Planning our lives at a young age is normal. However, accepting that our lives have not followed those desired plans can be difficult. For Marlene, a family had always been a part of her plan. Nevertheless, years later she is a single teacher with no children of her own – and that is OK. Marlene found happiness and joy in the life God set for her, and you can, too!
You’ve no doubt heard it said that the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans. From age 18 on, I planned to find a husband and raise a family. Even though I went to college to become a teacher, I always figured I would be pregnant a few years after teaching and would happily leave the classroom for the nursery.
God must have chuckled indeed over what He had in store for me–a lifetime of teaching other people’s children and never having one of my own. He never ever saw fit to send me a husband….although he sent a few not-so-promising specimens my way.
Over the years, I’ve managed to accept my singleness. Yes, there are gentle tugs at my heart whenever I see a woman holding her child in her arms. And yes, I look with envy upon happily married couples. But, I’ve learned to focus on what I have, rather than what I don’t have.
I console myself with examples of friends whose marriages didn’t work out, or acquaintances who give birth to children with desperate needs. Not every family is a perfect family and many require sacrifices I’m not sure I would be capable of making.
Instead, I’ve focused my energies on developing my business, the Center for Professional Development (recently sold to a colleague). It has provided me with many opportunities to travel, to meet interesting people, and to live comfortably.
My work led to book-writing. So far, I’ve written 60 and I’m still going strong. I realize I probably could not have had the career I’ve enjoyed if I had taken time to raise a family. Life, after all, is essentially a trade-off.
Admittedly, I sometimes feel a longing for companionship from the opposite sex (to say nothing of the last word in that prepositional phrase), but I try to remember how fortunate I am to have sisters, a brother, and very good friends. While I actually prefer being alone most of the time, I satisfy my social needs by entertaining. I like “clustered” dinner parties, and typically invite a cluster of people who have similar interests.
To illustrate, I recently held a “felini-tea,” at which tea and crumpets /scones/cucumber sandwiches were served. Every guest was asked to bring some way to introduce her feline to the rest of us cat-lovers. There were poems, and paintings, and stories. One woman actually had a PowerPoint presentation!
Another party was a “hospitali-tea.” Guests came with stories of being treated very hospitably at some point in their lives. (One told of a time that she arrived late at a friend’s house but went in, and slept on the couch, as planned. In the morning, she was awakened by a strange man who wanted to know what she was doing there. After learning she had entered the wrong house, he called the intended-hostess and assured her, “Any friend of yours is a friend of mine. Come over. I’ll cook you both breakfast!”)
I no longer tell God my plans but I do thank Him for the unplanned joys of my life.