My home has been without a washing machine for two months. While I am sitting here staring at the Mount Everest of dirty clothes, I actually still have clothes left in my closet…and I thought I was doing such a good job of living simply.
Retrieving a new washing machine has been an ordeal. First there were the days of trying to diagnose how broken the old washing machine was—the YouTube video watching, the neighbor men coming in and out, the calls to price the broken part. I live with four other single women all who are on tight budgets like myself. When our old washer broke, going out and buying a new washer was not in the cards for us. Singleness has taught me to be an incredible steward of my resources.
Of course, over the last two months there have been days where I wished I could just go and buy a new machine. And for me, this wish is coupled (no pun intended) with a “Where the heck is my husband?!” thought, because unless my future spouse is a full-time volunteer, he will make more money than me.
Singleness and a single budget has demanded I practice budgeting and a simple lifestyle.
More often than I wish to have my husband’s money to spend, I thank God that He has used this season to hopefully imprint on my mind and heart forever that what we NEED to live is very little. I have big dreams of giving my entire salary away once I am married and just living off of my husband’s income. I believe this dream can be achieved because of the practical things I have learned about money via these single years, but more importantly, the change that has occurred in my heart in seeing the excess of most American lives and how I simply don’t need as much as people say I do.
Singleness has taught me humility.
After finding the broken part expensive, we began to ask around to hopefully track down a cheap or free machine. This season has taught me that need is nothing to be ashamed of. That in having need I am not failing. That need doesn’t speak to my identity. That need doesn’t mean I am not a “real” grownup. Singleness has demanded my pride bow down and admit to the world that on my own I cannot “accomplish” life.
Within a few hours of the asking, I had not one, but two, free washing machines offered. Praise God! I began making plans with the first offer and let the second person know she could bless someone else. Later on when the first one fell through it would be too late to get that second one, and I would wrestle with how hard it is to be not in control.
Singleness has taught me patience.
In my idealized view of marriage, waiting is not nearly as present as it is in my now. This washing machine has had me waiting at every turn. Waiting for the neighbor to come look at the broken one, waiting to arrange a pick up time for the new one, waiting to find someone with a truck, waiting for the truck driver to be free, waiting for the day that the new washer person and the truck driver’s schedules line up. Whereas in my perfect marriage I’ll have some day, my washer would have broken, the next day we would have gone to Home Depot, gotten a new one, put it in the back of his truck, and voila the laundry schedule wouldn’t even have been interrupted.
Singleness has taught me the gift of uncomfortableness.
A few days before our washer broke, a friend who is on mission in inner city Houston came to visit. During our conversations about poverty she said, “We don’t understand what a blessing it is to be able to eat, sleep, bathe and do our laundry under the same roof.” I remember being caught off guard by the laundry one. When I thought about it, it made sense but out of the four it was the one I would never have considered as a gift many do not have.
And apparently God thought I really needed to reflect on that gift…for two whole months. I am not really sure that God broke my washing machine, but the irony of the timing has not been lost on me.
I am set-up to be a suburban housewife. What I mean by that is that my natural personality, my natural bent fits in fabulous around these parts. I wear the same brand of clothes and look like I am supposed to look and could throw a gala or fundraiser or tea in my home in a minute. And someday, I think by title, I will be a suburban housewife, but this season of singleness has rescued me from all the horrible, soul-eating things that can come with that title.
Singleness has taught me that in the uncomfortable is where I will seek God most.
Singleness has taught me that being put together on the outside and withering up on the inside is never worth it. Singleness has taught me what abundant provision I have. I will undoubtedly—for months and, I hope, beyond—thank God every time I wash my clothes and will continue to think on those who have to haul their laundry and their children to often-crowded, dirty laundromats. In my perfect marriage with the next-day Home Depot trip, I would have missed out on this grateful heart God has grown.
Singleness has taught me dependence.
So here we are two months later and a couple of washing machine offers fallen through and tonight the saga ends (knock on wood), and yet I still have need. When I finish writing this, I will send texts and post statuses asking for the help we need to physically move our new machine.
As I was thinking last night about posting in a church group for help I thought, “No one ever asks for help in that group. I always ask for help.” And the anxiety began to rise up in me. Until God pressed on my heart the truth I learned some years ago: Independence is a result of the fall. In the garden, humans were dependent on each other and on God.
Singleness has made me live this truth out. Whether it is asking a roommate for help or searching the world ‘round for a few strong men, my days are full of seeing my own need and often having to be dependent on others to help meet them.
It is interesting because culture touts singleness as a season of independence: You can do what you want, go where you please, follow no one’s lead but yourself. But what doesn’t make the marketing campaign for singleness are the nights you will cry alone if you aren’t dependent, the stupid financial mistakes you will make if you don’t ask for help, and the washing machine you will never have if you don’t humble yourself and ask to be served.