When I was fourteen years old, my best friend and I started Letters to My Future Husband journals -- at the time, it was the most romantic thing we'd ever thought of, and we were SURE that we'd be meeting our husbands in four more years (because everyone meets their husbands in college, we thought). We were practical; our Future Husbands needed to know us as teenagers. We would write letters to them so that they could. This was our plan.
I was so very certain of meeting him. Of meeting him soon. In fact, because I was so scared that I'd meet him before I'd filled up my journal, I wrote my letters on only one side of each page -- double-spaced, even. I told him what I doing in school, where the youth group was going for mission trips, how I was growing in my walk with the Lord. I told him everything that I thought he'd want to know about his wife when she was in high school. I was totally honest -- describing my weight and my fears and my secret worries. I wanted my future husband to know my deepest secrets. I held nothing back :) By the time I went to college, the journal was halfway complete. There seemed an appropriate amount of room left to write my love story.
In college, I continued to write him letters. This time, with more excitement. After all, I thought, I could be dating him right now! Or, when that relationship wouldn't work out, I would think, "today could be the day I meet him!" The letters were longer, full of deeper longings and bigger dreams.
When I graduated college, I took my first "real" job and my first "real" apartment, and I kept writing. Where was he? What was taking him so long? It felt like I'd been waiting my whole life. I began using both sides of the pages. I wrote about friends getting married, my travels, my graduate school experiences... I never stopped writing. He seemed closer, somehow, when I did.
In my twenties, relationships were sometimes analyzed by asking myself the question: "could I give this man my FH journal?" The man who would treasure the dorky, hopelessly romantic silliness of the Future Husband Letters would be a man worth my heart. And when I thought "this could be it" and then, it wasn't -- I was disappointed, but all the more sure that God was protecting me for The One. The One who'd treasure my silly, secret, worn journal full of letters. That journal became a symbol; by writing in it, I attempted to reassure myself that it would be read one day. Although, it must be confessed, I wrote in the FH journal less frequently -- there were so few pages left...
Somewhere between twenty-seven and the big three-oh, it occurred to me that maybe there WAS no Future Husband. This was, I'm not going to lie to you, a pretty massive realization. What if God's best for my life was singleness? What if no one ever saw the Letters? Something shifted in my heart and I stopped thinking of my life as a "someday" and began to make it into a life I loved right now. The truths most real to my heart became the following:
God is good.
Life is a gift.
I can enjoy it -- FULLY enjoy it -- as a single person.
I put the journal away. I embraced my NOW life. I started buying matching bras and panties, just because I wanted to and even though there was "no man" to see them. Haha! (My friends thought this was weird.) I bought a car. I did my own taxes. I bought a house. I made dinner for my friends. I hosted Thanksgiving and roasted a turkey without my mom's help. Lol. I took out my own trash; I bought my own dishes; I took myself on vacation with friends. I did a lot of things by myself. The one thing I didn't do was write in that journal. It sat in a drawer and I almost forgot about it.
The year I turned thirty, I was absolutelyandcompletely in love with a man I thought I'd marry. I wrote him a letter telling him the exact date and time when I knew he was The One. But I didn't write the letter on one of the final pages of the journal; instead, I wrote in on stationary, folded it, and slipped it inside the journal. In retrospect, I don't know what compelled me to write my love letter to this man on a piece of stationary rather than on one of the journal's last empty pages... I don't know. Maybe it was because it was the first time I'd written a letter to a specific man, rather than to "my future husband." I just know, now, that it was a good call. Haha :) It's been three years since I wrote that letter, and I am NOT married to the man it is addressed to. Surprise, surprise. :)
The journal still exists; there are two empty pages left. I know this because I was cleaning out a drawer the other day and ran across it -- hidden away in a place I never look, full of thoughts I typically don't let myself think about -- and I considered opening it and re-reading.
But I didn't.
I know what's in there; I know the longings and dreams captured in adolescent handwriting and college confessions. I know the lonely nights that prompted me to write in it and the joyous celebrations I wanted to share with him that caused me to open it. I know that book because I've been writing in it since I was fourteen.
Let me say this. My life is wonderful. WONDERFUL. I have a glorious family and the most amazing friends -- and God is so incredibly faithful. I wouldn't change a single year of my life unless it was to reflect His glory more completely or to know Him more intimately. I am content. Very, very content. Contentment is not perfection, of course. I'm doing weight watchers and trying to listen to Dave Ramsey, because let's be real -- I could stand to lose some pudge and I'm terrible inept with money... but I have a beautiful life.
I have thought about throwing the Letters to My Future Husband journal away -- just as I feel I've finally thrown away the expectation that there is a man out there who will someday read it. It's enough to know that the Lord saw all of those hopes and dreams. He SAW and He ANSWERED and He is always enough. Always.
But for some reason, I have kept that silly little journal.
It sits in my drawer, tucked away -- no longer a reminder of what I don't have, but a reminder of what I DO: contentment and happiness. And even though I've surrendered my expectations, I have also walked with the Lord long enough to know that He loves to surprise His children -- to give exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ask or imagine.
So, I'm keeping it. And I'm reserving the last two pages. Because the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I know that sometimes He does things we are not expecting.