”

Those were not formula prayers, they were my sincere desire to be growing in the Lord, and desire to prepare my heart to be what God wanted me to be, and if He was willing, to be ready for a man, if the Lord brought one into my life.

“There is time yet!”

Yes, there’s time, but it’s hard to hear that as a not-quite-desperate, but-somewhat-concerned-24-year-old wondering what she’s supposed to be doing in her life. I completed my degree and began teaching in one school and began the visa process to come to Australia to teach in a christian school in Sydney. It was a ministry and a “temporary” thing. I committed to that assuming I’d teach for two years, and come back to be near my parents and hopefully meet someone I could marry and be close to family. That was the “neat little package” I made in my head of the plans for my life.

I have since learned that yes, there was time yet, but my plans are not God’s plans.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. – Jeremiah 29:11

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nether are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace. – Isaiah 55:8, 12

I have many friends who have been kind and understanding and quick to encourage me in my singleness, and I hope I’ve been able to do the same with my single friends. But no matter the situation, sometimes people say things that aren’t meant to hurt but what they say does hurt.

There is time, but this phrase is often like rubbing salt in a wound. As a single person, I felt like I was missing out, being passed by and even unworthy of a special someone. It  needed to be said, but I felt encouraged when people said it as they added they were praying for me. (But be careful not to add it as an after-thought. I was so thankful for my friends who told me they were praying for a man for me.)

I’m sure there are many other things people said to me, good or otherwise, but those were a few things that in the long run, helped me to both realize the world’s expectations (not always good), and taught me to lean on God for all things.

In those hard times, my sister was a huge blessing to me. She shared verses, and listened to my rants/wails. My parents did too. They were willing to be there for me, even though I felt at times very alone.

May we all be more careful with what we say to others, because our words can make a difference.

During all those single years, I read many books and here are a few that were very helpful for me:

Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free — Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Passion and Purity — Elisabeth Elliot

Quest for Love — Elisabeth Elliot

Lady in Waiting — Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall

The Five Love Languages for Singles — Gary Chapman

Each of those books had a different part to play in my thinking. Each helped me think through my motives, my goals, my desires and helped me be patient. Or at least try to be patient.

I learned that Proverbs 3:5-7 says: Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.

God has a perfect pathway.

Then in Psalm 27:4 is says Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

I’ve heard many messages preached on these passages, but I’ve learned that God is teaching me to thinking His ways, and God gives me His desires as I’m living for Him.

If He has given me a desire, then, as I slowly learn to trust (Still working on that one!!!), He will be working out the completion to those desires. Godly desires and desires that work according to His plan and timing.

Encouragement:

I have friends who are older and single, also acquaintances who were older (in their forties and up) who were single until a much later time before they met and married.

I also know some amazing single people who have been inspirational to me, and I hope if I had been single for longer, that my life would have encouraged others in their singleness.

God uses people and even though I wanted to be married some day, while I was single, I tried not to mope around and I didn’t chase after anyone. I knew it was the time for me to be doing my best for the Lord in the place He had placed me.

By the time my husband asked to court/date me, I was 27 years old. So yes, I consider that I was an old maid for a time. Strangely enough I’m thankful for those years of growing. I needed those times of loneliness even if I didn’t realize I needed them.

Part two and three are coming soon.

Every blessing to you,

Beth:)

 

 

 

 


4 thoughts on “Things you hear as an “old maid”

  1. One of the missionaries here in Mexico told me that a single girl can do much more than a married woman to support a church. Now that I’m married, my time is divided and I understand. I think the hardest thing for me was losing friends as they got married. They’d either move away or were more comfortable spending time with other couples. I wish people would consider singles as whole, healthy people, and include them in church activities with families rather than leaving them with the singles so that they’ll be more likely to find someone.

  2. Great post! Thanks for linking up with me and sharing your perspective on the other side of things! I look forward to reading the other installments of this! 🙂

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