A few nights ago, I got angry at God.
It wasn’t an overly dramatic scene. At nearly 2:00 a.m., I was in my pajamas, feeling sorry for myself as I overlooked 5th Avenue from the open living room window. I clenched my fists, beat them against my thighs and muttered, low in my throat (so as to not wake my sleeping roommate):
“Why, God? Why did you give me a desire for relationship and children when it’s so clearly NOT happening?! Just take the desire away! Else, speed it up already and spare me this misery! Quit teasing me! Everyone else has a partner. WHERE’S MINE?”
I shut the window, went to bed and cried myself to sleep.
Okay, it was a little dramatic. I’m almost embarrassed to admit any of this because I want to paint myself the picture of perfection; as someone who doesn’t need love, romance or a committed relationship and family to be happy or complete.
Sometimes I don’t even know if I want those things. They’re too much work. I’m tired of feeling hurt. I’m happy taking care of just myself. I enjoy sleeping in. I like not having to take anyone else’s feelings into consideration when I make a decision. Being single is great, until it’s bedtime and you’re cozying up to just a pillow.
I share this — what I regard as weakness — because I know I’m not alone in my desire for more. I’m not the only one who cries to sleep on occasion, disappointed by my own hopes and expectations; disappointed in circumstance.
But look at how awesome your life is, Leslie. You just moved into a brand new, beautiful apartment in New York. You’re in Manhattan, right by the park. You don’t even have to live in Brooklyn or Queens! And the rent is affordable!
I know. I know, I know, I know. God has been so amazingly gracious and personal with each aspect of this apartment. I wake up every single day, grateful for my home. Not having had a place to call my own for fourteen months can stir a wellspring of gratitude, but beyond that, I have always dreamed of living in New York. And here I am, in a situation and location better than I ever imagined. I will shout from the rooftops how thankful and hashtag blessed I am to have such a wonderful place to live, in my favorite city. There is no question from Whom this gift came. God is so good.
Your career is starting to bloom again! There’s an album coming out in just two months, and you get to travel and live like a rock star! Your life is so cool.
I will not argue the coolness factor of traveling with — and as — a rock star. In three weeks, I depart for Japan with The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and, almost immediately upon returning, I head west for gigs and an album release show/party with Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses. Our newest record, “BLOW”, will be released June 10th and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be featured on it. I love both bands with all my heart. If I didn’t have these creative outlets, I would be terribly miserable.
But touring isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. Life on the road can quickly become weary and lonely. Ask anyone who travels for a living: you start to crave familiarity and the comforts of home after only a little while. It is difficult to make friends and plant roots in a new city when you’re always flying away. Once you’re on the road, you start to fantasize about washing machines, your favorite coffee mug and that one, special pillow that helps you sleep better than any other. Oh, yeah. The one you’re used to cozying up to every night.
It sounds like you’re just in another holding pattern. Look at how far you’ve come! Live your life and stop complaining.
You’re absolutely right, Voice-Inside-My-Head-Telling-Me-to-Shut-Up. But please explain to me why I burst into tears when I saw not one, but two fathers carrying their babies in slings at the park yesterday. Explain why I want to vomit when I see happy couples snuggling together; playing kissy face and ignoring the rest of the planet because they seem to be the only ones on it.
I remember those kissy-face days. I experienced some very recently. And they faded almost as quickly as they appeared.
You’re just hormonal.
Why, yes. Yes, I am. Here’s hormonal for you: I am thirty-six years old. My body is screaming for sex and babies. I can’t help it. God made me this way and I’m not very happy about it. I’m doing my best to control my urges. No sex? Add more cream cheese to my bagel, please. Cute baby? Replace her sweet face with that of a kitten. I think there’s an app for that.
I plopped myself down in the pew at church on Sunday, hoping Dr. Timothy Keller would cheer me up with some very heady philosophy. My grumpy, gimme-gimme attitude needed fixing.
But Dr. Keller wasn’t preaching. A young Reverend spoke in his stead.
Ooh, he’s cute, I thought. Within seconds, I noticed a very large, gleaming gold ring on his left hand.
Okay. Next. Wait a minute! Don’t scan the crowd for single men, Leslie. Don’t scan the crowd for…
Too late. It’s just what single people do. We scan crowds. Especially church crowds. We will have sized you up by the clothing or nakedness of your left hand in a millisecond.
“Worship,” said the Reverend, “is a universal necessity to place our deepest hope in something. We expect and hope, in the end, this thing will save us. “
I started to take notes, and ended up writing one word over again: Idolatry.
The Reverend continued. “We can formally worship God, but still be giving our lives over to some other idol. We are convinced God is the best bet for us getting what we want,” he said.
Without being prompted, I immediately confessed my idols in writing.
Relationship. Love. Career. Money. Relevance. Success.
The Reverend kept speaking. “Have you ever thought, ‘If only I had this one thing, my life will be meaningful’? And then you actually get that thing, and it’s powerless. It turns to dust. None of this sets you free.”
DAMMIT, I wrote and doubled-underlined in my notes. SO TRUE.
I’m sure God forgives my cursing in church. What is more, I am sure He forgives me for idolizing anything other than Him and touting good behavior to get what I want. I really want to stop doing that.
God does not owe me anything just because I overcame tragedy five years ago. On the contrary, He is the reason I came out the other side, not completely fucked up. He is the reason I have joy in my life. God never promised me some fairytale ending. He doesn’t guarantee a tall, dark and handsome man to love and adore me, give me beautiful babies, then play Mr. Mom to them in Central Park while I rehearse my solo concert at Carnegie Hall.
It sure is a lovely fantasy, though.
The reality is, my Knight in Shining Armor is right before me, and He happens to be my greatest chance at love, ever. His love is unconditional. It is never fleeting. It never depends, nor wavers, upon circumstance or feeling. His love is constant, abundant and always available.
I’ll let you know if and when God answers my prayer about taking away the desire for relationship and children. My guess is He probably won’t, since it’s what makes me human. And, even if I do find myself a partner who eventually gives me babies, I doubt any of us will be surprised when I start complaining about parenting.
Until then, I must repeat the truth to myself. Life doesn’t always turn out how we want. I cannot miss out on what is good, right now, just because I long for more. I must stop whining about what I don’t have, because what I do have is far better than I ever imagined.
I’m right here.