A couple of weeks ago, I was out Christmas shopping at one of my daughter’s favorite stores when the manager of the store approached me while I was checking out.
Years ago, this same manager helped me pick out beautiful large memory boxes to store my late husband, Andrew’s, keepsakes. I remember I was having an emotionally hard day at the time, and I ended up telling her about our loss. Now, whenever she sees Ellie and me shopping, she goes out of her way to say hello.
On this particular day a couple weeks ago, she pulled me aside and I noticed a twinge of nervousness and excitement in her voice.
She began telling me how she’d been thinking of Ellie and me recently because a young woman from her church also lost her husband around the same age I lost mine and had three young children at the time of her loss. Now, the store manager told me, this young woman is remarried to a minister, and they just had a baby!
The manager went on to say something along the lines of, “I’m not sure if singleness is something you’ve chosen or if your heart desires to remarry, but if it’s the latter, I wanted to share this story of hope with you.” Then we hugged, and I walked out of the store.
Throughout the day, the story she shared and the phrase, “If singleness is something you’ve chosen,” kept repeating in my mind.
I thought to myself, Yes, singleness is something I’ve chosen in this season of my life.
I thought about how I wanted to be open to love again, so over the last couple years, if I felt comfortable, I would say yes when getting asked out on dates or when people tried to set me up with someone. At one point, I even came painstakingly close to an engagement.
Ultimately, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. I had this sense that God had more growth opportunities for me to experience through healing from loss and learning how to be alone.
I grew up watching Disney movies, and I learned from these stories that getting married is the ultimate happy ending.
However, when I was 22 and newly married, it did not take me long to realize marriage is no fairytale. It’s hard work, and I can say, hands down, it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
Not because of who I’d married, but because adulting is hard enough when you’re flying solo, not to mention when you add two young, flawed people who are possibly opposites and still figuring out who they are and what they want. It can get messy.
When Andrew asked me to marry him, I knew I wasn’t ready. Still, I loved him and didn’t want to lose him because I was pretty sure he might be the best thing to ever happen to me.
And while I was ultimately right about that last part, what was also true at the time was I was afraid of going into this vast world alone, so I said yes to his proposal. The first couple of years were stretching, and yet, in the end, marriage and loss refined and shaped me in ways nothing else could have.
Over time, I’ve found fulfillment and joy in the singleness of taking time for myself to figure out who I am and what I want. I desire to know my personal inner workings before deciding to be with someone else. It’s all a process, and I’ve nowhere near arrived, but I’ve experienced peace and gratitude through the journey of finding myself.
If I do remarry in the future, it will not be from a place of fear, but because I’m ready. I’ll know this because I took the time to listen to, honor, and trust the small voice inside of me, guiding me on my unique path.
Love and Blessings.
PS – If you’re looking for a deep and meaningful story to share with your loved ones this Christmas, then check out our book, The Ellie Project. If you purchase through our site, both Ellie and I will sign it!
This link will take you there: www.ellieproject.com. Hope it blesses your family this Christmas!