I waited a long time to get married. Not by choice, by any means. In fact, I was quite angry about it for some time. I longed to get married. I longed for a family of my own.
It wasn't that I didn't enjoy my singleness. I did! I feel like I used my time in singleness well. I enjoyed time with friends. I traveled to different places that I had never been before. I enjoyed having the freedom of my singleness, knowing that there weren't any huge responsibilities tying me down anywhere, really. When God opened the way for me to move to Ghana, my singleness never really played a role in the decision-making, except that I had little accumulated in my short adult-life and could easily pick up and go.
In fact, I didn't feel the weight of my singleness for a long time. Though I always longed for a family of my own, and prayed over my "someday husband", I wasn't in a hurry. But, somewhere after thirty-five, things really began to change for me. The waiting was so much harder. Somehow, I had gotten into my head that this was the life I must be called to live forever in singleness and I was frustrated. I mean, after all, I had given God my everything, hadn't I?! I had left my home and everything I knew to come and move to Ghana. Didn't that mean that God HAD to give me what I longed for?
I talked about this a couple of weeks ago in the podcast...at one point in 2016, I was just tired of the waiting and I came to Stacy (the founder here at CORM) and cried in her office, expressing my loneliness, my fear of remaining single all my life, and my hesitation that maybe Ghana was the reason why I was single wondering if I should even remain. I knew that I did not feel released from ministry, so that wasn't the answer. Stacy prayed for me and the waiting continued, but a small change did happen--John and Stacy said that I my home could be opened to welcome in two foster boys, Malvin and Edwin.
That following year, I headed to the States for a few months for a furlough and I left with great hope that perhaps this new adventure into fostering would be "just what I needed". When I returned, Malvin and Edwin moved in and the first month they lived with me was probably one of the hardest months I had experienced here in Ghana. I think we all cried just about everyday! First of all, it didn't meet my expectations of love and joy and filling that "hole". Instead, it was hard. And having my expectations change from sunshine and butterflies to the reality of working with real human beings...that hurt. I learned that in parenting, when you aren't looking out for it, the very worst in you can come out. My anger, my frustration, my sadness and grief over my unfulfilled expectations reigned for awhile.
At some point that year, overwhelmed as I was with my new role as a mama, I began to experience a change of heart. I wasn't sure if singleness was what God had for my forever, but I knew it was what he had for the right now and that was ok. I also remember my sister telling me that as kind as I was to others, I was pretty unavailable in my personal life, that I was probably pretty intimidating to a lot of people and maybe even if there had been an interest somewhere along the way, there just wasn't space in my life for the door to be opened. Somewhere in that season, those two thoughts seemed to collide--being ok with where I was and figuring out how to open "space" in my life.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about seasons of waiting. I seemed to be in one for so long while I was single. Once I was married, the waiting didn't seem to end. It was then waiting for a baby. Waiting for an opportunity to take Richard to the States to meet family and friends. Waiting for COVID to end. Waiting... It just seems like there are always some kind of hopes and dreams in front of us, asking us to wait, asking us to persevere.
This morning, I was spending some time in the Word and the verse that I was reading was from Romans 5:3-5. Here's what it says,
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
It got me thinking about that season of my life...the challenges that I felt in my singleness and the desire for God to meet those needs, but not sure how. Looking back now, I can see the richness that that kind of perseverance brought into my life. I can see how He shaped my character, knocking off the rough edges, giving me grace in new spaces, and caring for me in my loneliness. At the other side of that particular struggle, I can see the hope that He gave me in that season--Hope that HE would never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), that HE was good and I would see that goodness in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13), and however slow I may have felt that God was in fulfilling that promise, it happened in His time and His way (2 Peter 3:9).
It's funny...thinking back to that conversation with Stacy and all the tears that were shed. That happened in December 2016. Richard, my husband, came to work at City of Refuge Ministries in August 2017 and we began dating in February 2018. In so many ways, God revealed His love to me as I fell in love with Richard that year. If I had had my own way and threw in the towel that previous December, my life might be significantly different now, but I'm so grateful to God for the way that He moved in the waiting.
Maybe you, too, are in a season of waiting. It can be hard. I mean, it can literally feel like suffering at times. But take heart, dear ones, the waiting has its purpose too. Persevere. Let it shape your character. And let hope rise up. The strength that you will find in the waiting is worth it.