On Asheville and Singleness

I spent last weekend in Asheville, North Carolina with three of my dearest friends from college.  Allow me to introduce them to you:

Abby is 24 and from Birmingham.  She is married to Jake, a high school football coach with a great sense of humor.  They have a house in Vestavia, a sweet dog named Riggins, and baby named Jacob on the way.  Abby, by all accounts, has the best style of, well, anyone.  She speaks truth in hard moments, buys you french fries at 2am when you just really need some french fries, and this weekend taught me how to “fill in” my eyebrows to help frame my face (did everyone know this was a thing except me??).

Leigh is also 24 and from Birmingham, though she currently resides in Philadelphia.  She just finished her degree in biblical counseling and is now job hunting, nannying, working part-time, and training to be a yoga instructor.  She is the most endearing mix of wild spontaneity and southern class.  She’s the friend you go to when you need someone to tell you the truth, no matter how painful, and then to follow-up with rich, meaningful encouragement and a really stupid joke that you can’t help but laugh at.

And then there’s Katie, the reason we were in Asheville to begin with.  Katie is from Mobile.  She is 25 and a month away from marrying our friend Alex, contending strongly for the world’s most lovable couple.   Katie is adored by those who know her, gracious to those around her, and has this unexpected wit that throws you off in the best of ways.  We went to Asheville for her bachelorette party.  And it was the very best weekend.

We spent the whole time taking stupid pictures and laughing at jokes for way longer than anyone else would have laughed at them.  We walked through old bookstores, shopped for lingerie and baby clothes (different stores), and sat around tables eating mac n cheese and then tacos and then brunch and then burgers.  We drank wine (Abby excluded) and talked about the wedding and put our hands on the baby bump as much as was socially acceptable.  We caught up about hard stuff happening in our families.  We talked with Leigh about her dream job.  We cried over heartbreaks.  And we went to bed at 10 because we’re not as good as we once were.

It was wonderful.  The weather, the conversation, everything.  But somewhere between shopping for tiny, blue onesies and talking about rehearsal dinners, I felt that sinking gut feeling start to creep in, that familiar twinge of desperation that says, “you’re behind, you’re broken, you’re blowing it.”

I’m closing in on 25, which sounds scarier with every passing day.  But I have this great job and these great friends and this new rosemary bread recipe that I nailed last night that make that number seem a little less horrible most of the time.  So generally speaking, I feel like I’m doing alright.

Until I’m talking with my friends about honeymoons and house hunting and baby showers because they are actually doing all those things and I remember that I am, in fact, not doing them.  And my 16-year old self, who thought college was just a means to find a husband and thought 30 was too old to have kids anymore, cries a little because of it.

I was talking about this very thing with my friend Meredith today and she said the following: “I know my future is going to suck and rock at different times and I am ahead of some games and WAY behind in other games. The grass is always greener.  So decide to play in your half-brown grass and be happy when you come across a dandelion, instead of pissed it’s not a rose.”

Yes.  That.  Exactly.  The single person’s mantra.

We hate being single but we love being single.  We want the independence but dammit we want the La Creuset Dutch Oven too and it’s not fair that we can’t register.  We have jobs, careers even, kick ball games, and small groups.  We go on first dates and third dates and then ice cream dates with ourselves.  We are bridesmaids and babysitters, trying to figure out our finances and brake pads and spiritual lives on our own.  We can invite friends over for dinner without asking anyone’s permission.  And then we can go to bed in the most unflattering pajamas and just pray there isn’t a fire in the middle of the night.  And generally, in the day-to-day, go to work – go to happy hour – go to bed – type days, in the new jobs and new friends and new cities, in the big kid decisions and big kid pay checks, it really isn’t so bad.  We’re doing it.  We’re living.  It’s not all falling apart, and it’s actually. most of the time, pretty great.

Until you get your mail on the way in from work and there’s another save-the-date there laughing in your face.  Or you get on Instagram and see the recent post of the girl from high school that your sinful self still can’t believe got married before you.  Or (worst of all) your married friend says something like, “well i totally didn’t expect to meet X but look what happened! It’ll happen when you least expect it,” and you wonder how bad it would actually be if you punched her in the face.  (Shout out Caroline Davidson for that excellent point).

Then it gets hard again.  Then you feel that twinge.  Then you feel like it is all falling apart.  “You’re behind, you’re broken, you’re blowing it.”  You feel two life stages behind every one else.  You question yourself and your past and your present.  You think “if I just did this” or “if I just moved here” or “if I hadn’t done that” then X, Y, Z.  You feel like you’re doing it wrong.  You feel like you’re hopeless.

And then you break bread with your three best friends and you stop and remember God.  And the twinge gets smaller.  And the volume of your expectations finally turns down a little.

Because if you believe that God is good, that He loves you, that He is sovereign, and that He is able to move mountains, then it must – by design and by all reasonable logic – it must be that you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now.  You are not behind or ahead.  You are not wrong or forgotten.  You were lovingly, purposefully, uniquely designed for this stage of life, today.
Abby is having a baby with the man she loves because God is good and He loves her.  Katie is getting married to her very best friend because God is good and He loves her.  Leigh is teaching yoga and itching to move because God is good and He loves her and He is leading her to a new phase of life.  And I am single, an accountant, bad at dating, and even worse with a casserole dish because God is good and He loves me and I still don’t see why peanut butter isn’t an acceptable dinner to serve to guests.
So let’s stop acting like adulthood comes with marriage and minivans and reflect instead on God’s beautiful, intimate, unrelenting care for us.  
You’re not behind.  You’re not broken.  You’re not blowing it.  And believing that you are is ultimately believing that God is either not good, not sovereign, or not able.  Which thankfully just isn’t the case.
Let’s gladly mourn the death of our idealistic plans and rejoice in a God who is immeasurably more.
Let’s believe in His goodness.  Believe in His care.  And thank God that singleness and babies and bachelorette weekends are to teach us and to grow us and to keep us on our knees.  
Believe it.  Rejoice in it.  Speak of it with gladness.  
Be grateful for a God who loves you too much to just appease you.
And then throw it in your grandma’s face when she asks you why you’re single.  
Happy Thanksgiving, Gram!  (All for His glory).

2 thoughts on “On Asheville and Singleness

  1. Bailey,
    This is beautiful and so well-written. Thank you for your transparency and willingness to say what everyone else is thinking!! Unfortunately the “I’m behind” feeling doesn’t end with a ring or a baby (babies!) or a home. Thank God for a Savior who loves us and places us just where he wants us. I’m gonna play in that brown grass and rejoice in the dandelions…. Or at least blow the fuzz off then while making wishes! 😊

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