The other morning, I read a quote about motherhood on Pinterest. And my heart broke a little because of the ache within it to carry out that quote. In quiet desperation, I cried out to the Lord, “Why can’t that be me right now? I would give anything to pour my heart and soul into motherhood.”
I long to sing hymns to my babies as I’m rocking them to sleep, have tiny fists curled around my finger, read aloud my favorite books to the bigger ones, encourage their imaginations, have cozy traditions, and make home the safest and most loving place they could ever want.
But just as quietly, the answer came back to me:
“You have a different assignment right now.”
And I knew it was true. God has chosen to give me the assignment of singleness, teacher, mentor, and writer because he has something he wants to accomplish through it.
I thought of my dear students and the learning that I get excited about engaging in with them every day. How I mentioned one time that I had wanted to have eight kids when I was younger, and one of my girls said, “Instead, you get twenty kids every year!”
I thought of the quiet evenings I have at home in which to formulate my thoughts into blog posts and articles that I send out into the world, hopefully encouraging others.
I thought of the time I have to connect with college students and other single friends to share life with, through all the seasons of pain, joy, and growth.
I thought of getting to direct shows and do theater with all its late nights and deep joy over creating art in community.
This is my assignment. And it’s not “less than” someone else’s assignment in marriage and motherhood. It’s just different, and God has called me to lean into it to serve him more fully. But sometimes it’s hard when the longing for the other becomes overwhelming.
It’s at times like these when I run to God with the burden. He knows. He understands because he gave me the longing for motherhood and marriage, and that’s not a mistake. It’s part of who I am as a woman.
But it’s also not a mistake that I’m single right now, and God can channel my mothering, loving instincts into my current assignment. He calls me to be patient with the not knowing of how long this assignment will last and to trust him with his infinitely wise plan. It could last my whole life until I die and take up the new assignment in heaven. Or it could last for a few more years until marriage comes to replace it. Or even a different job or city to replace my current ones.
My job is to be obedient in this role, submit my feelings to the Lord who understands them best, and walk in faithful relationship with him each new day.
Recently I noticed a little catchphrase going around social media: “She understood the assignment.” And while it typically referred to an outfit or a trending social stance, last summer, it led me to this poem reflection:
Your current assignment is singleness.
Do you understand it?
Do you understand that it is the work of God
And not a mistake to undo quickly?
Psalm 92 says, “at the work of your hands
I sing for joy.”
And tonight I must sing that song
And not the one of self-pity.
The assignment is “to declare
Your steadfast love in the morning,
And your faithfulness by night” –
Not declaring my loneliness in the morning
And my wistful fancies by night.
Take my mind off myself, oh God,
Help me to see your opportunities
All around me every day as I get up
So that I can be faithful to the assignment.
May I live with intention
As I walk the narrow path of singleness
And shape me in your likeness as I do,
Embracing the joy of this assignment
Until it changes.