“So…. Are you dating anyone?” “You’re amazing. How are you single?” “Have you tried dating apps?” I get questions like this all the time from well-meaning friends, family, coworkers. And if I’m being honest, I often ask myself similar questions. “Why haven’t I found someone yet?” “Is something wrong with me?” “Should I try dating apps?” It’s easy to feel like my worth is wrapped up in my relationship status, especially when more and more of my peers are getting married with each passing year. But I have realized my singleness doesn’t mean I’m less whole or complete. In fact, it’s a gift. So, for anyone else struggling with these questions, here are some truths I’ve come to believe about this season of my life.
Friendships are worth celebrating
This is the time of year when I’m constantly reminded that I’m single, that I don’t have that life partner to share the highs and lows of life with. I’m not even dating anyone, so prospects are not looking good right now. *insert laughing crying emoji* But you know what I do have? My friendships. I have some really healthy, life-giving friendships in my life that have faithfully walked with me through highs and lows. One of the wisest guys to ever live, King Solomon of Israel once said, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Prov. 17:17) Regardless of your relationship status, God intends for us to have this kind of friendship in our lives.
As a single person, I have had the opportunity to embrace these friendships and to be that kind of friend to others, in a way that many married people can’t do as easily. I can call up a friend on a random weekday, just to say hello or encourage them. I can go over to a friend’s apartment with ice cream in tow when they are having a bad day. I can hold space for them and listen. I can celebrate them for all that they are and all the exciting things happening in their life. We need more of that in our world today, don’t you think? Celebrate your friends and celebrate the time you have to live Second in the lives of those around you! We need each other.
It’s impossible to love others if you don’t love yourself
I have spent the last few years of my life putting in the work to become a healthier person - mentally, emotionally, spiritually - and I’ve never felt more content with myself. How on earth did I get here? The catalyst for me was a big move away from Dallas, TX to Chicago, IL - from everything that ever felt safe and comfortable to a place that was totally new and uncomfortable. I remember talking to God before the move and saying “I just feel like I’m not growing; I’m stuck. I’m complacent. God, I want to grow!” Well, let me just tell you, I was NOT prepared. The next year of my life, I was depressed, lonely, and I was angry at God. I had all these expectations for what my life was going to look like in Chicago. I expected to be thriving, living my best life pursuing my dreams, maybe even falling in love, but here I was, feeling completely uprooted, off-balance, and alone.
So, I started going to counseling, dealing with my deep-seated insecurities and the unhealthy patterns in my life that I could no longer ignore. I learned that conflict is not a bad thing and is actually essential in our relationships. I got really honest with God about my questions and doubts, instead of being afraid of them. I learned about who I really am, at my core. I learned how fully loved that woman is in the eyes of Jesus. I learned that my place and value in this world is not defined by what I have accomplished or what others think of me, but is defined by Him. I’m still learning, and I have to be reminded of these things almost daily. But I have found such joy in my God-given identity, and being single these past few years has given me the space to find that.
Marriage is great, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be
Our culture has this obsession with marriage and relationships that for a long time left me feeling like all of my life was leading up to my future marriage. I told my parents multiple times as a child that I wanted to be a bride for Halloween. A BRIDE.
(Pics or it didn’t happen.)
Marriage seemed like the end-all-be-all of life. I felt that once I got married, all my loneliness, struggles and personal issues would basically be solved by this new, magical relationship. I’m so grateful for the countless married couples in my life who have very lovingly corrected my mistaken ideas about this. I’m reminded of Moriah and Joel Smallbone’s words from Moriah’s Second Edition film.
Moriah: “We do our best to protect one another’s hearts, but we’re imperfect people and our hearts are capable of damage that we didn’t even know existed. You can hurt me in ways that nobody else can. And I can hurt you in ways that nobody else can.”
Joel: “If ‘trust’ ends with me and you, you lose, because at some point, you’re going to fail me and I’m going to fail you. And what do you do then, if your ultimate faith and hope and love is put in this physical being that is not perfect?”
Two imperfect, broken humans do not make a perfect, healthy one, contrary to what my heart wants to believe. I’ve never been married, but I have experienced this in friendships. When I’ve ignored my own issues, I’ve ended up hurting people close to me. I’ve lost friendships because of broken patterns of insecurity in my life that caused me to behave in ways that really hurt them. And if that can happen in a friendship, it can absolutely happen in a marriage. The only person who can fix those broken parts of me is Jesus.
God invented marriage AND singleness
“Everyone deserves to find their soulmate.” Actually… let me just rock that boat a little bit. God never promises us a spouse… and not because he’s against the idea. He’s not. He created it. He loves it! But marriage is not the reason he put me and you on this planet. He made us for partnership with Him. We’re meant to find our missing piece, our fulfillment, our joy, our wholeness in a partnership with Him as He brings renewal to this broken place we call home. Marriage is, at its core, an imperfect reflection of that relationship, and God can do incredible things through a marriage when we recognize that. So, if you’re married, you have an amazing gift to tangibly show the world what God’s love looks like. Embrace it and nurture it!
If you’re single, may I present Jesus, the perfect man, God with us, who was actually single for his whole life? He spent his time with his 12 best bros, living life and sharing meals and helping people and making a crazy impact on the world. Another wise single person in the Bible, Paul, once said, “Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways!” (1 Corinthians 7:7). Paul goes on to affirm both singleness and marriage as gifts from God. “God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.” I’m so grateful for the time I’ve had to grow, lead, and serve as a single person. Whether it’s my forever or temporary, I know Jesus has given me a gift and a purpose.
There’s something off about the way we are approaching our relationships. Maybe, just maybe, in our obsession with finding the perfect life partner, we end up idealizing (or even worshiping) the idea of marriage or that person. Then, when they don’t live up to our expectations, it shakes us to our core. As a single person, I’m the first to admit that singleness has its drawbacks, but so does marriage. So, wherever you find yourself right now, make the choice to love that place and celebrate what it has to offer.