On a recent conference call discussing the LIFT16 Conference, Christy, Colleen, and I talked through challenges women face and how we can encourage them to look to Christ regardless of their circumstances. I recalled a turning point I had in my struggle with singleness.
It was 2008. I was 31 and single. It was a beautiful Saturday and I had a full schedule that day. There were two weddings to attend—the single girls’ dream! Two dear friends had chosen the same wedding date and, lucky for me, one was to be wed in the morning and one in the evening. As I sat in my car that afternoon having watched yet another friend gain all that I longed for, I burst into tears. I called a friend and told her I couldn’t bear it. I felt like my life revolved around others’ happinesses. Their joys. Their moving on to the next step in life. And there I was, dateless to two weddings on the same day. I was drowning in my sorrow.
As I sat there, I opened up the word of God and it breathed life into me. I read about how the suffering servant put himself aside for our sake. How he humbly chose to be misunderstood. How he created life. How he ordained circumstances. I was blown away. I’d already been a Christian for 23 years at that point but the truth of the gospel became clear to me once again. Life wasn’t about me. I needed to lift my eyes to Him. I used that time to think through our church covenant and how we are all called to rejoice at each other’s happinesses and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows. With the help of God, I had a heart change that afternoon. I decided that I would pour myself out in celebration of others. Host their showers. Attend their weddings. Help them move into their new home. Watch their kids so they could have date nights. I experienced such a freedom to love and serve. (To be fair, I did not do this perfectly. Ask anyone who knows me and they can tell you of dark times of fighting despair.) I had no idea that I would remain single an additional six years after that afternoon. But I chose to trust God regardless of my circumstances. God gave me a sweet joy in cherishing His plan for others. And a confidence that he cared for me.
The three of us wrapped up our phone call eager to share these truths and encouragements with the women at this conference.
Then I woke up the next day and discovered I was not pregnant. Again. And a wave of emotion came over me. Worries that maybe I can’t get pregnant. That something is wrong with me. That I’m getting too old and it’s nearly impossible now (yes, I’m dramatic). I was so sad. Felt like a failure. Felt like God forgot about me. Again.
Same problem. Different circumstances. God took me through years of prolonged singleness for some reasons that I now know, and many reasons I’ll never know. He used that time to strip away my idols, to mold me and to humble me. Now I’ve been married a mere 16 months and how quickly I’ve forgotten: the same God that has been faithful to me in the past, still holds my future in his hands. That doesn’t mean we will be given a child, and it certainly doesn’t mean I was guaranteed marriage. What I have been given is an eternal hope and the inspired word of God that can help me navigate the twist and turns in this life.
Friend, we’ve all been disappointed. And we will be again. That’s the way God designed it. He is jealous for our affections and in his mercy he sometimes withholds even good gifts. Sometimes he gives them. For us, we are not to gaze at the gift but at the One who guides our paths and directs our steps. And who sometimes gives us sweet reminders of past lessons we’ve learned. Even if it hurts.
And so with the renewed reminder of God’s faithfulness, I can host a friend’s baby shower this week. I can rejoice with her and celebrate their new gift of life, knowing that the ultimate goal is not to get the gift but to love and cherish the Giver.
This is why I’m excited about LIFT16. Because we all need reminders to turn our gaze off of ourselves and on to the King of Glory.
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Originally from California, Karen McCutcheon spent the past 13 years living and working in Washington, D.C. She served as Director of White House Personnel for President George W. Bush, took a brief interlude to walk across Spain (literally), and then served as the General Manager at 9Marks Ministries for 5 years. After extended singleness, at age 37, she married a U.S. Diplomat and moved to Dubai. After so many years as a single and in the workforce, she is figuring out how to be a wife, cook, live overseas, and make a new life with her husband. Karen and Rob currently attend Redeemer Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.