For some reason, we frequently get invited to speak at singles conferences and firesides. Our message is always about concerning ourselves with what we can do and what we have control over rather than fretting about things that are less within our control or that we wish would happen in a different order in our lives.
Our youngest daughter, Charity, approaching her 26th birthday and single in San Francisco, has not accompanied us to any of these speeches, but apparently there is a family resemblance in how we view things. She is a marvelous writer and blogger, and one of our favorite things to do, no matter where we are in the world, is to read her latest posts. Last week, it turned out that what she was saying on her blog — drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com — was exactly, although said more elegantly, what we have been preaching in our recent speeches to singles. Let us give you some choice excerpts
“I have such a good, full, beautiful life. I am a natural optimist, I genuinely love being alive, and I consider myself to be pretty happy. But in the past couple of years, I have confronted a brand of profound sorrow emanating from a true emptiness inside. Mostly this feeling manifests itself through a dull, lingering ache, but sometimes it hits a nerve and causes gasp-for-air type emotional pain. Yes, there’s a real void in my heart.
“I’ve attempted to fill this hole with lots of different stuff — hobbies, books, being busy, food mostly traveling and adventures ( and blogging about them). But the things I try to feed to the emptiness are really round pegs for a square hole. Indeed, I’ve concluded, there is a gold-plated but currently hollow part of my soul that can only be filled up with one thing — marriage and motherhood.
“This emptiness is amplified by my particular cultural position — because of past norms and deeply rooted expectations, being older than 25 and Mormon and single is hard. Additionally, having lots of older siblings who have spouses and children (especially in a family with so much focus on family) adds a significant sting to the hole. Yes, I know I am still very young; I know I shouldn’t be feeling such emptiness, perhaps at least just not yet. But despite that, I do feel it. I feel it profoundly.
“Although at times I have surrendered to the steep anxiety and sadness that it yields, lately I have come to see the wonder of my square hole. Its darkness, I’ve realized, is actually a gorgeous deep indigo that has yielded such a rich mortal experience. I know that I chose to come to earth, to become human, to experience all things in opposition. With my one life, I want to live deeply and broadly, and I really believe that the success of my life can be measured in part by how much I’ve allowed myself to be stretched along the whole emotional spectrum of mortality.
"Perhaps feeling this profound sorrow is a blessed opportunity to be brutally mortal and to become brilliantly more like God. Wrestling with this raw, authentic emotion has made me feel so very human, so very alive, so very full in the emptiness. Yes, somehow I am happy that I am sad. I’m so glad I'm not missing out on this depth of earnest emotion and humanity.
“This mortal experience is a stunning part of what I need — to become who I am supposed to be. It is so rich and deep and devastatingly wonderful. I have learned so much as I’ve peered into the staggering but beautiful darkness of the square hole.
“Additionally, I know that when the square peg comes, true and deserved celebration and savoring will follow. Not only will the peg finally fit the battered hole, but it will be so sweetly relished after the wait and the struggle. I vow in all the moments of ache to recognize the miracle when it happens as the miracle it truly is. I will cling to the sacredness and the wonder of the most supreme of human relationships. I will never take marriage and motherhood for granted, and no matter how hard it is (yes, I know it will be difficult in ways I can’t even imagine), I will cherish it as the greatest blessing of my existence. For so it will be.
“Realizing the beauty of my gold-plated square hole has turned my grueling loneliness into productive, even beautiful aloneness. Stretched further, the emptiness becomes a gift — a gift of time to feel, to prepare and to grow on my own.
“So yes, I do feel utterly and painfully alone at times in this era of my life and it can be suffocating and draining and gutting and heartrending. But I’ve resolved that I will, as much as humanly possible, prohibit my aloneness from surfacing as loneliness. I want to see this blessed mortal experience for what it is as I prepare to see the miracle for what it is.”