What did she say – should be?! – Now don’t get all offended! I don’t mean forever – maybe just for now. You’ll have to decide if this is for you but if it is, your future spouse will thank you. For those of you unmarried, this is going to be an honest conversation that has biblical roots and is important in a society that glorifies pleasure seeking, casual relationships with back doors, and lots of drama. I feel very strongly about this message so let’s jump in.
Alright so let’s go back in time a little. By the time I graduated high school, I had lived in at least 8 different houses in 7 different cities. Then, since 18, I have been in 7 more houses. Not military; my family just moved a lot. One of the nice things that I’ve learned through all of that is that everytime I move, it is an opportunity to clean house and purge. I can get rid of all of the clutter and stuff that isn’t necessary and I can get a fresh start. Every time, the U-Haul gets smaller and smaller and the process is more and more efficient. Thus, I need less people to help me move. However, I’ve noticed that with some people, the exact opposite happens. Every time they move, that U-Haul gets bigger and bigger and the process becomes more complicated and more hands are needed.
I have also observed that movement from relationship to relationship is not too dissimilar. Some people unload as they go. Each relationship gets easier or better because they clean house on what they want, and purge what they don’t. Others, on the other hand, carry hurts and pains from one relationship to the next and they actually end up loading up on the baggage as they go. They move into the next relationship and as they start unpacking, their new bae starts to see everything that should have stayed behind or been cleaned up before.
I have friends that come to me confiding that they desperately want a boyfriend/girlfriend. They’re out looking for that because they are lonely and they want someone to love and someone to love them. This is understandable. No criticism of that. We are created for relationship and there are absolutely awesome needs that being in a relationship can satisfy, on many levels. However, just because you want that now, doesn’t mean you should have it now.
If you currently have drama from your situation, open wounds from your past, strong insecurities, or paralyzing fears, you would probably admit that those things need to be addressed and dealt with. So, why would you seek a relationship right now?
With those things often comes loneliness. That’s the irony of it – you feel lonely so you want to fill that void, but the second you get into a relationship, your attention leaves you and goes onto them, or onto the two of you together, and now the timeline to deal with and heal your past issues is now greatly extended.
Here’s the root of that: in the Bible, in John 15, God points out that He is the vine and we are the branches. Branches attached to a vine bear fruit, and through pruning the branches, there is even more fruit. He tells us, similarly, to abide in Him and we will bear fruit, which means yielding positive results. The question is – isn’t it easier to “abide in Him” and invest in that relationship primarily when there is no competing relationship in your life? That’s what I mean about expediting personal growth (i.e. Pruning to bear more fruit). I’m not saying that married people have less opportunity or time to abide, but most I’ve talked to will even will admit that the more other relationships: spouse, kids, etc, the more competition you have for your time/focus on God.
I want you to understand that the fact that you’re single IS A GIFT. Use this time to accelerate your healing. Seek and grow. Address your baggage. Deal with your issues. Your past. Your insecurities. This is not a request. This is a responsibility. This is a RESPONSIBILITY.
Your role in a future relationship is not to dump a bunch of stuff onto someone else. It’s not to marry someone so they can be your shrink. In Philippians 4:6-7, we are asked to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” He then promises a peace that surpasses understanding. God isn’t saying to go to your partner for peace and yet that is the relationship so many people seek for peace. A lot of your role is to partner with someone who is on the same page with you and move forward. The problem is that hurting people hurt people. I know this is cliche but it’s true and you have to be honest enough with yourself to know if you are hurting. It may not be apparent at the very front end of a relationship but as the newness wears off, any un-dealt with components of your past begin to surface.
I know you want a relationship. I do, too. But spend some legitimate time asking yourself if you are truly ready. It is selfish to enter a relationship before you are ready. Now – I don’t mean perfect. I don’t mean completely 100% healed in every area, but I also mean not falling apart with any flashback or unexpected, unanticipated occurrence or temptation in your life. Ask yourself this – do you keep falling back? I’m not sure that I have to elaborate on this. I think you know the answer to this. Again, not implying perfection.
I had my time of falling back. When I was 28, I actually did feel “ready.” I really had spent about 6 years of singleness working through a lot of my baggage and issues from a past relationship and perceptions. It was such an amazing and vital time for me to develop my identity on my own – without precepts from anyone else. And then I was tested as I started dating, and I fell back, many times. I fell back to old ways, in terms of actions, thoughts and reactions. I caved to temptation multiple times and from that, I realized that I wasn’t as ready as I thought. So I continue to work on myself, grow in Christ, and I can honestly say that I don’t fall back the way I used to. As a matter of fact, pretty cool – those experiences post age 28 are what made me more grounded in my beliefs because I was able to walk out the consequences of my decisions and understand (of course the hard way) why it was important to stay strong in certain areas, not because of legalism, but because of a real life revelation in the truth behind those principals.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SEASON OF SINGLE
I sometimes wonder if people think that I promote singleness; or if I think it’s better than marriage; or if I want to be single forever. Here is the answer to that – I believe everyone should spend a season of their life single. Whether it’s 6 months or a year or 5 years. I am not convinced that people who go from relationship to relationship ever get the opportunity to really understand your own identity, independent from someone else. Now, if you got married young, I am not challenging that. That is different – although I’ve heard people who got married young still agree with me on this. But if you literally cannot be happy single and therefore choose to never be single for any period of time – that is an issue.
You need to learn to love yourself without someone else. So in that way, I promote singleness but I definitely do not have a stance that it is better than marriage. It is different and it is important and it has its own characteristics and challenges and opportunities. Thus, they are different seasons and I do not place one in reverence over the other.
Finally, I do not want to be single forever. I’d be cool if I wasn’t single now, to be honest. But, I love that God can use me in this time to encourage people, and while I am expectant and looking forward to meeting the person who will end up being my husband like yesterday, I am also fine as it is now. I see the opportunity I have and I’m not going to sit around and do nothing. I am going to glorify God in it and trust Him completely. It is a choice and it is a feeling. I’m willing.