Ever since I was 14 years old I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I love absolutely everything about the American Legal system, as well as American government and politics. Fast forward about 16 years, and here I am at age 30 doing what I absolutely love--- I’m an attorney and currently serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff for a sitting Governor.
Needless to say the years between my childhood dreams and now were filled with transformation, and a whole lot of growing up. Ultimately, I believe that God uses our interests to help reveal our own personal callings, and for some, like myself, at a very young age. I feel such a strong sense of purpose and the presence of God through my current profession. I truly love what I do.
Did I mention I am also not married?
To be perfectly honest I hate talking about this topic with anyone other than people that I am very close to. When someone brings up the topic "why aren't you married?", I immediately want to crawl into a hole and hide, or respond with “BACK OFF OF MY LIFE, I am the one living it!” But usually, in true lawyer style, I always try to finagle the conversation into a different topic.
I can remember a day about two years ago where I recently received an exciting promotion, and I was reflecting on how all the hard work I put in since college and law school was really starting to pay off. It felt like suddenly I was riding this exciting current, and so many blessings and opportunities were suddenly materializing in terms of my career.
Then all of the sudden it was like my entire life flashed before me. I started to remember all these childhood moments on family vacations--the laughter and love, and I found myself thinking "What in the world am I doing? How will I ever have those things, or a family, if I continue on this career path? There is just no time for anything else because I work all the time."
My mind swirled with thoughts like "Seriously, what am I doing? Literally, every single friend I had is now married. Most of them have kids that are older now than we were when we all met. SEVENTEEN weddings. I have been in SEVENTEEN WEDDINGS. It feels like I don't fit or relate to any of them anymore. Everything around me has changed. Not to mention if one more person announces my marriage status at a mass gathering...I will PUNCH them."
The bottom line is, that moment really marked the beginning of a dark and lonely season for me. It’s almost as if this fog came over me making me feel so disconnected from the rest of the world around me. Growing up I never really obsessed over or thought much about getting married or having kids, but I guess it also never really crossed my mind that I would be 30 and on my own either.
I felt stuck, lonely, angry, and confused about my past, present, and future. I was scared and conflicted because in some areas I was living the life I had always dreamed about, but at the same time I was starting to feel like it was going to cost me everything else.
As a result of this, I basically put everyone on trial, including God and Myself. I questioned and re-evaluated every relationship decision I had ever made, and blamed myself for being so independent and career focused in my 20’s. It was a hard place, mostly because I was so afraid that I had gotten myself stuck or lost. I didn't want to be around anyone.
However, in God-like fashion He was faithful to not only bring me out of the dark place I found myself in but also reveal so many new things to me.
Here are three things I learned:
1. This experience forged in me a level of intimacy with God that I had never really known. Because I felt so lonely, disconnected, and confused, I guess I can say I really found Him in that time. More importantly, I found a place with Him that I now know ONLY He can fill, regardless of my "relationship status". This place with God I will fiercely guard forever, and it’s something no one can ever take from me.
2. I learned that I cannot compartmentalize my trust in God. Either He is faithful, present, and working in ALL areas of my life or He is not. I cannot parse it out and say "He is faithful with some of my dreams but not all."
3. I learned to ask for help, open up, and be vulnerable with people that I trust and know me well. These are the people that know the intimate details of my life, and remind me of the faithfulness of God when I need it.
I can honestly say that I made it through, and out of that dark forest of fear and obsessive questioning. I mostly have good days, but I would be lying if I said that there aren’t times when a comment or a joke doesn’t trigger the obsessive hamster wheel of thoughts. However, I have learned to ask for help from people I trust when that happens. I found my smile again, and the rest of the journey I just take day by day.
Natalie LaBorde is an attorney who most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Governor Bobby Jindal in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.