single, not alone

Rambling thoughts on singleness…

I am single.  It’s definitely something that people know about me, but it’s not something I really advertise.  This is not because I’m ashamed, but because it’s personal and I’m not looking.  Well, I’m not looking today ;P.  But being single is also not the most important thing about me.

I’ve been single my whole life…as in never been asked out on a date, not even a friend-date to prom single.  As in made it through 5.5 years at a private Christian university single.  As in gone to church my whole life single.  Yeah.  For those who know, that’s deep, deep single.  That’s the single that God has called you to, really.  At least for the time being.

And most days, I’m okay with it, so okay with it, that it doesn’t even cross my mind.  Sometimes I’m so okay with my marital status (or lack thereof) that I think, “Hmmm, I’m single…and I like it.”  Other days being single seems like a sad, depressing thing, and on really-really bad days, being single is like some kind of judgment or flag that I carry around with me, causing me to feel pathetic.  But like I said, most days, I’m okay with being single.

I think probably the biggest fear of single girls is that they will be alone for the rest of their lives.  This is part of my fear.  I don’t want to do life by myself.  I vividly remember grocery shopping probably three years ago, going through the aisles alone and putting “food for one” into my cart.  I was planning my meals, planning my life, planning “I only need one package of pita bread.”  And I reached for something on the shelf, maybe a box of macaroni, and such a feeling of sadness overwhelmed me that I almost cried right there in the aisle.  I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do this alone my whole life.  I don’t want to shop for myself.  I want to shop for a family, have someone to talk to in the store, go home and fill the cupboards for someone else besides myself.  I want to have a husband, children, I don’t want to shop for one forever.”  I am not satisfied with doing life with a good group of girlfriends by my side.  I want a man.  I think for a long time, I tried to be strong, tried to tell people, “I don’t need a man, I don’t want a man, I’d like a man” and then I realized that I’d been lying to myself.  I really did want a man.

Isn’t it precious when people who are married try to comfort you with stories of how they felt when they were single?  They tell you kind, yet unhelpful things like, “I wasn’t thinking about dating and poof, there he was” or “It’s so hard being single, but keep at it because one day, when you least expect it, he’ll appear.”  And so, we singles begin to “least expect” every day.  We close our eyes and pray, “God, I give you my love story, I give you my life, my desires for this guy, my desires for a guy, and I just give it all up to you to do your timing and to just bring this man into my life when I am ready and when you want it to happen…” and secretly we open one eye and look around for this mystery man.  For so long, my unspoken prayer has been, “So, I surrendered my love life, where’s my man?!?”  but surrender isn’t just a feeling, it’s a way of living.  And it’s a hard way of living.

I guess I need to remember that while I may be single that does not mean that I am doing life alone.  I have three wonderful sisters who support and love me.  I have my parents, my extended family, my friends, and Jesus to sustain me.  I’m not alone, but I am single.  And single doesn’t encompass all that I am.  It doesn’t change the way that I look at the world, it just changes the way I move through it.  Being single doesn’t give me a stamp of approval or disapproval; it’s just the state I’m in right now.  And if I am in this state for the rest of my life, that is fine.  God will carry me through.

There’s a lot of rhetoric in the church about marriage.  Yes, marriage is good, but it is not the only way to be.  Single people are almost always treated like married people-in-waiting, as if they are hovering in a perpetual state of wondering when they mystery man or woman will show up.  What if God has called someone to a single life?  There is usually nowhere to prepare for this life, or learn about it, especially in the Protestant churches.  Being single is another way of being in the world that is almost always overlooked in churches.  I’m not about to say, “Single is better because Jesus was single and Paul said we should all be single and blah blah…” but I am tired of hearing sermons about marriage and none about singleness.  What does it mean to be single?  Is it a judgment from God?  Does it mean that you don’t trust/love him enough, you’re not ready?  Should you spend your life preparing for a mate instead of living a full single life that has been given to you?  And how do you deal with issues of lust and sexual feelings in singleness?  The world tells you one thing, but that’s most certainly not God’s way.  It’s time to stop relegating singles to the singles group (which we all know is a place where people college age or 35+ go to hopefully meet someone they can marry) and ignoring their needs and stories.

But most of all, we need to realize that being single does not mean being alone.  Being single doesn’t mean ‘pre-married’ or ‘lady-in-waiting.’  Being single means that I’m right where God wants me.  I have lessons to learn here.  Things to do here, people to affect here, as a single woman…who is never alone.

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