As another Valentine’s Day rolls around, there are no doubt scores of single people out there ready to stage a mutiny against the sickening holiday. People dreading the awful “14” popping up on their calendar…people celebrating “Singles’ Awareness Day” with a vengeance.
The brutal fact is, lots of people want to be in a relationship or married really, really badly, but for whatever reason another February 14th is passing without that desire being fulfilled. Depending on one’s age and level of desire, this can be a small thing or a huge deal. I definitely feel for those who struggle mightily with this and have very deep-rooted issues that go along with it.
So I wanted to gently offer some advice for any single friends out there who may feel a sting on Valentine’s Day this year. Only because I love you. Feel free to take it or leave it.
1. There Is No Formula
This is one of the most prevalent issues I see–the struggle of comparison. “I’m ___ years old and I’m not married yet…” while most other friends may be already married and having children. Dealing with pressure from peers and family, this can lead to terribly oppressive questions like “Is there something wrong with me?”
Hear this: there is nothing wrong with you. Sure, every person on earth including you, me, and every married person you know are all jacked up sinners, but that’s not what I mean. I mean there’s nothing specifically wrong with you that makes you undesirable or not worth someone committing their life to. Some of the most incredible people I know are still single. The fact that you are still single does not in any way reflect upon your value or worth as a human being. When you hear those voices that say, “Maybe if I was _______ or _______ I would be married by now,” just tell them to shut up.
Because there is no formula to a happy, fulfilled life. No age you have to be married by or your life is totally screwed. People may try to pressure you or convince you that is true, but it’s a lie. CS Lewis didn’t marry until he was 57 years old, and judging from his writing, he had one of the happiest marriages you could think of.
2. Marriage Will Not Complete You
Taking that idea one step further–marriage is not some sort of magic pill that turns all of your problems to dust and cures the deep aches of your soul. And if you think that it will fully complete you, you are in for a sore disappointment.
Sure–it is a mysterious, beautiful picture of intimacy, commitment, and community. Designed by God, special, and weighty.
But is it the final, complete state of human existence? Nope. How do I know? Because Jesus says there won’t even be marriage in heaven (Matt 22.30).
Now, I’ll shoot straight with you. As a very happily married person, it’s a bit hard to imagine not being married to Kristi in God’s final restoration of all things. But what this truth shows us is that marriage is simply a shadow of deeper spiritual realities. That it is not some final state of completion, but a tool for community and trust that will in the end no longer be necessary because all of our relational needs will be met in deeper and truer ways.
What are all the depths of meaning covered in that truth? I have no idea–that’s above my pay grade. But I’ll tell you one thing that I know it means for sure–that singleness in community can be an existence just as complete and fulfilled as marriage.
That marriage does not equal completeness, and singleness does not mean your life is lacking in quality, meaning, or purpose. Not even a little bit–not even if you were to never get married. Some of the world’s most incredible and inspiring people were single their entire lives.
3. God’s Story Is Worth Waiting On
Notice I didn’t say marriage is worth waiting on. It is, but that’s not what I mean.
God’s story for your life is worth waiting on. It’s worth the patience, humility, and surrender it takes to let Him tell it. It may very well include marriage if that’s a desire of your heart. Or it may include Him calling you to put that desire on the altar for a time (or for a very long time) while He gives you something better.
Regardless of what His story entails, it is worth waiting on. It may include more waiting and difficulty than you’d ideally like, but one day you will look back and agree that it was totally worth it. Please don’t get sick of waiting and impatiently marry someone that will turn out to be a lifelong difficulty. Please. (Also, try not to have unrealistic expectations of marriage and be impossibly picky…but that’s another conversation!)
4. There Is Growth For You Now
When I have to wait on something that I really, really want, my tendency is to just get pissy and irritable–to have a kind of tunnel-vision that doesn’t care about anything except getting what I want.
Try not to be like me, especially with this. Humbly repent of any jealousy you have over friends who have spouses or dates for Valentine’s Day. Rejoice with those who rejoice, like Paul says. Even when it’s exceptionally hard.
Don’t just poke your lip out and cross your arms, even if it’s what you want to do. Talk to your Father, ask Him to show you how He’s trying to grow you in this time. Ask Him if you idolize having a relationship and if He’s protecting you from that. Ask Him what it looks like to pursue a relationship in a godly way.
Above all, learn now to treasure Him more than His gifts. Learn to really enjoy time with Him. There are ways you can mature through singleness that are much harder to grow in once you are married. So focus on “being the one” and not on “finding the one”. Don’t waste your singleness–it is a gift. Steward it well.
And on Valentine’s Day, please don’t sit at home pout watching The Bachelor. PLEASE, don’t do that. Do something that’s fun for you. Maybe get dressed up and go out with some friends. Have some good food and drinks and poke fun at the mushy couples around you. You can call it “Singles’ Awareness Day” if you want to. Heck, you can watch a specific couple and improv a really funny conversation like when you watch TV on mute. Or maybe treat yourself to a massage or a milkshake…
Whatever you do, by all means, try to have fun. And smile. Smiling is good. It might even become your favorite, like Buddy the Elf.
So, that’s it. Just a bit of advice that I hope is a helpful reminder for at least one person. I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day…or Singles’ Awareness Day.
Do you have plans to celebrate the holiday, whether you’re in a relationship or not? Going out for a night on the town? Sticking it to the man for Singles’ Awareness Day? I’d love to hear about your plans if so.