Last year, just a few days after Valentine’s Day, the grocery store clerk made fun of me in the checkout line.
I emptied my cart, placed each item on the conveyor belt, and tried to keep my mouth from falling open as the gentlemen looked me in the eyes and spoke words I can only hope were meant as a joke — something rude that simply isn’t worth repeating, something about being single and having to buy my own flowers.
I awkwardly laughed and said nothing at all, too shocked in the moment to say any of the unkind responses that immediately came to mind as soon as I left the store.
Things like, “You don’t know me, my story, or who these flowers are for. You don’t even know if I’m single, and Valentine’s Day was four days ago.”
I drove home, trimmed the stems, filled a vase with tap water, and arranged the flowers. I did all the normal things, all the while hearing his words begin to play on a loop in my mind.
But as I turned them over and held them up to the light, when I opened the Bible and sought out Truth, God spoke clearly of my worth, identity, and security in Him alone.
For the next several days, every time I passed the vase of tulips, I couldn’t help but think of every other woman standing in a grocery store line holding a bouquet.
You, the woman grieving the loss of a loved one, holding tightly to stems that will soon be laid on a grave.
You, the woman celebrating the birth of a long-hoped-for baby, headed to the hospital to say congratulations.
You, the woman preparing for small group, thoughtfully selecting an array to brighten up the table and create a welcoming space.
You, the woman surprising a friend who had a difficult day, choosing to show up in both the good and the hard.
You, the woman who has decided she’s worth the $5 bouquet.
Nearly one year later, I’m still thinking about my unfortunate grocery store experience — not because of the rude words spoken, but because of two lessons learned:
1. We don’t know all the nitty gritty aspects of someone else’s story, and if we’re going to assume anything it might as well be that they could use encouragement.
2. You don’t need permission to buy yourself flowers, to fill your life with the simple beauty of nature that God created to be enjoyed.
(And it’s not a prerequisite that you first be dating, engaged, or married.)
For the most part, I stay far away from writing about singleness. If it weren’t for God very clearly leading me to write about trusting Him through singleness and dreams seemingly unfulfilled, it never would have been a chapter in my book. I’ve received more emails and “thank you for going there” messages about that chapter than any other, but to this day the words printed in black ink for anyone to read make me squirm.
Because the truth is, although my right-now-life is full of good things, it isn’t what I imagined or dreamed for myself. Putting that on paper and sharing it publicly feels like I’m inviting criticism, throwing a pity party, baring too much of my heart or setting myself up for “There’s no rush, you have plenty of time, just enjoy these days while you have them!” statements.
Those words are true, but these are too:
I love my life, and I enjoy this season. I’m doing my very best to take every moment for what it is, see it as a gift, learn more about myself, and sink my roots deeper into God. He is more than enough, and I truly am satisfied in Him. But that doesn’t mean the dreams have disappeared. Unless God answers them or takes them away, I’m quite certain they’re here to stay.
Maybe your dream is to birth a child or write a book.
Maybe you long for peace at home.
Maybe you’re desperately hoping for physical healing or reconciliation with a loved one.
I’m not here to tell you there’s no rush. I won’t hush or hurry you through the hurt. Whatever dream is near and dear to your heart, it matters. It holds weight. But I do pray that you and I will remember that there are challenges on both sides of every mountain. The grass is not greener on the other side; the grass is greener wherever it is watered and tended to.
And so I’m going to water the heck out of the single life, choosing to follow Him with my whole heart, to fix my eyes on Him and anchor myself in Truth, trusting the heart of the One who made me and placed these dreams inside. And I’m going to do each of those things while believing and hoping and praying for the dreams He’s placed within me to come to life.
I’m going to buy myself flowers.
Don’t stop dreaming, friend. Hold onto Hope, trust His timing, and believe He is only ever faithful. But also? Don’t press pause on your life. There is good right here, right now.
Buy a bouquet for yourself or for a friend this week — just because. I can’t promise that you won’t receive strange looks or stinging barbs in the checkout line, but I hope you’ll hold your head high and remember that you are loved and cherished, seen and valued.
May we be women who stop looking at another person’s grass and longing for what they have, and instead tend to what God has placed right under our own two feet. May we only speak words that make souls stronger, never belittling or hushing but instead encouraging and lifting one another up. And may we cling to hope and trust the Dream-Giver, believing that His timing is perfect and His heart toward us is kind.
These words went live over at (in)courage yesterday, and I’ve truly been both encouraged and moved by the kind words and women saying they’re going to take the dare. Will you join me? If you buy yourself flowers this month, snap a picture and tag me on social media at @kaitlyn_bouch. I’d love to see and cheer you on, friend. Happy early Valentine’s Day . . . you are so very loved. #BuyTheFlowers