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Single & Fulfilled: A Paradox

I never want to feel bad about being single.

That goes for whatever age I am… whether I’m twenty going on twenty-one or forty going on forty-one.

I say that because I think there’s an unhealthy stigma associated with singleness. If you’re single, it’s just a waiting game until you can achieve the nirvana that is a relationship. If you’re single, there’s a reason you’re single. If you’re single, don’t worry… you just haven’t found the “one” yet. If you’re single, please carry around this unnecessary pressure because you aren't getting any younger amiright?

I was raised to avoid dating in high school, because I believe the purpose of dating is for marriage. Naturally I wasn’t ready to get married in high school, so it probably wasn’t a good idea to date then. And I’m truly thankful for that mindset because personally it sure saved me a lot of heartache. I was waiting til college (because that’s where true adulthood lies…).

So I entered college as a freshman, prepared to meet my future husband and date and then get married after graduation. Freshman year came and went, and wow that pesky future husband hadn’t shown up yet. Sophomore year… still forever alone. And here I am, a junior in college, and the horizon for dating is quite empty.

I went into college with an expectation of finally getting a relationship. I had been a good Christian girl, sort-of patiently awaiting my time. And when that expectation wasn’t met, I found disappointment, frustration, and a good portion of self-doubt.

Some of this expectation comes from culture. Depending on where you live, that whole dating plan might sound kind of crazy. But in the South, people get married young. As a Christian, people get married even younger. And I’m not here to bash on culture, because this is reality for so many of my sweet friends.

BUT, I think as Christians, we have to be especially careful not to cast a shadow of shame over the single. We hold marriage to such high esteem, because it is Biblical and beautiful and such a picture of the union between Christ and the church. But ultimately marriage is not the purpose of life. The cold hard truth is we aren’t promised a significant other, a perfect “one” that is out there waiting for us (so tbh stop telling people that no matter how devastated they are post-breakup!!!).

My purpose is to glorify God in all that I do. It’s to share the perfect love story that is Jesus with a broken world. It’s to be both a servant and lover of Christ, whether or not I have someone to partner alongside with in that. And that’s the way God designed it to be because He knew true fulfillment comes from Him, and not from any human relationship we could have on this earth.

The world will blatantly teach that you need a boyfriend or girlfriend to be happy and finally reach your full potential as a human who is capable of loving. It will also whisper little bits of “self-help” that convince you that you are not worthy to be in a relationship or enough without one.

Can I just call those out right now as lies whose purpose is to misconstrue and manipulate your identity?

I’ve been there, my friends. A false identity and the feelings attached are so dangerous because they begin to affect the way you live your life. And I never want to feel like my life is any less than because I’m single. And I never want anyone else to feel like that either.

I never want to feel like there’s something wrong with me because I’m single. I never want to feel like I’m not truly fulfilled because I’m single. I never want to feel like I’ve failed at life because I’m single.

This is not a woe-is-me-my-life-is-the-worst post. Nor is it an independent-woman-who-don’t-need-no-man post. This is a post to say both singleness and relationships are worth celebrating.

As I see more of my friends get engaged, I want to be genuinely happy for them. I want to experience pure excitement for them, without a need to somehow draw attention to the plight of my own relationship status. Let there be no jealousy or self-pity here.

When the holiday season rolls around, I want to be able to enjoy all that comes with it without wasting it on wishfulness. I want to visit my family members on Thanksgiving and Christmas without feeling embarrassed or pitied because I don’t have a boyfriend.

I don’t want to be another girl who hates Valentine’s Day because she’s single. Valentine’s Day is actually my favorite “holiday,” and I’ve been single for all of them. There’s a societal cliche that you have to hate Valentine’s Day if you’re alone. It’s not only acceptable, but expected of you to indulge in alcohol, chocolate, and misery if God forbid you don’t have a date on Valentine’s Day. Well, my friends, you may be single, but you are not alone on Valentine’s Day.

You are also not alone on any other day of the year; so stop living like it. Choose to live loved. An abundant life is not out of reach for you.

ALL of that to say (I promise I’m almost done)…

Am I converting into a nun? No.

Do I have dreams of marriage and a family? Yes.

Are those dreams wrong? No.

Unless those dreams start affecting my identity. I am no more or less of a person because I’m single. I can be confident and strong and all that God has created me to be, with or without a relationship.

So if you’re in a relationship, I’m so happy for you. It’s so beautiful to love and be loved in return.

If you’re single, I’m so happy for you. There’s no shame here. You are a person who is great during singleness and will be the same amount of greatness in a relationship.

Singleness and fulfillment are not strangers. Because ultimate satisfaction comes from God and not man, we have the opportunity to live a fulfilled life without a significant other. That’s amazing news!!!! How gracious of the Lord to assume the role of fulfillment in our lives. I’m so thankful that because of Him, the paradox of singleness and a fulfilled life is really no paradox at all.

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