Someone recently asked me how you move past the place of feeling like God has forgotten about you and move on, even when your long held prayers and desires are still unanswered. I thought a long time before I answered, and then when I did answer, I feel like I gave a horribly crappy answer. The simple reason for this being that I have no idea how to move from the place of bitterness. I feel like I am somewhat past it (certain bitter moments notwithstanding), but I don't completely remember how I got here.
I have continued to think about it, and I think that there are a couple of things that come into play. First and foremost, there was a time in my life where things were so painful, and it seemed so pointless to follow God that I flat out questioned whether I still wanted to follow Him or not. It was a fork in the road kind of a moment. I still remember where I was at the time this decision was in front of me. Toward Him, or away. I realized that even when everything about faith seemed pointless and it felt like He'd left me, I still would rather chase after Him than get everything I ever wanted, and not have Him be a part of it. It was only grace in that moment, and I am thankful for so many people in my life praying for me, or I think the answer could have been very different.
The rest of it comes down to shifting perspectives.
Shift 1: There was a time where I believed the fb life. I thought that people that had what I wanted had everything that they really needed. I tried to wrap my head around the fact that everyone has their struggles, but I honestly felt like their struggles just had to be so much less. However, in opening my heart (and ears) a little more, I can finally see that having everything that I want does not make the struggles go away. A lot of times, we are all still struggling with the same thoughts, fears, and pains. It's not quite the same shape, but the essence is much the same.
Shift 2: Seeing that having faith and following God do not always mean that we get our deepest desires in this life. I would have sworn that I didn't believe in the prosperity gospel (the better you follow God, the more health, wealth and happiness you have in this life), but on a certain level, I was living like it. Surely if I followed God well enough, He would bless me with a husband and children. I had to shift away from feeling like my faith meant that I should get what I want and realize that following God means following Him in whatever my circumstances are.
Shift 3: One of the tough things about being single and feeling called to marriage, is that you don't feel that you are truly living out your vocation. If a vocation is a holy calling by God, then you do feel forgotten by God as well as by the men who seem uninterested. It feels like I can't follow God very well in a single life that is somewhat inherently selfish when I should be giving of myself to my husband and children. It seems like the opportunities to give of yourself in singleness sometimes seem transient and tiny. But the problem with my thinking there was that I was making the vocation itself my god. We are all universally called to holiness, and if God wants to leave me here, then I can offer the tiny bit that I have rather than what I would like to give, but don't have.
Shift 4: Learning more deeply what it means to live in this moment. One of the toughest parts about being single is thinking about being single for the next 20 years. But I don't have to be single for the next 20 years. I just have to do it right now. Right now has its ups and downs, but there is plenty of good along with the sad and right now is doable. I don't know what will happen over the next 20 years, but I only have to take them one day at a time, not as a whole.
Shift 5: Understanding that suffering itself doesn't come from God, but from the devil. It is meaningless and stupid because of the chaos that it comes from. God doesn't cause the suffering, but He can and does redeem it to make beauty out of it, some of which we will see here and now, and much of which we will not see in this life.
I'm not sure if that still makes any sense. I can tell you that I still have days (and months) that slap me around, but while they make me sad, I would not say that I feel bitter most of the time, and I get a lot less angry. I also am able to enjoy the amazing things about my life a lot more and realize that there are a whole lot of amazing things about this life that I have, things that I wouldn't have experienced if I had the life that I wanted. That is another great shift in perspective. This is my life, and I want to live it, whether I am single forever or meet someone tomorrow.