“If you ain’t got two kids by 21, you’re probably gonna die alone. At least that’s what tradition told you.”- Kacey Musgraves (Merry Go ‘Round)
In a relationship by 20. Date for a year and be married by 21. Pregnant by 22. That’s how life for women is depicted in the culture I grew up in. If you were 21 and single, you should be worried. In Christian culture, everyone is obsessed with finding “the one.” I grew up believing that very thing. Someday Prince Charming would come and sweep me off my feet. We would fall deeply in love, get married, have babies, and be leaders in the church. That’s just the way it went. For years that’s all I wanted. To my delight, at 20 years old I was dating a guy and figured that was it. But, something inside of me just didn’t feel right. This was supposed to be a fairy tale. To me it felt like settling. Settling for what everyone else had…and I was not everyone else.
In the church, there is so much pressure for couples to look and be perfect. Especially if you’re in a leadership position. You should always tell people that everything is perfect, you’re so in love, and everything is amazing. You shouldn’t have any problems. If you do, hide them. That is such an unrealistic expectation. No one is perfect so we should stop trying to be. Every relationship has its struggles and we should recognize that.
In church, I never felt like I fit in. I was not perfect and had a really hard time pretending that I was. When I found myself single, I completely lost it. I was almost 21 and I wasn’t in a serious relationship. I was going to grow old and die alone. That’s what culture told me. I used to envy the young couples in the church who seemed to have such perfect relationships. I never saw weakness in any of them. Part of me longed for that. But, I knew deep down I could never do it. It’s so exhausting trying to be perfect all the time. It began to really bother me. Presenting a perfect relationship, puts a lot of pressure on other people to do the same. No wonder so many Christian marriages end in divorce. There’s so much pressure to set a good example and be perfect. I rarely ever saw leaders openly talk about the struggles in their relationships and marriages. They only shared the great parts. When I started dating, I had such unrealistic expectations. I quickly realized that my relationship was nothing like everyone else’s. I didn’t get it. I was so frustrated. It didn’t help that the leaders in my life at the time just told me not to worry. Things would get better. My fairy tale was coming. But, it never did.
To be honest I’m not sure I believe in “the one.” I do think God has someone for each of us, but it’s up to us to decide whether we want it. “He will come when the timing is right,” “God has the perfect guy for you”, “just be patient.” Oh, if only I had a nickel for every time someone told me that. Some days I believe it and some days I don’t. Some days I know I’ll get married, while other days I cry when I think about being single for the rest of my life. I’m finally part of a healthy church community. I see healthy and honest relationships in each of the couples in my church. There’s no being fake and no pretending to be perfect. In fact, they all are very open and honest about their struggles, and how God has got them through the tough times. Seeing that gives me hope. Hope that one day I can have a healthy and honest relationship.
Some day (maybe soon or maybe in a few years) a great guy will come into my life and he will love me. He will love my passion, he will love my honesty, and he will my imperfections. He will love me for who I am and not for who who he wants me to be. I’ve been rejected by so many men because I am too outspoken or too passionate. But, there is one who never rejected me. He never rejected me because he made me that way. He put that passion inside of me. He gave me that desire to be honest. He gave me that heart that loves so fiercely. God made me the way I am and I will never ever try and change. Even though I’ve only seen the worst in men, I have faith. I have faith that somewhere there is a man who will love me like that. A man who will love me forever.
So yeah, I guess I believe in happy ever after.
“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”
― George Carlin
That quote makes me laugh. Women are crazy and anyone who says differently is lying. Though I don’t think men’s stupidity is completely to blame. Yes, men drive us crazy and in turn we drive them crazy. But, lets be honest…women drive each other crazy.
Growing up in a Christian culture, I was always told to be quiet. Women should be quiet, calm, prim, proper, and elegant. We should never ever speak up. When we feel something, we keep it to ourselves. If what we’re feeling is wrong, then we need to change it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had church leaders tell me to be quiet. When I was feeling a way that they didn’t like or understand, I was told to change it. How do you change how you feel? When I feel, I feel very strongly. When I’m happy, I’m really happy. When I’m sad, I’m really sad. When I’m angry…well lets just say probably shouldn’t mess with me.
I am in complete agreement that you shouldn’t always let your emotions run your life. Sometimes what you are feeling are lies from the enemy. How you feel is always rooted in something. My therapist always tells me to never apologize for feeling. My feelings are always important and always valid. Church society has always told me that Christian men only want quiet polite girls. I’ve had men tell me that I’m too opinionated and too crazy. So, I spent years trying to be this elegant and sophisticated church girl. Basically I should be perfect little Stepford Church Wife, so a good Christan man will want to marry me. I should have no opinions and no emotions. That went against everything I was feeling. But, eith everything I had, I tried to shut off my emotions. I tried to be like everyone else. But, I wasn’t. I always felt out of place in church. I did my best to fit in, which usually meant turning into someone I wasn’t. I hated that. I hated being fake. I just wanted to be me.
Over a year ago, I met an amazing woman named Jessica who completely changed my life. I always joke with Jessica about how I didn’t like her when we first met. When in reality I loved her. She was just like me. A strong, opinionated, and beautiful woman. She wasn’t (and still isn’t) afraid to voice her opinion or fight for what she believed in. The more time I spent with her, the more I realized that it was okay to be me. She brought out the real me, the best me. I didn’t have to be some carbon copy perfect little church girl. God created me the way I am for a reason. He doesn’t want me to be like everyone else.
There is only one Anne Margaret Jensen. Sure I may be crazy and very emotional, but that’s okay. After 21 years, I am finally comfortable with who I am. I will never ever again apologize for being me. The people who really care about you, will love you for who you really are. I am so thankful to have those kinds of people in my life. It took me a long time to find them, but it was worth it. So, to all the girls out there, don’t ever think you have to change who you are to appease people. You are perfect just the way you are. God made you that way and he doesn’t make mistakes.
It’s okay…so am I
Great friends, good food, and a glass of wine.
A perfect Saturday night.