Behind every happy ending is a story.
I’m not normally vocal about my spirituality. Religion has always been deeply personal to me. But this year I’ve been working on strengthening my relationship with God. Praying more, reading the scripture, and focusing on honoring my mind and body. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking because I turned 26 recently, an age which I never really contemplated. I knew that at 22 I’d have a college degree and by 25 I’d be done with grad school, but past that, the pages of my life were yet to be written. I want to make sure that they’re filled with good stuff, so I’ve been trying to bring God into my consideration of the every day. Today I was thinking about “the grass is greener” syndrome. In the age of Instagram, it’s all too easy to look at everyone else’s life and pass judgment. “How did she that?” “He didn’t do anything to deserve this.” “Why can’t I have…[fill in the blank]?” Despite our recent brush with unemployment and still living in his parents’ house, Tex and I are deep in newlywed bliss. So much so that strangers have commented on how happy we are in each other’s company.* So here’s my part of that story.
The ins and outs of love have always fascinated me because I used to think it was unattainable. And as a teenager, before I started dating, sometimes I would wonder why some girls seemed to have it so easy. Why did they always have some cute boy doting on them and not me? I was just as pretty and smarter to boot.** And because I’m a sensitive yet analytical creature***, I put it all in my journal. I made lists of my good and bad traits, as well as an exhaustive inventory of the characteristics I wanted my ideal boyfriend to have. From there I made different iterations of my top 10, 5, and 3, dissecting how best to sum up what I wanted and needed. And then I prayed. I remember the story of Solomon as a young boy. When God offered to grant him any wish his heart desired, Solomon chose wisdom. Since God hadn’t come to me in a dream and asked for my one heart’s desire, I decided to pray for the entirety of what would make my life complete. I prayed for a cute, sweet boyfriend who would respect me, listen to me, and make me laugh, I prayed for the discernment to know who deserved my love and trust and who didn’t. And because I knew that too many heartbreaks would make me shut down emotionally, I prayed that if I had to experience a bad relationship to learn a lesson that it wouldn’t happen more than once or twice. I prayed this prayer dozens of times over the years, and occasionally cried myself to sleep while saying it. Middle and high school were rough for me. I had a few good friends but still felt very misunderstood. At a time where everyone else tried to fit into a box, I wanted to embrace my full complexity. My siblings got me, but of course that didn’t fill the void of romantic companionship. I wanted someone who would be my best friend and adore me even when I was difficult. Lo and behold: about 10 years, one silly boyfriend, and one cheating boyfriend later, I got everything I prayed for and more with Tex.
I tell this (awkward at best, pitiful at worst) story to say that you get what you pray for. If you pray for a job, you’ll get one. But it may not be full time, or pay the salary you want, or be in the city you most want to live in. Pray for a car and you’ll get one too. But it might be a lemon with no juice left. Nearly everything good that I have, I prayed for. I prayed to do well in college and get a scholarship to grad school. I paid for passing or better grades on my law school exams. I prayed for friends who would stick by me even when busyness, distance, etc. made it inconvenient. But even with that, I had to have patience. If you told me at 15 that I’d be happily married at 25, I probably would have been dismayed. That’s a whole decade, after all. But in the end it happened sooner than I thought and right on time. And the wait actually made me a better wife. You see, all those years I spent dateless I lived vicariously through the rest of the world. I read everything from Cosmo magazine articles to books about relationships. I listened eagerly to the dating exploits of my friends and soaked up every nugget of wisdom my brother and sister were willing to dispense. But most of all, I tried to build an interesting life of my own so that my future partner and I would always have something to talk about.
So stop worrying about what you think you should have. Go pray for it, and then go and make yourself worthy of it. You’ll never quite meet the mark, but the trying will get you as close as you can possibly be.
*And FYI Maya, we are not kissing & canoodling in public like we used to. I know you were making a face. :-p
**What can I say, I’ve never suffered from a lack of confidence regarding my intellectual prowess.
***ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.