My mind is an airport terminal, a scheduled array of ideas landing and taking flight. On good days, it’s a well-oiled machine, there are no delays, no angry passengers screaming at cabin crew, just the quiet dings of intercom announcements and shuffling of feet.
Some days, the stranded passengers, who I don’t allow on board, raise their fists and demand my attention. I’m sitting down today to let this tired, homesick woman finally reach the page. Let’s talk about singleness.
The way I see my singleness is very much informed by outside voices. They say singleness is not something to be fixed or remedied, and I believe that. They say it’s a time of waiting and growth and molding as if I’m a gift being wrapped for presenting on a Christmas morning. They talk about it like there’s a finish line, and it’s okay to be tired of running as long as I don’t stop, because I’ll get to the wedding party at the end, and the party’s for me and a man without a face, who I see in dreams, his back somehow always turned to me.
There’s a different camp, too, and I know and heed all their warnings. A relationship won’t cure loneliness. Marriage is not the answer, they say. Singleness is a gift, and they say that with strained voices, trying to be heard and believed in. I believe in them, too.
All these ideas I hold in my head are things I didn’t ask about, just handed to me. Not a godly conversation goes by without my status in tow. Many well-meaning people reassure me that it’s going to come, I just have to wait, even without my prompting or asking. It’s as if there’s a longing written all over my face. This is a subject I refuse to write about because it seems the voice of a single woman is invalid on the topic of singleness. My words are met with, “oh, you don’t know anything.” But I do.
Like a multi-faceted gem, there’s another side that informs what I think about love and companionship. My house is a one-woman show run by my mother. There’s a whole string of narratives I never saw – the anniversaries and weddings and parents fighting and infidelities. Our house is a quiet place, thankfully. Sometimes, awfully. I wonder about what I don’t see. I wonder if love, and the lack of it, is generational, and every step down our lineage is a stronger, wiser woman who can fend for herself.
My mother was married once, and I don’t know much, except she still carries his last name to this day even beyond his grave. This man is not my father. I recently asked her why she kept the name. She said it was the easier thing to do.
8 years ago, I found a church family, and there I saw people married for more than 20 years, old people who make each other laugh and haul their kids to Sunday School, and I’ve been writing their Renewal of Vows for them for several years now. I also saw marriages break and heal and break and heal, a tsunami mellowing into a wave, dead foliage blooming back to life.
In my teens, I was told not to love. That’s a crude summary, but it is what it is. Any young relationship is wrong and destructive and won’t last, so don’t bother. I knew they said it to protect us. I knew that when they sat me down at CBTL and told me to think about what other people might think if I got into a relationship with this man. Singleness is informed by what other people say and think. But sadly that’s it. They inform you, but only a few people walk with you like it’s a normal way of life. It is. It is.
A lot of my peers are now disillusioned, stumbling into their first relationships, while those who defied what we were taught are in long-term relationships. Others, settling back into singleness. Turns out there is no formula to it, and the waiting was a wise decision, but love was a shot in the dark at best.
When I was 16, I cried because the guy I was talking to started talking to me less, until I learned that he found a girl he liked. I was taught not to pin my hopes on something without a name, and like a good girl, I didn’t, but still, I cried.
When I was 18, I found out that I was a breather for a relationship straining under its weight, and the promises were it’s okay, she’ll never know. I’ll leave her for you. I was taught not to meddle with that and take the first cab out, and I did. I ran and ran until they found each other again and I was an obstacle they overcame together.
In my early 20s, I thought I saw what was a real shot. The people around me prepared me for it, told me to be kind, to extend my yes, to accept the gifts and the trips. Everybody saw a future for me, but I didn’t. He kept running red lights and talking to me like I wasn’t there. It couldn’t hold up against the light if it was just the two of us. It needed the voice of everybody except mine. That journey was a long, lonely 3-year fight. I asked permission from the Lord if I could walk away. I knew I could. I did. I was constantly looking over my shoulder on my way home. I’m grateful for my friends. They believed me when I said I didn’t feel safe anymore. They will defend me at a drop of a hat. But the voices that see black and white, saw a mad woman turn down a nice guy, and said singleness is now my fault.
My eight-year walk with Jesus transformed my mind. Helped me be secure in my judgment that I anchor on the Word. I have dodged so many relationship bullets because when my gut told me to run, I ran. In hindsight, I see the work of the Holy Spirit. My identity in Christ tells me I am whole, I am loved, I am complete and being completed until He returns. When He tells me to run away from fool’s gold, I take the first way out. It’s easy for me to walk away now and not look back.
I’m in my mid-20s now, constantly dreaming. I’m building my dreams for the Church, for my parents, and for me. That’s all the space I think I have and hold, and no, there is no chasm in my soul brought about by singleness. I am not preparing myself for a man, or marriage. I am mostly preparing myself for Christ, to present myself as a living sacrifice, and I guess I’m hoping that if marriage is in the cards, I would have already prepared enough.
The dreamer in me sometimes thinks about the warm house on top of a hill, little brown-eyed kids running around while I fold laundry, a glass of wine in hand while I slow dance with my husband around the kitchen. But the daydream dissolves when I think about my parents. And all these stories. And all the love songs. All the quiet Father’s Days and empty mailboxes on Valentine’s Day. This symphony of voices make it difficult to think about the future.
There’s another song thrown in the mix. I think about my life so beautifully re-written by the Lord and redeemed at every stop. Because I’m okay today. I’ll be okay tomorrow. I’ll be okay in the future. Whether or not love is in one of those days is up to the Lord to give, up to me to receive, but it will not take away anything from me today. And maybe that’s what I want to give to other women who are wondering, too.
I’m aware I’m another voice adding to the mix. I hope mine has truth and grace in it.
Your life is a wonderful, complex tapestry with so many facets, and your civil status should not have all the power to make it or break it. The life you live is your song to the Lord, your race to run, and you’re allowed to hope and dream and be wary and think twice in the safe space that is God’s presence. There’s so much to dream about and hope for and yes, marriage is one of them, but it is not all of them. Be careful what you listen to and what you accept. All the other voices will bog you down if you carry all of them. Maybe all we need are the words of eternal life, and taking life one day at a time, and our lives will be fully-lived all the same. 🌼