Actually, nothing has taught me dependence on God like letting go of people. I don’t think it’s simply because I’m a chronically codependent, enmeshed, dysfunctional relational junkie. Perhaps there’s some truth in that. But honestly, letting go can just be hard on the heart, and sometimes I need help. I need help trusting that if I, like a trapeze artist, let go of one swinging ladder and free-fall through the air, another ladder will come to my hand when the time is right. David, the second  king of Israel, once said, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalms 37:25). I wish I could ask him if his observations applied to food for the soul as well as for the body.

I know I have had some serious hunger pains since my friends started marrying off fifteen years ago. There have been many lonely, dateless Saturday nights when I’ve wanted to call a friend but she’s out with her husband. There are annual moments at family beach gatherings when my brothers and their wives go out for long walks, and I’m left watching another VeggieTales video with their children and my parents. Honestly, at times it has felt like getting whacked in the heart by an emotional hammer. Strangely, though, it’s as if the pattern of loss has actually softened my heart. Though I would never have chosen it (and would melt down that hammer if I had the choice), letting go again and again has pounded tenderness into my heart, keeping it from growing leathery and tough. As a result, as crazy as it sounds, my heart has actually grown more fertile.

Somehow, I now have Dana and her good gift in my heart. It’s like my friendship with her got reapportioned and then multiplied, especially as children have come with her marriage. Or now, when I meaningfully connect in relationships with other friends who have married off, like with my friend Del or with my brother, it’s far richer and deeper because their respective marriages (and parenting experiences) have left each of them as even more loving and wise people. It’s as if the cutbacks have in fact spawned more growth.

Recently I went to the post office to pick up my latest bridesmaid dress (one I think I really will wear again). Unboxing it at home and shaking out the wrinkles, a strange thing happened. Instead of freaking out or getting that “I’m stinking sick of being a bridesmaid!” feeling, I found myself quietly smiling, anticipating my friend’s wedding day. Miraculously, as the bridesmaid-once-again tried on her dress, the drama queen was at rest. Lingering in the pale blue – not white – dress, I found myself silently concurring with King David: in spite of the real loss of intimacy with many close friends whose lives changed with marriage, I had not been forsaken. I had not been left behind. I had not become an emotional beggar. I was not some pitifully depressing, lonely, old, tight-hearted spinster. To the contrary. As I looked into the mirror, I reflected:  my heart was more full than ever. Something deep in my soul was tasting satisfaction. Plus, my smile grew bigger because, well, between you and me, I thought I looked hot in that dress.

Adapted from "Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect," © 2006 by Connally Gilliam.  Published by SaltRiver Books (an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers).

Connally Gilliam earned a Master's of Teaching (English) from the University of Virginia and has taught high school and college writing.  She now works for Navigators as a Life Coach for Twenty-somethings in the Washington, DC, metro area.  She loves sharing coffee with friends and discovering how God is real, even in a crazy, changing and unintentionally single world.