Sometimes the only thing worse than being single is thinking about singleness. Or talking about singleness. Or reading about singleness.
Or writing about singleness.
For the past three years, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to write for a Christian relationship service. I’ve learned so much about myself and about relationships through the process. I’ve read more articles than I can ever count, and my already overcrowded bookshelves have been overwhelmed by the additional volumes on dating, courtship, engagement, and marriage perspectives. I have tirelessly studied this topic.
In my love life, I have tried to apply all the principles the experts suggest. When something hasn’t worked, I have adjusted my methods. I have been strict, and I have been relaxed. I have ignored my heart, and I have been guided by it. I have prayed for marriage, and I have let the topic rest.
Sometimes I’ve taken breaks from thinking about relationships at all. I have wondered if being called to singleness wouldn’t be so bad—at least I could cancel my dating service subscriptions, throw away my relationship books, and pretend to be fulfilled in every way.
But the reality is, I’m not fulfilled. Busy? Yes. Productive? Most of the time. Happy? Usually. But fulfilled? No, not quite.
I circle back and stare singleness in the face. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I weep. Often I write. But lately, I haven’t known what to say.
I could write about the good things: how singleness is a gift, how much time singles have to focus on God. But haven’t those things been said enough?
I could write about the hard things, the lonely things, the oh-my-gosh-where-did-my-
I could write about dating methods that work, but then—nothing I have ever tried has worked. Or at least, nothing has provided the desired result: marriage. While I could easily pen hundreds of pages under the title “101 Ways to Know He’s Not the One,” the stark reality is that I know far more about when to get out of a relationship than I know about when to stay in one. It doesn’t seem to matter how many books and articles I read—with Solomon, I find myself shaking my head, because I feel like “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14 ESV)
And yet, somehow, most people are able to open their sails and catch that wind. I look around in any direction and see yet another marriage story, each narrative diverse, each plot unique. Some couples prayerfully and carefully put effort into finding a godly spouse. Others seem oblivious to God’s involvement at all, and yet they still reap the benefits of a good match. Instead of charts, I’ve seen portraits. Where I expected black and white, I’ve found color.
It is in this beauty that the scary truth has begun to dawn on me.
What if there isn’t one right way to get married?
What if I’m not doing anything wrong?
Maybe it’s not me?
And at the same time, maybe it is—me and every other single. Maybe we are broken, and maybe we don’t always know how to do relationships and love and marriage. And maybe that’s OK, because God loves us and has mercy on us in our floundering attempts. Maybe the impossible happens every day when he takes our errors, typos, and fragments, and he turns them into a sonnet. Maybe marriage is a miracle.
Sometimes the only thing worse than being single is worrying about singleness. I thank God because he authors my life, even when I don’t know what to say.
If you know someone who is struggling with what to say about their singleness, will you email them this post to encourage them?
Photo credit: Zenome