One challenge with being in your twenties is that this stage of life often feels like a checklist. You date, get married, have kids, buy a house. Whenever you aren’t doing those things, or aren’t doing them at the same time as your friends, it’s easy to feel left out. Here’s my experience…
Whit and I dated through college and got married shortly afterwards. We were young, and because a lot of our friends also got married over the next several years, we felt like we were in the same stage of life as people we knew. Then a few years passed and more and more people started having kids.
It seemed natural to me but also fast. Whit and I didn’t want to have kids until we had been married for at least five years, if not six or eight or ten. Although some of our friends had kids already, others shared our desire to wait a few more years.
However, at one point a change happened where so many friends moved into the parent camp that instead of feeling like we were still “normal” and “like everybody else,” I started feeling lonely when I saw those pregnancy announcements.
When I found out that my friends were pregnant, instead of feeling happy for them, I found myself feeling disappointed and upset. I was so surprised at myself for feeling that way. I was surprised not because that feeling was unnatural, but because of the cause of my feeling.
I know that a lot of people struggle with seeing pregnancy announcements during a period of trying to get pregnant but not being able to. However, I felt lonely because that wasn’t my feeling at all. For me, I didn’t feel upset over the announcement because I was really wanting to have kids but not able to get pregnant. Rather I was upset because I DIDN’T want to have kids even though my friends did.
It wasn’t a feeling of jealousy over the ability to get pregnant, it was a feeling of judgment because I was glad to not have kids, but bummed that my friends wanted to. (Neither feeling is good, of course!)
To me, this meant two things:
1) My friends and I no longer share the same desires for our lives and have similar life plans.
2) My friends were entering a new life stage that I wouldn’t be a part of.
Both of these “facts” made me feel lonely and left out.
The problem with feeling left out is that it wasn’t a feeling based on truth. My friends getting pregnant did NOT tell me that they no longer wanted to be my friend or stop hanging out with me because our paths were diverging. It was Satan who told me the lie that because I’m different, something is wrong.
Because I didn’t know anyone else who felt like me, I thought there might be something wrong with me.
I’m in a stage of life where a LOT of my friends are having children or wanting to have children, which is a good thing. But because we aren’t, it causes me to question whether we should be.
I’m learning now that it’s okay that the Jacksons’ path is different than the XXX’s or the YYY’s.
The thing is, we don’t feel called to have children right now. We do feel very called to be finishing grad school, working for Cru, and preparing for a big move and life change (more on that later, sorry for the suspense). Maybe one day we will feel led by God to stop trying to prevent pregnancy, and begin asking Him to give us a child. What I’m learning is: even though we aren’t currently trying to have a baby, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t following God’s will for our lives.
I don’t have to feel lonely because I know I am exactly where God wants me to be. I know in theory that comparison is a dangerous game. So I have to remind myself of the truth: God has US in the perfect place in our lives for right now, just as He does with YOU – whatever your life stage and desires are.
Jesus promises us:
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
All of these things are in God’s control, and He will take care of you and me, no matter the situation.