I take a deep breath, rise slowly with my heart beating quickly, and confess: “Hi. My name is Hope Rana. I am 35 years old and I am single.”
We’re sitting in a circle in a plain, white tiled floor room, much like a school cafeteria, everyone’s hands folded politely in their laps. I sit back down and they applaud respectfully, coupling it with affirming nods, and a few “I’m proud of you’s” gently. The ladies are the gamut of ages, but I am most surprised by the ones in their twenties. Why are they in here? They’re not really old enough to be in a support group for singles.
Then I realize – each of the women are admitted into the group by their own expectations.
Everyone has a number, the age that they thought they would be married by. Once you pass that number by a few years, you start to question what is wrong with you. You have three types of girlfriends who help you respond to this:
- Those that try to help you figure it out: Maybe you’re too conservative. Maybe you’re too unapproachable, too confident, too busy, too loud, too shy…
- Those that convince you nothing is wrong with you and campaign that there is something wrong with the guys these days: They have no guts. They’re scared of you. They’re afraid of rejection. They don’t know what they’re missing. They want the young and easy. One day they’ll figure it out…
But I have found that the third is the most comforting for me:
- Those that remind you that it is neither you nor them, but rather, this time is a special season to pursue your relationship with the Lord and create your own identity until the time when you can be joined with someone who has his life together also.
This third one is the only one that permits you to take it out of your own hands and put it into God’s. It’s the one that requires faith. It’s not always the easiest explanation to accept, but it is the most true.
I’ve never really been in a support group for singles, just so you know – and hopefully you got a chuckle out of that – but I imagine that it would be like that. Sometimes, I do feel like I have a problem. I feel like an outcast – often left out. I feel as though I’ve done something wrong, something that requires counseling before my life can progress in this area. It is because when I get the question “Why are you single?,” it makes me feel like I have an illness. I feel like there should be some explanation. As if I know. “Maybe it’s a choice! Why are you married?” That’s what I want to ask back because my answer is as arbitrary as theirs would be. Their answer could be that they met the man of their dreams, just like my answer is that I have not met the man of my dreams.
So at the age of 35, I will say that I have had a lot of time to work through this and come to a place of peace. I have spent most of my adulthood single. Since the age of 18, I’ve spent a total of 4 years in relationships, which means that I’ve spent 13 years single – so, more than 75% has been just me and Jesus. You do have to know as you read this that I am writing from a Christian perspective, because I committed my life to the Lord when I was almost 23. It has shaped so much of how I view dating and that is the perspective I am coming to you with. Having said that, more than half of my (albeit limited) dating relationships were before then and less than half were after. I have dated on both sides of my faith. I have found more comfort in this season of being single as a Christian and the primary reason is that at the end of the day, when I am fed up and frustrated, I can rest my trust in God’s plan. I can’t tell you how comforting that is, because the alternative is to rest my faith in me or others and if I feel incompetent, then I’m trusting in something broken and that is more painful. My hope is that as you read through these posts, you will start to understand this even if you’re not a Christian. Regardless, I know that my experiences and my frustrations and questions are similar to so many other women who find themselves still single beyond their number.
You may be curious what my number is. It was 28. Wow. What if God told me back then: “Chill, girl, you still have over 7 years to go.” SEVEN YEARS. Would have I conducted myself differently? Would have I moved on better? Focused on me more? Because my answer is, “Yes.” I am writing all of this for you.
So here goes. I will share things I’ve learned through studying successful marriages, observing patient singles, books I’ve read, things I’ve learned the hard way (there are many), and revelations I’ve received.
I want to encourage you in this season to have hope in it.
I want you to embrace it and do it well so that when you move on to the next season if that is the plan, that you’re not broken or tired and weary, but you’re whole, beautiful, vibrant, expectant, and ready.
My hope is that you’ll eventually enter into something you’ve hoped for but not because you’re leaving somewhere you hate. Please read, pray, share, discuss, and journey with me.