In 9 days I will celebrate my 41st birthday. As much as I love birthdays, each number gets a little more challenging to accept. Considering I just entered a new decade and am still adjusting to the big 4-0, I’m really not in a hurry to turn 41-yet it’s literally right around the corner. To those who are 10+ years younger than me, I am typically viewed as “old” and to those 10+ years older I am still seen as a “young pup”. To me, there are days I feel “old” but there are other days I feel 16 again (and sadly, act like it too.)
Each birthday I take time to reflect on my life-I look at who I am, who I want to be, where I am and where I want to be. I examine my life goals and see what I’ve accomplished and what I still want to accomplish. I also realize no matter how hard I try, I will never get younger. And sometimes that is a scary thought. Mostly-because I’m afraid I will run out of enough time to achieve all my goals before God calls me Home. For the longest time, my biggest goal was being married-having that one person who would commit to spend the rest of their life with me.
Ever since I can remember I have always been the “hopeless romantic.” My favorite fairytale was Cinderella and I would dream of a prince on a white horse with a glass slipper rescuing me and the two of us living happily ever after. I loved the romantic storylines in soap operas and my all-time favorite movie is Pretty Pink where the movie ends with Andrew McCarthy telling Molly Ringwald he loves her, always, during their high school prom and when she chases after him they end up in the parking lot, kissing in the rain. Yep-still my favorite chick flick because there’s still a hopeless romantic in me.
I have two children-but never been married. I’ve come close-three times actually but circumstances happened and the relationships didn’t work out. I’ve also had tons of other dead end dating relationships. I’ve prayed for marriage, I’ve fasted for marriage but at the age of almost 41, I don’t even have a prospect for the possibility of marriage.
For years I convinced myself that there was clearly something wrong with me-I must not be marriage material. I also believed God clearly didn’t want me to be married. I cried, threw many pity parties and then closed myself off. I took a hiatus from dating-a four year hiatus actually. I took the hiatus for the wrong reasons but ended up learning the blessing of being single.
During my dating boycott I received various feedback. Some people supported my decision-after all, I told them it was God directing me. Others told me I was closed off. Still others tried to set me up with their version of my “soul mate.” The best “feedback” I received was being told I was too picky. If you’re single I am sure you can relate to the many advices your family and friends give about why you’re still single and it usually ends up being your fault. I’m a strong enough person and content enough in my circumstance as they are now to admit that I am single by choice. Why? I refuse to settle.
The past 4 years have been a road of growing my faith and discovering who God made me to be. With that, it’s open my eyes up to the pros and cons of both singlehood and marriage. The best thing I’ve discovered is that being single is not a curse, there is nothing wrong with me and I’d rather be single my whole life than be married to the wrong person. I’ve also learned that my relationship status doesn’t define me as a person-being married or single is a part of who we are but it’s not all of who we are. Yes, God created Eve because He said, “it’s not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) But He also said, “and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:12b) Paul even tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 that is better to not get married (vs 8.) His reasoning was because while a married person is focused on their spouse, a single person is more apt to be focused God. That is certainly to not say that married people do not focus on God. I know many happily married, godlly people who have amazing Christ centered marriages. Marriage is a gift from God, designed by God. But, so is singleness.
That’s right-I said, being single is a gift, not a curse. It’s a gift I have embraced and actually enjoy. Once I accepted it I experienced that peace beyond all understanding Christ promises us in Philippians 4:7. I no longer have an urgency to “hurry up and get married.” I feel free and in control of whether I choose to date or not date, who I want to date and who I politely say, “no thank you” to when asked out. I’m completely at peace saying “no” to the offers of being set-up and I can listen to other people’s love stories (which are typically their attempt to encourage me to not give up on marriage) without wondering if I’m missing out on something. I’m not-just like God made them different from me, His love story for me is also different from theirs. If God has a love story for me, it will be different and it will be epic. It will also happen in His time and in His way. I won’t be too closed off to miss it or too picky that I turn it down. I will know it’s from Him and I will embrace it. How do I know, because I’ve surrendered my heart to Him and trust Him to do with it what He plans-lead it to love another, or lead it to live singly, serving Him.
I almost didn’t write this post. It’s pretty transparent and I had to question my motives. This post wasn’t meant to bash marriage (I love weddings, I love being in love, I love happily married people and I pray for troubled marriages all the time.) It also wasn’t meant to stick it to all those who seem to be an expert on my love life or lack thereof. Which by the way-as helpful as people think they’re being, unless advice is solicited, telling someone why you think they’re single really isn’t helpful. If you want to see someone you love in a relationship-pray for them and pray for their future spouse. And keep mum unless they want to talk to you about their relationship status.
I wrote this post because there are people out there who’s deepest longing is to get married and they think they’re life won’t be complete until they find their one true love. To them, I want to say-your life is already complete. Your life doesn’t begin with marriage-it began when you were growing in your mother’s womb. As long as you are breathing, your life is happening, with or without a spouse. So live it. Find out who God made you to be and turn your focus on serving Him daily. Don’t focus on what’s missing in your life-find a thousand reasons to smile every day. Make a bucket list and set goals. Then take the steps needed to accomplish your list and goals. Most importantly-show love and kindness daily to the people God has placed in your life and seek out opportunities to bless others. This life is really not about you or me. This life is all about God and serving others for His glory. Lastly-don’t worry about getting married or being in a relationship. If God has designed marriage for you, It. Will. Happen. Lay your heart’s desire at the foot of the cross and trust God to fulfill it in His time. But remember this-if the worst thing is your life is that God calls you home before you ever get married-you’ve lived one heck of a pretty good life.