As years pass, I reflect on my life as a single believer. Memories of my first Peace Garden Youth Days, Colorado Ski Days and other church events were once vivid in my mind. Nothing could compare to the anxious anticipation of attending an event for the first time. At the event I soaked in every minute of the action-packed weekend surrounded by believing companions. The sermons and speaking turns seemed to be directed right at me. Back home I rode the joyful wave of feeling uplifted for many days. But all too soon I crashed back down again with familiar trials and temptations. Again I could only pray to have the strength to continue for yet one more day.
My second visit to Peace Gardens lived up to all the expectations set by the first. I reunited with friends I met the first year and again I felt so uplifted. Soon, though, I realize I’m approaching my tenth year attending Peace Gardens. I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend so many church gatherings that I cannot even count them all. The memories blend together. It’s difficult to distinguish one event from another. Going to the next event becomes routine, but it is still worth going because the events remind me of what is most important in my life: faith.
I try not to take what I have for granted. I have a large network of friends spanning many states and countries. Life, though, doesn’t always go the way I planned. I’ve learned I can’t get too attached to any one friend or even a particular group of friends. Friendships don’t always stay close. As happy as I was for one of my best friends when he started courting and then got married, it was not easy for me. I knew our friendship could never be the same. He would no longer be at my side at Peace Gardens or Ski Days. He has other priorities now.
Loneliness is a difficult fight, but God provides me with new companions. As my friends marry off, a younger group of friends appears. I once again find my place. The age gap doesn’t matter, because we are all believers with a common goal.
At one church event, I was excited to think that I may soon be turning the page to a new chapter in life. A visit with a girl soon led to mutual interest in getting to know one another better. I experienced the highest of highs that plummeted to the lowest of lows when the relationship I anticipated would be lifelong came to an end. My heart ached with great pain. Resuming everyday life without the companion I thought I had was one of the most difficult trials I’ve faced. I battled the temptation to place blame on her and God for my pain. Fortunately I found that there is power in forgiveness.
I had to switch my focus to taking care of myself. I had to remember I had other friends to lean on. Idle time is always dangerous, but in that time of recovery it was especially difficult. I had to stay busy and let time heal me; in some cases there is no other way to heal except to let time pass, whether that be weeks, months or years.
On my journey through life I’ve learned a lot about myself. I have strengths but also many weaknesses. I’ve learned how to avoid my greatest temptations. I know what situations put me at risk of falling. I also know that I am weak and, despite my greatest efforts, I fall. I can’t rely on my own or anyone else’s strength. The sole source of strength is the forgiveness of sins. I must reach out to friends when I stumble. I often think of song of Zion 574: “I surely would drown in temptation and woe if You sent no angels to help me.” These angels can be any believer. There is great blessing in friendships with single girls, even if there is no interest in a closer relationship. It is in God’s hands whether one of those friendships sparks and becomes something more. I must put all trust in Him and be content with all the blessings He has provided. God knows what is best for me.
Writer’s name withheld