Thursday, 11 April 2013
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When my husband and I got married, I was ticked at how many people threw marriage books at us. We accumulated at least 15 books within a matter of one month—and it made me feel like I didn’t matter before as a single person. Not once had anyone given me a book to help me navigate life as a single girl. Sure, I bought I Kissed Dating Goodbye for myself because it was popular, but the concept only confirmed my worst fear: I would be single forever.
My whole life I tried hard not to believe the lie that only married people matter. Whenever I would visit a Christian bookstore, I noticed there were many shelves dedicated to marriage books. But for the single person, the books took up only one shelf.
This seems unbalanced to me. Married people are not the only ones deserving of life guidance; singles are making quality decisions that determine the direction of their life, and not just one decision, but many: Who are you going to befriend? What school will you go to? How are you going to pay for it? What job are you going to pursue? Where will you live and travel? What church will you invest into?
"Who are you going to marry?" is neither the only nor the most important question on that list.
Clichés That Make Us Cringe
If you’re single, chances are you’ve heard the clichés. You’ve heard so many you could probably fill a book with them. In my opinion, these two are the absolute worst when it comes to relationships: “Until you learn to be content in your singleness, God won’t bring you a spouse,” and, “Until you stop looking for your spouse, there he/she will be.”
But let’s be honest: Clichés don’t work. I spent most of my 20s as a single woman, and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that love stories differ. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to romance.
I don’t know about you, but I hated being single. I hated advertising my relationship status on Facebook. At the very least, I thought I deserved a boyfriend. Didn’t following God, starting my own ministry and helping churches across America at least deserve a first date with someone?
I remember many dateless Valentine's Days on which I prayed: "Come on, God. Help me write my own love story!
I read dating books to find my spouse sooner. I tried online dating. I followed the rules, advice and clichés from older women who had been there, done that. Nothing I did worked. However—and I hope you hear me on this—I’m so glad I waited because God needed to school me in a few areas. I had a lot to learn through my singleness. It wasn’t just a time of waiting around for the phone to ring.
I used my single years to figure out where I wanted to go and what made me tick. I pursued my passions. I finished my education. I managed my finances. I paid off all my debts. (Except for my student loans—those are going to take a while.)
Changes occurred internally as well. I discovered my worth as a singular person. I chose to no longer believe the lie that I was too fat to be in a relationship. I learned to let go of the media’s portrayal of the perfect man would take my breath away and fill me with purpose, and God taught me how to find my significance in Him.
I’ll be honest: It was a struggle. As I entered my late 20s, it had been eight years since my last long-term relationship. But instead of waiting around passively, I learned to pursue life. I traveled, spoke, wrote books, created and had fun. I saw life from the viewpoint of contentment. For the first time, that rosy hue wasn’t because I was drinking someone else’s Kool Aid. I clearly saw my single life as worth something. I loved the thought that God was positioning me—whether single or married—to bring glory to Him through my life, ministry and work.
Serving God Solo or Together
During those single years of discovering my passion for life, I still thought how great it would be to bring God glory together with another. And perhaps, when God brought Marc into my life, it was because my "singleness-to-glory ratio" was now fully maximized; for me, it was time to partner with someone and learn how to bring God glory together.
I know firsthand clichés don’t work in the moment—they never do. If you’re single, the last thing you want to hear is someone telling you how to find an easy answer. Clichés are never enough and they rarely comfort or encourage. What I appreciated most from people when I was single was giving me their time. I needed someone to talk to and listen to me and my complaints. I needed to know that all my dating crises were going to be worth it someday, and that I hadn’t completely messed up so badly that God couldn’t bring someone into my life, or fulfill me on my own. I needed to be reminded that I could even take advantage of all God had for me during any time.
Even if you feel like you don’t matter—or you wish you were having marriage books thrown at you instead of tired clichés—you’re worth it. Maybe God does write love stories—but the bigger, greater story is open to everyone, no matter what stage of life they are in.
Renee Johnson Fisher is a spirited speaker and writer to twentysomethings. Her second book, Not Another Dating Book (Harvest House), releases February 2012,