Saturday, July 2, 2016
Single and satisfied
I was at one of my favorite restaurants, O'Charley's. They have an outdoor patio that I have wanted to sit at and eat for a long time, always wanting to have a friend with me to do so; but last summer passed without that happening. This day in May of this year was the day I decided I was going to do it....alone. So I sat outside on the patio and had an enjoyable lunch with me, myself, and I. Unbelievably my salad went far enough to feed all three.....
There is a common idea that I myself bought into for far too long. Sadly it even exists in the church, and that is true fulfillment is found in marriage, and you aren't a complete person if you're single. It is never said in those words, but that message comes through in many ways. If you're single - especially out of the younger group of singles - you can feel out of place even in the church and feel a pressure to marry so you matter more and fit in. That is just the way it is.
I was at a Christian bookstore shopping a few years ago, and I overheard two young woman talking about the singles books they were looking at. I am guessing one was married and the other was not. The obviously single one asked her friend, "You know what bugs me about every singles book I have ever read?" I spoke up, "I know the answer: they all assume you are unhappy being single and are wanting and looking to marry." That was what she was going to say, but that is the general thinking today - everyone should marry and are incomplete until they do. (They say men are incomplete until they are married......... and then they are finished.......).
I spent far too many years of my life wishing I could marry, and thinking I could never be happy unless I achieved that. But yet the Bible indicates it can be better to remain single. Others have referred to singleness as a gift, which brought about a book a few years ago with the amusing title of "If Singleness Is a Gift, What's the Return Policy?" As cute and amusing as that is, that is how I felt for years and how many other singles feel.
As I have stopped believing this idea that marriage would complete me, make me happy, and do away with loneliness; I have become more comfortable and happy as a single. Oh that doesn't mean I never wish I had someone special to love and love me and do things together - that may never completely go away, but God wired us that way. Overall though, it isn't that big of a deal anymore and isn't something I constantly wish for and feel cheated because I can't have it.
Back in February, I took a bold move. There is a motel/hotel (what is the difference anyway??) - and this one actually calls itself an inn - that is in Sugarcreek, Ohio that has special packages. At certain times of the year, you can get a room for 2 people that includes free items from between 15 and 20 different places in this Amish section of Ohio. It is almost like a scavenger hunt - in fact, my coworkers called it my Amish Scavenger Hunt. One location gave you a battery powered candle. A fudge/candy shop gave you gourmet popcorn. You had your choice of 3 different restaurants for breakfast and also for supper. A bakery gave you a loaf of bread, a cheese place gave you a free pound of Swiss cheese. An orchard gave a half gallon of apple cider, and so on.
My parents and one of my sisters and her husband had done this a couple of times, and I found myself wishing I could do it. Then one day, I figured why not? I called to make a reservation and asked if one person could do it. Not only could one person do it, but it was cheaper for one person (take that, married people!) I made the reservation, asked off a day of work so I could make it a two day trip out of it, and I did it.
The weather was unseasonably warm for February, and I ran around in short sleeves during my 2 day trip. I parked my car in Berlin, OH and walked the streets, shopping wherever it looked interesting. Using my GPS, I wandered all over Holmes County getting my free items and enjoying the scenery and shopping. My hotel/motel/inn was very nice and had 2 double beds, one of which became a place to put all of my "stuff". There was a small refrigerator for the cheese and other things I had that needed to be kept cool. I took my laptop and a couple of DVDs and stayed up late enjoying my time away.
Would it have been more enjoyable with someone along? Maybe. I would have enjoyed having my BFF along, but it was enjoyable by myself also. I stopped where I wanted to stop, shopped where - and as long as I wanted - to shop. I ate where I wanted to eat, and enjoyed driving around with no need to carry on a conversation. Would I do again? Yes... I most likely will. Not only did I enjoy it, but it showed me it is possible to be single and do things like that which is usually something couples do.
I am slowly becoming more comfortable in this single status. I am finding there are indeed disadvantages, but there are also advantages. I am discovering that my identity and happiness does not lie in another person, but in God. I am learning not to be bothered as much by this culture and church world that so emphasizes marriage and couples, and to be happy being me. Maybe it helps that I am starting to like myself better, and have discovered I am not that bad of a person to hang out with.
Would I marry if these attractions to the same sex attractions went away? I doubt I would at this point. The idea of marriage seems daunting. I can't imagine being with someone all of the time, having to say what you're thinking and never getting a break. I'd rather have kids than a wife..... you could leave them with a babysitter to get some "me" time. I know of no wife-sitting services........Now there's an idea for someone wanting to make money.......
Maybe it would do all of us good to be single longer, instead of rushing into dating and marriage as soon as we are old enough to do so. Maybe we need to learn to be comfortable and happy in being alone and doing some things by ourselves, instead of feeling the need for constant companionship and love. Could it be possible that if we did that, and focused on being satisfied in Jesus instead of feeling the need for people to make us happy, that we wouldn't be so dissatisfied and prone to divorce when and if we do marry? Is it possible that even in marriage, that people depend too much on their spouse for what they should be seeking from God?
And could it be that we who feel the need to stay single, or are unable to marry can find true satisfaction in Jesus to the point that we don't feel the need to marry? I am getting there, and am already there some days. And may God use me as a single in ways that He couldn't if I were married.