Before I start I want to clarify something. Often times we see marriage/relationships vs. singleness with a “one-up/one-down” mentality. Either marriage is above singleness, meaning marriage and accomplishing “every” person’s dream of love and happiness at whatever age you did (the earlier the better) and settling into your own corner of happily ever after is a one up, and singleness – “I just wish you were as happy as us” – is one down. Or, singleness is above marriage, meaning if you’re single, free, living the life, without anyone or anything to tie you down, you’ve got a leg up on the rest of everyone else who sold their souls to the ancient “ball and chain” trap that we call marriage. Sometimes you have marriage as a one up when you’re single, or singleness as one up when you’re married. Sometimes it’s the opposite.
But does the scale work like that?
If we’re comparing the two, I’m pretty sure instead of a vertical comparison (one-up/one-down), your relationship status is horizontal (side by side) when compared with others. Not that one is better or worse off than the other, but instead that you’re living your life and they are living their lives and you are experiencing different parts of life. Not better. Not worse.
So… here we go. From that perspective. Five things that I learned to value in singleness.
1. It’s worth learning. I’ve been through all the stages in my overwhelmingly longer experience as a single (vs dating/married) woman. Bitter. Sad. Lonely. Envious. Joyful. Content. Apathetic. Embracing it. I have to say, though, one thing I learned to value in singleness is the learning part. I’m so thankful for the time I had in college and post-college to learn to be content and embrace where God had me in life. Regardless of how long or short your single life is, it’s worth learning through it, processing through it, and leaning into God for what He wants to teach you – in the hard and the not so hard parts.
2. Embracing that life started when Jesus saved my soul and not in my future “ideal” scenario. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. Abundant, eternal LIFE started the moment I became a believer. Not the day I got married. Is it worth it to do things or buy things or enjoy things that I used to look forward to beginning to do once I got married? Yes! Budgeting. Decorating. Growing in my faith. Learning to cook. Going on adventures. Are those things that only can happen within the confines of marriage? Definitely not. I learned to embrace the life God had given me. I had great value as a single woman. I have great value now. My status doesn’t change that. Jesus did.
3. Cultivating deeper relationships with my dating/engaged/married/married with kids friends in addition to my single friends. This one I can’t emphasize more. I LOVED the way I got to be close with my single friends in a unique way. But also, I absolutely LOVE that I learned how to be friends with people in different life stages than me. One of my dearest friends and I are like that. She married at 20, had baby boy at 21 and baby girl at 26. I went to grad school at 22, interned til 25 and got married at 26. Were we/are we still in totally different life stages? Absolutely. But oh my goodness, how sweet our friendship is! I would never trade it. I’ve learned from her, loved and been loved by her family, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on that. Just because you’re in a different stage than someone else does not deny you the ability to love and care for and learn from them well. I’d argue the opposite. It adds richness to life.
4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Thanks Teddy Roosevelt for that quote. But oh my goodness. This was me in college. Honestly, it’s me now. Let’s be real. The second I started to give way to comparing my life to my friends’ lives in college who were dating, the second I lost joy in where I was and where they were in life. I’m thankful for friends who loved me even when I was bitter that they were dating. When I began to learn to be honest in conversation with them and to seek Jesus as the definer of my identity (because He is), I was able to be joyful in where God placed me. Comparison steals joy. It just does.
5. Here’s the kicker: My value doesn’t come from my relationship status. It comes from Jesus. Learning as a single woman that my identity, contentment, and value came from Jesus set me up well once I did date, get engaged, and get married. As tempting as it can be to make my husband my identity now as a newlywed, Jesus has already rooted me in Him. God anchored me to Him then and I’ve been able to fall back on that now. I’m SO thankful for that. So thankful. My identity is in Jesus and who He says I am. It’s not whether or not I can check any given box on a survey about my relationship status. Thankfully. How empty would that be!?
Ultimately, I’m thankful for a God who gave me time in His sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom, to wrestle. To go through stages of acceptance of where He had me in life. I’m thankful for a God who showed me what it meant to put my identity fully in Him regardless of my circumstances. I failed at it, a lot, and at times it was really really hard. But I treasure that time and I’m thankful for it.
Five things. Singleness. Value. I’m barely scratching the surface… So…
What about you? What have you learned to value about singleness?
I’d love to hear!