Oh the millions of conversations I’ve had surrounding this topic. The countless friends I’ve sat with and asked all the same questions over and over and over and over and over and over [you get the point] again. The tears, the disappointment, the sadness, the grief, really the loss of something, of so many things…things hoped for, dreams and longing still left unfulfilled.
I’ve been asked if I want this topic to be ‘my platform’ as a writer. That question has always been met with a pretty harsh, immediate ‘no’. Not for me. I didn’t want a platform, and I didn't want to write about...singleness for the masses to see my broken heart on display. That seems well…a little pathetic don’t you think? I’ve shared some of the depths of my heart in writing, but when it came to my marital status - I wasn’t saying a word. In fact, I got to a place where I was tired of even mentioning it to friends of mine anymore. Who could even relate?
Though, I have to say. This topic is pretty unchartered territory. There aren’t a lot of books out there talking about this…well not many good ones at least. I’m not ‘kissing dating goodbye’ and I’m not interested in being told that once I find my contentment in the Lord, all the stars in the Universe will align and I’ll meet prince charming, my night in shining armor or my perfect soul mate. I say that knowing it might come off sounding a little, well...jaded. But I don’t believe faith or religion or a relationship with God works that way. As if we have to earn things from God. Any 'If we just _______, then _______.’ statement is a little absurd sounding to me.
I’ve never quite been able to pin point why it’s so hard for me to put pen to paper on this subject - I think it’s more pride than anything..and let's be honest, a bit of shame. It seems you’re either one way or the other in the public sphere with singleness. You're really open and vocal about it and everyone knows where you stand or you stay quiet, do your best to ‘be ok', and just don’t bring it up. No one wants to be 'that girl'. Besides, who wants to hear a single girl talk about her sadness? Show me all the wedding photos and baby announcements but please keep that stuff to yourself.
Some of us have put up false walls of security in an effort to ‘be ok’, and not look pathetic.
The emotions of singleness have become a secret life. But here’s what I’ve realized, and here’s why I’m writing this little diddy…
Singleness is not who you are, it’s where you are. the world needs you to show up there. you are not pathetic.
It’s not a death sentence, a disease or something that makes you any less than your happily married friends with 5 children approaching their 10 year wedding anniversary. If we can’t be honest about where we are in this life…then what the hell are we doing?
Life is moving along really quickly these days. This year I've watched so many friends who were ‘in it with me’ in a sense ‘cross over’ to the other side’ and find their person. There’s a sense of renewed hope that’s stirred up in my soul every time I watch a friend get married. But at the same time, my heart breaks. It’s not a matter of not being happy for others. But, alongside that happiness, living right there in the same place in my heart, there’s still a very real, very deep sadness within that I’d be doing a dis-service to this writing thing if I neglected to mention.
If you’re single, I’m writing this for you...
I’m writing to tell you that it’s 100% ok to be sad about your today. It’s not what you would have chosen and quite honestly, it’s really, really tough. There you go - I said it. I think I’ve decided to say it in case no one else does. Your hardship is valid, not pathetic.
You see, you don’t have to choose between being happy for others and tending to your own sadness. It’s not a way to live. If we neglect what’s happening in our own hearts, it will only be a matter of time until it catches up to us.
The reality is, I’m not God and I don’t know the future or ‘if there is someone amazing coming your way in the days ahead'…but what I do know is that life is way too short to wait until that happens to start living. If you're older, I'm sure you stopped doing that a long time ago. Take the trips, form deep friendships, make the move, buy the house, heck - buy the Vita-mix for crying out loud. Go on random dates - get to know people as humans without worrying if they're 'the one' right away. Relax. Enjoy the amazing things this life has to offer! Soak up the freedom...from what I hear, when it's gone, well - it's gone.
Though, it's equally important to learn to embrace the feelings of sadness hurt, disappointment, anger and confusion. Sit in these emotions. Cry. Ask a trusted friend if they’re up for sitting there with you for a little while…talk it out, yell it out, do what you need to do. But, don’t stay there. Give yourself a time frame, then get up, keep living your life, pursuing your dreams and loving the heck out of people. Those walls we've built up surrounding singleness…well, we’ve got to let them down.
As you live and move and love and celebrate others…let them love you back. I promise it will leave you feeling more human.
John Piper or Pipes as I call him says this…
"Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
For the marrieds out there wondering how to love your single friends, well, I’m writing this for you...
It’s not as complicated as we’ve made it out to be. I always go back to one simple act. Acknowledgement. Ask your single friends this question ‘How are you doing with singleness?' Not once a year, not every day either, but when you find time for a good catch up, when you get a sense that something is off, make it a point to ask & acknowledge this part of their heart. It will go a really long way, I promise. You may not be able to relate to their exact pain, but what you can do is be present with them in it. Avoidance isn’t doing anyone any good.
When we avoid asking out of convenience, we give way to the lies that the emotions surrounding singleness are a burden to others or something to be ashamed of.
Man I’m really passionate about this. I believe acknowledgement is the key to so many things. When we take the pressure off of ourselves to have the answers or the quick-fix and take time to listen, allow our hearts to enter in, and stay for a while…it makes all the difference. Listening is where love begins and avoidance is the culprit to letting assumptions get the best of us.
If we don’t ask or acknowledge, we’re not doing our part in Relationships.
This morning I woke up with this topic burning in my heart and felt called to get to writing about it for well...the first time. It may not be my most finished piece or polished writing, but I believe someone reading this needed to hear these words TODAY. I know I needed to write them.
So - who wants to hear a single girl talk about her sadness? Well…I do. Your pain is not your weakness…it’s actually what’s making you one really strong, incredible person. Let the pain do its work in you, give yourself some grace, allow your emotions to co-exist and be honest with yourself and others about where you're at along the way.
I believe there’s balance in everything and I want to find that balance. I want to contribute to the conversation in a way that brings beauty, empathy, encouragement and understanding. I want to put my pride aside, show up with my whole heart and remain true to where I’m at with this singleness stuff...without using it as an outlet to unleash frustration. :)
Single friends, your pain is real…don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. Create space for your sadness, weep, wash your face, trust God, pursue life, love the heck out of others, let them in…and keep hoping.
Don’t sell yourself short. Singleness is not a measure of who you are. Who you are is one incredible, strong, talented, amazing, whole person.
You are certainly not alone and you are loved.
Photo credit: Shea Christine Photography [For a good laugh, take notice of the boat name!]