I went to the cinema with a couple friends yesterday. We watched the new Cinderella movie. I really enjoyed it, but yet, I left feeling down. Feeling old. Feeling like I would never have my “happily everafter”. Wishing some “prince” would find me and be so swept off his feet by me he would search the kingdom over to find me back. Yes, I know it is a fairytale and things like that really don’t happen in real life.
What I was really feeling was loneliness.
A longing to have someone look at me the way Kit looked at Ella.
A longing to have someone who wants to be with me.
A longing to have someone to come home to.
Someone to lean on.
Someone to just hold me and tell me everything is going to be okay.
Someone to tell me to stop over analyzing.
Someone who knows me deeper than anyone and yet still loves me.
Someone I can be all that for and more.
Today I was sitting in church. A friend was on the worship team and said they would sit with me when they were done. They didn’t. It was a simple thing. It really shouldn’t have mattered, but it hit a sensitive spot. I didn’t hear much of the message today because I was wrestling with my thoughts and feelings. Going to church the last 15 years has been hard and honestly for about 7 years I really didn’t have a church home or connect with a church community. It took all I had to get out of bed to go sit by myself. It was the loneliest time of the week. I didn’t know anyone. I’m an introvert so putting myself out there to meet new people is hard. I would suggest starting a singles group to church leadership to which they would reply, “we aren’t about creating social groups. We want to meet people’s needs. There is a woman’s group. Why don’t you join that?” Sorry, you missed the issue leadership. That IS a need for single people. If the woman’s group even met at a time I could go (usually met at 10:00am week days. Sorry I have to work to support myself.) sitting with a bunch of woman talk about the lives I wish I had would not be the most uplifting atmosphere.
Thankfully, I have my God’s Tribe church home I love. I am surrounded by loving supportive friends, single and married, at church and work. So why was I feeling so much pain today? Some days I just feel forgotten. “Oh yeah, we forgot about you! We would love to have you join us too!” Thanks, but no thanks. I feel like everyone has their “special someone” they go to first to do things, usually a spouse. But that really wasn’t why I was upset today. Today I was just done. I had reached a crumbling point.
Single life is exhausting. Its frustrating. Its humbling. Its freeing. But I’m tired. I can’t be strong all the time. I am a genuinely happy person. It isn’t a face I put on. But somedays, I just do not feel strong enough. I’m tired of handling everything myself. Some days, I just curl up into a ball on my bed and bawl, “if I were married then I wouldn’t have to deal with this or we could figure this out together. I’m not strong enough to do life alone.” I know the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I know married life isn’t all sunshine and roses.
A friend asked me a few months ago if I found it hard being single while living abroad. In ways, I actually find it easier because I don’t have media screaming in my face that I am in some way deficient. TV show personalities joke about how they haven’t been on a date in months… months? How about 15 years? People’s reply, “What?! How is that possible? What are you doing to try to change that?” What am I supposed to do? Am I not pretty enough? Am I not Christian enough? Obviously I must need to change me. I’m not doing something right or I must have something wrong with me. Don’t worry I know that isn’t true, but many people would lead you to believe it is. Yes, I’ve tried online dating. No, I don’t hang out at bars or clubs, so no, I am not going to go there to try to find a guy. Yes, I am looking, but in the last 15 years, I could count on one hand the number of guys I would even consider dating. It is quite obvious to me that it hasn’t been in God’s plan for me yet. I am thankful that I can see that. If I were married, I probably never would have moved to Tanzania. If I did, I wouldn’t have the time or freedom to invest in my students like I do. But if I was married, then my boys could come over and talk to my husband about things they don’t feel comfortable talking to me about because he would be my partner in ministry.
And that is all just “normal” life issues. Now I’m a missionary with its own set of challenges and frustrations. For example, overall it really isn’t any more dangerous here in Dar es Salaam than any major city, but I need to be aware and take precautions. For example, frequently there are universities that visit Dar and hold dinners for interested students. I should go, but it would require me taking a bajaj by myself across town later in the evening so it isn’t the safest decision for me to go. Some days, I fight feeling envious of my friends that can take Swahili lessons and go to prayer meetings during the day, but I get to work and then do all they do during the day when I get home at night. Besides this, I came alone. Another area of a different kind of loneliness. I didn’t bring anyone with me to share memories with from home. I left everyone I love home. When I am homesick, no one knows the places I want to talk about the people I miss. I am homesick by myself. Finally, thankfully as a single, I don’t need quite as much financial support as a couple would, especially a couple with kids, but it is still significant to raise alone. I am relying on only the people I know where a couple could have a significantly larger pool of people to connect with.
Please don’t misunderstand. I truly love my life and my community here. 99% of the time, I am very happy. But the single life is hard and at times I do feel lonely, but I know I am not alone. Through it all, I have God who is always with me. God created us to be in relationship and that is the void I feel some days. Most days, that void is overflowing with blessings in various other ways I know my married friends wish they could experience. But today, I feel weak. Today I need to rest in God’s embrace and cry on His shoulder while I pray that I too may someday have a “prince”. Not a prince to rescue me but a best friend to share life and ministry together.