I 100% believed I’d be getting married immediately out of college, and I couldn’t be more grateful that didn’t happen. I didn’t know “single twenty-somethings” was a people group before I arrived in the midst of them, and the last two years of my life have been my favorites. God has allowed me to dodge so many bullets and given me countless memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
But can I just say that I still have moments where I’m ready-to-scream angry that God still hasn’t put me in a relationship? I look at the last few years with incredible joy and gratitude and then turn around, clench my fists, and grumble at God, “Why do you refuse to answer my prayers? There’s just one thing that I’ve consistently asked you for and it’s the one thing you refuse to give me.”
Despite all the good, I end up angry that I’m still single.
When our lovely host Ashley asked me to write for Single Since ’91, I wasn’t sure where to start. My first thought was to share my semi-sarcastic dating mottos with you:
- If a boy wants to talk to you, he’ll find a way to talk to you.
You won’t have to chase the right guy down or wonder if he’s interested. Even if he doesn’t totally know why he’s doing it, he’ll come up with a reason to get your attention. Exhibit A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzrdnuSeFeo
- There are few people I don’t respect enough to allow them to buy me food.
Sometimes we get way too intense about needing to know what we really think of a person before we even actually get to know them. Just chill out and let someone take you on a date.
But those notes don’t actually provide a good picture of what singleness has been like for me. In the midst of every well-meaning cliche and awkward silence after people ask me if I’m dating anyone, I’ve discovered two life lessons that have actually been helpful to me in this stage of life:
1) The most meaningful and freeing conversations I’ve had about dating was when the person across from me gave me permission to not be okay.
Your desire to want to be in a relationship is justified.
The fact that you wish someone cared specifically about you, texted you before they texted anyone else about Friday night plans, noticed and smiled when you walked into a room, and had your back in all the life situations that you don’t want to have to do alone is so completely fair and warranted.
It sucks to watch the people around you get excited about building relationships while you feel like you have no prospects. It stinks that there’s nothing you can do to be more desirable to the person you’re interested in. There’s moments in which dating can seem like a horrible patience game that has no end in sight.
Can I encourage you just to give yourself some grace in where you’re at with singleness right now? It’s okay that you have moments where you hate this. It’s not all hopeful possibilities all the time. Sometimes it’s just really lonely.
2) God is often more understanding than we give him credit for.
I once heard, “Pain becomes suffering when we don’t allow ourselves to experience it.”
You’re allowed to not be okay with being single right now. Give yourself time to feel that, face it, and then remind yourself of truth about your Creator’s character and keep moving. Even after you move past it, you’ll probably end up back in this place in a month, but that’s okay. Give yourself grace again, and remind yourself of truth again.
I recently heard a graduation speaker say, “If you’re not hearing the word ‘beloved’ spoken over your hardest struggles, you’re not hearing the voice of Jesus.”
Sometimes we just need to be allowed to be disappointed, and we need to be reminded that God does not look at our disappointment in disgust. He loves us deeply. You are his beloved, and you’re allowed to sit next to your Creator even while you’re struggling with his plan.
God’s reaction to your pain is not disappointment in your lack of excitement about what he’s chosen for you; it’s love and compassion.
Consider what you believe God thinks of you when you’re completely discouraged with being single. When I did, I realized I imagine God rolling his eyes, propping his head on his hand, and sighing, “Kid, we did this two weeks ago. Are we really here again? Can’t you just get it together and trust me? We both know I’ve proven my love to you. Why can’t you chill out?”
But it’s funny, because I don’t believe that’s how God would react to any of my friends’ frustrations. With them, I imagine he’s understanding and compassionate. That he wraps a giant hand around them and his dialogue is more along the lines of, “Yeah, this is tough. I’m proud of you, I love you, I have plans for you, and we’re going to get through this together.
Geesh. The difference.
If there’s one thing that characterizes my journey as single twenty-something, it’s that this whole thing has been a rollercoaster, and I’ve had to learn to stop feeling like I’m failing in the times that my attitude is not at all defined by trust or contentment.
So, if you’re single, you’ve likely gone through phases where the freedom is the best thing ever and you’re loving every second of it, and you’ve probably also gone through phases where you feel overwhelmingly insecure and fearful of a future alone.
It’s okay to feel both of those things. Both are fair, and your Creator calls you his beloved even when you struggle to feel grateful for his plan.
I want to challenge you to not turn your pain into suffering, but to honestly acknowledge where you’re at and give yourself grace. I want to challenge you to believe that God is on your team. That his consistent attitude toward you is one of love, compassion, and patience. You’re not alone. And singleness is sometimes really rough. But we’re gonna be okay. And God is good.