The Grief, Happiness, and Hope of Late-in-Life Singleness by H. Ferguson
Excerpt – I have some comments to make below this very long excerpt:
by H. Ferguson
Then this year, on my 58th birthday, I bought my wedding dress. Finally, my wait was over.
For a long time, every milestone and every missed opportunity for true love (including a short relationship in my 40s with a verbally abusive man) prompted me to question God: Why did you allow this to happen? Have I not been faithful? Am I not a good enough Christian? Do you really care about me?
Why am I still alone?
I’d always try to encourage myself by saying I only needed to meet one marriageable man or that God could bring “the one” to my doorstep. But as I grew older, my situation began to seem like a walk through an endless desert.
I was not alone. A decade ago marked the first (Link): time more than half of American women over age 18 were unmarried. Adults of all races are marrying later, and (Link): marriage as an institution is seen as a failing one. The situation is (Link): especially dire for black women like me, whom the (Link): New York Times describes as victims of the “vanishing black male,” men who are incarcerated or not as (Link): educated or financially sound as their black female counterparts.
As I passed 40, then neared 50, my singleness felt like grief. I had to come to terms with the empty arms of not having a child and the possibility of growing old alone.
…Although he doesn’t promise everyone marriage, God does promise to set the lonely in families, and there were always little ones, especially little girls, who needed “other-mothers.”
From the little ones who lavished love on me, their Sunday school teacher, to women in the church who offered their friendship and support, I found that I did have community. I decided to fill my season of singleness being busy about God’s business while I waited.
There were times I had to be honest and ask whether I was truly seeking God with all my heart, soul, and strength—or if I was just doing so to find a man. God asks us to put him above our hopes, dreams, and desires. For many of us, only when we make his desires our desires will he grant us the desires of our hearts—and that includes husbands.
…Happily, life and experience have taught me that if you sincerely desire a husband and do not feel “called to be single,” then God may yet “give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 34:7).
The whole “God sets the lonely in families” has NOT been true of me.
The Christians I have gone to for emotional support or just general friendship in real life have brushed me off.
Where she writes,
There were times I had to be honest and ask whether I was truly seeking God with all my heart, soul, and strength—or if I was just doing so to find a man. God asks us to put him above our hopes, dreams, and desires. For many of us, only when we make his desires our desires will he grant us the desires of our hearts—and that includes husbands….
Yeah, I’m not buying this, either.
There were many times in my life I sincerely put God at Numero Uno in my life, and out of pure love, I was not expecting anything out of God, and yet, God did not grant me a husband.
Goody for this lady for getting married at 58, but I’m heading into my mid-40s and kind of feel like what is the point in getting married now?
Would I appreciate a husband? Holy hell, yeah. But it seems absurd to marry past your late 30s. The time for me to have marry would have been my late 20s to mid 30s.
As to this bit:
- …Happily, life and experience have taught me that if you sincerely desire a husband and do not feel “called to be single,” then God may yet “give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 34:7)
I was not “called to be single” (there is no such thing, Christians just ASSUME this was a teaching of Paul’s), but this is a trope. Just because you desire a spouse does not mean you will get one.
The authors of “Singled Out” spent a chapter citing the names of many Christian women who desired a husband, never felt called to singleness, who went to their graves desiring marriage, but who died still never having ever been married in their 50s and older.
See my much older post on this related issue:
- (Link): Typical Conservative Assumption: If you want marriage bad enough (or at all), Mr. Right will magically appear
Also, I totally relate to this comment that was left below the editorial:
by Helen Laack
While this is very well-written and has a lot of hope, still…why are these articles always written by the people who now are no longer single? There are many, many millions who will live out their lives without this “well, FINALLY, God did the right thing by bringing me a mate” kind of story. I appreciate her story but it still can ring hollow and only add to the sense of failure for those who don’t get that “happily ever after” ending.
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)