By Debbie Olujobi

It is a bit difficult to celebrate with others when one is not so joyous, it can be a little trying to be happy for others when one is anything but that. I like to engage people in often painful and truthful arguments, the truth can be very bitter but it is also liberating; misery likes company and happy is not always best of friends with sad. I was sitting down listening to the heartfelt angst of a young friend and it took me back to the years when I was in the group of “misery likes company”, you know that group, all of us have one time or the other been active members.

The group is defined by friends who move together because they have things in common, mostly these things are challenges and hopes and the bond is strengthened because no one has achieved any. They lament together, support each other and become very close as they share their struggles. The unifying bond is the “struggle” and member ship is easily lost or relinquished when it is achieved.

In the case of young ladies, it is almost always boyfriends/husbands, followed by the kids and of course a successful career, in the case of men, it is always the careers, great cars and homes, closely followed by the trophy girlfriend/wife and kids. The group gets smaller as success beckons to some and the rest are left feeling hard done by life; mostly the jealousy seething beneath the surface leads them in different directions and in some cases turns very bitter..

So back to my friend, she was pouring her out to me because she felt trapped in a no win situation, her best friend was getting married and she did not want to be her chief bridesmaid!! I was a bit surprised as I know weddings to be a lot of fun, plus she was getting a free dress and accessories, so what on earth could be the problem? When she started talking and eventually weeping, I was touched by the depth of her despair, this would be the fifth time she would be bridesmaid in three years and the latest bride was even younger by three years!!

“I really am happy for her and I love her fiancée but I feel like a joke” she said.

“What is wrong with me?” She asked.

Her question caught me off guard and opened a few painful wounds as I had been in her shoes not so long ago. How could I forget all the countless family meetings and vindictive gossip I was subjected to when every body in my group of friends got married? Attending those weddings were often times painful but I was genuinely very glad to share in their happiness, I remember my best friend’s husband telling everyone during his toast that he got two for the price of one! I am sure he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but I was not laughing with the rest of the party. It seemed everyone had resigned themselves to me being the single one. I snapped out of my reverie to answer a question I barely understood in my usual manner; I threw it back to her. I have a theory that people already have an answer to most of their problems you just need to help them articulate and affirm it.

“So what is wrong with you?” I asked.

Her head rose sharply and she answered with a quick “nothing”.

I was relieved; she hadn’t sunk deep enough into the mire of self pity to actually answer in the affirmative.

“I think I am a good person, attractive and I have a really good job, so why can’t I get married?” she asked

“You are very pretty and I know you to be very kind, so what’s stopping you from getting married?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I haven’t met the right person yet, I don’t want to settle for someone out of desperation” she replied.
“So why are you crying? Would you rather be the one getting married to someone you can’t stand?” I asked.

“God forbid”!!! She exclaimed.

“There really is some truth to the saying that God’s time is the best”. Even to me that sounded very cliche but life has confirmed that saying to be very true and I needed to encourage my young friend not to give up on God.

By this time the water works had stopped and there was a hint of a smile, I told her I had gone through pretty much the same and pointed out to her that my case was magnified a thousand times over by some not so very nice press coverage. She wanted to know how I coped and I told her I didn’t, at least not at the beginning, initially I was a reluctant bridesmaid before I began to just celebrate all that I had and not just dwell on the things I didn’t have. I can actually pinpoint the time my change began and it was when I started thanking God for all I have and surrendering to him all I did not have yet. It was as if by giving up my hopes and dreams I was telling God that I would remain grateful and faithful even when those hopes were dashed and those dreams were fast fading.

The year is drawing to a close and it’s a time for families to share love and many pleasures. It can be a very difficult time for matured singles, the holidays are a painful reminder of all they don’t have and it is to them I address my closing words. Being single is not a sentence or a curse, it’s just a phase, you are only in your waiting period and it doesn’t mean that life is to be put on hold till marriage beckons.

I would propose finding joy in God and not give in to despair, volunteering time and even substance to charities and those who need it at this time. I personally believe that we were created in pairs and that finding the right person takes time and that we all will by God’s grace. There really is a time for every purpose under heaven and at God’s time the solitary will be settled into their own homes.

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