Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Just the other day, I came home from work tired from a long day and probably looking pretty ragged. The neighborhood kids were riding their bikes in the street in front of my house and they rode by me as I was checking my mail. And how was I greeted? “Miss Carrie! You’ve got grey hair!” …thank you, little missy. I tried to pretend like I didn’t hear her, but alas, she had to make sure I knew that I do, in fact, have some grey hair. So this time I playfully sneered at her that “I don’t even have kids to blame it on!” She just grinned and rode off—her mission of age awareness accomplished. The sun must have been shining just right on my silvery highlights for her to make such a fuss over my tresses, unless my upcoming birthday has produced an abundance of new grey hairs.
I’ve had my share of fun with these kids. This past summer I was stealthily ambushed with water guns as I was outside tending to my plants. Their little squirt guns were no match for my watering hose… I loved hearing their screams of glee as they retreated! There have been other various happenings where I’ve “ooh’d” and “ahh’d” over their ability to jump over the sidewalk or show me a little flower they’ve found or accept some homemade candles they’ve made for me. One evening, I had a knock on my door and opened to a couple of the little girls holding a fish bowl. Their mom told me that they wanted me to take care of their “fishy” while they were out of town because they thought I might be lonely and he could keep me company. I must admit it was nice to have someone to come home to.
I must be a kind of anomaly to these youngsters—a woman around their mom’s age without any kids or a husband. They find me very intriguing. And I don’t mind. I love them. I enjoy all their questions…most of the time. Questions like: Can I water your plants? Why are you not married? Do you get lonely? Are you a grown up? Why do you have shoes on? Where are you going? Can I come?
With my birthday coming up next week, I’ve been asking some questions, too, like “What’s next for me? Will this be the year that my prayers for a family of my own start to be answered? Will there be new friends or new adventures? Will I get to travel or have more ministry opportunities?” My life is so very different than the lives of my friends who have married and now have children. My days are full of work, ministry, study, research, and fellowship with friends. I’m really too busy to be lonely most of the time. But each year as my birthday draws closer it becomes a more noticeable reality that another year has gone by, I have more grey highlights, and I’m still as unmarried as ever.
I’m not complaining though. I enjoy my solitary life (though solitary may not be the right word, I have many wonderful friends and family who take care of me) and on most days, I truly see my singleness as a gift from the Lord. I am able to do many things that I would not be able to do if I had the responsibilities of a husband and kids. But I do get lonely sometimes, and dislike some of the consequences of not having a prince charming around, like trying to open tightly closed jars, having to take out the trash when it’s full and killing my own spiders (while, admittedly, screaming, throwing things and jumping up and down).
But if I had all the responsibilities of a family of my own I would not be the oddity that brings the neighborhood kids around nor would I have the time, or maybe even desire, to make friends with them. I’ve even had the chance to delve into some spiritual conversations with one of the little girls while she was “helping” me weed my flowers this summer. Sometimes the ache for a son or daughter of my own takes over my heart, but it only lasts for a little while until I can remind myself of God’s goodness and grace to me in this season of life. And then I conveniently remember that the thought of being responsible for another human being actually scares me to death. So I’m thankful for this chapter of life where I am able to give of my time and love to my friends and their kids. And then be able to retreat into my quiet, cozy, little home.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home…” Psalm 68:5-6