As a lifelong single person, I’ve had a lot of time to come to terms with my singleness. And not even just come to terms and begrudgingly accept it, but truly learn to enjoy and love being single. So when people ask how I feel about being single I don’t have to fake a smile. I excitedly share the happiness and joy I feel about being single.
That being said, there are still moments where I do feel sadness or shame or embarrassment about my singleness. Do you know why? It’s because of the response people give me when I tell them how I feel about being single. Because when I tell people that I’m single they often respond with some iteration of:
“I’m sure you’ll find someone soon!”
Nowhere in my explanation of my relationship status did I mention I was upset or worried. Yet why do people — and let me be clear on which people I am specifically talking about: already married Christians — always assume I am sad about being single?
It has been a long, long journey to finding happiness. I worked really, really hard to unlearn the lie that being with someone would make my life complete and replace it with the truth that God is all I need. I had to realize that there isn’t anything wrong with me and being single is not a curse. I spent years praying to God and surrendering my frustrations and fears about being single — although, in full transparency, I still pray those prayers, there’s just a lot less tears involved now. I know now that there’s nothing wrong with being single and there are numerous examples in and out of Scripture of happily single Christians (Jesus being one of them!). It’s taken me a long time to fully be happy and experience peace like this.
But it can take just a few words from well-meaning, ultimately misguided people to crack holes in my happiness.
Not all single people are happy with their relationship status. I get that, I do. But I also know that we are all called to be joyful in whatever season of life God calls us to. The way we get there is not only through personal prayer and surrender, but also through support of our friends. Having people in my life, both fellow singles and married friends, who support my singleness and don’t give off-handed comments about my hypothetical future spouse has made all the difference. Instead of feeling like I am wrong for being happy with my singleness, I get to breathe easy and live out my other purpose in life aside from maybe, possibly being someone’s spouse.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am pro-marriage. I would love to be married someday, and it’s something that I’m not completely saying “no” to forever. But instead of putting my life on pause until I find someone, (it’s not like Jesus would want me crying over a boy — can I get an amen?!) I’m choosing to pursue other good things in my life. And not to sound like a cheesy, broken-record pastor, but I am going to take this time of being on my own and learn who God has made me and explore what He has for me. Life’s been a lot more fun and exciting since I’ve shifted my priorities.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who, for the first time in years, is single. She asked me how I personally felt about being single. I lightly chuckled then hesitantly told her “I love it.” She looked back at me with a small smirk on her face and said, “I do, too.”
In that moment of hesitation I realized the conversation around singleness and happiness is not only perpetuated by married Christians. It can be shared among other single Christians, too. I was nervous for her response because I thought she was going to be confused and upset by my response that I wasn’t on every possible dating app searching for a potential match. In the same way that some Christians might feel shame for being single, some Christians can feel shame for not being upset with their singleness.
A quick Google search for “sermons on singleness” shows that there are 177,000 results on the Internet. (Just for fun, a search for “sermons on marriage” pulls up 23.6 million results. Put in different terms, there are 133% more sermons on marriage than singleness.) Yet for all the sermons out there about “The Benefits of Singleness” or “How to Make the Most of Your Season of Singleness,” it seems as if a small proportion of single Christians are taking these messages to heart. Many single Christians listen to these sermons and the one point they get out of it is that they don’t want to be single anymore.
This idea that somehow singleness equates to sadness is incredibly damaging and life-altering. When I was focused on finding someone else in order to achieve the happiness I desired, I was completely miserable. I felt inadequate and unlovable, despite having so many other things in my life to focus on: a job I was proud of, supportive friendships, opportunities to serve a my church community. Yet because of the twisted message I was hearing from others — that I should and would be sad until I find someone — I wasted so much of my life. But now that I know you can be both happy and single at the same time, I won’t ever go back to that old mindset.
So, if you are single and unhappy, I genuinely hope you find a way to embrace and rejoice in your singleness. Or if you are single and happy, I want you to continue on that path for however long you’re in this. And for those of you who find yourself constantly trying to reassure someone about their singleness, ask yourself if that’s really the best thing they need to hear. Sometimes, we single people just need to hear that you’re happy for us. We don’t need additional commentary or snide remarks. We just need to know that you love us no matter our relationship status.