There are so many things wrong with this. Not with the fact, but with the title. Yes, I turn 30 years old this week. Yes, I have never been kissed. But let me tell you why this is not what I want to title this post.
First of all, a title is meant to be catchy, original, and maybe even a little shocking. You’re reading this because something about the title grabbed your attention, and I knew it would. But it grieves me that it does. You’ll never hear the media tell you it’s normal to be my age and never have kissed anyone, but I have plenty of friends in their thirties and forties (and shoot, even in their fifties, sixties, and nineties) who’ve never had a relationship and are single, and amazing. It should not be that scandalous.
Second, there’s this weird thing with the number 30 that makes you feel like you should have “arrived” in life. And even weirder is the lie we’re told that having “arrived” means being married . . . or at least having had sex. Kissing was what you were supposed to have tried when you were 11. By 30 you should be a long way from that, right?
Who comes up with this stuff?! Jesus was just beginning his calling in life when he was 30. And for the record, he never married . . . or made out. (Shocker, I know.) So if Jesus wasn’t concerned about it, I don’t need to be either.
Third, why is our emphasis always on what we don’t have? Why should I be defined by what hasn’t happened in my past or by some shallow hope for the future? Isn’t the present where we find the most joy, and contentment and thankfulness where we experience the greatest peace?
Had I not been aware that the brokenness of our culture would lure you to click on this post with its current title, what I really would’ve wanted to name it is, “30 and More Joyful Than Ever.” Or “30 and Living the Best Life.” Or “30, Whole, and Not Afraid to Be Alone.” Or my favorite: “30 and Deeply Loved.” Or drop the 30 altogether. How about just “Deeply Loved by God”?
But let me back up. Before you think I’m either (1) really unattractive or (2) annoyingly sheltered, or that (3) I have some phobia of all things sexual, let me explain why I got to where I am today. It’s not that I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone. Trust me, I have. Nor do I not seriously wonder what it would be like. (It has to be good. God created it. Sex must be so fun!) Nor am I just such a spiritual superstar that I never get sad in thinking about how alone I feel. The sadness and curiosity are real, for sure.
But when I was in sixth grade I began to fall deeply in love with God. I promised him that I would live a life of chastity, such that nothing would get in the way of our relationship, and that I would submit to his leadership in my life, including all things romantic. And up until this point, he has not given me the green “it’s time to make out” light with any particular person. Instead, he has graciously helped me see when there was no chance for marriage and therefore no reason to grow in physical intimacy. (But let me say that I don’t actually believe kissing before marriage is inherently wrong. I also deeply believe that God is a God of redemption who loves us no matter how many regrets we may have. This is not about legalism or somehow patting myself on the back because I can live up to a high standard.)
As I’ve allowed God to lead my life, resisting temptation into quick sexual pleasures that don’t last has actually been easier than I would’ve expected. I don’t actually feel like I’m missing out.
The day I wrote this was spent entirely alone. I decorated my cute little apartment for Christmas. I prayed for each of my 20 friends who live right in my neighborhood. I gave thanks to God for my friend who was free to pray for me at 11 p.m. the night before when I was experiencing severe physical pain. I sat in stillness for a while, letting the sadness of being alone rise to the surface. I looked to my mentor, Henri Nouwen, to continue to counsel me on loneliness through his writings. Soon the sadness turned to peace and into deep contentment that God loves me and is perfectly writing the story of my life. Loneliness is no longer scary to me.
As I enter my thirties, I honestly feel like I am living the best life imaginable. I have found my calling. I am becoming aware of my gifts and strengths. I am in healthy, intimate, platonic relationships. I have mentors of all kinds who continue to help me grow. Every single day I am learning something new, and life feels like a wonderful adventure.
But even when all busyness stops and all friends are far away and all is still and I am alone, I wouldn’t trade my life for the world.
Sure, making out with someone would be pretty cool. I’ll still pray for that to happen someday. But that is not my aim in life, nor what will define me. I am, and always will be, deeply loved by God.
(Note: About a month after writing this post in 2015, I ended up meeting an amazing guy who is now my fiancé. The first words out of my mouth after our first kiss were, “Wow, we serve a creative God!” Definitely worth the wait!)
Kelly Aalseth is a Regional Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in the Greater Los Angeles Region. She is the author of Keeper of Your Life: Actively Trusting Jesus Through Chronic Pain. She enjoys helping young people connect the dots between what God is doing in their inner lives and in mission. She graduated from UCLA in 2008 and now lives with her husband in Santa Ana.
In the chaos of your twenties, it can be tempting to search for security and significance in a relationship. You might believe the lie that once you find “your person” your life will become stable. The truth is that our stability comes from Christ alone; he is our sure foundation in every shifting time.