This is not the life I dreamed of living. I always imagined living a “normal” life…finish high school, get a job, go to college, get married, have a family, and be a stay at home mom. I didn’t have any desire to get a career and would never have imagined still living solo by the time I’d reach 40.
In my 20s, I started every year thinking maybe that would be the year I would meet that someone special. Every year, that desire went unfulfilled. My 27th birthday was especially hard. My grandma was married at the age of 27 and had 5 children after that. So in my mind, I always thought, as long as I would be married by 27 I would be ok. That year came and went.
The hope of ever having the occupation of being a stay at home mom was fading with every passing year and I had to start to consider career options. I was working a good job but not one I could see myself staying in for a long time. I decided to apply for the 2-year accelerated nursing program through Red River College. The day I received my acceptance letter was not met with celebration or excited anticipation. For me, it was a step in grieving unfulfilled dreams and unmet expectations. This is not what I had envisioned for my life.
As I continually watched close friends and family get married and start families, I struggled to celebrate with them as I grieved the absence of these gifts in my life. Even my little sister was married, leaving me the only one in the family without a partner. I struggled with loneliness, jealousy, fantasies, and insecurity. I was perpetually living in a state of waiting for the next thing in life.
I moved to Winnipeg at the age of 28 and started my nurses training. I moved into a townhouse with a complete stranger, still with the mindset that this would be just a temporary dwelling until the next thing. I remember feeling like I was still living like a college student in dorm, with mismatched hand-me-down furniture and eating whatever was convenient to microwave and eat on the go.
At some point along the way, I remember reading a book (Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall) that began to shift my perspective. I was challenged to start living in the moment instead of waiting for a different chapter to begin. I was challenged to start treating myself as worth the effort to make a nice meal, eat by candlelight, and set the table with nice dishes, just for me. I purchased a nice set of matching living room furniture off Kijiji and started to settle into living in the moment and making my place feel more like home.
While I never imagined living life without a family to call my own, I also never imagined the incredible number of significant relationships I would develop & enjoy (with young & old and everything in between), all the meaningful travel I have experienced, the many lives I have been blessed to be a part of through mission experiences (serving alongside friends & family in various countries), nursing, community, and more that I likely would not have experienced if I’d had the life I had imagined for myself.
For years, I had lived unsettled, in a mindset that this was just an in between stage, waiting for the next thing, for those lifelong dreams to be fulfilled. But when I started to embrace the life that I have and to live in the moment instead of always waiting for what may or may not ever come, I could start enjoying the gifts and making the most of every opportunity that God has given me right now!
This journey to get to where I am today has been years of processing and continued surrender. Although I have come to embrace this unexpected journey, I know that when left unguarded, the discontent and desire for what I do not have can easily creep in and threaten to take over again.
Every time I reach a milestone birthday, or there’s another wedding invitation or birth announcement, it is another reminder of unfulfilled dreams and expectations. With my 40th birthday less than a month away, I have made a deliberate decision to focus on all of the things in my life that I have to be grateful for, taking my eyes off of myself and looking out for the needs of others, taking time to be quiet with my God and to hear Him speak, CELEBRATING this gift of living and the privilege to journey with those around me that God has placed in my life.
It is an ongoing journey but I am so thankful that I have moved from grieving unfulfilled dreams almost on a daily basis to enjoying life and all the gifts God has blessed me with more often than the days that I feel grief.
Over the years, the most quoted verse from well-meaning people has probably been Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I do not believe that this means God will give me whatever I want. More accurately, I believe this verse to mean that as I delight myself in God, my desires will line up with his, which ultimately is to live in obedience and to bring him glory. It means that my focus is not on myself, or on what will bring me pleasure. But rather, my focus is on Christ and living in step with him. This is what I desire and what continues to give me ultimate fulfillment.
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
About the Author:
Michelle is someone you want to spend time with. She is fun, empathetic, compassionate, generous, and has a great sense of humour! She is a proud auntie, taking any opportunity to be a part of her nieces and nephews lives, no matter how many miles lie between! She is an avid Winnipeg Jets fan and can be seen at many whiteout parties during playoffs! Michelle energizes through music, sitting at the piano or driving in her car, singing songs of worship.
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