Somewhere between the fall of Eve and autumnal fall of 2015, we’ve attached the same feelings we have towards Leprosy to the word ‘singleness’. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know why we still do it, but rattling around the subconscious in much of the modern world is this hidden belief that we are untouchable -- a failure in love even -- if we declare our relationship status ‘unblended’.
You hear the sentiments all the time, be it a subtle compliment (But I don’t understand how you're still single?) or a direct insult (And you wonder why you're still single?).
The pressure faced on the solo path doesn’t start immediately. It builds with age, just as the expectations for success for a middle-aged man. Within your early twenties, there’s grace to build yourself and your career, and there’s ‘readiness’ to take into account. But between midnight on your 29th birthday and the morning of your 30th, many have gone into panic mode. Loved ones think it’s helpful to suggest you don’t have long now. They suggest you’ve just not been putting yourself ‘out there’, as if finding the right spouse was the same as knowing where to buy a decent cut of filet mignon.
Girls have contacted me with emails titled: BUT WHAT IF I’M SINGLE AND THIRTY?? Scared she’ll get to 30 and be without husband, she seeks solace from me – the girl who writes about the trials and tribulations of Christian dating.
"Do you know how old I am, sweetheart?" (I like to have a little fun with them when I respond.)
She types. “28?”
"Oh, God bless you, you charming little thing. I’m 35. And single."
As it turns out, she’s 19. It is here where I’m grateful that Siri isn’t recording the rolling of my eyeballs or reframing my sentiments into an emoji.
I can feel her fear take over. I’m not nervous. After all, I was the one who refused to marry without peace.
She panics. "But how do you cope?!"
"Well, you know," I type. "Some days I want to throw myself off a precipice, some days I don’t."
So, I explain the perceptions of singleness that smash the glass of the internal alarm before there was even a fire.
It’s the ones that can’t be single that make me nervous -- the ones that can’t be alone for thirteen seconds. And trust me, I’ve dated some: an experience much like meandering in a china shop with a rhino following you around. It’s carnage.
I don’t want to unite in marriage and lay down my life for just anyone. No, it’s not some form of bizarre feminism that I follow; it’s about finding contentment before the dude rocks up. After all, self-love forms better decisions, and I can only receive as much love as I give myself. Show me the people who do this well and I will show you the ones who have lives filled to the brim with fruitful success, devoted communities, and exuberant friends.
Sure, many of us could have married. I personally could have married 4 times but I look back and know that many might-be-marriages would have ended in tears. We could all share a story where he or she wasn’t on the same page, where that someone was unhealthy, abusive, controlling, uninspired. But because you liked who you were and believed you were worth more, you called it a day.
That’s not a failure -- that’s a triumph.
Don’t have regret. Our decisions will dictate our tomorrow even if we are misunderstood by much of society today. Individual success is not dictated in finally finding the right husband or wife; success is in tuning our hearts to God’s and in seeking what enhances our souls.
Until tomorrow, we will gently live in a hope for a world where singleness is not considered an infection. Where on (legal) days where we long for intimacy, we shall be proud that we’re not short-fixing our needs with another, understanding that these longings are temporary and do not transpire everyday. Meanwhile, we’re remaining focused on our purpose in Him.
And if the word ‘single’ is as putrid as a disease, might I suggest reading the gospel once more? This time, through the lens of the Father, not the lens of a culture that feeds off lonely spells and encourages fear based decisions.
Be still and know that where there is singleness, there is God with a bright agenda on tomorrow’s horizon. Maybe it will involve love, maybe it won’t. Whichever the case, if you grasp your purpose within yourself, you won’t care as much for the love to begin, because you had it in you all along.