While going through some drafts I have been working on for future posts, I found this completed but never published post I wrote a year and a half ago. I wrote it as I was going through the changes and struggles of being the only single friend watching my closest friends get married. I learned and grew a lot during that time. It was hard, getting used to my best friend being married while I remained without anyone. I’m not sure why I never published this post, maybe I was embarrassed about once again sharing about the struggles of being single. You can imagine my amusement and appreciation of God’s timing and working in my life, when I discovered that I had written this post exactly 15 days before my husband asked me to be his girlfriend. Needless to say, I am no longer the perpetually single friend. But in many ways I still relate to this post. Marriage changes your focus and especially your friendships. I know it’s changed mine. It’s changed the way I relate to my friends (I finally get it! But also, I finally get it) and changed the way I make friends. And even now, it feels like I remain a stage behind my friends. I am now learning to be content with my new set of circumstances and learning to glorify God with my life as it is right now. And that’s what this post is really about – not being single, but rather God’s grace for every situation in life. He is always with us, no matter the situation.
April 4, 2016
Seven months ago I stood beside my best friend as she committed to forever love and cherish a man who has become like a brother to me. The week of the wedding was a whirlwind. I roadtripped to the wedding location with my friend and her parents. Another close friend that was part of our close-knit college group joined us there and the three of us had a blast hanging out in hotel rooms, having late-night life talks, and trying to keep sane as we all ran around finishing last minute wedding details. I am now thoroughly convinced I do not want tablecloths anywhere near my wedding reception.
But after the vows were said, the reception navigated (so. many. people.), the bride and groom chased off to their honeymoon, and church cleanup started, the reality of it all hit my fellow bridesmaid and I as we drove back to our hotel. Our best friend was married. It wasn’t just her anymore. It was her and her husband. True, we had both been present for the entire relationship, from start to wedding day. My best friend and I had many talks about how our friendship would change after she said “I do.” Some days it got too hard. We found something else to talk about – that huge paper due in our Bible class, our latest new favorite word, Gilmore Girls, anything to push the pain of change aside.
And as I and my fellow bridesmaid headed back to our hotel to clean up and get dinner with the best man and parents of the bride, we cried. We played songs about leaving and change and we wept. No words spoken. Just mutual tears. Yes, we were over the moon for her. We could not have picked a better guy for her. But change – no matter how good – is difficult. So very difficult. Especially when it comes to the person in your life who speaks sanity to your crazed soul (and vice versa). In one afternoon, our friendship had changed drastically. In many wonderful and so very good ways. But in ways that are also painful and hard to get used to. Suddenly, there’s another person to account for when making plans with her (especially when those plans involve the relinquishing of funds from one’s bank account). Her now-husband was already very much involved in this aspect already. I had the privilege of watching two people I value dearly fall in love with each other. I thought there wouldn’t be much change there. But I quickly discovered that I was very wrong.
Going to her place to hang out now involved being sensitive to a third party’s schedule and desire to socialize (or not socialize). Taking one of our traditional post-hard class/test/etc. runs to get french fries and/or coffee turned into waiting for a third party to text back to see if it was in the budget. And so much more.
To sum it up: getting used to your best friend getting married is hard. And sometimes it really sucks.
But in the midst of all the hoops to jump through, the challenges, the difficulty, there is grace. So much grace. When you screw up big time and get into a fight with her husband, there is grace for that. When you want Friday nights to be like they used to be with Netflix and failed homework attempts and whatever random food you decide to eat, just the two of you, and you can’t have that anymore there is grace.
There are afternoons where you are both off of work so you go running (or, in our case, try to run and remember you’re horribly out of shape), or her husband is working late so you keep her company in the quiet apartment and watch reruns of your favorite tv show. You learn that it’s okay to spend your Friday night with someone who isn’t your best friend and that feeling lonely is completely normal. You learn that her husband must always come first, but that doesn’t mean she values your friendship less.
You get to enjoy time with the two of them together and they never make you feel like a third wheel or a second-class citizen. Sometimes the pain of being single disappears when you spend time with the two people who have become family to you in the midst of your difficult seminary days. You look forward to rejoicing with them the day their first child enters the world. You know already that whoever you marry will have to be friends with them too, because they are a non-negotiable. Just like you were a non-negotiable for them. The three of you are a package deal. A weird, obnoxious, and sometimes slightly insane package deal. But an amazing one (if you do say so yourselves).
So dear girl (or guy). When your best friend gets married, it’s going to get hard. Especially if they go first. But it is so beautiful. You’re going to see God’s grace and care for you in ways you never imagined. When you are struck with the reminder that you are alone, He will remind you that you are not alone. He has not forgotten you.
Step by step, you’ll learn how to handle your best friend becoming a party of two. You’ll jump through the hoops, untie the knots, and wander the windy path. But you’re not going to do it alone. You can’t do it alone. God will remain with you every step of the way. He will give you the grace to apologize to your best friend’s spouse when you get in a fight over something silly. He will walk with you every step of the way.
God will be with you when she needs her husband or her husband needs her and you must quietly step aside and let them be a couple. There are things they must work through and build together that you cannot be a part of. But in many ways, this will make your friendship stronger. The more you learn to respect them as husband and wife, the more they will welcome your presence.
I do not count myself an expert. Just one person who is in the midst of experience. Experience that is a painful but graceful teacher.
And you know what? It’s going to be okay. It is okay. My best friend is part of something that is beautiful and amazing and a picture of Christ and His church. And not only do I get to be a spectator to this new stage in her life, I am in many ways a part of it. We have all grown more in our individual relationships with and understanding of God through these past seven months. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
I am still learning. I will never stop learning. And if God wills it that I also get married, I’ll have to learn all over again. And it will all be good, because it is from God.