I’ve started this blog about five times now, and every time I do it has the complete and total wrong tone. I keep trying to be cute and funny, but it just ends up sounding bitter and grumpy (or as a lovely former student of mine said: “salty”). So I’m just going to give up on being cute and just be real.
That’s a thing.
It’s a thing I never understood when I was younger, to be perfectly honest. I was born a hopeless romantic. I think from the time I was able to play make-believe, I was a princess. Not a damsel in distress, mind you… no, no. This princess could fight and run and save the prince (might have made a difference that my earliest play memory is of pretending to be Princess Leia in Star Wars… but I digress).
But there was always a hero alongside me. There was always someone fighting with me. Someone who I sometimes had to save. Someone who sometimes had to save me. Someone who loved me.
Fast forward to high school, and I really didn’t fit in. I’m a geeky gal, and I was still struggling in many ways to find who I was and where I fit. I didn’t date much as a result, and it got me down sometimes. Still, I told myself, “just wait until college.” I just knew that when I got to college, I’d find my people… and I’d find “him”.
Fast forward to college, and I definitely found my people. Friends I made in college have endured to this very day as some of the strongest of my life. I’m more grateful for that than words can express. Something that I look back on regret, however, is that I learned how to not be okay with being single.
I started dating early on in college… and I don’t think I was single for more than a month or two at a time from that point until I was married five years later. I dated several great guys (and a few that I might should have passed on) and ended up marrying one of my best friends. I thought I’d found it. That elusive “one” that would enable me to be truly happy once and for all.
Happily ever after, right?
If there’s one concept that has thoroughly permeated our society now, it is that of finding “the one” as a means of happiness and fulfillment. Everything from princesses singing “one day my prince will come” to romantic comedies ending with the plucky girl and goofy guy finally getting together to dramatic movies about star-crossed lovers either finally finding each other or tragically being pulled apart. The common factor in all of them, however, seems to be “find ‘the one’ and you’ll be happy.”
Man, I wish it were that simple. In a way, it actually is… but I’ll get back to that.
Through seven years of marriage, I learned a lot about being “not single”… and one of the things I tell my girls constantly now is something they will probably never believe until (God forbid) they have to experience it for themselves….
“There are worse things than being single.”
They don’t believe me. I know they don’t. I wouldn’t have believed me either. Because, c’mon… how could anything be worse than being single? Life doesn’t begin until you have that special person at your side. The soulmate. The quest to find that person who makes us complete consumes so much of our subconscious and conscious minds.
I had this idea in my head that still fights to claim dominance again some days. Good Christian girls go find good Christian guys (I’m writing this from a girl’s perspective, so feel free to switch that around if you’re a guy reading this) and they have good Christian marriages with good Christian children and an overall good Christian life. They don’t end up divorced single mothers wondering how life went so completely wrong….
Except when they do.
So after seven years I found myself divorced and quite suddenly single again. And you know what I almost did? I almost dove right back into the mindset… I almost began that desperate search yet again for “the one”. I dated a little bit… and then God intervened. God said “stop”. God said “slow down, beloved… and think.”
I can’t truly explain to you what happened that day. But something changed. And in the almost four years I’ve been single now, God has slowly been showing me what it is to fall in love with Him.
Because you see… the desire of our hearts to find that “one”? That’s not about a significant other. That’s about God. Society, the world, and our basic sinful natures have twisted a holy desire to love and be loved by the One who created us into something that is more often than not just about sex. Just being blunt here.
We’re searching for fulfillment from beings that were never meant to give it to us. And not only is it destructive to our hearts… it’s flat out unfair to the ones we’re seeking it from. They can’t fulfill us. We can’t fulfill them. Only God can do that. Marriage is meant as a partnership. Two people working together as a beautiful parable of God’s love. Two people working for His glory on this earth.
And we’ve twisted that sucker all to pieces.
Most people’s reaction to finding out I’m “still” single is anywhere between pity and reassurance (Oh, I’m sorry… you’ll find someone, I know it!) to shock and dismay (How are you still single?!). While I’m truly flattered (I mean… I’m learning to cook now and everything!), I can easily tell you why. #1 – God wants me that way for now. #2 – I’ve got a list of “requirements” so steep that only God is going to be able to usher a man into my life that will meet them.
Because when you start realizing that God is your fulfillment and you’re actually seeking someone to partner with in glorifying God… that changes your priorities.
Recently my BF (best friend, not boyfriend… this is a blog post on singleness, people) was explaining to someone about “the list”. She named some of the highlights, and the person she was talking to just kinda blinked at her for a moment. Then she said, “That’s a pretty tall order in this day and age.”
Maybe I should give you the abbreviated version…
1 – Must be an earnestly-seeking-God Christian man. This is non-negotiable. We all have weaknesses and faults, but someone who is chasing after God is at least going to be running on the same path as I am.
2 – Must be willing to be a loving stepfather to The Kiddo. Because we are a package deal.
3 – Must be willing to make the commitment with me to honor God through being chaste until we are married.
4 – Must be a geek. (Okay this one is a bit more negotiable… but honestly, I’m not sure I could love someone who wouldn’t geek out with me about Marvel movies, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings style fantasy stuff.)
It gets less ticky after that and more just preferences and hopes. But the first three are absolutely non-negotiable… and really, they all tie back to the first one.
And that’s considered a pretty tall order nowadays….
I won’t lie and say that’s not discouraging at times. But that’s okay…. I had to make the statement of faith a long time ago that if God keeps me single for the rest of my life, I am okay with that. There are some days it’s a total statement of faith, and some days that I actually mean it 100%. But at the end of the day, if I’m not looking at marriage as a means to honor God… I’m missing the point.
With all that said… I wish I could communicate properly how life-like life can be while single. I mean… really! I actually enjoy my life. Shocking, I know! I don’t sit about pining away as I stare out the window awaiting my prince. I’m fairly busy between raising a cutey-patootie little boy, working full time, and operating in the ministries God has placed me in during this season of my life. There is fulfillment and happiness, but there is also frustration and loneliness.
I’m not going to dress up singleness as “not a sometimes-struggle”. Unless God has given you the gift of celibacy, singleness is going to be a struggle some days! (Spoiler alert… I don’t have that gift.) But it goes back to that “rewriting your responses” thing that I talked about with the Strawberry principle. I’ve had to start asking myself every time I start longing for “someone” whether I’m still seeking someone to glorify God with… or if I’m just looking for someone to make me feel better.
Because if I’m looking for someone to make me feel better, I’m just going to bounce from guy to guy again… demanding something that they were never designed to give me.
I’ll be completely honest. This feels so less focused than my other two posts so far in this blog’s short little life… and there’s so much more I feel like I should unpack, but I’m going to save that for another time.
For now, I’m just going to leave this here. It’s the set of verses most quoted at weddings, and yet I think we miss their ultimate point. Usually we speak of these verses in relation to the person we love… but we’re told repeatedly in the Bible that God is love.
So… as you read these, instead of thinking of a significant other or someone you wish you had in your life… think of the One who’s already there waiting to give you the fulfillment you yearn to find.
And stop waiting for someone else to give you permission to live a full life.
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith,
is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7