On Being Single
This post was originally published on the Integrity Blog.
I know that the word can be an uncomfortable one for all of the twenty-somethings out there in the world.
Being a twenty-something myself, most of my friends fall into two categories:
Newly married or engaged. They have cute pictures taken conveniently by talented photographer friends, laughing in the sunlit fields or movie marathon blanket forts captioned with some quote by John Paul II.
Single. They somehow are all hipster coffee drinkers, post a bunch of funny blog posts, have solid girlfriends, make good Instagram filter choices, etc. etc. etc.
If I didn’t know any better, I would gather from social media that both of these groups are completely happy and content with their lives. Just thriving. The married ones seem over the moon happy and the single ones seem confident, cool, and content.
But I do know better. I’ve been single for most of my life. I remember being really, really single. I remember my friends getting hit on when I didn’t. I remember obsessing about my appearance and wondering if the reason I didn’t get asked out was because I was too hot and intimidating or because I was too ugly and shy. I don’t remember feeling ecstatic about being single. I didn’t jam out to girl power songs and feel on top of the world and independent. Singlehood was ultimately underlined by dreaming, wishing, wanting, hoping, praying.
And I bet that a lot of other single people out there feel that way, too. Sometimes it just sucks. It sucks when the reality of married love just falls into the laps of friends all around you. It sucks when you so strongly desire to be loved and it’s not on your horizon. It sucks seeing people so “incandescently” happy when you’re not.
But I’m not single anymore. I wake up every day next to a hot guy. I have the sunlit fields and the movie marathon forts at my disposal. I get companionship, reassurance, and love everyday. Yes, it is a great and marvelous thing.
Now, everyone knows that marriage is not easy. Single people are warned, “Enjoy this time while you can. Bask in your independence and take time for yourself.” Single people know that marriage brings arguments, headaches, stress, screaming children in the middle of the night and the whole “dying to self” thing.
When I was single and I heard those things, I thought, “Yeah I know that marriage brings those things, but BRING IT. Hell yes I will take those petty marriage problems over my extreme loneliness any day.”
After being married for five months and beginning to tackle all of the “perks of marriage” problems, I have a ground-breaking revelation I would like all of my single people to know:
My singlehood was underlined by dreaming, wishing, wanting, hoping, praying.
But my marriage has also been underlined by dreaming, wishing, wanting, hoping, praying.
Because dreaming, wishing, wanting, hoping, and praying are factors of life and not specific to the season of life in which you are currently passing through.
You will be experiencing these things no matter what. Hardship, difficulty and wistfulness are not realities of singlehood. The restless feeling deep inside you that aches for love is not something quenched by even the best marriage.
It’s called being human, being created for eternal happiness, and not having it yet.
Even though I am young and still foolish in a lot of ways, this is a truth that I’ve been staring in the face: suffering does not go away. Of course, life is full of joy and happiness. One of the greatest blessings in my short twenty-three years has been a husband that shows me unconditional love. I won’t lie: marriage is the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s worth waiting for. It’s worth every minute.
But marriage does not fix you, marriage does not quench your insecurities, marriage does not fulfill the deepest and most secret desires of your heart. In fact, it brings out problems and issues you didn’t even know you had. Marriage gives you someone to help you on your journey, but it also gives you someone that is equally broken, wounded, and restless that YOU are now responsible for helping.
Are you single? Then please, please don’t be fooled into thinking that married love is the only thing in this world that will make you happy, secure, and content. Because nothing in this world will make you ultimately happy, secure, and content.
Are you married? Then please, please don’t be fooled into thinking that your marriage is the only one in the world that didn’t quite “do the magical marriage happiness thing” that happens seemingly to everyone else.
Are you human? Then please, please realize that suffering is a constant in life. Of course, God does not want us to be miserable. But He also does not want us to be fooled into thinking that anything or anyone other than Himself can erase that suffering. Only He can, and He will.
In the meantime, we must be patient. We must seek out the joy and the beauty amidst the stress of life. There is an abundance of joy and beauty to find. But if you’re waiting for the dreaming, wishing, wanting, hoping, and praying feelings to end, you’ll be waiting a long while.
Please don’t let the word single scare you. At the end of the day, we are all ultimately still single. And we will face God on our own terms, by ourselves, in our own exclusive existence. And only then will we truly cast aside all feelings that are not pure, radiant happiness and fulfillment.