There is SO much to reflect on in this article by Tim Keller… and I won’t even begin to tackle all of it. So I’m focused today on the aspect of being single.
A lot of people, singles and marrieds alike, feel like being single is some kind of curse. There must be something wrong with a single person. I mean, why can’t they find someone? EVERYone else does, right? I mean, isn’t that our goal in life? From the time we are like, 2.
From a young age, we are told to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. One of my earlier memories, I was about 3 or 4 I think, and a friend said he is your boyfriend (in reference to my best friend Matthew, also 4) Are you marrying him? And I’m fairly sure I said yes. Because that’s what you think about when you are FOUR YEARS OLD.
Our society is obsessed with relationships. Hollywood churns out mostly insipid stories solely based on relationships and all the ridiculous things people do to get into one. Most novels have some element of the chase and subsequent capture and such. There are countless books about dating and mating, all of which are incredibly helpful if not contradictory. Not to mention the bajillion lyrics and poems and tattoos.
We spend an awful lot of time thinking about our relationship status. We look to another person for that completeness, fulfillment, validation, comfort, etc. Of course this is good and right more or less. We are created to be in meaningful relation to each other. It was ordained and so shall it be. Especially as a woman who was raised in the Judeo-Christian ethic of Thou Shalt Be a Wife and Mother.
But I offer this. Think as long about being single as you do think about finding the one. Think about the things you can and should do. And then rejoice in your freedom to do them.
People often tell me they are “amazed” at what I do. I have five or six projects I’m juggling at any given time. While I write this blog, I’m also copying CDs for a friend and sent off a couple press releases for two events I’m coordinating. I’m a multi-tasker and I would say I’m good at it. I know I retain a lot of information and catalog it away in my little head for reference at any given time.
AND… I am single and childless. And have been for a good long time now. I don’t have to take care of anyone and I’m not responsible for anyone, well, you know what I mean. I get up when I want to in the morning. I eat what and when I want to. I make plans without checking with anyone – except maybe my Mom 🙂 And I don’t need to bring a gigantic diaper bag with me every where I go. At least for now.
My point of course is that you cannot disagree that being single has its advantages. And many a married folk joke around about said advantages. But really, underneath it all, we all still feel like it’s much sadder to be single.
I learned a long time ago that loneliness is not the sole property of single people. I also learned that I was far sadder in a hurtful relationship than I have ever felt alone. What I have also come to learn is that I am meant to be single, right here, right now, to accomplish. I am driven to using everything within me to bring people together, to bless them in ways that I can, to encourage, to enlighten, maybe to educate here and there.
On the flip side of this, though, comes the danger of being obsessed with singleness. We’re a rare breed, for sure, and I would be happy to debate you on which is worse – thinking about dating all the time or running away from all eligible men, and some ineligible for that matter.
I’m not saying I don’t think about it. Honestly, I think about the men I’ve dated over the years and I count my lucky stars (which doesn’t take long because I don’t believe in lucky stars) that I am not with any of them. Not that they were bad people, well, most of them weren’t, but in retrospect, none of them were quite what I want or need and I wouldn’t be where I am now. That should go without saying, but we forget that. We are where we are for a hundred reasons.
All this said, I love being who I am now and being involved in the things I am involved in now. I love having too much on my plate and I love being fat with contentment. OK, that’s not a great analogy, but you know what I mean.
And I feel validated by Tim Keller (God bless that man a hundred thousand times) going to great lengths to talk about the blessings of singles in ministry. Many a time I have felt inadequate to do things. Who do I think I am? First I’m a woman… then a single woman… then a childless single woman, the triple curse for a Christian for sure.
But at the end of the day, I know that I’m where I should be and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. It’s been a long time coming for me, running around after everything that I fancy, including relationships, and finding few things that truly satisfy.
That’s not to say that I don’t empathize with my friends who long for a companion, who greatly desire to be with that person. I get that. I really do. That longing is for real and deep. It is painful and I would never belittle it.
And I get the bitterness when we watch people younger than us and far less “Together” than us getting married and starting a family. We think how unfair it seems and what in the world is wrong with people who arent’ lining up at my door? And maybe I need to move to a real city so at least the odds are better. And I should probably sign up for an online dating site, or two or all of them.
I am not going to lecture anyone on this. I used to but for some reason people don’t listen to me when I tell them what to do. What I will say is that you could meet every eligible person in the entire country and still not get married. There are 500 reasons for why this is, but suffice it to say, when you are actually ready, you will be ready. And not out of desperation because becoming desperate means you do not believe God is taking care of you. And not because you fall in love with every guy that looks into your eyes for longer than the average 1.2 seconds.
No, you and I will be ready when the one you have spent time getting to know, the one who passionately champions all the values you share, the one who is kind to people, your people and any people he comes across, the one who you can trust your life with, the one with the same steady hope you have that has carried you both this far… when that one asks you to be ready.
And like the psalmist says, All my fountains are in You. And in the right time, the Fountain provides what we need. And not a moment sooner.