Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day friends! Did you groan a little as I said that? I did too.
I love love as much as anyone, but I also know that this very public celebration of love can also be incredibly hard on our hearts. It was for me for years when I was particularly (painfully) single, or when I’d just gotten my heart broken, or when I was thinking about (read: pining for) someone who was uninterested in me.
Being single is tender, and hard, and brings up every insecurity in the book. It’s also incredibly confusing (or at least it was for me). I had a thousand questions when I was single, but two stuck out in particular.
1. How am I supposed to find “my person?”
2. What the heck am I supposed to do in the meantime?
And judging from the emails I receive from so many of you, I’m not the only one.
So that’s what I want to talk about today. How do you find your person and what the heck are you supposed to do in the meantime?
BUT… instead of having you hear from me, I wanted to give us a chance to hear from someone with a slightly different take on the story and someone infinitely wiser than me, my sweet husband Carl.
So without further ado, here’s Carl with the story of how we met, and what we both learned about how to find your person and what to do in the meantime…
Glancing down at my phone just long enough to check the time, I quickly turned my focus back to my footing. The obstacle course of rocks, roots, and puddles lining the dirt path that cut through the woods ahead of me commanded more attention than I wanted to give.
Two more minutes.
I could still make it, but I quickened my pace anyway—just to be sure.
As the woods thinned, I lifted my eyes and caught the top of the pavilion’s steepled roof. I emerged from the protection of the trees just in time to be fully in sight before I stumbled clumsily over an errant, and particularly gnarly branch. I managed a half-jog recovery that wasn’t fooling anyone and quickly surveyed the scene, playing it cool.
No one saw.
My two minutes were up, so I kept jogging. I rounded the back of the pavilion and quietly found a seat on a picnic table just outside—close enough to hear, and maybe catch the corner of an eye as she scanned the tops of her audience’s heads.
Then, over the next twenty minutes, I fell in love.
I did my best to listen intently, but keeping myself seated and my jaw off the floor was requiring more concentration than anticipated. On the outside, to the best of my knowledge, I was doing a pretty good job of hiding what internally felt like a parade of goofiness, anxiety, and giddiness. She was captivating. And it wasn’t anything about the way she looked.
Don’t get me wrong. She’s absolutely gorgeous. But that was all icing.
As I sat and listened to her pour out the depths of her heart to a group of eager twenty-somethings, all I could hear was passion.
She spoke with the conviction and candor of someone who hadn’t just discovered who she wanted to be, but was living it out.
It was the most unexpected, refreshing, and wholesome beauty I could have imagined.
As she finished speaking, I found myself clapping in chorus with the rest of the audience. I wasn’t the only one impressed.
She made her way over to the edge of the pavilion and before I knew it, I was standing next to her as a handful of girls from the audience quickly surrounded her. I sat in silence and listened as one after another they told her how much her blog had meant to them—how something about the way she told stories, her own in particular, had changed the way they saw themselves.
They thanked her for her raw honesty, her transparent permission to dream, and the unapologetic joy she finds in the fleeting sparks of beauty in the world.
Taking it all in, I thought to myself, “If she can make such a profound difference in the lives of complete strangers, I want to be around her all the time.”
And since that day, I pretty much have been.
Stephanie is a beautiful storyteller, a selfless believer in people, and an incredible friend. But it’s not any of those things that initially attracted me to her. It was her passionate pursuit of life.
She had a fire in her that I wanted to be close to.
Just like me, she was on a journey to an ambitious future full of questions, dangers, and what-ifs. But that day, sitting there in the woods listening to her describe the absolute joy she was taking in the journey…
I knew that wherever we were going, I wanted to go there together.
Being single in your twenties (and beyond) can become one of the most deeply sensitive and thought-consuming sources of insecurity we’ll ever face. We constantly field questions from ourselves and others (thanks, Mom) about where we’re going, why we’re alone, and what was so wrong, again, with that last relationship?
We reconsider our compatibility, self worth, and faith in God—or at least the opposite sex.
On our best days, we convince ourselves that the man or woman of our dreams is right around the corner as we snuggle into the couch with a tall glass of wine and our old reliable standby, Netflix.
Other days we find ourselves bouncing back and forth between the latest articles (like this one) about pursuit, dating, and how to find “Mr.–” or “Mrs. Right,” becoming more and more convinced that men don’t understand pursuit, girls are too complacent, and all the good ones are taken.
But since none of that really seems to help, what is life before ‘the one’ supposed to look like?
How do we find that person?
And what do we do in the meantime?
It’s easy to feel lost amidst the mixed messages of culture, media, friends, family, and our own voices. We all want to be wanted, but when you want something so badly, what do you do before you have it?
Do you sit and wait, hoping that somebody will find you? Do you chase love, pursuing it wherever you think it might be hiding?
Or do you pursue fulfillment that isn’t contingent on your relationship status?
I didn't spend my single life perfectly, and I know Steph didn't either. We both watched our share of Netflix, and both had doubts about the other ever showing up. But, eventually we both came to the same conclusion.
With or without a partner to share it with, we wanted to live lives of passion and of purpose.
Neither Stephanie nor I were looking for a relationship that day in the woods. We weren’t pursuing each other. But we were both pursuing life, our passions, and the Lord, and on that morning, our pursuits intersected. Since then, we’ve continued pursuing these things as well as each other.
Now we get the best of both worlds.
My pursuit of Stephanie is made better because of my pursuit of the Lord, and my pursuit of the Lord is more abundant because I get to share it with her.
It’s not always perfect. Healthy pursuit of a relationship is difficult, to say the least. It’s full of ambiguity and factors outside of our control. But it becomes exponentially harder when we’re standing still. Don’t wait for life to come to you in the form of a relationship—your life is already here.
God’s journey for you doesn’t start with marriage, but you just might find it along the way.
Stephanie again: I just wanted to pop in with one last thought.
There were so many things I didn't do right in my time of being single, but I love this story because in all of the things I did wrong, this is something I really felt like I did right: At some point I decided to stop waiting, and start living.
I realized that my life didn't start when I got married, that it was already underway, and that with or without a man by my side, I wanted to live a big life full of purpose, and passion.
That's what I want for you too. I want every single moment of your life to be full of passion and purpose. I want you to be so wonderfully wrapped up in both that whenever that right guy does come along, you confidently smile and say, “This journey is a blast, I'd love to have you join me!”
P.S. Click here to hear more of our story and to get to know my husband, Carl!
P.P.S. If you're wanting even more advice on this topic, here are a few more resources to check out:
Girls Night #100: How to Know if You've Found “The One”
Are you Ready to Meet Your Person?