I want to listen to you and serve you well. So when many of you asked, “Can you please do a post about singleness?” I heard you. (And even if you’re not single what I’m sharing today will help you love those in your life who are.) I got married at 22 so I’ve been out of the single scene for a few (ahem, a lot) of years. So I asked one of my favorite people in the world who also serves you well, to write today’s post. Kaitlyn Bouchillon is my amazing virtual assistant but, more importantly, she’s a dear friend who’s a gift to the world in so many ways, including through her words. I hope you enjoy what she’s sharing today!
I’ll admit, certain times of the year bring with them a sense of dread. One of them is Valentine’s Day. I don’t mind the flowers, chocolates, or the emphasis on love. No, as a single woman, it’s the looks of pity, as questions and doubts that have played in my head are suddenly spoken aloud by loved ones and strangers alike. This stretches throughout the year in other ways–summer weddings, holidays big and small, from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving, spent alone.
If we had the time, I could tell you one hundred different stories of hope realized and hope deferred, of singleness and waiting, of watching dreams die and finding God satisfies. But I won’t lie to you: on the whole, it’s still difficult.
Back in January of 2020, I scanned the calendar of upcoming article assignments for (in)courage contributors. Knowing mine would likely fall around Valentine’s Day, my stomach flip-flopped as nerves and prayers, hopes and fears all mixed together. When I saw my name next to the date, a smile slowly spread across my face. There’s more to the story you shared, I could almost hear God say. How about February 18th?
On February 18, 2018, a grocery store clerk made fun of me for having to buy my own flowers. I can still feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, immediately flushing with embarrassment, confusion and surprise. For the next few days, every time I passed the carefully arranged flowers displayed on the kitchen table, I remembered his cutting remark. Fear whispered lies, shame began to shout, and doubt weighed heavily like a thick blanket I couldn’t seem to shake off.
Truth always gets the final word, though, and He had something to say too.
When 2019 arrived and the day rolled around once again, I found myself reliving that moment and reflecting on two lessons learned from an unfortunate grocery store encounter. I shared the story and the lessons here, and then I dared readers to go ahead and buy the flowers.
Dozens of women in the (in)courage community took the dare. They drove to the grocery store, purchased a bouquet, and tagged me in pictures of violets, roses, azaleas, and lilies. Roll the credits and cue the happy ending, right?
Except there’s more to the story, another encounter with a grocery store clerk that happened when I took my own dare, and I’d like to invite you into this page of the story too.
As soon as my morning meetings came to a close, I jogged to the car and set out for the grocery store with a smile on my face. With only a few minutes to select a bouquet and make it back before afternoon meetings began, I stood in front of the display debating the pricier orange tulips or the practical pink carnations.
Two minutes later, I stood in line with sunshine in my hand. The clerk asked, “What are you celebrating?” and without a second thought, one word slipped out:
Life. Life. Life. Instead of a rude remark, life began to play on a loop in my mind. I held the word gently in my hands, tasting it again on my lips as I spoke it aloud while trimming the stems and filling the vase.
On paper, my life looks much the same today as it did then. But another year has passed and He has remained faithful. The calendar pages have turned, but He has not turned away.
Two things can be true at the same time: This isn’t what I pictured. There are dreams that have died. But also? I’m 100% confident that the Dream Giver is the Author of my story, and He is good. This was always Plan A. And while there are things I wish I had that I don’t, I actually have so much more than I deserve. This right here, this life full of incredibly ordinary days and mundane moments, is surprisingly spectacular in one million small ways.
There are broken hearts and beautiful things, hellos and goodbyes, sunrises and sunsets and sunshowers. There is grief and there is joy, sometimes at the very same time, but He does not waste our hurt or our hope.
We can be sad and grateful. We can smile even with tears in our eyes. We can dare to say “This isn’t what I would have written,” even while trusting that He doesn’t make mistakes and He sees the entire storyline.
This has always been the truth, and it will not change: You have not been forgotten or overlooked. You aren’t falling behind. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be today, and this chapter is not a mistake.
Don’t pause your life for Some Day. Go ahead and buy the flowers, literal or metaphorical. There is good right here, right now, and today is worth celebrating.
Here’s to the beautiful and ordinary of February 18th and June 3rd and November 21st and every day in between. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him today.
P.S. I took the dare again this past February (2021) and will do so again tomorrow… and I invite you to join me! Snap a picture, use the hashtag #BuyTheFlowers, and tag @holleygerth and @kaitlyn_bouch so we’re both sure to see your post. But most importantly, I hope you’ll remember: You are seen and dearly loved, today and every day.
MORE FOR YOU
- This week on More than Small Talk Mandy Hale, author of Don’t Believe the Swipe, joins us for an episode on “Loving Without Loving Yourself.” She’s insightful, hilarious, and honest. If you’re single, this episode will encourage you. And if you’re not, it will equip you to love your single friends and family well. Listen now.
- Sharing our stories is powerful. If you feel called to share yours, my writing course will help. Learn more.
- Just for fun, here’s a pic of Kaitlyn and I together…