During my season of singleness it was not uncommon to hear opinions, suggestions and comments that were meant to be helpful. The only problem is, I often found some of these remarks to be irritating. Here is a list of them:
· “You need to learn to be happy single.”
· “There are worse things than being single.”
· “Maybe you’re being too picky.”
· “You know, some people are called to be single.”
· “It will happen when you least expect it.”
· “Are you praying specifically?”
Over the course of a few more blog posts I will give my response to these remarks.
For today, I’m starting with: “You need to learn to be happy single.” During my single years I confess to being sorely tempted to respond to that remark with a good wallop! That remark was especially provoking when married people spouted it out. I remember an occasion when I was in my mid-thirties and the person making the remark to me had married at age twenty-two and had been married several years. What did he know about years of being on one’s own?
And what exactly does “learn to be happy single” mean? Does it mean I should feel guilty about having the desire to be “attached to a spouse?” Is the person making the remark presuming that I think my life is a total misery? Does it mean I should squash my feelings and be a “Good Little Soldier in God’s Army?”
Enough of the knee-jerk emotional responses and some serious consideration of the “advise.”
Yes, there is the lie we, as human beings, are prone to believe: “I can’t be happy unless I’m in love and have a boy-friend or girl-friend/partner/spouse.” It is tied to the thought: “I have no value as a person because no one has picked me.”
As a Christian I knew and understood that loving and being loved must first be established in my relationship with God—Father Son and Holy Spirit. Not only is joy to be found by spending time with “The Three in One”, but also purpose, identity, and security.
Meditating on truth brings revelation. As a human being who is made in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my mother’s womb, I am valuable.
Maybe “learning to be happy single” means learning to love who I am; learning to know who I am apart from other people. We tend to use expressions we heard our parents say. We might walk down the road and hear an off-hand remark: “She is sure her father’s daughter.” True, there are aspects of my personality that reflect him. Or someone else might say: “She cooks just like her Mama.” I am also my mother’s daughter. With that mix of both of them I am a unique personality, able to think and act on my own dreams and desires.
It would be a fault if I saw myself as only “The Barber’s Daughter”, or “Mommy’s Girl.” And if I wanted to be married because I believed my true identity would only emerge when I became “Wife,” then there would be room for admonishing to “learn to be happy single.”
I believe each person is drawn to a purpose that motivates him/her in life. When actively pursuing or participating in that activity, there is a sense of fulfilment that only comes from that purpose. Purpose spurs and fuels creativity. God instils into His children a desire to perform a skill/talent; when that happens, “I was born to do this” is the song that sings in the heart.
When I write, or sew or cook my heart thrives because I am investing in developing the talents and skills which with God blessed me. While I’m participating in the activity, there is a satisfying of mind and soul that comes from nothing else and no one else. When I share the result, the satisfaction deepens. For example, food tastes better when it is shared.
Just as I can long for companionship, I can and do also long for times of creating, “doing what I was born to do.” Being with others who share the passion stirs and inspires even more creativity. Living to fulfil purpose produces a deep satisfaction that is from a relationship with one’s self. Perhaps this is another facet to the jewel of “learning to be happy single”.
Security carries with it, at least in part, the idea that “everything will turn out okay.” There is no security in this world. We can prepare for the future, but trust has to be in God and His promises.
Citizens of Syria had education, employment, homes, and businesses until the civil war broke out six year ago. People who once felt their future was secure are now refugees. We don’t like to think so, but the same could happen to us. Severe weather could destroy our homes. An accident could rob us of our heath and ability to work.
So, what does security and “learning to be happy single” have to do with each other? God entered into a covenant with us, through Christ Jesus. Our sense of security is based on the knowledge that through Christ’s shed blood we have salvation. The foundation of covenant reminds us that if we give all we have to our Heavenly Father, He will also give to us all that pertains to life and Godliness. Real security is resting in the peace of knowing that God is faithful to keep His promises to us—even when we struggle to remain faithful to Him.
Maybe well-meaning people were trying to tell me that I didn’t need to be married to be happy. Fair enough. But maybe they needed to understand that I needed to vent about loneliness. And maybe they needed to understand that embracing single life is a process, a journey. And maybe, they should have understood that when “complaining” about the disappointment of not being married, it didn’t mean I wasn’t content with while I was single.
There is the possibility that “learning to be happy single” means choosing to live with joy, accepting myself—strengths and faults, while I wait for God to fulfil the desires of my heart in His time.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,