Savoring Singleness

“Dear future husband, it’s getting closer to Valentine’s Day—yet another I will spend single. I am missing you more often around this time. I want you to know that I love you even though I don’t know you yet. I know God has someone extra-special planned for me—you!”

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFifteen-year-old Marina penned those words. I still have them scrawled in that treasured future husband journal surrounded by sketched flowers and margin-notes. If only I knew then what I know now.

Singleness is, indeed, a gift. But it seldom feels that way when you are in it. As each Valentine’s Day rolls around, the world reminds us that we have a “missing piece”—that there MUST be something wrong with us if we don’t have flowers delivered to our doorstep. The advice I received from so many wise mentors sometimes seemed faded or insignificant to MY life—after all, those people had been married for years! How could they offer singleness advice?

Now that I am married myself, but barely removed from those all-encompassing single years, there are some things I desperately want my single friends to hear.

  1. There are MANY adventures and freedoms singleness offers that marriage does not.

I didn’t date until I was 21 years old. Some people think that’s crazy, others may be nodding along in understanding. It can be tough not to compare your story to others or want to have the dates and adventures that come along with being in a relationship. I’ve been there! In fact, I kept a journal to my future husband from age 15 until I got married. All throughout the pages were dreams of “walking down the beach,” “watching fireworks,” and “watching sunsets” on the countless adventures I wanted to experience with my future husband. As I got older and Prince Charming didn’t arrive, I started to realize, I could make my own adventures! I know my revelation seems like a “duh!” moment now, but believe it or not, there are still people who sit in their “ivory tower” just waiting for their life (and love story) to begin at the arrival of their prince. Don’t be one of those people. More on that later.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetMy “own adventures” included traveling to 10+ countries, obtaining two dream internships, living in the Virgin Islands one summer, living in Scotland another, having countless walks with God and weekend getaways, befriending people from dozens of nations, and even starting my own blog! I had a BLAST!

Now that I’m married, Mason and I have our fair share of adventures together, and they are so sweet! But I look back on those single adventures—how they shaped me and my perspective on the world—and I smile. God knew I needed those extra single years. The independence grew me, and the freedom challenged me.

  1. Don’t fall into the “fairy tale” trap.

Our culture has an extreme fascination with love stories. Just ask any three-year-old girl her favorite movie and this claim will hold true. We love LOVE! I never had a problem with this. I would often watch those addicting rom-coms that make you laugh and cry all at the same time. I used those movies to cope with loneliness sometimes, too. I’m sure we all have.

When I started dating, I became aware of this thing I call the “fairy tale” trap. Here’s how I define it: Females having an unrealistic perspective of real relationships (specifically on the hard things and mundane things that plague any relationship) because of our culture’s portrayal of love in fairy tales. Has anyone else fallen into this trap?

29312972_2073131016034921_4174378229374648320_oI hadn’t dated anyone before Mason, so my perspective of relationships was (unfortunately) influenced by what I had seen on TV. Even though Mason was the MOST AMAZING man I had ever met (and super romantic, I might add), rom-coms hadn’t prepared me for driving him to the ER when he hurt his foot, or disagreeing about something stupid, or even how/when the laundry should be folded.

When you are single, it is EASY to idealize love and want what the movies have to offer…but that is not real life OR real love! One of my fears is that young women will increasingly base their standards for relationships on movies and decreasingly base their standards on the Word of God. We CANNOT let this happen! Don’t fall into the “fairy tale” trap.

  1. Who you are now is who you will be when you’re married—make this training time count!

Marriage changes your name, sure, but what it doesn’t change is who you are. Every single personality trait, nagging habit, or sin struggle carries over into marriage! I know that seems like another “duh!” moment, but think about it. I’ve seen people (myself included) put off things in the name of “I’ll do it when I’m married.” Others, still, are misled in thinking that adding the feelings of “love” will somehow make them nicer or take away their problems.

Even tonight, Mason had to say to me, “Marina, you’re driving me crazy!” because of some annoying thing I was doing. This phrase was like an echo in my mind because, guess what? My mom would tell me the SAME thing when I had the SAME annoying habits BEFORE I got married.

If you are single, use this vital time in your journey of sanctification! It’s just you and God. How does He want to change you? Pursue it. What does he want to shave off your life? Accept it. What does He want to teach you? Embrace it. Even something as silly as annoying habits—now is the time to break them! Establishing patterns of listening to God’s voice or serving in the community or having a quiet time are GREAT examples of making your training time count! Whoever you want to be in marriage is the person you should strive to be in singleness.

  1. There is no “missing piece.”

I know I’ve written a lot of words, but if you hear nothing else, hear this: singleness is not a “problem” to be fixed or a “piece” that is missing. That is a lie from the enemy. Some of you reading this may have been called to a life of singleness. That is NOT a curse! In fact, during my own season of singleness, I was able to serve, evangelize, learn, and grow in my faith in many different ways than I do now in marriage. Both seasons have grown my faith tremendously.

Regardless of if you are called to singleness temporarily or permanently, I want you to know that singleness is a time intentioned by God to grow your relationship with and witness of Him. Stop thinking you will be “stuck here forever.” It is a purposed season.

Here’s the problem I see with Christian singleness today: We are so caught up in easing our pains loneliness that we forget to use the ever-important season to forge a deep, intimate, satisfying relationship with our Heavenly Father. And isn’t that what Satan wants? He is perfectly fine with you eating that pint of ice cream while watching that chick flick to stifle your singleness blues because you are no threat to him. BUT when you start using your singleness to fortify your faith, share the gospel, build discipleship relationships, and pursue the Lord passionately—that is what he can’t stand.

Do you remember that ivory tower I talked about earlier? Listen to me: your life is too valuable to be spent waiting around for a significant other! God has plans to use you! If you don’t see your purpose “beginning” until your wedding day, you are sorely mistaken. If you can’t find contentment in the Lord in singleness, you won’t find contentment in the Lord in marriage.

To whoever may be reading this, know that you do not need a relationship to define you—an earthly relationship, that is. The relationship we all crave, the one that will fill that “missing piece” you sense within you, is a relationship with God through His Son Jesus. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the most valiant, difficult, but beautiful thing anyone will EVER do for you. This Valentine’s Day, will you wait for that one guy to realize he loves you? Or will you surrender to the love of the One who loved you first (1 John 4:19)?

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