“I feel like I need you more than you need me,” I said quietly. I hadn’t meant for those words to slip out, especially then. But they had. I also hadn’t meant to be crying. But I was. My two closest friends both had their first babies last summer, born just eight days apart. One of those dear friends was sitting across from me that night, eating her first dinner out without her little one.
The words felt ridiculous as I said them, maybe even a little pathetic and desperate. They also felt true, and were probably among the hardest and most honest words I’ve ever spoken to a friend. I wanted to take them back, but I felt the tiniest bit relieved that they were out there. I also wanted to apologize for them, for my neediness. And for verbally handing her something I knew neither of us really knew quite what to do with.
For me, singleness has been a longer season than I’d hoped for. There’s actually no guarantee that it’s just a season. For now, and indefinitely into the future, it is part of my story. While my singleness is not something wrong with me that needs to be fixed, it does have a way of making me feel broken sometimes. It has its own unique ways of exposing my insecurities, disappointments and longings.
Singleness at 37 means most of my friends are married, many with children. It is an absolute gift to be in such a loving community where close friendships, conversations, shared meals, snuggling and playing with kids and laughter and tears are all part of life together. I wouldn’t trade any of it. But there are moments my heart overflows with the joy and beauty of it all, while simultaneously feeling like it might crumble under the weight of longing. Deep gratefulness for the full and wonderful life I’ve been given frequently brushes up against some of the most tender places of disappointment in me.
At the end of the day, I go home to an empty house, while my friends go home with other flesh and blood humans. It can feel like I need them way more than they need me. That’s a hard place to live sometimes – full of insecurity about where/how I fit and deeply aware of my desire for a husband and family of my own that are not yet…and are not promised.
When my friend looked back across the table at me that night, her eyes were filled with tears too. She thanked me for my words and for letting her in.
I don’t remember the details of the rest of our conversation, but some things happened in that tearful exchange across the table. I let my friend see me exactly how I was in that moment. Nothing got fixed, but I knew I wasn’t alone. Her loving eyes invited me to see myself and my story with kinder, gentler eyes. She created space for us to believe together that God is at work in my story, even if the chapters aren’t unfolding as I might hope. And she reminded me that when we’re our realest, God can get the closest.
I believe that. But if I’m being honest, it doesn’t always FEEL true. God knows when and where I hide. He doesn’t need my help to know where I am. But when I call out where I am, where I’m afraid and in need, it’s a little step of faith. It’s reasserting what I know to be true…that God hears us when we cry and comes when we call. It’s believing that what He promises, His presence and provision, He will deliver. No matter how my story unfolds this side of heaven.
Becky Lehman is a lover of people, everyday adventures, and building community wherever she is. After 16 years filled with 7 jobs and 9 apartments in 4 East Coast cities, she is happy to call Richmond home. She enjoys being outdoors, cooking and grilling for anyone who’d like to be at the table, arranging flowers, and writing at beckslehman.wordpress.com.