I’ve always counted lasts. Call me sentimental or nostalgic or sappy. It’s all probably true.
But now I’m getting married, and there are too many lasts to count. I’ve been swimming in lasts. My last singles small group, last grocery runs for one, last days without a wedding ring on my left finger, last holidays without a husband. And the hard one: my last house with girlfriends.
I’ve always been a girlfriends-girl. I didn’t go on a date until my sophomore year of college and kept it minimal after that. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get married—I did. I’ve just always loved my girlfriends so stinkin’ much that it was difficult for me to leave them.
It was a big shift when I met Hayden—a healthy, necessary transfer of devotion from girls to a man. I’ve said before that he made me ready for marriage. He has. My roommates knew he was the one I’d likely end up with when I was willing to leave them to spend time with him. They watched me see something special in him and run after it, and that is such a treasure.
But it doesn’t fully balm the ache of leaving to cleave. We often talk about leaving our families to hold fast to our spouses, but we sometimes glaze over the harsh reality of leaving other things behind too…things like those lovely, surprising, soul-filling, heart-growing, single years with dear friends.
And I think it’s okay to ache just a little bit. One door is closing so another can open, but that first door was so well used, so well known. So worn and loved and comfortable and precious. Though I wasn’t single terribly long, I was single deep—I loved that life instead of just waiting for love in it. I ate it up, poured all of me into it. I went to nearly every social event I was invited to and saw movies by myself and spent hours making playlists of music just for me. I had Bible studies with single girls and dinners with friends and full days all by myself and lunches with mentors and tried to remind myself as often as I could This is the good life. This is freedom in Christ. This is joy. You don’t have to wait for anything else.
In his autobiography, A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken describes a night with his wife on a boat, looking at the sea and stars. He says:
We were full of wonder—and joy… The moment was utterly timeless: we didn’t know that time existed; and it contained, therefore, some foretaste, it may be, of eternity.
I’ve had those moments both with Hayden and with girlfriends in my singleness—moments where time escapes you (or maybe it just doesn’t matter), and you forget you own a phone or have responsibilities or that anything bad could ever happen. In my single years, God gave me those memories of joy: star-gazing in pickup trucks piled with blankets, dance parties on the patio, extra long car rides just to finish singing along to a really good song, drive-thru-the-night road trips to the beach. And He also gave me memories of growth: cancer, repairing wounded relationships, crying out to God for husbands and contentment in the wait. I think He gave the joys and trials both so I could look back and remember. To say God, you did all this and more than I could ask or imagine. You will do it again.
Because though my single years were full and wonderful, in no way do I think God will be any less marvelous when I’m married or when I’m a mother or a grandmother. I cannot wait for what’s in store. Any sorrowful sentiment I feel at the closing of a life chapter just points to the goodness of God in it…and reminds me that He will continue to be that same good God in the future.
But sometimes it’s okay to just say This is a bittersweet thing.
So to my girlfriends, this is for you, really. I love you. And I will always need you. God designed His creation, His people, to live not just in pairs but in community. So I’ll always be here. We’ve all had best friends get married. And yes, things change, but no, we never lose each other. My love and heart for you will not dwindle. I will always have a passion for your life and our friendship and what it’s like to love/wrestle through singleness and what you as godly women can do for the world. I want us to continue building that up in each other. I can’t wait to have game nights and dinners and girls-only coffee dates and then later bounce babies on our knees as we walk through parenthood alongside one another.
Yes, the past has been good, and praise our God for that. But we can hold tight to this: the best is yet to come.
I’ll end here with this—a quote from Andy Bernard. (Yes, from “The Office”).
I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.
Well, the good new days are ahead, and I’m running toward them full-speed.
And as the good old days stretch out behind me, full and joyous and beautiful… I think I’ve known all along that I was in them.