Part One of the Letters from Singleness Series
I'm fortunate to not only claim Rebekah as my cousin, but also one of my dearest friends since childhood. Together, we've seen battle as Indian braves, characters in Oregon Trail soap operas, fame as co-editresses of magazines Let Your Light Shine & Cameratismo, & most importantly, fellowship as sisters in Christ. She's a world traveler, lovely writer, & will soon graduate with her Masters degree in Speech Pathology. You can continue following her real-life honesty & impeccable sense of humor on Twitter.
Around the year 2001, the height of my Internet fame was in full swing. This zenith of my cyber-life was bound up in the lofty pursuit of bringing sage wisdom, witty humor, and questionable recipes to girls around the world. The vehicle by which this information was transmitted, you ask? Why, none other than the much-esteemed e-mail newsletter. My co-editresses (yeah…for real) and I dropped truth bombs about modesty, purity, and contentment on our readers, presented in edgy fonts like Comic Sans, sprinkled liberally with Wingdings.
In the scheme of things, my e-mail newsletter heyday only lasted a year or so, but going back to read some of the pieces that we wrote and the lofty moral code that we held the world accountable to has provided many an hour of entertainment for those of us who were involved (I won’t name names). The main source of our nostalgic enjoyment is this: what could we have possibly known about battling loneliness and practicing long-suffering contentment, we who were barely teenagers? We spouted platitudes about trusting God, when in reality I think we all fully expected to be married between the ages of 18 and 20, to men who cherished us and played an assortment of musical instruments. After all, this was our calling as women, and God wants His children to be happy, right? However, as years passed it became obvious that some of these long-held ideals were somewhat flawed. Foremost among them, that God doesn’t always fork over a husband just because you’re of marriageable age. I know, gasp.
When it comes down to it, I’m still young. Of course, if you had asked newsletter-editress-me, I definitely wouldn’t have considered 25 years old to be technically “young” anymore. But here I am, and Mr. Whatever-On-His-White-Whatever have still yet to materialize, and my romantic teenage sensibilities did not prepare me for how this stage of life would feel. I’m pretty sure my biological clock is supposed to be ringing nonstop as I browse through lists of mail-order grooms from the Ukraine. But for some reason, being single at 25 with no suitable prospect in sight is not quite the Threat-Level-Red crisis situation that I always imagined it would be.
If you’re still sticking with me, thank you. Don’t immediately write me off as being in denial, or as having been blessed with the gift of singleness. That’s not me. Some days are hard—really hard—and unfortunately I am not above spending those days laying on my couch in sweatpants, ugly crying over my 3,000th re-watch of Pride & Prejudice. I am in no way the poster child for contented singleness, and if you could read my journal (it’s NOT A DIARY), that fact would be painfully obvious.
This being said, I have in a roundabout way arrived at the point I’d like to make—that being “alone” at 25 has allowed me to experience and appreciate so much more of life than I ever thought possible. And it also leads me to this question: when did we all subscribe to the belief that experiencing something alone means that we experience it less?
In the summer of 2012, I drove from Southern Illinois to Maine by myself. It wasn’t a self-discovery-I-have-to-do-this-alone trip, or because I was aching for a solid 60 driving hours of “me time.” I just wanted to see several friends who lived up and down the East Coast before grad school began, and found myself with a free two weeks to do so. So to Maine I set out, much to the horror of several females in my acquaintance who assured me that they had never taken a solo trip out of the tri-county area. Let’s be honest here, women are largely pack animals. Going to the bathroom turns into a social event, we know this and are we are okay with it. Moving on.
Here’s the kicker: we are told that having people always around us—especially having a boyfriend or husband—is the end-all and be-all for truly living life. God even recognized the need for companionship when He created Adam, and I fully appreciate my own need for social contact. But the reality is, I have been able to feel God’s presence more clearly and intimately in the moments when I am very, very alone than at any other times in life.
While eating subway, sitting on the hood of my car on top of a mountain in West Virginia.
While inhabiting the uppermost floor of the deserted library, desperately trying to finish a research paper.
While writing a piece on contented singleness, but staring down the barrel of yet another engagement announcement on Facebook.
It’s in these moments that I have continuously felt God telling me to look at my life: where I am, what I have come from, and the glorious myriad of possibilities for what is yet to come. As a result, when I lay out all of the pieces of the puzzle so far, there is no way to deny that He has begun and continued a good work in me—just me. And God is so good; He is faithful to walk with me through all of my angst, even when I am disgracefully faithless. So from where I stand (or sit/slouch, currently), the prospect of spending any significant portion of the passing days pining for someone who may or may not appear in the next decade is nothing short of a shameful waste of my God-given time. I can’t let the fear of doing things alone keep me from doing them. Life is so rich, with so many opportunities to feel joy and fulfillment and love. So go. Love, and be loved by those around you. Find God’s purpose for your life, even if it is just His purpose for your life right now. And to really confound the whole idea of how things “should be,” I challenge you to thoroughly enjoy yourself.