As I've ministered to high school, college age, and young singles for over 25 years, I have heard these words over and over again. I've seen some find good guys and get married, just the way they envisioned life for themselves, but I've also seen those for whom the "right man" never came; so they are left with either settling for someone far less than their ideal or suffering in their singleness. Since singleness is called "the gift that nobody wants", I know far more of these ladies who settled for Mr. Wrong and now are either single again after divorce or are miserable in their marriage.
As I approach the point of being nearly 20 years beyond that life stage, I reflect on my own life and whether or not it has turned out as I expected. Of course 20 years ago I didn't think that I would still be single either. But as life, and I believe God, soon showed me, not everyone is meant to be married or have kids. That truth in and of itself is more than okay although I didn't come by it in an instant. For me, not having a mother around when I entered my twenties, probably took some of the pressure off. It also helped to have a strong grandmother who spent most of her adult life without a man. Even my maternal grandmother, although married for more than 50 years, saw the advantage of only marrying for an outstanding godly man over settling with any old guy that showed an interest. That fact helped me to focus on building my career and ministries instead.
I think our society, particularly our Christian community still puts a premium on becoming a wife and mother as necessary to one's being and calling. From the time we are little girls, we are programmed to aspire to be a wife and mother. Even career women are told that they can "have it all " by juggling these roles as necessary. In reality, we seem to gloss over Paul's recommendation in 1 Corinthians 7 that singles stay that way to better serve the Lord. It is not helpful when singles' and young adult's ministries are designed around helping them find mates rather than becoming a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. (For more on this subject, I found Kristin Aune's book Single Women to be a great resource.)
Has my life turned out the way I'd dreamt it 10, 20 or even 30 years ago? In some ways, yes, in others, no. Thirty years ago, while I was in high school, I only thought about being a rich engineer (an oxymoron I know now); I got the engineer part right and compared to a lot of my peers from high school I'm doing pretty well. However, that was a life planned that had no room for God in it. A few years later, much of that thinking had turned a different direction with a new focus on Christ. I think that girl would be surprised at the present one that I was not further along in Christ-like behavior and godliness. Somehow that envisioned one would be highly regarded as a Christian speaker, wife and mother (who just happened to have an engineering degree, too). The me of 10-20 years ago by then would not have been disappointed to be single still, but would be sorry to hear that I was out of youth ministry again (perhaps, she'd wonder why her church would still be choosing people in leadership that would initiate such things). Oh, and I'd have travelled more and done more interesting things too.
Well, what does the future ten years from now hold? Should the Lord tarry, I will be retired and free to minister full-time on my retirement money and investments. But, the thing is we don't know, we are not guaranteed of tomorrow and you know what they say about the best laid plans... The point is, we don't (or aren't supposed to) live life in an holding pattern, treading water in place until the right man, the right job, the right ministry or the right opportunity comes along. God, like the master in the parable of the talents, has given us the wherewithall to serve Him and live life to its fullest in the now. I am responsible for what I do or don't do with it. That applies equally to my 30 something gal pals who are desperate for Mr. Right to come along and change their life. If he comes, great, if not, you will have helped to build God's kingdom or reflected Christ's love. There are no regrets for that life.