I recently gave a talk on “This One’s for the Girls! – Remaining joyful through your season of singleness” at a ladies retreat hosted by my church. The ones that didn’t attend my talk probably were thinking to themselves, I don’t want to hear one more talk on contentment, guarding my heart, and the fact that I need to have MORE patience!
Well … they missed out because the talk didn’t include ANY of those words. Not that any of those are bad words; however, I do believe they have been overused for this topic. Instead we talked about living life, blue “Christmas” lights, and making a “to-do list” for our lives.
This is what I shared.
I came to Blacksburg (Virginia Tech) in the Fall of 1996 with the desire to be a CPA and work for a “Big Four!” I quickly decided being an accountant wasn’t what I wanted to do the rest of my life so I switched to interior design. Again, I quickly decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do the rest of my life, and finally my junior year settled on majoring in English. I received my degree in the Spring of 2000.
I had also come to Virginia Tech with the mindset that I would get involved in a Christian student organization, find a guy, date a guy, be engaged to that guy by the start of my senior year, marry the guy after graduation ALL so that I could start having kids at 25 and not be “too” old by the time they were all (a.k.a. my 4 children!) in High School. Why that was such a concern I’m really not sure? I do remember though doing the math on several occasions making sure the numbers added up correctly.
Anyways – NEWS FLASH – I’m 25 years and 6 months old … NOT GONNA HAPPEN!
In the midst of all that, I participated in a Leadership Training Program with Great Commission Ministries during the summer of ‘97. There I met a lot of close friends who I eventually moved in with my junior year. During my stay at 511 Stadium Apartments I had 11 plus roommates, 8 of whom have gotten married, 7 of whom the weddings were planned in our apartment and 5 of whom have had 1 or 2 kids!! How ‘bout them apples?!?
So, how does one handle all that and still remain joyful?
There are 4 things that have helped me remain joyful through all of this and my hope is that they will help you as well.
- The obvious: You must believe in God and believe He has YOUR best in mind! If you are not able to fully grab hold of that, then I do believe things are going to be rough.
George McDonald (C.S. Lewis’ mentor) states, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.”
I’m not saying that there are not going to be times when you think to yourself “What in the world is wrong with me that I’m still single?” We are human. But you must know what the next step is when those thoughts come into your mind and that is to KNOW THE TRUTH.
For the Lord your God is a God who is PASSIONATE about his relationship with you.-Exodus 34:14
He rescued me because He DELIGHTED in me.-Psalm 18:19
I will guide you along the BEST pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.-Psalm 32:8
- Live life. Luci Swindoll in her book The Adventure of Singleness says, “ … You must continually pay attention to what life brings, and learn from it. But you can’t do that if you’re waiting for the future or regretting the past. The tendency is to wait for things to get better tomorrow so we wait and miss living today. Take risks; be involved; say yes; strike out on your own, try something new; read; keep up with what is current; and most important, define yourself by no one else’s definition.” I think it’s funny that she closes with “define yourself by no one else’s definition” because I used to always say to my roommates “I march by the beat of my own drum and I really don’t know if there is someone out there who is going to like the beat!”
In another of Luci’s book, Wide My World, Narrow My Bed, she states, “The happiest single people I know are those who are involved with life, not standing on the sidelines, enduring their plight, waiting for something to come along. In fact, the happiest people I know, in general, are those actively engaged in living, entering into the rhythm of life.”
This is definitely something that I think I have learned to embrace more and more over the years. There is SO much out in the world for us to enjoy and take part in and so often we get it in our heads that we have to wait until we have a boyfriend, fiancé or husband to do it. Who says we have to wait?
If any of you have seen the movie A Walk to Remember you know that the main character Jamie Sullivans has a “to do” list for her life. I would encourage you to make your own “to do” list. I actually made my first one at the beginning of the year (almost like a new year’s resolutions but not exactly). It’s helped me to focus on the things that I want to do in life and to not just say to myself I would like to go to New York one day or I would like to learn how to sew one day. My one-day has turned into TODAY! Try it and see where it might take you.
- It’s okay to turn on your blue lights! I’m sure you are thinking – what in the world does that mean? When I lived at 511 the color scheme in my room was blue (I’ve learned to spice things up a bit and now my color scheme is red, orange, and hot pink), and around the perimeter of my room hung a string of blue Christmas lights. I had intended on using them simply for decoration but they ended up being my I’m-in-a-funk-let-me-be warning lights. And as odd as that might sound, I think you need that in whatever way or form you decide to achieve that in. There are just going to be those days that it’s rough and as much as that stinks, I think it is a part of the process. However, one night/day is enough and then turn off the lights, live life, and REMEMBER THE TRUTH. Lord, you have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale ANY wall.-Psalm 18:28-29 Be still and know I am God.-Psalm 46:10
- Don’t miss out on other lessons learned. Romans 12:15 states, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” So often I have met girls that aren’t able to do that when their friends start a relationship or get engaged and unfortunately they miss out. So much of life is how you look at it. Luci Swindoll again in her book, I Married Adventure, states “Our richest times in life are those when we are completely present, consciously heightening our awareness because our journey has brought us here – and we choose not to miss it.” My journey has given me six brothers (the spouses of my former roommates) that I know that I can call on if my car breaks down or I’m stuck in the snow. I’m an honorary aunt to four absolutely adorable fun kids and I’ve learned so much about marriage and how it’s not like how the movies and television makes it seem; it’s hard work. The list could go on, but I would encourage you to not miss out on the lessons that God wants to teach you through this time. Who would think that you could learn so much about marriage, family, raising and disciplining children being single, but you can? Will you choose not to miss that? If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up form me, you will find it.-Matthew 10:39
If you haven’t realized by now, I enjoy Luci Swindoll. In closing I would like to use her words: “The single life has so much to offer. If you’re feeling stuck, I suggest you bury the things that hold you down, cover the hole, walk away, give your life away, and God will fill you with Himself. Then your life will be full, and you will find companionship in the best companion of all.”
[Jeanette Staats is on campus staff with Great Commission Ministries serving at New Life Campus Fellowship – Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia]