Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On the Single Path

Recently someone asked me how I had arrived at a place where knowing who I am in the Lord supersedes any doubts and fears I have about being single. I had never been asked this question before. How did I get to a point where my single state is simply that--a state of being which does not define who I am, what I can do with my life or keep me in a perpetual state of waiting?

For most Christian singles I know, accepting the single state is difficult. From a very early age, we are taught about marriage--to seek out the "equal yoke", to marry and raise godly kids and to above all remain pure and virginal until said mate is found. We are fooled and fool ourselves into believing  "completeness" comes when you find the perfect mate to spend the rest of your life with--life begins then.

I've heard countless sermons about the "God-shaped hole" in our hearts. A hole we continually try to fill-up with other things--relationships, stuff, jobs, etc.--but God is the only one who can fill this hole and make us complete. And for however many of us have heard this sermon, those of us in the single crowd have a subconscious guilty twinge of "well God and a mate, that's what they really mean."

The first time I thought I had a chance at marriage, I was 21 years old and in my senior year of college. I was certain I had met "the one" and felt sure I had heard from God this man was my husband. The unfortunate thing was, this man did not receive the same message. To be sure, I was so head over heels I made the relationship out to be much more than it actually was. I wanted it to be more. And in building my castles in the clouds and placing my white knight on his steed, I got badly hurt and shut myself off to all possibility of a relationship for many years.

The second time was not castles in the clouds. It was real and tangible with real conversations about marriage and life and kids. But instead of finding myself becoming more complete, I found myself breaking apart. Little pieces of who I was being chipped away and sacrificed for the sake of making the relationship work. And when it didn't, I was devastated. I was a broken shell, so far from complete I was not even sure where or how to begin sweeping up the pieces. It seemed no amount of glue or duct tape could put me back together again. This was not how it was supposed to end. It wasn't supposed to be an ending at all. It was supposed to be a beginning.

Being single right now is not a path I would have chosen for myself. I would not chose to be adopting as a single mom. But just because I wouldn't chose it for myself doesn't mean I'm not content in it and really grateful for being exactly where I am. I know the steps being taken now are good. They are part of a good story being played out, I hope, to the glory of God. And I am confident in Him to provide all I need; He always has. I am confident in a pursuit of God and a love for Him much more rewarding and fulfilling than any marriage, any relationship could ever be.

How did I arrive at this attitude and perception of my singleness? I don't know. I suppose because I'm finally comfortable in myself and I'm comfortable in my relationship with God. I know I don't need to wait for a relationship to live my life and to be a part of the larger story being written all around us. I know God has my best interest at heart and if there is something more extraordinary available than the extraordinary I am already living today in my single state, than God will bring it about in the right time.

Being single doesn't make you less important than your married friends or siblings or whoever. And as a Church, we've got to be better about sharing this message with singles. Maybe less emphasis on helping singles to find a mate with our dating websites and our singles mixers. And maybe more emphasis on telling singles they are important and valuable in whatever their relationship status may be, and not only are they important and valuable, but they have a good story to tell too. They have the same chance for living a really great story as every married or soon to be married or has been married person.

It's not bad to pray for and want marriage. It's not bad to put yourself out there and into opportunities to meet somebody. But what is bad is to think you are not enough and you are not complete and to dwell on the empty house you come home to. So if you are single, my suggestion is to fill your house with good and godly things and to find out how God wants to use you right now, today, in your single state.

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