As I sat in staff meeting on Monday with a bunch of married folks, the conversation somehow turned towards how sad it is to live alone. One said he felt sorry for me, hoped I’d find my husband soon, said I should get a dog for company, etc. I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted or grateful, but I knew I didn’t like the conversation. Or the hundreds of others like it that I’ve had with very well-intentioned people.
So it prompted a lot of thinking on my part, as it always does, about what it means to be single at 31.
It means that I am often looked upon with pity, patted on the head, and told, “Don’t worry, honey, your prince will come.”
It means that everyone gives me advice about how to meet Mr. Right, and that I’ve had a lot of bad dates. Really bad dates.
It means that my dreams of being a wife and mother, of spending the rest of my life caring for my own family and bringing my children up in the grace and knowledge of Christ, seem a little more far-fetched with every passing year.
It means that I have to listen to 19 and 20 year olds bemoan that they are so lonely and they thought they’d be married by now. And that I have to refrain from punching them in the face.
It means hearing from others who had to wait longer that it could be worse . . . and not feeling a tiny bit better.
It means that as I advocate adoption and yearn deeply to care for orphans myself, I just keep sending money and looking at their faces on the Internet as I pray because there is no daddy for me to bring them home to yet.
It means that I become a part of everyone else’s families, and I get to color and laugh and eat with them – but then I have to go home alone while they get most of the snuggles and bedtime stories and groggy good mornings.
It means that I capture tons of memories for others through my lens, and I create their family albums, while my album remains empty.
It means that sometimes I go for days without any physical contact, which feels like an eternity to this touchy-feely-must-have-real-hugs-to-survive girl.
It means that the other half of my bed always feels cold and empty. I’ve never slept in the middle – I guess I’m saving it for someone.
It means that I have to search far and wide for other singles to take trips with me because my married friends can’t leave with the kids.
Or it means that I have to travel by myself, and who wants to go to Disney World alone?
It means being fully aware that I have two older sisters who are also still single, and wondering if it’s a family curse.
It means being fully aware that my sisters feel the same ache, and that they will want to punch me in the face should ever I marry before them.
It means hearing at every family reunion that we are the only cousins who are still single. Mostly, it means avoiding every family reunion.
It means having to listen to a bunch of people tell me that they just KNOW this is my year, that God told them I was going to meet my husband at work/school/church/the grocery store. Why didn’t God tell me?
It means wondering what’s wrong with me, why I keep attracting the sorta-kindas instead of the just-rights, and what I should be doing differently. If I lost weight? Dressed differently? Changed churches? Moved? Would any of these things make a lick of difference?
It means occasionally looking with envy at those who seem “less-than,” but still got their men before I got mine. And it means being severely ashamed of myself for ever even having such a thought.
It means that I get the privilege of being a part of other families! And I get to color and eat and laugh with so many precious ones!
It means that I watch others who have found love, and I genuinely rejoice with them.
It means that I use my lens to capture memories for others, and I’m going to be really good at it when my own family is finally built by love.
It means that I don’t even need a lens to capture memories because I hold each one so dearly in my heart and mind.
It means that God has a perfect plan for me, one which is cause for rejoicing, and that there is nothing “wrong” with me.
It means that I can pray with deep understanding for others in similar circumstances, and I can spur them on in the Lord.
It means that I’ve had years and years to work on my own character flaws, to grow in wisdom, to seek the will of my Father.
It means that I’ve had years and years to observe so many marriages and parenting styles, and I have a wealth of information/knowledge/experience from which to draw.
It means that I can travel whenever I want to wherever I want.
It means that I can hog the covers, hold the remote, and set the thermostat as low or as high as I desire.
It means that I can take phone calls in the middle of the night, that I can drop everything in an instant to hold my friend’s hand as she miscarries, that I can care for and pray with and help anyone at any time without having to pause and ask how it will affect my family.
It means that every touch, every kiss, every embrace means that much more to me.
It means that I can choose to wait for “the one” – that I can petition the Lord on his behalf, that I can do everything possible to become the woman he deserves, that I can write love songs now that will be meant only for his ears later.
It means that I can recognize that it’s not about me.
It means that I am more than willing to hand over the remote when the time comes.
It means that I can serve the Lord wholeheartedly, with reckless abandon.
It means that I can practice the faith I say that I have – that I can trust . . . I must trust that I really am in the hands of the living God.
And that if I have no other love for the rest of my life, He is still more than enough.