Updated: May 5
Chocolate hearts, teddy bears, and roses are just a few of the Valentines Day items that have flooded the stores since practically the day after Christmas. With the elaborate display of affection comes a mix of emotions among customers.
Some people are excited. They've been looking forward to this time of year ever since they found a significant other or got married. They have been thinking about and planning what they will do to celebrate this occasion for months. They've also been wondering what THEIR gift might be. Jewelry? Technology? A new car?! The sky is the limit to what their partner might do to show his or her undying love and commitment!
Some people could care less. They see the red aisle and it's just another marketing scam. They don't give it a second thought. Sure, when February 14 rolls around they might call a loved one or give their mom a card but overall, it will be just another day.
Some people are in pain. They see that aisle and they wish they hadn't. It reminds them of a broken relationship, a loved lost one, or a big life event that has never happened for them. It reminds them of a relationship they're trapped in... one they wish didn't exist. They look at the customers in that row with envy. It must be nice to have someone who cares. It must be nice to be in a relationship you actually enjoy. It must be nice...
I don't know what category you fall under, but I do know that when I surveyed my readers the most popular feedback had to do with two things: being in a romantic relationship and insecurity.
I also read between the lines and realized that many of my single readers want to find love.
It wasn't too long ago when I was a typical single girl. I was the person who saw that red aisle and wished I hadn't. Yet despite my disdain for the reality check of my loneliness, I also found myself filled with longing. I wanted a boyfriend so bad! I tried harder than I want to admit to "get" one. My high school years were filled with drama, tears, heartbreak, and desperation to find love. In college, I was better at hiding my desperation, but it was still consuming my thoughts. I reached a point where I felt I could never be happy single. I knew I was supposed to be, but I had no idea how to convince my heart that being alone was good. I dragged myself to class and to work looking for any and every activity to help me forget my loneliness... and my insecurity.
You see it was insecurity that really caused me to panic about being alone. When guys I was interested in didn't notice me, I blamed my flaws. I must not be pretty enough, smart enough, or popular enough. Maybe they knew about my family issues or the fact that I'd hurt people I'd dated in my past. With every day that I woke up single, I felt another heap of guilt, shame, and self-hatred fall on my shoulders.
I think that maybe the scariest part of being single was not knowing if I would ever not be single. Despite all the data, stories, and encouragement that we see stating that the majority of the world does find someone, we start to wonder if we are the exception. Maybe for some odd reason, we are meant to be alone forever.
Maybe there is something wrong with me.
When the people who cared about me saw my desperation for a relationship, they tried very hard to give me advice. They tried to tell me how to cope: "Spend more time with your friends", "Invest in a hobby", "get more involved in the church"
All of these suggestions were not inherently bad, but here is another way to read the list: "distract yourself", "distract yourself", "distract yourself"
I am here to tell you that distractions don't work. They might get your mind off your problems for a moment, but eventually, the same issues rise up again. I really believe, that if you want to find someone to be with, you have to embrace the pain your singleness is causing you. I'm not saying you need to fall into depression- binging romantic movies or drowning your sorrows in video games. I'm simply saying that there comes a point where we have to be real about our struggles and stop trying to hide or fight against them.
Whenever we face something hard in our lives, whether it is a relationship or something else, we must talk to God about it. Not only should we talk to him but we also shouldn't be afraid to admit that we worry something is wrong with us. We must also tell him what our desires are. I remember feeling like I couldn't talk to God about being alone because I didn't want him to feel offended. I was scared that if he really wanted me to be alone, he wouldn't want me to complain about it! But in those moments of prayer and tears, I was reminded that God created me and he also created the desire I had for companionship. I came to believe that if I felt so strongly about being married, I needed to trust that I eventually would get married.
SPOILER ALERT: I did get married.
I know someone is reading this, and they're rolling their eyes. They have heard all of this before, but they really are convinced that they are the exception. They are convinced they are that one good person who is cursed to be alone forever. Well, guess what? I thought that was me and it wasn't. There is a good chance that if you are single right now, you will still be married later. There is actually more of a chance statistically that you will be married than there is that you will be single. Over 80% of the world population is married at least once. I would almost argue that every person who wants to get married, eventually does.
Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
One major fallacy I believed about being single was the necessity of waiting. I needed to pause my life until the right guy walked into it. I needed to pause my happiness until I was certain I wouldn't always be alone. It wasn't until after I was married that I was actually able to look back and see the benefits of being single. Being alone doesn't mean your life isn't worth living! In some ways, your life is better when you are alone!
Don't get me wrong- I love being married and even if the first year of our marriage was possibly the hardest time in my life (that is a story for another post), I am so thankful that I got married. I recommend marriage to anyone who is interested. But if you are reading this wanting love, you don't need me to convince you. It's pretty clear that being in a relationship is desirable to you because here you are!
When you are single, instead of focusing on all the things you don't have... it is good to recognize all the things you will lose when you get married.
One of the biggest things you will lose is your independence and your time. Suddenly you can't just go anywhere you want without telling anyone. When another person is depending on and connecting with you, they now have to be involved in all your plans. Not only that but they are now going to demand a portion of your time. I'm not just talking about dates and activities- I'm talking about phone calls, emails, and Face Time. We live in a digital age where even if you are thousands of miles apart, you are still going to be expected to connect. Not only that, but you are going to spend time just thinking about the other person! Think about when you have a crush or interest in someone. How many times have you caught your mind wandering to them and what they might be doing? It only gets worse when you are dating! Your productivity may never be the same!
Maybe this sounds pretty good to you. Who wouldn't want to talk to a loved one every day and do things together constantly? Well, it just isn't always the idealistic dream that society makes it. Sometimes you are tired. Sometimes you want to eat Chinese food and she's craving Italian. Sometimes you want to spend money on something but he needs help paying a bill. Sometimes you want to watch TV but she wants it quiet. None of these situations are meant to be bad, but they are things that you might not think about. You will suddenly be compromising all the things you used to have complete control over- your schedule, your food, and your habits. Nothing is truly your own when you are in a committed relationship... especially a marriage.
One of the biggest areas that will take a hit, is your spiritual life. I was recently at a ministry event where the speaker was talking about idols. She made a really good point that I want to share- she said sometimes our idols are good things. Sometimes our idols are our husbands, our jobs, or our children. We don't think of having a job or taking care of our kids as a negative thing, but if it takes up more of our thoughts and our time than Jesus does... we are in trouble. I believe that it is in our season of being single that God is giving us a unique opportunity to connect with him. There quite possibly may never be another time where you are free enough to spend nearly every moment in prayer or Bible study like you can when you are alone. Being single is a special time to make God your significant other.
You see, when we are in a strong committed relationship with God we no longer have to worry about when we will find a mate. If you believe that you will get married eventually and you stop micro-managing when that will happen, you can enjoy life where you are at. This is an attitude that would benefit all of us, both married and alone. We must learn to have faith strong enough to make each phase of our lives enjoyable. Every season we go through has something for us to learn and something that God wants to use to make us better people.
Luke 12:25-31 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Our stories and our destinies may not always look like what we think they should, but they will always look how God wants them to, when we follow and commit ourselves to him.
As you are single, look at your own life. What is God trying to teach you? Are you where you want to be with God? Do you like the person you see in the mirror? Maybe it is time to address those insecurities not by hiding them in a love story, but by giving them the author of all love stories- Jesus Christ.
Regardless of where you are at in your spiritual or relationship journey, there is something for you in the pages of the Bible. I also want to quickly recommend a corresponding book that my husband and I have been going through together on the topic of romance and God. It is called, "Single, Dating, Engaged, Married" and I will post the link to purchase it here.