My mom was delighted when I brought her a matriska doll from Warsaw, Poland. These dolls are special Slavic creations—one big ornate wooden mama doll with six or more little dolls hidden inside each other. Some dolls hold over a dozen babies. Each is decorated in bright colors, and part of the fun is taking them apart to see how many more hide inside.
I was tickled when my friend Jacky gave me a set of these nesting dolls—Winnie the Pooh characters, no less! While they don’t look authentically Slavic, Jacky knew I’d like them. They add a fun twist to a traditional idea.
Singleness is like a matriska doll—it is a gift that holds other gifts inside.
In this chapter, we’re going to open the dolls, take them apart, and look for more dolls hidden inside. We’re going to find each one uniquely decorated and attractive. In another chapter, we will look at some parts of this gift that do not feel like good gifts, but we will find they change into a lovely pattern after all. (Our gifts can change. What we hold now in our hands, we might not hold for the rest of our lives. Ultimately, our gifts belong to God. That means He can take or give whenever He chooses. )
For now, let’s look at the gift just as it is, without taking it apart. Hold the mama doll in your hand. Turn her around. Shake her. She’s still smiling, still rattling and hiding something inside.
Maybe singleness was a surprise gift to you. At some point, you discovered it in your hand. It felt like a foreign intruder, some strangely-designed thing, and you’re still not sure what to do with it. You wonder if this is the only gift you’ll ever get. A matriska doll isn’t like the dolls of your childhood. It’s hard, not cuddly; it’s fat, not fluffy.
Maybe you’re obligated to care for your aging parents or handicapped sibling. Maybe you’re focused on your career dreams and don’t want to relinquish the fulfillment they give you. Maybe no man has chosen you out of all the women in his world. Maybe you’re too shy or too independent to consider marriage. Or maybe someone did love you but hurt you, and you’ve vowed never to risk love or trust again.
Maybe other people do not know how to respond to your gift when they see you cradling it in your arms. To them, it looks weird. They have never seen such a thing, and they might even tell you it’s not as pretty as the doll they have.