Equally Driven in Opposing Directions


Friend Lisa and I watched Juno recently. It’s one of my favorite movies because it’s simultaneously realistic and hopeful.

After the movie ended, though, Lisa turned to me and asked an interesting question that most girls don’t get asked after a certain age.

“Do you want to have kids?”

*After writing this post, another friend asked me the same question… what’s with that? Do I have a theclockisticking sign on my forehead?

I think the reason most women don’t get asked that question is because there’s a default setting we prescribe to them, and we only wonder about the few who don’t seem to fit the default mold.

I don’t fit the default mold.

I know this doesn’t seem possible, but I equally want to have kids and not to have them. It’s not that I’d be okay if I have kids or okay if I don’t. I actually passionately want kids. And I passionately want not to have them. I want to spend twenty years nurturing another life into maturity… AND I want to spend those twenty years travelling the world by myself, teaching English, and writing Middle Grade bestsellers.

In explaining this to Lisa, I tried to start at a place that made more sense: marriage.

From my experience, most girls not only want to get married, but they desperately want to end their singleness.

I’m not one of those girls.

I’m equally driven towards marriage and singleness. I want both.

It probably started soon after that the unfortunate thing with my dirtbag. Like a lot of girls, I got cheated on then swore off men. Then, I moved out of my parents’ house and spent a couple of years living alone.

I really liked living alone.

I’m good at being alone.

And for those two years, I questioned that which girls rarely question: could I find true joy in singleness?

The answer for me is yes.

That yes is not the product of a Christian girl trying to give the correct answer – the answer that proves how much I trust God to write my life for me. That yes is a deep-seeded desire to be single for the rest of my life. It’s a drive toward reckless abandon that couples lose and forget. It’s a warm appreciation of monsoon evenings spent alone on the balcony of a 1-bedroom apartment and a love of sitting next to strangers on overseas flights.

The trouble is that I also hear my married friends tell stories that stir my heart for companionship. One of my married friends was talking about having nightmares. I have frequent nightmares, and it’s always interesting to me how other people deal with them because I just go back to sleep and have the same nightmare again. I don’t even fight it or try to avoid it. My friend, though, will wake her husband up, and he’ll pray for her before they go back to sleep.

I know, right?

Isn’t that the most intimate, adorable, secure idea you’ve ever heard?

And wouldn’t it be amazing to be an overseas missionary teaching English and writing middle grade bestsellers… with someone?

None of the things I want out of life truly exclude me from marriage. I could do all of them with another person. And even if we didn’t do all of the things I want to do, when I ask myself if I would truly find joy in giving those things up to be with another person… the answer again is a resounding yes.

But it’s the exact same yes I give when I wonder about joy in singleness.

I admit that I’m a ridiculously indecisive person. I like other people to order food for me at restaurants because I want everything on the menu and don’t care enough to decide.

And unfortunately, I think that’s sort of my attitude toward kids and toward marriage.

Do I want to get married?

Yes.

Do I want to stay single?

Yes.

Do I want to have kids?

Yes.

Do I want not to have kids?

Yes.

Do I want the chicken?

Yes.

Do I want pasta?

Yes.

I’m not trying to trivialize it, but I don’t know how to explain it in any other way. If I had the money, I’d get 2 appetizers, the chicken, the pasta, a sandwich, soup, a potato, steamed veggies, 3 desserts, and 6 beverages every time I go out to eat. And I’d do the same thing with life. I’d get married and not, have kids and not, travel and settle down, live by my pen and go back to school to study a science and keep my teaching job.

I’d be the default woman who experiences the normal woman things… I’d have a mini-van (because they are SO cool – not being sarcastic… I’ve been in love with them since Steve, Lori, Jordan and I drove one to Vegas right after I graduated from the U of A), be a stay-at-home mom, and vacuum the house wearing heels… and I’d be the crazy person we all secretly admire but never want to be – that chick who sells all of her belongings and moves to Cambodia, has 27 tattoos, and can’t be bothered to put make-up on.

When I tried to explain this to Lisa, I finally got frustrated and said something like, “I wish I could give you a normal answer.”

She said that if she’d wanted a normal answer, she’d have asked someone else.

“I know. But I wish I could give you one.”

It sucks, huh? – believing it’d be easier to be something other than what we are, but knowing that the honest version of ourselves is complicated. Doesn’t it seem like other people are less complicated? Like they’re all default people?

They’re probably complicated too. We all are.

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10 thoughts on “Equally Driven in Opposing Directions

  1. Miss Katie,

    As a matter of respect to you and your readers, I am granting you full permission to opt out of the comment rattling in my brain 🙂 I could probably write my own full-length post on this topic and my own wrestle with this decision. Maybe I should. But with your permission…

  2. Such a great quote, Katie- “the honest version of ourselves is complicated.” Yes! That’s a great one-liner. Good writing. And yes, we are all severely and beautifully complicated. I half-smiled at myself earlier today realizing how little I really know and how much I sometimes think I know. Ahhh, God is patient. And the great thing is, He loves to be.

  3. Before even getting to the question of single vs. married, I think we’ve got to take a test. This test applies to anyone in our life situation.

    Make a mental (or written) note of the ten best reasons to stay single. If any of the ten reasons happen to be “because that dirtbag [left, cheated on] me,” the test-taker’s single vs. married answer must automatically be tabled and deemed compromised, until the fear attached to this reason is reconciled in forgiveness and spiritual freedom.

    Ouch. I know. I’m talking to myself here.

    However, I do believe we can come away from these experiences intially with a bitter and resistant attitude, endure the painful process of restoration, and still objectively determine that we rather enjoy and are blessed by being single. This may be what occured with you, Katie. I don’t know your story.

    In this case (and this case alone), I’m with Paul. I say it’s better to stay single. Undoubtedly, there is a great benefit to being single. I like my midnight Walmart trips. I like not having to be concerned with my dependents in responding to God. I like quiet drives, quiet journaling, and quiet cups of coffee.

    Would I give it up in a heartbeat to share life with an amazing woman? You bet I would. So despite my contentment with being single, my question is rather easily answered. It’s only my fear and history that complicates it.

    Here’s my suggestion for all single believers: whatever you choose or whichever desire you follow, do it all the way. Decide to stay single? Live life fully as if you do not intend to stop for anyone. Decide to get married? Pursue romance recklessly and have a bajillion kids with no regrets.

    My only concern for those of us that do not choose is that we never fully embrace the pursuit of either. And that’s kind of shortchanging ourselves, because both can be wonderful when fully embraced.

  4. A friend of mine once told me regarding dating, that she would rather be alone than to be with the wrong person. At the time, I think I was in college, and I admired her self-esteem. I was the girl that always had to be attached to someone and feared being single. I needed the validation that someone thought I was worthwhile. I wanted to be that girl that was secure to just be herself. I often heard that in order to be in a great relationship, you have to be great on your own first. I hear this confidence in you as you write. I’m still a little envious even though I am happily married and have 1 1/2 kids. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, my self-esteem has significantly improved, but not to your level. I say “hurray for you”! Don’t be in a hurry one way or the other. It’s amazing what God might do when you aren’t really even looking for it. Once again, good writing!

  5. Well Katie, you seem to be content with whatever happens and that is what most people strive for:) So, I say, be content and since you’re up for anything, I am sure God will lead you on the ride of your life!
    Lori
    P.S. Buy the minivan…I have one and love it too…even though my friends think I’m dorky:)

  6. A.W. – I agree with most of what you’ve written, but I also thought it was interesting that you consider singleness/marriage to be a choice. When I think about them both, I think of them as gifts. Currently, I have the gift of singleness 🙂 I know that doesn’t quite fit with the way we usually think about it; we like to think of the gift of singleness as a permanent situation, but I wonder if we oughn’t to think of it as a gift regardless of how long we get to keep it. 🙂 Maybe God’s gift to me now is singleness. I find joy and fulfillment in it now, but perhaps later in life, He’ll give me a new gift in the form of marriage.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of choosing now and forever to be single/married. Neither do I think it’s a matter of figuring out whether God has fashioned me to be single forever. It’s clear to me that right now I’m single 🙂 and therefore, God has things for me to do right now as a single that I should embrace.

    Also, what if I were to search my heart and “decide” that I want to be married? What if I genuinely believe that God has created me for marriage. Do I then put all of my effort into searching for “the one”? If being married or single is a matter of choice, then I should be able to choose marriage and find the man tomorrow, right? If it’s my choice… but what if it’s God’s choice? What if I want to be married and believe that God made me for marriage, and neglect that fact that He currently wants me to be single?

    The point of the post isn’t to consider which I’m supposed to be… God will make into what I’m supposed to be. The question was “Do you want to have kids?” and I added the question, “Do you want to get married?”. The answer is yes to both. I have both desires in my heart… but that doesn’t mean that God’s desire is for me to be either one for my entire life. Perhaps He wants me single forever – in which case, I will have joy. Perhaps He wants me to be single for awhile longer, then married – in which case, I will have joy. My ignorance of God’s plan for the future isn’t a problem or an obstacle to overcome because I don’t need to know if I’m to be married or not… I know that God has granted me the gift of singleness NOW, and I need to embrace it right now.

  7. Katie,
    I think this goes back to what you and I have talked about before that we are basically happy people and could happily live out a lot of different life scenarios. I think the ambiguity you feel can be attributed to your versatility, curiosity about different things, and general love of life. I have always believed that you will be happy in your life wherever it takes you.

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