Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Turning 50 -- plus 46 days, and this is the last time I'm going to count

Almost two months into the new half-century, I still enjoy getting older.  While it took a little mental adjusting to hear everyone in Africa calling me "Mommy," and everyone in Mississippi saying, "Yes, Ma'am," I think I can adjust to being the world's grandma.  I kind of like it -- after all, I'm kind of fluffy, like a sweet, old grandma with a wide lap, ample bosom, and broad shoulders to lean on.  I can do this!  It did sting when the AARP sent me my invitation to join, three months before my fiftieth birthday, but I got my card in the mail this week, and I think I'm going to enjoy the new status.  I hope they're as good as their hype!  (Yes, I hid the card in my wallet where no one will accidentally see it.  But I'll use it when I need to.  I promise.  Maybe.)

One of the things I've realized these last few months is my new embrace of my single status.  When I was a little girl, I always thought I would be married.  Most of the games I played with my best friend, Penny, had to do with baby dolls, Barbie and Ken, and playing house.  We day-dreamed about becoming mommies and having the most handsome husband in the world. 

When I was a teenager, I was almost never without a boyfriend.  Some lasted longer than others, but it reinforced my belief that marriage was inevitable and would occur early in my young adulthood.  In college, I continued to date some, but by the time I started my first job as a youth minister, I began to realize that one could be truly passionate about other things -- particularly about sharing the love of God.  I also had the biggest heartbreak of my young life, ending a relationship with the only boy I had ever really loved.  On that sad occasion, I asked God to guard my heart and help me be content until He showed me His man, in His time.  He has honored that prayer.

When I graduated from college and began a fulltime career in ministry, I mentally put romance on the back burner, and I believe I even remember telling myself that 35 would be soon enough to marry.  I had a brief relationship with a businessman from Nebraska, but knew that he was not "the man."  And that was that.  Since that time, I have not dated, found a man to pine over, or felt that my life suffered from the lack of a husband.  Somehow, God has kept me contented.  I am thoroughly amazed by that.

What I have realized in the last few months is that as a young woman, the ache of my heart was to be married, at any cost.  Marriage was the issue, sharing my life, finding a mate, having children.  It wasn't about any particular person, it was all about the idea of marriage.  Now, in my fifties (are you laughing, neophyte that I am to the 2nd half crowd?), I realize that I have grown so far beyond that longing to be married.  The truth is, I would only marry now if I found someone I couldn't live without!  It's not the institution that matters, it's the relationship, and that takes a person.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our ministry partners in India announced that he had arranged his daughter's marriage and that she would meet her husband soon.  That was in March.  Their engagement is to be announced in early May, and they will be married on May 21.  For all persons who pooh-pooh internet dating and e-match-making, take note:  our techno-driven romance system has NOTHING on the ancient practice of marriage arrangement!  Can you imagine?  I told my dad not to get any ideas!

I have no doubt that this young girl's marriage will thrive.  They will be surrounded by godly families and friends who will make sure that they receive the nurture and support that they need.  And, after all, she has been instructed throughout her life that this was the way it would happen -- her daddy would choose her husband, and she would make the match, whether or not she was ready.  She is a Godly girl...I'm sure she's handling it all with grace and joy.  Her father is a Godly man...I'm sure he has chosen well.

As for me, I continue my prayer -- Keep me content; guard my heart -- until and IF You have a man for me.  And thank You for the rich store of friends and family who make my life complete.  Shoot, Lord, You are the One who makes my life complete.  You told Hosea, "Someday you will no longer call Me 'Master,' you will call me 'husband.'  Yes, You have completed me.  Thank you.

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