Let me be clear about a few things before I get started on this enlightening rant.
I’m not mad/angry/bitter towards well meaning people who try and encourage those of us who are single. I understand that MOST of them were not single as long as some of us have been. So, they don’t understand that we’ve heard the same things many, many, many, many, many times before. Sure, repetition can sometimes be helpful. Like when trying to memorize the colors of bomb wires so you know which ones are safe to cut and which ones aren’t. They also don’t understand that even though cliches are cute, they are seldom helpful.
When it comes to encouragement for the single ones around you, let me let you in on a few things.
Some of us single people feel shame about our singleness. We often wonder what’s wrong with us. Do guys prefer short hair and mine is long? Do guys prefer girls who drive cars without rust spots? Do I not pray enthusiastically enough in public? Should I lose 50-100 pounds because I’m too fat for a boyfriend? Am I too opinionated? Too passionate? Too short?
Just some of the words or thoughts we struggle with. For some of us it is a daily struggle. Some days I can’t go to a church service, young adult meeting, grocery store, or gas station pump without wondering why I’m single. I’ll look around and wonder how they have someone and I don’t. Ya, sure, I’m judgmental. Add that to the list of reasons why I’m single.
Seriously though. There’s this idea that you must be messed up if your still single. That if you had your crap together you’d be married by now. There’s some sin you haven’t dealt with and your singleness is a punishment from God. Yes, I’ve often thought God withheld a good thing (like a spouse) from me because I wasn’t perfect. Horrible theology, I know, but it seemed like the only viable solution. God hates me, I’d think.
Also, married people tend to think that we have these Hollywood ideas in our head about marriage. No, we know marriage won’t solve any of our problems. We know it won’t be easy. We know its not all hand-holding, giggling and loving eye gazes. We get that some days you struggle with how you could love the person farting in the bed next to you. We get it.
But we want to wake up next to a farting partner, instead of the pillow husband we’ve crafted. That we’d rather get tortured each night with the horrendous “dutch oven” than fall asleep with tears falling down our faces asking God one more time for a mate. (Again, I’ve heard stories. I know there will be tear stained pillows after marriage.)
It’s also not helpful to tell people they’re “too picky”. Listen, I didn’t wait 30 years to marry some schmuck. Sure, he may not be a bearded lumberjack who will sing me love songs and buy we chocolate when I’m being an emotional basket-case, but he’s not going to be just any schmoe. Trust me, I’ve gone on dates with schmoes. It’s horrifying, but the stories lend themselves as warning signs for the teen girls I counsel.
I once heard, “You’ve got to be a Ruth to get a Boaz”. There’s a lot of encouragement that mirrors this sentiment. Please, don’t tell single girls this. Ever. Firstly, the story of Ruth is a tad bit weird. If it were a movie, there’d be wedding bells as the credits scrolled, but God never intended it to be a chapter in the “How to Snag a Mate” book. Besides the fact that its not practical in our society (we don’t follow the Old Testament kinsman redeemer protocal in this century/country)– it was meant to be used as an example of our relationship with God. Secondly, this type of encouragement adds fuel to the “I’m not good enough” fire already raging in our minds.
EVERYONE (single, married, divorced, widowed, etc.) is going through a process of growth in their lives. Hopefully, we are getting more mature, more loving, less selfish and all that good stuff. Saying that there’s some kind of running rubric for my character and that when I get a certain grade THEN I’ll be ready for marriage is….dumb.
Give. Me. A. Break.
I should state here that I’m not saying that married people believe this. What I am saying is that sometimes the things we say can come off a certain way. Like, for instance, that we’ve got our crap together and you don’t. I assure you all, I am not perfect– just in case you thought that or something I said made it seem like I thought that.
And my favorite of all “He’ll come when you stop looking for him.”
NEWS FLASH: That’s not happening. Not today. Or the next.
I don’t know how you just stop wanting something like that. Ask me to stop wanting chocolate, and I think that’d be an easier battle to win. And I’m the girl who eats chocolate everyday. Like its MY JOB.
And define: “looking for”. I mean, I want a husband. I’m certainly open to the possibility of going on a date with the guy helping me at Verizon. Or contemplating stopping my car in the middle of an intersection because I saw a bearded fella, wearing a red flannel shirt riding a motorcycle (This thought did actually go through my mind). But I’m not at home every night staring out my window longingly with a can of Nutella in one hand and a spoon in the other. Ok, SOME nights I do have a heaping spoon of Nutella, but I’m never starring out the window at the same time. 😉 I’m still living life. I’m still enjoying my friends, my family, the opportunities I get to serve. I just also want someone standing next to me and enjoying it all with me.
I’m also not looking for a man to complete me. I am looking for a life partner because life seems more FUN when you’re experiencing it with someone you love.
I guess I should leave all the single people reading this with some encouragement. A few weeks ago my (married) BFF sent this to me. In all my years of hearing all the cliches, Bible verses, etc. this has been the thing that has brought more life and hope than anything else.
P.S. If you happen to be a single, bearded, flannel wearing gentleman then look no further! I’m witty (obviously), I ‘m a brilliant writer (again, obviously) and I’m pretty good lookin’.
**Disclaimer: This is NOT a complete list of lines I’ve heard in my singleness journey, but I thought that was enough for now. Maybe a Part 2 some other time. **