Almost 40 and Single

I used to think it would be a tragedy of sorts to be nearly 40 and single. That if not married or at least in a serious relationship then somehow I’ve failed as an adult. After all the narrative I was told was that happiness only came from finding the one to live life with.

But what is not spoken of as much is JOY. Happiness is fleeting and runs away from the shadows of life. Joy, however sticks around. Joy is there for the long haul and still there in the midst of hardships.

For a long time, I believed that marriage was some kind of reward. As if getting married was some statement of who I am deep down in my soul. That If I was good enough to warrant a partner in this life, that this was some stamp of approval.

I lived in this tension long after I became a Christian. It has taken me most of these past ten years to begin to understand how wrong I have been. Years of longing for something that wasn’t or isn’t meant for me just yet. Years of jealousy over others getting to have what I wanted. Believing that somehow I was lacking because I didn’t have a mate.

This was the way I lived. At least, until I started to believe that love is greater than the small box I had placed it in. Instead, Believing in the enormous, unending love of God.

I understood that I am loved by God intellectually. The disconnect was with my heart and spirit. I kept turning away from what was right in front of me and towards my idol of marriage.

One of the breakthroughs began when I started to develop deeper friendships. Friendships that not only provided companionship but also pointed me to Jesus. One time, after having my heart hurt over some unrequited feelings I reached out to a friend. Instead of the comforting words I craved, she only said that she couldn’t help me. Only Jesus could.

Those words stung. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be told how awesome I am, that it was his loss blah blah blah. In that moment I was hearing what I needed. I needed Jesus, full stop.

Through my tears in that moment, I cried out to Him. To be fair I have cried out many times since.

I’m grateful for my church and the real community they offer to all who want it. It comes with a price, being part of a community. It means being lovingly confronted at times. To pull back the mask and embrace the God who loves us.

I will be 40 next year, odds are I will also be single when I do. I no longer believe it’s a tragedy. The tragedy would be if I were still missing God’s love not only for myself but for all.

Single is a box I check on forms, not the entirety of who I am as a human being.

I am defined by who I am in Christ. I am the beloved daughter of Christ. I was thought of before the creation of the world. God created me to exemplify His love and holiness with my life.

If I never marry, I have the peace and love of Christ. If I do marry, I still have the peace and love of Christ. Either way I am blessed and that is what matters.

What Matters Most

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Last year I dove into the world of online dating. In a few months I then dove out.  Downloaded on my phone were several dating apps. Apps that began to become the focus my days. It was just too easy to open them and peruse.

Several things dawned on me, first of which is that everyone is being judged. I was guilty of this, swiping left simply because of a bad photo or that the person just was not physically attractive to me. I am sure the same was done to me.

Second, no one really wants to have a conversation. I grew frustrated after taking the time to construct a thoughtful, hopefully witty message. In return, getting no response. The whole thing began to feel wrong for me.

I am nearly thirty six and have never been in a relationship. Dates, yes but not a relationship. The lack of response translated into rejection. Which became draining for me. All those apps were soon deleted.

I had to take a step back and think about what I really believed about potential marriage. As in what it could do for me. Then I attended a marriage workshop that my church held.

It was good for me. It helped me gain a better perspective on my singleness. How I needed to let go of the idea that marriage is created simply for me. For me to be happy or that being married would make me happy.

The reality is, marriage, just as anything else in this Christian life, is there to prepare me to meet Christ. Realizing this, a lightbulb went off in my heart. Regardless if I marry or if I do not, it is all about Jesus. My life is not less worthy to Christ because I am single.

Which has freed me from the anxiety and worry that I have carried for much of my life. Letting go of the judgment that I have placed on myself for being single. Putting myself down as a loser. I believed for so long that my validation belonged in someone else loving me.

Being loved does matter but my salvation is found in Christ and not another person. I still hope for marriage but it may be more of an “if instead of when “question in my life. I have a better perspective on what marriage can possibly be in my life.

Can this be called contentment? Perhaps. I hesitate to call it that though. I call it an in between state. Between feeling content and longing for more. I find it to be the place I need to be right now. The tension where we are all called to live as followers of Christ.

Single or married, what matters most who I am in Christ.

How To Pray for Singles

Lately, something has been bugging me about praying for the marriages in our churches. Not just because it is yet another reminder of my singleness. A question formed in my mind, Why aren’t singles in the church as specifically prayed for? I don’t believe that this is because we are thought of as less than marrieds. This may have more to do with the mentality towards singleness. Even from those of use in the midst of it. That somehow our lives and struggles are not as important as those who are married. Or that this state of being is more private to be prayed about so publicly.

It is of course important to pray for marriage. It is hard, challenging, full of trials and blessings.  It is a beautiful example of Christ’s love for us.

But so is singleness. Being a single in the church today is more of the norm than not. A pew poll from 2012 found that this group is in fact growing. For a number of reasons people are waiting longer to get married. Or are recovering from past relationships. Or like me have never been in a relationship.

In fact most churches are having to adjust how to minister to us. (I will touch on this more on another post).

Which is why it is just as important to remember to pray for us. Singleness can be just as challenging, full of trials and blessings. Pray not only for our potential, future marriages but also for our lives right now.

The majority of us are searching for our spouse. Pray that we be discerning in pursuing a spouse .  Pray for us as we try online dating and get to know new people. Pray for us as we pursue our dreams and establish ourselves. Keep in mind too not necessarily all of us are looking for that in our lives. Marriage, like college may not be for everyone.

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