I recently had a phone conversation with a friend who seemed a bit down on her luck. Our conversation was brief, but I could hear the sadness and resignation in her voice. Needless to say, it bothered me to know she was in such a state.
By most accounts, my friend is successful. She has a great job, a nice home, and a couple of spiffy vehicles sitting in her garage.
However, the things that are missing in her otherwise “perfect” life are the two things that she wants most: a husband and kids.
As we talked about her desire to be married and have kids, she was despondent. She lives in Georgia and she very clearly stated that the men there were gay, thugs or already in committed relationships. And though she’s quite independent, her values are a bit conservative so she doesn’t want to have children out of wedlock. Given her current situation and the fact that she’s in her early 40s, my friend is convinced she will never get the happily ever after she’s longed for her entire life.
Throughout our brief conversation, I tried to reassure my friend. “Be optimistic,” I told her. “Things will work out.” Being the liberated, quasi-feminist that I am, I even provided her with alternatives such as adoption. “There are so many kids who need a loving family; you’ll be a great mom regardless.”
She wasn’t buying it. After a deep sigh and in an exasperated voice she said, “Well, I can’t miss what I never had.”
While I was obviously sad because my friend was sad, the analytical Shannon surfaced as I pondered what she said: you can’t miss what you never had. I certainly think there are some things you can’t miss because you haven’t had them … things like food or even a rare wine. However, I believe other things, such as a husband and kids; you can miss even if you never had them. But maybe “miss” isn’t the best word; “long for” is more appropriate.
You can long for things that you never had.
As I shared my new-found theory with my friend, I wanted her to know that missing, and even longing for things are OK. This was important for me to do because she seemed to believe that it was foolish of her to feel the way that she was feeling. Her pain and dissatisfaction with elements of her life were causing her to disconnect emotionally. She was putting up a wall.
I have read enough reports, watched enough television, and have even seen enough people hurt to know the disastrous effects of “walls.” In addition to their ruinous impact, walls also are hard to crumble. I didn’t want my friend to have to go through all the troubles associated with walls … I wanted her to be free. And I wanted her to be OK with her longing.
My conversation with this particular friend made me think of something that another friend is currently dealing with. Something really great and special recently happened to this other friend of mine; however, there are some people in his life who can’t be happy for him because of their own longing. His friends desire the blessings that he has so much that they can’t express joy to him.
So, I have a message for people who are longing. Know that it is OK to long for things. Understand that to some degree, longing offers us hope and gives us something to work towards. Be in tune with your feelings and recognize that as the good book says, pain (and longing) doesn’t last always. Also, when someone else achieves something … something that you may long for, be happy for him or her and know that the same great things that happened for that person, also can happen for you. And even if the very things you long for never come to fruition, my belief is strong enough to know that God will remove any pain and disappointment associated with that longing.
Stay connected with your feelings, remain encouraged, and be blessed.
You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.