“All My Sand Castles Spend Their Time Collapsing”

“when it feels like my dreams are so far, sing to me of the plans that You have for me over again”
-Switchfoot
Sometimes… it’s like everything happens all at once and then nothing happens for a long span of time. It would be incredibly unfair of me to act like I have it all together or that there is any actual insight in what I have to offer. I’m writing about seasons and I’m writing about what it’s been like to live these days through my eyes. There’s definitely not a simple way to explain for understanding, but I would prefer to not always be simple. Things worth fighting for can be complex and understanding rarely comes until you have hindsight.

Ever since I can remember– early teen years if not before, I’ve longed to live life on my own. “Being an adult” and “doing what I want” and “having adventures” whenever I wanted them. Then I moved out of my parents house, drove 3 hours and started over with new air in my lungs. 3 1/2 years after that initial leap into the open air, I took another deep breath and turned the key to my new apartment. Of course I would have roommates and yes, Lake Michigan was still only a brisk jog away. Over the course of the next few days, I removed my belongings from their boxes and crates and chose new homes for them all. Why was it so easy to change my surroundings and change my habits and yet the way I had organized myself was still crammed and dusty? I would mull over thoughts like this for weeks, scarcely writing or even talking about any of it with the people I am close to. Everytime God would speak something to me, I would internalize it– holding it close; terrified of letting go when everything else I knew was changing.

But then– it happened. One morning I crawled out of bed and as I padded across my room and gazed into my mirror– I hardly recognized myself. Looking back at that girl that day gave me courage. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid to tackle my own darknesses. I found a boldness to wear the liquid eyeliner I loved flaunting. For the first time in years, I slipped my thick black rimmed glasses on my face and didn’t cringe at the way they changed my appearance.

Several months later I would encounter a deep healing and a gut-wrenching emptiness where His light had finally pierced into my darkness. I began choosing hard conversations and discerning the tender, strong voice of Jesus became even easier than I thought possible. He would whisper to me about the future and even though the darkness was destroyed forever, it’s still been a struggle to fight the cynicism that rises up so sour in my chest. “Plans to give you a hope and a future” He says– a phrase you will find plastered on journal covers and decorative wall murals…but half the time I don’t believe it’s possible for me.

“Oh don’t be so hard on yourself!” people have chastised me and “you can’t write yourself off like that” they rebuke when I dare to share my struggles. So I walk back to my car every time with sinking heart and a disconnected spirit– consistently disappointed that anyone can relate to what is happening in my life and where I am right now. Somewhere along the way I have learned to prefer the solitude of my own company in various activities to the forced polite coffee dates with friends who don’t actually want to hear my heart and awkward conversations over dinner with married friends who scarcely remember breakfast that morning let alone what life was like before 3 kids and a mortgage. When the day has drawn to a close and I pull the blankets up to my chin at night, I almost always heave a sigh of relief that I am about to sleep and find relaxation and peace.

There have been enough conversations in the past two years where I’ve walked away feeling like a freak that I’ve never dated anyone and when games are played over something as serious as relationships (or the potential of a relationship)– I’ve been incredibly frustrated. It’s been easy to be angry towards the male gender in general with all of these instances swirling in my head. “What happened to guys being actual MEN?” and “Am I sure I’m not still in high school because it sure feels like it” are two thoughts I will confess to commonly entertaining in my frustrated moments. Then there are the emotions of anger and resentment towards everyone i know who actually is married– especially Christian couples. Please don’t misunderstand my words– I do believe marriage is created by God and that it is a wonderful gift, sure. I might even go as far to bestow words of praise towards couples I know who live out their marriages in strong service to the Lord and the advancement of His kingdom… but that’s really where it ends for me. There has been this unfortunate disillusionment in my heart from what I’ve experienced and seen. Now hear my heart– while I do understand marriage is a good thing, it is INCREDIBLY UNFORTUNATE that it is glorified beyond its intent. Marriage is not an end-all or the means to perfect life goals and happiness. Christ should be the sole satisfaction of your soul, not your spouse and when your words, attitudes and actions judge single people for not being married, there is something incredibly wrong in your perception of the intent of marriage…

and for single people? it’s the most frustrating thing to have to wade through.

I can’t pretend to know everything about marriage– I realize I am not married nor experienced. But what I can say is this– I am in a season of hard work and dry, empty days. It would be incredibly easy for me to fixate on something such as marriage to be my “end goal” for where I’m at right now….however I am refusing to do just that. It’s bad enough to have dreams you have held and hoped for over a span of more than a decade to disintegrate in your own useless and incapable hands, but to continually have expectation thrust upon you by people who tell you grace says you’re enough, and then turn around and ’tisk-tisk’ you for not being romantically interested in 3 guys at once? I can clearly see a problem here, and I don’t believe it’s in my own heart or view point.

My final question is this:

— How can we continually fill little girls’ heads with fairytale ideas of princesses and knights in shining armor their entire childhoods only to reject their kind and loving hearts in their young adult years– because for some reason they have not made themselves available enough to “prince charming”? maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what’s a priority.
Me? I intend to keep pursuing Jesus morning and evening, listening to what He says, and speaking what He shows me to speak. My heart has been deeply wounded for most of my years but let me reassure something here– I am fierce at loving. After being battered by lies and bullying my entire life– I have learned to fight. What will your choice be?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. marynikkel
    May 06, 2015 @ 08:02:12

    Good words. The whole “marriage = probably better than Jesus” mindset is one of my biggest pet peeves about the church. To assume that the absolute ultimate end for people is marriage and making babies actually sells them short and devalues them – we were created for way, way more. Marriage is ONE way to know God, not THE way. To assume for that reason that married people are more spiritual is actually idolatry, because it puts the status of being married in a position of ultimate authority.

    The skewing of this mindset is incredibly damaging to single people, and I would say also to married people. There is this assumption that if you’re married, you have achieved the ultimate, so your life must be perfect and full of some spiritual next level. But again, I think that’s idolatry, and harmful, and ends up isolating people and shaming them when they have questions or doubts.

    I also think it’s problematic to define women by how they relate to men, in any context. But that’s another rant. XD

    I could keep going. But summary: I agree with you that the end goal is Jesus. Not marriage or a career or anything else – those things are just optional roads to get to Him. And to assume He can only work in one type of life outline is intellectually limiting Him and wrong.

    Reply

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