Today’s blog a continuation of things I wrote last week. You may want to start there so you get some back-story.
I’m quick to hear about the surface level benefits of singleness. Christian blogs talk a lot about these benefits and it seems like almost every married person has some benefits of singleness to share with me. Usually the lists include one of the following: spending money how I want to, eating popcorn for dinner, and having more time to invest in younger people. These are good things. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t like to buy clothes instead of paying off a husband’s student loan or that I didn’t sometimes eat popcorn for dinner (and red wine of course). And, I do get to make decisions about my time on my own. But there’s more to this singleness thing. More benefits than the surface level stuff.
Less you think I’ve sat around for the past three years throwing a pity party, I have used this season of singleness to learn. And the learning curve has been steep.
Since graduating college, I’ve been forced to learn self-reliance. Not because I don’t have good friends, I’m confident I have some of the BEST friends and roommates, but even friends aren’t there all the time. They don’t see every area of my life. So I’ve learned that I need to rely on myself to determine if I’m living with integrity, if I’m the same person around my college friends that I am church and work. There’s no one who follows me into each of the areas of my life like a spouse does. I’ve been forced to become someone able to evaluate if I’m being my truest self everywhere I go, even if no one would know any differently.
I’ve developed my own values. Yes, those values have been deeply influenced by the Bible, my family and my friends, and I’ve had trusted people to have conversations about what I believe and why. But, I’m the final decision. I’ve made the calls on which missionaries I support, what church I attend, what food I eat, what car I drive, what job I work and who I spend my time with. All of those decisions indicate what I value.
Speaking of making decisions, I’ve had to become a decider. Which for an indecisive, wants to ask everyone for input, tends towards people-pleasing woman, that’s been a HUGE area of growth. We’re talking the big decisions – do I stay at my job or leave? But also the small decisions – what do I do with my free time this week? No one is around to make those decisions for me. And believe me, there have been seasons of my life that I’ve begged people to make these small and big decisions for me; seasons when I’ve wished the Bible was black and white. With each decision – big or small – that I’ve made, I’ve become a bit more confident of my own abilities.
Especially within the church, and I include myself in this statement, we’re quick to celebrate the lessons learned in marriage and parenthood. But I often forget that God is teaching me, too. I have milestones to celebrate, too. When we don’t celebrate the milestones of singles, there’s space to wonder if they, as individuals are worth celebrating, if they have value.
While marriage and parenthood are decisions people make, and worth of celebration, singleness has its place, too. Jesus was single. Paul was single. Several of the disciples were single.
Singleness is hard and it’s lonely, but it’s impossible to walk through it without learning something. There are soul level benefits to singleness that are often ignored. Just like there are hardships to singleness that are often overlooked. This season is very worthy of walking through. I share the lessons that I’ve learned because they’re worth sharing, and because it’s important for those who haven’t walked through it to better understand my experience and the experiences of others in the church.