I write a lot on this blog of marriage and my experiences being married. I write about this topic because it’s relevant to my life at this point. However, before this current season, I spent a lot of time being single. I’ve written a few posts about those days: Just Wait, When Everyone Else is Getting Engaged and Encouragement for Single Women. Although those were not the most favourite or preferred times in my life, they were necessary and one lesson I learned was to be content on my own.
I understand that being single is not easy in a culture that is constantly pushing the mantra that you need someone to be happy or complete you. I say -lies! I also know that deep down we all accept the arduous truth that no one person can truly satisfy us. Yet we still seek a person or relationship to make us feel good, increase our ego and validate our worth. I understand the endeavour because we see the couples all over social media professing their undying love and affection to each other. They look so happy. Meanwhile, on the inside, we’re hurting or we’ve been injured by someone we trusted and we just want to feel loved and accepted. These feelings are not wrong, we were made to be loved.
Singleness is often perceived as not being wanted. Internally this may be felt or an ascribed label. Unfortunately, this definition deepens the pain of being ‘alone’. Not only do you not have someone to share life with, you’ve labelled yourself at not being worth someone’s time or affection. You persuade yourself if “I was attractive enough, or witty enough or…” then someone would notice me and validate my value, then someone would tell me I’m beautiful, then I could live out my romantic comedy dreams… I’ve felt all of these thoughts and emotions when I was single. It was hard. I often wondered if I would ever meet someone if I would get married before 25. I went through feeling bitter, jealous, and envious of other’s relationships. I wondered what is so wrong with me? Why can’t guys see my attractive qualities and character? I prayed many nights that God would bring a godly man into my life.
In an effort to change my situation I sought a relationship. Alas, trying to seek out a relationship often has the opposite result. All of my efforts to secure a guys attention usually failed. I tried to look pretty, be outgoing, laugh at their jokes, go to events where I knew there would be guys, talk to them, be available. To no avail did any of it work. I ended up feeling rejected. Eventually, I got to the point where I was encouraged to try online dating. (Which in some circumstances can be helpful to meet people, at the time I wasn’t ready to take this step). Everything I was trying was giving the same hopeless result. Until one evening where God changed my perspective.
I was over at a friends house from church with a few other young adult friends and my friend’s parents. We were talking about our church’s Young Adult group where once a month we had an event called Lunch & Learn where all the other young adults would gather after the Sunday morning service to share a meal and fellowship together. Our church was quite large and the group usually consisted of over 50 people. I always viewed it a perfect opportunity to meet guys (; On this night my friend’s parents encouraged us to go to Lunch & Learn the next day and seek out individuals who were alone or needed friends. We had a pretty solid friend group and it would be easy for us to reach out to others. The following day I went to the event resolute to seek out anyone who needed a friend. Instead of focusing on myself and how I could attract male attention, my desire’s were turned towards others needs. I and my friend ended up sitting away from our other friends to try meeting new people. As a result, I focused on showing kindness and interest to those around me instead of seeking validation from others.
This change in perspective was a pivotal moment for me to move past my selfish desires to meet my needs and to look around at how I could serve others. I wasn’t automatically content with my circumstances, but I began to not obsess over what I didn’t have to what I could give. I still felt lonely as I prayed about a future husband, but God began to change my heart and teach me to trust His timing.
A few weeks later I went home for Christmas and I focused on spending time with my family and doing fun things with my friends. Later my mom commented that she could sense I was lonely, but that I was also subtly content with my circumstances.
Eventually, I did meet a guy, and shockingly (to me) he asked me out on a real first date. From then on I entered a whole new exciting, surprising and unfamiliar season of life. Before that time I had spent a lot of time alone, single and wondering if that time would ever come. Looking back I’m grateful for the time I spent unattached. I realize it allowed me to cultivate lifelong friendships, to participate in a bible study that provided these friends, to spend in-depth time studying God’s word, filling my mind with truth and promises, and to learn the difficult lesson to be content in all circumstances.
I’m thankful I met Mike when I did because I was in a really good place personally. My sole desires at that time were not to find a relationship. Therefore, upon first meeting him I assumed he probably had a girlfriend so why waste time being overly friendly with this really attractive guy (as was my previous practice).
Still today, I haven’t mastered the virtue of contentment, I still struggle with it, although in different areas. In all season’s of life, we are faced with angst. I still have unmet desires and goals I hope to accomplish. Although I don’t know when those will be accomplished, I have learned to be content while I wait. I needed this timely reminder of how changing my perspective changed my situation.
Every season of life has a purpose and if one’s heart is open God is graciously teaching one a lesson. Don’t let your pride or personal preferences get in the way of His purpose. God doesn’t withhold good from those He loves. Although He gives us boundaries in His word to keep us away from situations and acts that are harmful to us, He does this to sanctify us and make us more like Him. At times it’s painful but the reward of obeying Him and living in submission to His commands far exceeds the pain.