I never realized how one word was capable of drawing so many emotions and responses: joy, fear, sorrow, sympathy, consolation, faux adoration, religiosity.
There could be a bajillion words around it, but it's the only word that is focused on. It's like honey to a bee. Peanut butter to a mouse. Mr. Darcy to a Jane Austen fan. Sports to a man. Chocolate to a woman. When this word is used, certain people instantly have to comment. They have to share their opinion.
When a single person, especially a single Christian woman, makes a comment about their singleness - no matter if it's said joyfully - a married person, typically a married Christian woman - must always make a remark, offer a word of "comfort" or "advice." It's an unwritten rule that I had no idea existed. Until now. It's something I've discovered as I've grown into my role as a single Christian woman.
"Jesus has the right one picked out for you...He just hasn't brought him to you yet!"
(Did you get a special revelation from Jesus? You know this how? Because you got married? You don't know that I'm going to get married. That was God's plan for your life; it may not be His plan for my life. Being single is a good and honorable thing according to the Bible and is considered a gift...just like marriage is.)
"I wish I was still single!"
(Really? You really wish you were still single? You would trade your husband and your children to be back on your own? Being the only person to take care of you? Having only one income? No one to share the burden? You would really wish your husband and your children...YOUR CHILDREN...the ones the Bible calls an inheritance or a gift...you would wish them all away just to be single again? God can easily make your wish come true, but I pray for you He doesn't honor words so carelessly spoken.)
"Enjoy this season of life because one day it will change and you'll wish you had it back!"
(No, if my season of life changes, I won't wish I had this season back. Why? Because we're supposed to rejoice and be content in ALL things. God has used every season in my life to prepare me for the next. I move forward; I never look back. I appreciate the struggles and the lessons I learned to bring me to where I am today. If I ever enter into marriage, it won't be because I'm escaping singleness. I'll be entering into marriage because that's the next place God has called me to serve.)
"Jesus is the best husband you can have!"
(I love Jesus. I really do. But PLEASE don't say this to a single person as you wax eloquent about the wonderful things your husband does for you or complain about your husband leaving his socks on the bedroom floor. If Jesus is the truly the best husband you can have, then why weren't you satisfied with just HIM as your husband? Why did you trade perfection for imperfection?)
"You are going to make the most amazing wife to some lucky guy!"
(Oh, I sooooo know that. I am a phenomenal catch. Yes, I totally know that I've got some mad skills any man would appreciate. I would love to be married and have children. HOWEVER, God has asked me to be single. Maybe, just maybe, He may have given me my mad skills just so I can serve many people instead of just one.)
"I'll be praying for your future husband/wife."
(Thank you. I appreciate that. Could I humbly ask you to switch the focus of your prayer to praying for me? Not selfishly, of course. Would you pray that God would open up doors for me to able to encourage other single people? Would you pray that God will give me the wisdom and right words to say to other singles who are struggling with loneliness? Pray that I'll be in tune with the Holy Spirit's leading, that I'll follow, and that I can discern the needs of others. Thanks!)
Sometimes I wonder if God's allowed me to be single just to remind my fellow Christian marrieds that being single is not a sin. Singleness is OK. It's a gift. It's desirable. It's not something that needs to be fixed. Singleness is not less than.
Look at the words Dictionary.com uses to describe the word SINGLE:
Rare, undivided, unique, distinct...those are amazing words! They are ENCOURAGING words! They are STRONG words! Who doesn't like to be reminded they are one-of-a-kind? My singleness makes me distinct and rare! Think about the things that are distinct, unique, rare...what comes to mind? Sapphires? Rubies? First edition of Lord of the Rings? Diamonds? Dinosaur bones? Ancient artifacts? Fine wine? Saffron? They are things of value. They are treasured items. They are items we take better care of because of their value. They aren't items that need to be repaired.
Fine. Dinosaur bones and ancient artifacts do, but you get my point.
So, I guess my encouragement to my wonderful, well intentioned, Christian married friends, and I say this in love, would be to stop.
Stop trying to fix what isn't broken. Stop making me feel like I'm broken and I need to be "fixed" by marriage. Stop trying to send me down the direction that God planned for your life. Stop turning Jesus into a heavenly boyfriend. If I mention that I'm single, it's because it's the only way I can describe my status in the context of what I'm trying to communicate. It's a not a plea for sympathy. It's not a plea for admiration. It's not a complaint. It's just a word. Please don't get tripped up by it. Please don't respond with some sort of advice because I'm not asking or inviting you to. You'll know when I am, because I'll specifically extend the invitation. Just smile and nod. You're married. I'm single. We're equals. Singleness is a good thing. It's a GREAT thing. Embrace the word my married friends.
To my single friends: embrace this time. Your heart's desire, your heart's ache even, may be to be married. But God's not chosen that for you yet...and He may never. He may have you destined for a life of singleness. So what are you going to do? Wait around for something that might never happen? Look for ways to serve. Look outside of yourself. Look for ways to encourage other single friends. You may think you don't have any...but the divorced person, the widowed person, the person in a loveless marriage, the younger teen friend can all feel loneliness and fear. You can do things anonymously for them. When you start meeting the needs of others, you'll begin to find some of your own needs met.
So here's my game plan. I'm proceeding right where He has me: a SINGLE woman striving to live her best life devoted solely to her Creator and trying her hardest to use the mad skills He has provided her with to serve the people around her while trying not get bogged down by the people who have different plans for her life than what GOD has planned. I won't (and I don't) critique my friends' marriages or say things that would cause them to feel discontentment where God has them...in marriage. I hope my married friends will understand and won't encourage me to forsake the life God has me living and seek contentment outside of God's will for me currently...in singleness.