After two months, this post is finally seeing the light of day. It was originally written right after New Year's but wasn't posted when I thought it was finished because I felt God wanted me to keep revisiting what was said, to really articulate the message he wanted me to get out. Although this is primarily based off of the way that I am feeling, and it may be too vulnerable, or even a little too personal, no matter how much I really wanted to keep my thoughts and extremely vulnerable state to myself, God wasn't going for it. He literally would not get this off my mind until it was written (in full) and shared. This is also a form of therapy for me and considering I no longer have my therapist since relocating, this is the best way to not suppress my feelings. 

For as long as I can remember, I have been a lover of love... and I think that comes entirely from the way that I was raised. I come from a very affectionate and loving environment— raised off immense verbal and physical notions of love. This is the main reason why I always state that I was born a lover girl, because it's true. However, love outside of family and friends hasn't quiet agreed to love me back. There has been one thing that I have always been so sure of and that is being a mother. I knew that eventually when the time was right, I wanted to have a family one day. Fast forward to present day and I find myself in my thirties, single, and deciding to remove myself from the dating pool. I'm not jaded, it's a personal choice, but I won't lie and say that I'm not discouraged. Dating for me has been a disaster (maybe that's a bit dramatic) and one reading this may come to believe that, if I'm having that much trouble, I have to be the problem. I don't believe that to be true, but dating has been a cycle of disappointment for sure. I've gotten to a point in life where I'm seeing my girlfriends around me embarking new milestones in womanhood and creating their lives and families of their own, and naturally wonder when it will be my turn. When will the cycle finally break and why does it seem like I have the hardest time in this one particular area of life? 

I'm being 1000% transparent right here when I say sometimes, I feel like God's forgotten daughter. I believe he places desires in our hearts for a reason... but I don't know maybe I misunderstood this one? I (and others) remind myself to be patient but in the same thought, question if what I want is truly in the cards for me. I believe I am a kindhearted person and live by treating others with respect and integrity, and most of the time loyalty that is one sided yet I'm the main person being let down and disappointed over and over again. It goes two ways: meet someone who doesn't know how to value you or meet someone who isn't ready to fully receive you. I'm very intentional with relationships that I welcome in my life and always have been that way. It takes me a while to truly feel like I want to be with someone and I'm selective, which has only increased with age. I never imagined that someone as genuine, loyal, and loving as I am, would be in the space that I'm currently in and I hate reaching an emotional state where I begin to question myself as a woman. Which is why I have removed myself from dating altogether because to be completely honest, I'm tired and I need a detox from any and everything romantic. I'm not sure why it seems to be so hard to date in this generation, but it definitely appears that very few people value meaningful connections and relationships in the manner that I do. Apart from connections simply not working out or being the right fit for me, there is so much cheating, "sneaky linking", and deceitfulness going around that really makes you not even want to put forth the energy to try to date. Coming across someone with the same morals and respect that you have, who will appreciate you (without them having to spin the block on you after treating you poorly), is like finding a needle in a haystack and makes marriage seem like an even harder feat.

 I have stood firm throughout my dating and relationship experiences; and very clearly make it known to value me while you have me, and I won't budge from that, which is also why I feel my dating experiences hit a bit harder emotionally. If "one and done" was a person, it is me. I do not desire my romantic foundation to be the byproduct of anything I had to heal from, and this is no shade to anyone who has made the decision to forgive, continue relationships or build marriages with someone who they worked through trials with, but I don't want that for me. I have never been one to go backwards, only forward. I know that there is someone out there who will cherish and have my best interest at heart, and I want that for myself... but ironically, sometimes I also feel like the way I move hinders that in some way. There have been times where I felt like maybe I should just try to work things out with this person, and we all know we get in our head about men who continue to circle back to you, like there must be a reason for it, but then I'm always quickly met with memory of how I was treated... and I worked through so many really hard and trying moments to heal and rebuild myself from it, that accepting someone back feels like a betrayal to myself. I will state though, it doesn't make me ignore the fact that people can change, but I guess I have always been willing to cut my losses because I know what I want and what I'm worthy of... and once I choose you, it's only you... and nothing in this world can sway my loyalty ... so I can't blame myself for wanting that in return. 

I know someone reading this is probably like "girl, just stay patient and love yourself"... how many times have I heard that suggestion before? I do love myself, a lot... but that doesn't dismiss the normalcy of desiring partnership. I can love myself all I want and bask in my season of singleness, but at the end of the day I still want to be a mom, a wife, and see my parents as grandparents. 

However, recently I had to really sit with myself and turn inward, to better understand why this desire is so strong and what the real root cause of it is. It's clear that God doesn't see me fit for that season of life yet and it takes work to accept it. I'm a person who tends to put others before myself, not because I lack boundaries but genuinely out of being selfless... and perhaps this is a season where God is sending me sign after sign, telling me that this is the period to pour back into myself. How can he possibly keep allowing me to pour so much into others to where I eventually begin to neglect pouring into me? You know growing up in church, there's this hyper fixation and emphasis of marriage and finding a husband, to where it translates into an unintentional status of worth... and I'll admit deep down that lingered with me. See, because of the constant let downs, being cheated on, ghosted at times, or pursued with no real intent, you begin to place marriage on a pedestal— because if I'm someone's wife then I must be worthy right? Because he chose me. I don't think people take notice how easily marriage and being a wife can become an idol. That's when I realized that my desire for marriage partially stemmed from wanting a stable relationship for once and marriage screams stability from the outside looking in. Now coming to this realization, I remember how I lost myself in a relationship in the past. I found myself withdrawn further and further away from my relationship with the Lord and placing my relationship with my boyfriend at the time, at the forefront. I began to do things with a "we" mindset, without even discerning if that was the man God handpicked to be my purpose-mate. So, while watching a sermon the other day, it was stated that "God can't trust you with anything that you put before Him."... and often times we make our own plans and life changing decisions with people God never intended for us to have longevity with, they were sent to highlight the work he still has to do in you. We make plans with people that diverts the original plan God has... and sometimes the consequences place us in a completely different direction than he intended. With acknowledging that, I also had to acknowledge that the sermon spoke truth... how can God trust me with marriage right now, when I have so easily placed the desire for it before my relationship with him? 

yes, I indeed felt attacked lol... there's so much truth to it though. Women are taught to believe that marriage is the end all be all, the ultimate relationship. The elevation that one status is placed over the other is damaging, and constantly hearing statements like "why are you single?", "I'm surprised no one has snatched you up yet", or there's someone trying to play matchmaker and introducing you to their nephew or grandson because of the simple fact you both happen to be single, and if you are a woman within my age range, you begin to hear "you better hurry and settle down so you can have kids, you aren't getting any younger" but also forbid having a child out of wedlock.. all of these things drive your brain to start believing that "I need to be married" because there is always a focal point placed on it. Is marriage a good thing? yes... but it is not the ultimate relationship we should be seeking. My fixation on dating, marriage, and eventually wanting children one day was ultimately making me begin to doubt God with my "unsuccessful relationships"... and with each disappointment of a failed romantic attempt, I was losing sight of what a season of singleness truly is. Right now, is the time for me to keep learning about myself, to sit with the reality that I am in a completely different state of mind in terms of what I value and practice and ultimately, this isn't the time for me to potentially welcome someone in who could compromise that. My feelings matter just as much as the next person, and I have often (on many occasions) disregarded that. Whenever the time comes, I want to be with the right person, but I cannot properly discern that while looking over the inner work that I still have left to do, so that I am the right person in return... and although I have great qualities, I still come up short. There are areas that still have to be worked through and need a lot of care, that only I can mend, but most importantly there is life to be lived and enjoyed solo, without someone else needing to share it with me. 

I'm going to end this with a script from a song that came on while commuting to work the other day when I was really in my feelings lol. It said:

"You know, at some point, you just have to let go, surrender and say, "I don't know what I'm doing, God, tell me what to do again" and I used to be frustrated with that because it's like man, haven't you been here already? Haven't you said this before? I used to be frustrated with that but now I've realized that, at each level, or in each different space, there's another level of surrender, and it's greater space that I can give the Lord in my situation." - Naomi Raine x Let Go (Car Chat)
 
Seasons are designed intentionally for us. So, with that being said, I'm surrendering my feelings that I have been forgotten about by God and accepting that although friends around me have reached the stages that I desire to experience, I am not behind or running out of time and he remembers me. We often place timelines on our life, even when we intend to stop, but God is an intentional God, steadfast, and acts quickly with his alignment. Just because I feel like I'll have a child late contingent of the dating experiences I have had, doesn't mean that he won't act and make things move just like that (visualize a snap, I snapped lol). It can happen late or quicker than I expect but whichever one it is, I accept it. I'm surrendering. Most of all, I hope anyone reading this and feeling the way I do restores their hope and continues to trust in the work he's doing behind the scenes, because he remembers you too. Enjoy your season of being single and do everything you have ever wanted to do, because one day you will no longer have the luxury or the freedom to think of just you and always remember that God's greatest attribute is love. Everything that is listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is everything you deserve and anything less than that in return has to go. 



with love, 
ash. 

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Ashley Avenu. Jeremiah 29:11.