Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My single journey

 I was in a Christian bookstore recently and overheard two young ladies near me talking about books for singles. The one was evidently married, and the other was not. At one point, the single girl was decrying books for singles and said she had a big problem with something that all singles books had in common. I couldn't help myself, and spoke up and said I knew what it was. They looked at me expectantly, and I said "They all make the assumption that all single people want to marry and are trying to find someone to marry." And that is exactly what the single young lady was thinking.

  We are all born single. Yeah, imagine that. And then before we are even old enough to go to school, we start getting teased about the opposite sex (or the same sex if you live in a dysfunctional and godless home). From early childhood, it is almost like we are given a subtle message - or not so subtle - that the aim in life is to have a significant other that you will marry (unless you decide to go against what God says and do the sex before marriage thing.....).

  It is a couples' world. There are tons of movies that emphasize love between a couple. Bookstore shelves overflow with romance novels. Romance and sex is used to sell everything from cars to potato chips. Even with our country's increasing immorality and push away from marriage - at least traditional marriage - the idea is very pronounced that everyone needs a special someone, a significant other.

  If you're single, you are an oddity. And by single, I mean unattached romantically to anyone.

  I can remember in my pre-teen and teenage years announcing I was never going to marry. Who knew I was a prophet?! I didn't date until I was 19 and in Bible college, and did it pretty much because everyone else was doing it..... a poor reason to do anything. A couple of dating relationships later, I realized what I was struggling with and quit the dating scene for good. Oh. I held onto the dream and idea that I might kick this thing, that it was a phase and I might be "normal some day"//// whatever normal is.

  I would buy every Christian book on dating that came out on the Christian market, read it, and hope to some day practice the advice and tips give in the books. I even bought the popular and controversial "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". And then one day, I did just that. I sat on my living room floor, and through tear-filled eyes I packed up all of my dating books and mailed them off to the person who had bought them on eBay.

  One nice thing about being in my 40's, is everyone else has seemingly also given up on the idea of this guy marrying. It wasn't always the case. Family, friends, co-workers, the mailman .... they would all bug me about dating, marrying and settling down. OK, not the mailman.

  I had to get used to going out to eat alone, and being asked "just one"? I still want to ask, "is there a problem with that?"..... but I won't. That would be rude. I got used to doing a lot of things alone, and of being lonely. Even church seemed to shout at me that I was not normal, that I didn't have a place in the church since I had no wife and kids to trot in with me.

 I'm not sure when things changed, but I stopped wishing I was married. Oh, I wish I had had the chance to be a father, but I am not sure I am that bad off not having a significant other. I believe I am just as significant without a significant other. And I have learned a few things as I have grown more comfortable with my marital status, or lack of:

1) Marriage is no cure for loneliness. There are a lot of married people who are just as lonely or more so than most single people.

2) It is better to be single and wish you weren't, than to be married and wish you weren't. Cliche', but true.

3) I'm a pretty good dinner companion. Sure, eating out with friends or family is nice, but I have come to enjoy eating out by myself also and no longer dread it. Though the "just one?" question still makes me cringe.

4) It is better to have never loved, than to have loved and lost. Yes, a reversal on the popular cliche'.

As I watch marriage after marriage break apart, see the broken hearts, the men and women not honoring their wedding vows, people walking out on their marriage who I would never have dreamed of doing so..... a big part of me is thankful I never have to worry about that happening to me.

5) I have learned that my value has nothing to do with my marital status. Family, friends, the church, and others may view marriage as a status symbol that increases value in a person, but it doesn't. My value lies in God's love for me, and He doesn't love me more or less for my being single, and my singleness doesn't increase or decrease my value in His sight.

6) Being single is cheaper. Yes, it is true. :)

7) I don't have to consult anyone other than God on pretty much anything I do with my life. I shaved my head without having to consult a wife who may have nixed the idea.

8) It isn't that bad sleeping alone. There is no one to keep me awake if they toss and turn.

9) Shopping alone has its advantages. I can spend as long as I want in stores I like..... such as bookstores.

  My dear Grandma Buzard used to tell me that God made someone for everyone. I'd counter back with "that may be true, Gram, but mine died at birth!" She never accepted that answer, and as wise and good as my grandmother was, she was wrong on that. God does not make someone for everyone. And that is OK. Some have made marriage itself into an idol, something more important than God. And in fact, some have chosen a boy or girl over God, only to lose both in the end.

 Paul said the above quote. He was single, though there is some speculation that his thorn in the flesh was a wife...... My opinion may be biased since I am single, but I believe he is right. The Mark of 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago would have disagreed. Oh, I may have said I agreed, but under all of the joking and anti-married comments I made was a desperate wish that I could marry and have a family.

  But the ultimate goal for all of us should be to seek God and His will for our lives. It may or may not include marriage, but whatever His plan is for each and every one of us, if we truly surrender our lives to Him, we can be complete and whole with or without a spouse. He can be and will always be enough, if we let Him.

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