The Good, the Bad, and the Truth about Being Single
Like it or not, people are born single, and though education sometimes skims over this rather obvious aspect, it is a fact of life. People are born single, yet most people are eventually not single. It's the getting from Point A to Point B that somehow causes the difficulty, at least for me.
Everyone, being born single, will at some point in his or her life wonder whether it is worth it to remain single. Many singles experience loneliness and even depression. They wonder if they'll be alone forever and if they'll ever find the one. Valentine's Day comes around and they send themselves flowers. Friday night comes around and the closest thing to love is the double fudge ice cream in the freezer. For many, being single just plain sucks.
There are, of course, plenty of arguments condoning singleness, praising the independence that comes with it. You can do what you want when you want. Besides, relationships take time and can often be messy. The divorce rate has skyrocketed over the years, causing many to doubt whether marriage and committed love are as beautiful as they're hyped up to be by all those Disney cartoons they watched when they were innocent unsuspecting children.
Guarding Your Heart
Perhaps guarding your heart is the hardest part of being single. A cute guy winks at you, a handsome stranger is spotted across the room.... is he the one and only? Or just another disappointing, disappearing dream?
Our hearts are not chalkboards; words and thoughts and feelings cannot be erased with a swipe of the hand. What has once entered your heart will make a permanent impression, whether for good or for bad. It is important to keep your heart pure, to keep your thoughts clean, to save yourself for your future spouse.
Me, Myself, and I'm Lonely
Being currently "single" myself, I find it very easy to wander into mental questions of singleness: is it a good thing? am I wasting my time? etc. etc. Not that I am really "choosing" singleness. It just so happens that I am unmarried, and nothing that I can say or do at this point is really going to change that reality today. The question that I'm asking myself is, "Am I OK to be single? Am I OK to be alone?"
Perhaps these self-questions are a bit odd, seeing that I can't really help the situation by talking to myself and overanalyzing my OK-ness. It might also seem odd in a world where singleness can often be seen as more appealing than marriage.
I've found that the mentality of singleness is fairly rampant throughout our culture, even more so than singleness itself. How many times have you heard the excuse when someone gets a divorce: "He (or she) deserves some happiness." As if being alone, being away from someone you once loved, was the best option. The above statement doesn't make sense if you view marriage as a joining of two people into one.
Our society is very individualistic, without a doubt. The family is deteriorating over time and giving way to the all-important self. Every day, each member of a family will go his own way: each parent to work, each child to school. Rarely do we find families actually living and working together.
My home growing up was a little different, though I admit it wasn't perfect. My father worked very hard, and for many years, he has worked from home. My mother worked just as hard, making our house a home and educating her children. We kids were raised with the idea that we were a family, made up of individuals who did things together. We didn't always do things the right way, but at least I grew up knowing the importance of family, of togetherness.
And yet I know that there is more to life than the security of my parents' home and the glory days of my youth. Even with the love of a great family, I know that there is a different kind of love out there, one I believe is found in marriage, in spending the rest of your life with someone you choose to love. And still I ponder...
The Uncommitted Culture
Recently I read an advice column in which the columnist compared a 23-year-old choosing her life companion to a 6-year-old choosing a career. The columnist was attempting to answer the question of "Hung Jury" who couldn't decide whether she should stay with her boyfriend whom she loved, or should "date around" just to make sure he was the one. The columnist advised the woman to make like the Amish and practice a bit of Rumspinga, dating around a little, since she simply wasn't mature enough to make a commitment yet. According to this advice writer, your twenties are your "Who am I?" years, meant to be spent discovering your individuality, while pushing a relationship commitment to the side.
This advice column made me not a little concerned. Why must anyone date around for years upon years before he or she can be certain of which one to marry? Why are we as a society so afraid of commitment and so concerned about our own individuality that we waste our twenties with all the wrong ones in order to find the right one? There has to be a better way to spend your single years.
Satisfaction of Contentment
So how should we then live? Is my time redeemed, even though I am not married or committed to a relationship? Am I good at being single? Not quite. I have much to learn, but the road is winding, and I don't know exactly what is around the corner. But I believe there is a joy to be found in living life to the fullest, no matter what condition you are in. I want to spend my single years serving God, saving myself for marriage, and striving for contentment. Contentment - easy to say, hard to learn, but not impossible. I'm talking to myself again, so feel free to ignore me. God give me to grace to live with a satisfied heart, with the gentleness of wisdom.
As you can probably tell since you've made it this far in this article, I don't have all the answers. I'm not an expert at being single; I don't have a degree in how to be alone. I am still learning this path that I am on, not sure of where it will lead. Marriage is a good thing, and maybe I will someday be blessed with that. But singleness can also be a good thing, if the time spent is spent wisely.