Forget the Formula

When I was a young preteen I used to go to the McCracken County Public Library basically all the time. I was home-schooled so hanging at the library was the cool thing to do. I had read practically every single book in our small young adult fiction section. I was starting to think that I had read every single book ever written when one day out of sheer boredom I wandered into the young adult non-fiction section.

That was the day I discovered a whole new world. A world where instead of reading about cool guys and middle school romance, I could un-lock my own successful love life. I snuck over to the section to read American Girl book after American Girl book. I had finally found it. The wealth of knowledge and science and formulas that would help me understand how to have everything I had ever wanted.

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A lot of my present frustrations stem from my constant search for guaranteed formulas. Although, it feels silly now to put so much faith in those purple and pink books about how to tell if someone likes you, things haven’t really changed all that much for a lot of us. We still ask, what do I have to be/do/say/have before I can find love and connection?

I ask engaged couples how it feels to be in such a secure place of knowing that you are loved. I ask them how they knew and how they ended up in a place where they were “Ready To Commit”. I hear a lot of the same things. They stopped looking. They stopped waiting. They reached a place of completion and then boom, God gave them the love of their life.

This made me really scared. I had gone through a lot of periods of waiting. Sometimes I grew tired of waiting and impulsively liked some boys I knew were bad news. I have looked back on some seasons and thought, you know what, that makes sense. And it’s not like I don’t like a lot of the parts of being single. I can serve, live for God, and grow in him with absolutely no true outside commitments.

But there is a part of me that knows that this is not how things are supposed to be for me forever. I can be content, patient, and even whole in Christ. But I am not created for a life without love and connection.

I have fought with this a lot over the past few years. When it became clear that I was not getting married right out of college I was honestly thankful. There are a lot more pros than cons to starting my post-grad experience without a ring on my finger. But that doesn’t diminish the fear that I have.

Every time I tried to plug myself into the formulas I had seen, I knew things weren’t going to work that way for me. The avenues other people took to find love were not going to lead me to the right place. I did not know what to hope for or work towards.

I cannot and will not deny that I want to be married. I want to be married to a person who loves Christ more than anything, that serves with their whole life, and that shows me everyday how to love like Christ. That isn’t wrong. That is biblical. That feeling isn’t going away.

Not denying that longing is my version of the formula. That is still following God’s will. Not letting it consume me, but also not drowning it out to the point where I have a creeping anxiety that my desire is preventing me from connecting with God. Casting your anxieties, sharing your joy and your pain with the Lord does not mean that you suppress yourself and become an inactive protagonist in your own story.

Our lives, our stories, are a shared conversation between ourselves and God. We are giving ourselves to him and he is living in us. I can give my heart to heaven, but if I don’t invest love and care back into others in the world, then heaven never gets back to earth.

So if you are like me, let me remind you that God’s plan for our lives and love is much better than a formula. Just because it worked for your mom or your roommate doesn’t mean your story will be the same. Free yourself from the pressure to stop searching for connection. Come to God with every part of your heart. He knows you, and He won’t let you down.

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