I wanted to get married. From a very young age, I desired to be a wife and a mother. I didn’t know I would one day have those things, not the way friends of mine have known they would be a pastor’s wife or would have lots of children or would one day be a missionary. Knowing would have been easier. Instead, I wanted.

When I was in college, I met lots of other women who also wanted to get married. Many of them did get engaged and presumably became wives. I know, because every time a co-ed got a ring, we’d all gather in the lobby of our residence hall to discover the lucky girl. We cheered and clapped as a candle passed around the circle of friends. We squealed and hugged when the bride-to-be blew out the candle and placed a ring on her finger. We ached and held back tears as we filed back to our rooms. When would it be our turn?

For years after college, I wanted to get married. Though I moved a lot, in each new city I would find a church, try to get involved, and at least visit the singles group. I put myself “out there,” as others would recommend. I went on a few dates when asked. I became friends with men and accidentally fell in love a couple of times when they were just looking for someone to pass the time with.

Then, life got more complicated. Illness, death, heartache, disappointment: these were my constant companions for years. All around me, difficult circumstances actually made my singleness easier. My best friend’s journey as a widow and single mother, my dad’s heart surgery, my step-dad’s cancer: I was available for them, and I wanted to help. Then, my own cancer and infertility made marriage and motherhood seem impossible.

Yet I still wanted to get married.