After two, very full months on the road, I am finally back in New York. The days have passed quickly as I re-adjust to life in the dead of winter.
I had the privilege of spending almost three weeks in California over Christmas and the new year. (It is not “New Years”! Get your grammar correct, people!) My days were filled with the familiar warmth of friendship and the sun; sandy beaches and cold, clear ocean water. Every day was perfect, even when it rained. Southern California is completely annoying in that way.
Right before I returned home, I decided to pay a visit to my therapist. I wanted to catch her up on the goings-on of my life and make sure I haven’t gone entirely crazy. I was happy to report self-assessed instances of graduation from co-dependency and stubborn independence; learning to say “no”, asking for help and giving myself grace when I fail to be perfect.
I blabbed about work and dating (and how seemingly impossible it is to do both). I also found myself shaking my head at the fact I have been single for six years.
“I mean, I truly thought I’d be married with kids by now,” I said.
My therapist leaned forward in her plush chair and smiled, kindly.
“Well, we don’t always get what we want in life,” she stated.
Oh, dear God, she’s right.
Aaaand, cue the next song in the soundtrack of my life.
When my hour was up, I hugged my therapist goodbye and told her I’d be reporting back, periodically. As I shut the door to her office, I realized I had echoed what many single women my age struggle with.
Marriage. Family. Security. The lack thereof.
My next appointment was at the gynecologist’s office. She took one look at me and said, “You’re 37. If you want to have babies, you’d better get pregnant NOW, or freeze your eggs.”
“Not happening,” I shrugged, casually. “Not much I can do about it, really. Besides, with my lifestyle, I’m not even sure I want to have kids.”
“All right,” my doctor replied, in a sing-songy voice.
Mother of fuckery, what did I just say?
My therapist’s voice echoed in my head.
We don’t always get what we want.
I’m pretty terrible at math, but I managed to figure out a theory. I’m going to call it the “Western Christianese Equation.” It goes a little something like this:
A + B = C
A = I did everything right / I was good / I followed the rules
B = God (who bears a striking resemblance to Santa Claus in that he most certainly rewards good behavior)
C = Blessing / Hashtag blessed / Getting what I want
I relied upon this equation for quite a long time. I was a good girl who married a good guy. And because Western Christianity more or less teaches us that faithful and obedient Christians get (and stay) married, buy houses and have babies, I thought I, too, would have those things.
And I did, for a while. I had a husband and I owned a house. I had (too many) pets and always assumed I would bear children.
Enter an unplanned element into the equation: marriage implosion. Still subscribing to the theory, however, I was convinced things would work out in my favor.
You probably already know the story, but I’ll sum it up for you: Good Christian Girl fights for her marriage but ultimately ends up divorcing Good-Guy-Turned-Cheating-Douchebag-Husband, who is already (illegally) married. Cheating Douchebag Husband goes on to live in a new home by the sea and have an adorable baby with Sister Wife.
Christian Girl is still single and childless.
Wait – WHAT?!?!?!
My mind wanders to other stories of divorce I have heard lately:
- Good guy marries good girl. Guy cheats and leaves her for another woman.
- Good guy marries good girl. Guy cheats and leaves her for another man.
- Good guy marries good girl. Girl cheats and leaves him. Period.
- Good guy marries good girl. Girl quits the marriage and does everything possible to alienate the children from him. (Unfortunately, I know several instances of this scenario.)
- Good guy marries good girl. Guy turns out to be a narcissistic psychopath. Girl cheats. Girl marries a second time but marriage fails.
All of these stories are true and have the following endings. Hark back to your elementary school tests and draw a line to match your answer.
A. Person is single.
B. Person finds another person almost immediately after divorce, remarriage takes place, and a beautiful child is born.
C. Person meets another person, a beautiful child is born, and remarriage is taking place sometime soon.
D. Person is dating again.
E. Person is questioning everything.
In all instances, (E) is the correct answer.
Why? Because life does not begin – or even end – with getting what you want. Marriage is hard. Raising kids is hard.
Life is hard.
Additionally, not one scenario ends with, “I am exactly where I hoped/planned to be.”
Therefore, A + B cannot equal C. The equation does not work, no matter how hard you try, or pray.
I long for the day when Christian culture stops idolizing marriage, family and security. We are losing our identities in them. What is more, we are encouraging a mindset that life is not – and cannot be – complete without a loving spouse, 2.5 children and some form of white picket fence.
There are only three things in life that are certain:
1. You are born.
2. God loves you.
3. You die.
That’s it. We’ve got to learn to be content with who we are and what we have, this very moment.
Perhaps The Stones communicated it best:
You can’t always get what you want.
You can’t always get what you want.
You can’t always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes you might find
you get what you need.