Today I did something I am not a big fan of: I went to the gym. As in, a gym with other people in it and weights and stuff. For me, there are few things worse than having to stand next to someone while I workout. I always get nervous for a few reasons.
I wonder if they’re sizing me up and inwardly laughing about the amount of weight I’m using. I wonder if they’re thinking that I’m using the machines wrong or that I don’t know what I’m doing (they’d be accurate). I worry that they can hear me straining and breathing heavily and making my peace with God before I die of an aneurism on the spot.
I’ve taken to calling the gym “Insecurity’s Paradise.” Most of us feel it there. We don’t look like the other people that apparently have nothing else going on in their lives and can live there. Even the people that live there are probably there because they feel they need to be.
It’s a natural mental response to compare ourselves with other people. It’s not a good thing, but it’s natural—meaning everyone struggles with it. Especially when it’s hard to avoid it in a place like the gym, or our friend circles, or in social media.
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine and he was having one of those bad days. You know the days where it just seems to keep piling on you? Well, we were talking at the end of the day and he told me, “You know, man, I’m just tired of being alone. I’m tired of having to watch everyone else get into relationships and not me. And I’m tired of people giving me advice like I’m doing something wrong, or like there is something wrong with me.” In a loving voice, I gently began to tell him everything that was wrong with him and what he needed to change.
Just kidding I didn’t do that. I just listened to him and tried to encourage him. I was Uncle Jesse. But what he told me stuck with me for the next few days.
See, I know a thing or two about being single. I have years of experience of not having someone to go to weddings with. I have logged countless hours of sitting through advice lectures from people about what I needed to do or what I was doing wrong. Single people know how annoying that is.
I was thinking about him, and my heart was feeling for him. So I texted him this:
“I was thinking about it and people often say the reason you are single is because God has things he needs to do in you, or you have to get some things down in your own life, etc. And while I think maybe sometimes that’s true, I also think that sometimes you just have to wait… just because. Nothing is wrong with you. Nothing that you’re not doing right. Sometimes it’s just not the right moment and you just have to wait.
God didn’t make Adam and Eve at the same time. Adam was alone with the animals and he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Don’t beat yourself up over it. If you see things you need to improve on then good, but I think sometimes you just have to wait and it’s not your fault.”
I think that goes for people waiting to find a partner, but it also goes for so much else in our lives. We have this idea that if something doesn’t automatically snap into place like we’ve perceived it does in other people’s lives then we must be doing something wrong. Or there’s something we haven’t done enough of. Or there’s sins we haven’t atoned for or something.
Maybe there’s some things we need to learn and change in ourselves, but maybe we just need to wait. I don’t think God makes any of us wait for no good reason, but I probably can’t tell you what that reason is. Maybe you’ll find out one day, maybe you won’t.
My old pastor/adopted grandpa/man I want to become, Carl Thompson, and I had so many great talks while he was still with us. I used to drive out to Belleview, FL and sit in his office for hours and just visit with him and ask him questions about life and faith. I could tell you many stories about our talks, and in the future I’m sure I’ll speak of many lessons I learned from him.
One particular time I was struggling with how my life events seemed to be delaying. How nothing was working for me romantically or career-wise. I told him that I was confused as to why it was taking so long and why I had to keep waiting. He said to me, “There are things that have happened in my life where I found out the reason for two weeks later. Some were twenty years later. And some things I still don’t know the reason for. You just have to trust God and be grateful he lets you know anything at all.”
If we live our lives constantly looking at other people in the gym mirrors we will never be happy with what we’re doing. We’ll become impatient and discontented. Miserable and bitter. A royal bummer to be around. Who wants that?
Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean you’re not right where you’re supposed to be. It’s not meaningless because your life is not meaningless.