Saturday, 30 October 2010

When Love Comes Late

Today we have a guest blog from the wonderful Kim P! Kim P has been reading my blogs for three years or so. And recently Kim P, who is 46, began talking marriage with a nice man, and I was surprised by this news, even though the statistics show that almost everybody (in the USA, at least) gets married. It's just that I was so used to Kim P being Single!

When I found out that almost everybody gets married, my thinking about the Single Life changed a little. Given that the divorce rate is so high, and that the stakes are so high, it seemed to me that one really important reason for glorifying the Single life is to encourage men and women not to settle for less than mature, adult married love. It is much better to marry the right person at 47 and be happy than to marry the wrong person at 25 and be miserable.

But enough from me! Here's Kim P:

Hi all, Auntie Seraphic has asked me to write to you, dear singles, as a 46 year old life long single and a faithful reader of this blog now that I have finally met the right man for me. It is my great hope that my experience, along with my ancient age, will give you encouragement to do what Auntie always advises: wait for the right man!

I had no idea that my first kiss at age 14 would be the start of 31 years of dating. I don’t know when my teenaged brain thought I would get married but I am certain I never thought it would be well into my forties.

At age 45 (gasp!) I still had not met The One despite doing all the things I should: I went to Mass every week; I joined the local Catholic singles group; I exercised; I remained close friends with my former single girlfriends; I started reading Seraphic’s Singles blog about two incarnations ago.

I did a lot of things wrong too. Like seriously dating a guy for way too long who not only announced that he would never marry, but was actually hostile to my faith. (If this is happening to you, dump him immediately and replace him with a good spiritual director – I did and I’m glad!) And I got bitter at times. Weddings became teeth clenching affairs, and I gave up on baby showers completely. I started to lose patience with young women who complained about still being single at age twenty-eight. I won’t even describe how un-seraphic I became when well-meaning people told me that I’d find the right man if I just “quit looking”.

But lo and behold, I finally met the right man for me! I won’t bore you with all the details of what brought us together (those stories are really only interesting to the couple involved and their smug friends), but I will say I wasn’t smitten right away. While Jamie was clearly taken with me from nearly the first moment, it took me about a month to go from “probably just friends” to “there might be something to this man”. And then we fell in love. That was eight months ago and the biggest surprise has been how my life has changed.

How I spend my time has changed.

There is far less sewing, reading, blogging, knitting, and emailing than before I met Jamie. Obviously, that’s no surprise but the reason is: it’s not just that I spend time with him, it’s that when I am with him, I am really with him. We are totally present to each other, or as present as two flawed human beings can be. And this being present to each other not only takes up my time, but is an intense emotional experience which leaves me with less energy to give to these pursuits which used to fill my life.

My relationships have changed.

When I fell in love with Jamie an amazing thing happened. All my other relationships seemed to magically shift into their proper places. Unhealthy relationships naturally died on their own (are you still talking to that old boyfriend from time to time just to feel a connection?), and other relationships that I perhaps put too much emphasis on were put into proper context.

I think the biggest challenge of singleness is the loneliness; oftentimes there is no one in your life just to hear about your day and listen to your impressions of life. I relied (not improperly) on my girlfriends for a lot of this interaction, but I found myself wishing my girlfriends and I were even closer. Frankly, they couldn’t give the attention that I needed and wanted due to the emotional demands of their own families. I hope I wasn’t a burden to them, but I suspect I took more of their time than they may have been able to give.

Once I met Jamie, and my emotional needs were being fulfilled, I was actually able to give more to my girlfriends. The love I receive from him has energized me to the extent that I have been able to expand my service to others who weren’t previously in my life – for example, taking on additional ministries at my parish.

I’m more grateful.

Being alone all those years, or worse, dating men who were wrong for me was not fun, but then I don’t need to tell you that. But the upside to finding the right man at my age is that I don’t take it for granted. I am pretty certain that had we met in my twenties, I would have viewed our relationship with a nod of the head and an “of course” - this was all how it was supposed to be. I probably would not have seen the hand of God in it at all. We expect to met our husbands in our twenties, have babies, and then settle in for a lifetime of picking up after everyone and making macaroni and cheese.

I suspected, even before I met Jamie, that God was using that time to get me ready for him; I was hoping that when I did meet the right man, it would be all the sweeter. My deep insecurity was that it was taking so long because there was something wrong with me: maybe I was more horribly selfish, immature, and emotionally stunted than I ever thought. But that turned out not to be the case at all.

What I have learned is that God was using that time to not only get me ready, but to get Jamie ready too. That really never occurred to me. “I wouldn’t have appreciated you had I even met you just a few years earlier,” he admitted several months after we met. Not only was Jamie being prepared for me, but his conversion to Catholicism was in the works as well. I discovered a more important aspect to all of God’s timing: Jamie’s salvation was at stake, and these things can’t be rushed. I am deeply humbled by God’s perfect gift of salvation to us both, and how His plan for me – with a loving, Catholic husband - is even better than I could have ever dreamed for myself. God has blessed us both.

Finally, I have learned that I did not earn this gift. I have done nothing to deserve this love. It is a gift that God, in all His wisdom, has decided to bestow upon me now. I have received it despite my imperfections, my lapses into selfishness, and my failings when I attempt to love. Conversely, I have realized that the 45 years without Jamie were not a punishment or a commentary on my worth as a human being. Those years were simply “life” and all we can do is live it in obedience to God. Dear readers, Auntie Seraphic has consistently told us that we are single because it is God’s will that we be single. And we will be married when He decides otherwise. I now know this to be absolutely true.

"Kim P"


Alisha said...

Thanks for sharing, Kim! I particularly like your last's good for all of us to remember that all of life is a gift; we aren't owed anything! (hmm. unsettling thought in both single and married life!)

leonine said...

Kim P, thank you so much for your beautiful and encouraging words. May your life together be richly blessed!

Amy said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, and may God bless you both.

Rosemary said...

Thanks for your words of encouragement. It has taken me a long time to appreciate the fact that my life will progress on God's timetable rather than my own, and it isn't fair or right to judge my own life by looking at the lives of others. Only He knows what will make me truly happy. 43, still single and not settling.

dark but fair said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful story, Kim! I am saving this story. I am going to share it with my sisters, friends, and some day, with my daughters (if it be God's will that I am blessed with them).

There is so much unnatural pressure in Catholic and Christian circles to marry young. I am so inspired by your courage that you did not cave in by marrying the wrong person.

Thank you also to Auntie Seraphic, for sharing and posting this gem!

Alexandra said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story Kim!

I am one of those folks who married very young, and have at times wondered what my life might have been like if I had taken the time to grow up, and grow into myself, before settling down and having children. I am blessed to have chosen well enough, that even with all the growing and changing we have done over the years, our marriage has stayed strong, but for those of you out there still looking: you have such an opportunity in your youth and freedom to live fully and experience life as a single person that is so precious! I am sending a link to this post to my single sisters and sisters-in-law in hopes that this story will give them hope and inspire them to get out there and just live!

Kim, I am enjoying your sewing blog so much as well.

KimP said...

Thanks, y'all, I appreciate all the kind comments! One issue I didn't address is how my relationships with my single friends changed - and that's because at age 46, I didn't have any! Even my divorced friend, Aimee, had two children, so it really wasn't the same as a never-married friend. (And by the way, she is now dating a childhood friend of Jamie's. Insert smug smile here.) I guess the upshot is that I discovered that God's plan wasn't ALL ABOUT ME. God has plans, within plans, within plans. So even at 43, or 53, or 63, wait for God to say, "He is the one."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your truly encouraging story, Kim! Even at the young age of 31-and-single, I've been struggling with bouts of hopelessness. I know that God is faithful, as your story beautifully proves. I really needed that reminder! Thank you & congratulations!!!

Trish said...

Alexandra-I have felt the same way too! I married very young(21) and have a wonderful family and husband, but have also asked myself, what if I had waited? I think singles have a wonderful opportunity (although they probably don't always see it that way :)) to really find out who it is that God wants them to be. I have grown so much within my marriage, but I often wonder how much better of a wife would I have been for my husband if I had had the opportunity to have been single longer? Embrace your singleness! Take this opportunity to become the best woman of God you can be!