Article - 4 min

384 Days

I can’t promise that the pain will go away if you let Him into your box of shame, but I can promise that He will never, ever pat you on the head or glaze over your heart.

That’s how long it will take to see the 4 people closest to me walk down the aisle and say, “I do, forever and ever,” to the men of their dreams. I will stand next to each one of them with tears streaming down my face, and I will mean it. I will see the way he looks the first time he has seen her wear all white, and I will watch the sigh of a promise fulfilled undo the weight of the wait, and I will watch their eyes meet and the dreams of their hearts reflect in each other’s eyes, and I will feel unimaginable joy that will cause me to weep uncontrollably. Within a little over a year my two sisters and my two best friends in the world will have husbands.

I’m halfway through those 384 days as I write this alone, in a laundromat in New York City.

I know, I know, but don’t I have a right to be dramatic? Sometimes all I can do is laugh. Sometimes it feels like a cruel, uncanny joke. Other times I feel so much genuine joy at the relationships my best friends get to live in for the rest of their lives. All the time I live in the tension.

I think I should mention that I’m single. Like super single. Not only have I not had a boyfriend since the middle of high school, (cough, cough, nearly a decade ago) but I have not really dated. Perhaps to put it more simply, I haven’t been on a real date since then, since my high school boyfriend just got his learner’s permit, which made driving to said date a little tricky.

What my family and friends chalked up as “focused on your career,” “not putting yourself out there,” or “too picky,” has caused me some of the deepest grief and shame I have ever experienced. It wasn’t until 259 days ago when I began my year of 27 dresses (well, 4) that I was able to start putting language to it. I maybe didn’t straight up blame God to His face for forgetting about me and my desires. But I just kind of ignored Him, neatly tucking away the pain in a small box that no one, especially God, needed to know about. The shame of not being noticed and desired and wanting it all the more folds up nice and neatly next to the incessant, compulsive thought that something must be wrong with me; and the jealous resentment towards the people I love most lays flat at the bottom of said small box. I’ve gotten horrifyingly good at maintaining the things I think I need to maintain to convince myself and everyone around me that I’m fine most of the time. If I just talk to God about other stuff, that means I’m still giving him my heart, right? I don’t want to be pitied or misunderstood, or even worse, taught a lesson about how my desires are in the wrong place.

There’s nothing like bristled up defensiveness coming into contact with the impenetrable love of God. I swore I knew what it would look like if I let God at the small box of shame I had become nearly incapable of closing—He would hover over my sadness, pat me on the head and tell me to trust His timing, or so I imagined. Do you ever feel like you and God have an agreed upon line that neither one of you will cross? Parts of your heart, parts of your pain that He is allowed into, and then parts that you will just deal with quietly on your own, thank you so much.

I have good news for us all. He hasn’t agreed upon that line, and as far as He is concerned, He can’t get close enough to your heart.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.”

Isaiah 53:3

Do I really believe that the man who was rejected by all mankind cannot relate to the rejection I feel in my singleness? Do I really believe that the man who spent His life becoming all too familiar with pain does not resonate with the pain I feel? Do I really believe that the man who trusted the will of His father while experiencing the greatest grief of his life cannot understand the tension of living amidst the equal joy and sorrow that I have felt in these 384 days?

I can’t promise that the pain will go away if you let Him into your box of shame, but I can promise that He will never, ever pat you on the head or glaze over your heart. He won’t teach you out of your hurt. I can’t promise that He will tell you exactly why that cute boy on that white horse hasn’t come around the corner or why that amazing girl hasn’t shown up out of nowhere, but I can promise that He won’t tell you to not want it. When you feel like the perpetual champion of everyone else’s relationships, I can promise you a champion of your heart that will love every inch and hidden corner of it, now and forever and ever.

Laura Dupper

Laura Dupper