Ok, so honest moment here. I named this post the way I did because of the new wave of blog content circling around each day. I'll fulfill the promise of the title, of course, but I couldn't help but dip my toe in the attention grabbing strategy that so clearly is working. After all, I hope that this post equips women like me who find themselves in their late 20s, early 30s and doing life unmarried. Onward, shall we?
Here's the deal. When I was in high school, I picked up on this trend of single women who were in this age bracket that I'm currently in. They all hung out together at church and they all seemed to have this thing in common - they were single and they hated it. What may have once been a tender hearted sadness of unfulfilled expectation turned in to this fuming guy-maiming faucet of disdain. It also meant that at any point a man expressed some interest, quick she was to grab hold of it, eager that this person might just be the one to make their dream a reality. Nevermind if he didn't have a job, if he played video games incessantly, or he had no interest in her life. She would wedge and twist and turn her reasoning like a child attempting to fit a square block into a round hole. Said Joe would soon get tired of the eagerness and wedging and would move on. Back she was with her friends, angry, hurt, swearing off all men once again asking why all of this happened to her. What has she done to deserve this? On and on and on and on ad infinitum.
Even as I write this, my heart pangs a little bit because this really could happen to any one. And admittedly, there have been seasons where this has been me. But the seasons have been shorter because of the following 5 pieces of advice I received in my life. It doesn't mean there are not lonely times, but it definitely allows for the experience to be so much less traumatizing and ugly.
Commit to Loving the Married People in Your Life
This one has literally been life changing for me and kind of fun! Think of a few couples in your life - some that have kids and some that don't. Be intentional about supporting their marriage. Offer free babysitting for a date night, volunteer to house sit while they're away together, give them a gift certificate to a restaurant - for. no. reason. Offer to clean their home for free while they spend time together. Simple ways to make an impact and support healthy marriage habits.
Be the one to speak life.
I was listening to a radio talk show recently where the host was explaining how if we get so immersed in talking negatively, it actually impacts our bodies, our spirits. We become, over time, the negative person in the room. Force yourself, when you are in the conversation, to speak hope into your situation. Money tight? Acknowledge the challenge and then ask someone for some ideas on how to move through it. Relationship ended? Be sad, of course, but spend some time actually speaking what you learned through the experience. Family issues? Welcome to the club. Be the person who speaks about the thing you appreciate about each family member. Be the one to ask the question "What are you excited about right now?"
Urgency is a lie.
I remember a good friend of mine encouraged me to date someone in all 4 seasons before thinking about marrying the guy. Now, there's no formula here, but the concept is important. Take the time to actually learn about this person you're entertaining spending your life with before you start planning the wedding. WARNING - THIS IS HARD. Emotions are so blinding sometimes. We get swept up in the hoopla of being in this honeymoon phase of relationships but then real stuff happens - life stuff. And it's in those moments that you, with the support of those around you, can discern if you two are the best for each other. This doesn't mean you have to analyze your relationship to death, but it does mean that you approach the choice of a life partner with patience and God's wisdom. There is no "ticking time bomb" around the corner from you. Society, family, others, may try to tell you otherwise, but marrying someone who is not interested in knowing you and loving you is worse than having seasons of loneliness in your single life.
Find out what you love to do and then do it.
I'm not talking about a career here. I'm talking about what makes your heart beat fast. Do you really love cooking? How about traveling? Soccer? Dancing? Get my picture? Actually getting off your tooshy and spending time doing things you enjoy give you more energy to care for others, to speak life into people, and to be patient in choosing a mate. Life does not start when you put a ring on your finger, my friend. A new season may start, but life is happening right now, in this moment. So get up and do something amazing in this day.
Start each day saying Thank You.
This discipline has been the most difficult for me at times. I mean, guys, there are mornings I wake up when I'm absolutely NOT thankful that it's a new day in this skin. But. (I'll let you sit there for a second).
We wake up and are met with a beating heart and functioning lungs. We wake up and are met with the potential for a truly incredible day. So each morning, in the grogginess of your first moments, say "Thank you" to the Lord. Even if all you have to give thanks for is the fact that your eyeballs opened and that you can still feel your toes. Say thank you.
My prayer is that we, as those unmarried, walk this life with grace and mercy towards others. Our identity is not wrapped up in our marital status, my friends. Our purpose is not lost due to the absence of a spouse. We are called to much greater things - married or not. We are called to love God radically out of the response of His passionate and ridiculous love for us. So, in the most loving way possible, get over yourself, lady and start being the single woman that draws people into His presence through your love for Him in your life. Cool?