“You don’t know what love is until it is your own child in your arms.”
“You don’t know how to live selflessly until you get married. Until then, you’re just selfish.”
“You don’t know how to love someone else sacrificially until you get married.”
“You don’t know what tired is until you have a baby.”
“You won’t be refined by fire until you get married. You just wait.”
When these words have been directed at me from the young marrieds, newlyweds, and fresh mothers I know, I realize they mean well. But they break my heart. Absolutely break my heart. If I swallowed all this nonsense whole, I would be a withered shell of a woman convinced I had not yet really lived. But I know better.
I am thirty-one. I am single. I have never been married. I have never had children. None of this is by choice. It is just how life has happened thus far. I do not, not for one second, believe that because I am unwed and childless that my life is half-lived, or that I am a nothing until I walk down an aisle in a white dress or give birth. I am a woman regardless. And the Lord has made it clear to me that I am loved and I am of worth – worth that is not found in any man or child or institution.
Before you tell me that I do not know what love is, ask me the story of sending my little brother off to wage war in a desert. Ask me about having to leave my darling in an orphanage in Venezuela and the last memory I have of her is her standing at the gate waving goodbye as only a toddler can.
Before you tell me that I don’t know how to live selflessly, ask me the story of how I took care of a home and a family for YEARS…starting at age fourteen. Ask me how it felt to live in a dorm for three years and care for college students at odd hours and at the expense of my own health.
Before you tell me that I don’t know sacrifice, ask me the story of the summer of 2010.
Before you tell me that I don’t know what tired is, ask me the story of my last year in college.
Before you tell me that I won’t be refined until marriage, ask me about my life. I have been through more hell than you can ever know. I have been burned and I have been redeemed. The flames have gone way past what any marriage could ever do.
Just because I do not have a ring on my finger or a child in my arms does not give you the right to tell me that I am less than you, nor does it open up conversation for you to state a case that I have somehow missed a great secret that can only be found if I live your path. Your hurtful and unthoughtful statements say a lot more about you than they do about me.
I am woman. I am fierce. I am soft. I know life and I know death. I will keep learning and growing and failing and succeeding. Quit comparing and quit chiding. My fire may not look like yours, but it is still a fire, burning hot and fast.