You, who likely do not know me, probably have a guess as to why I’m single. Maybe I’m afraid of commitment. Maybe I’ve never been in a serious relationship. Maybe I come from too troubled of a past. Maybe I’m “just not really trying.”
Here’s why I’m single: because I just am. I’ve gone to prom with a boy. I’ve been asked to dance. I’ve been asked on dates. I’ve had a serious relationship. I’ve laughed hard and been pulled in close under a streetlight in the snow. I’ve talked about marriage with someone I thought I would marry. And I’ve been heartbroken when it didn’t happen. I’ve been surrounded by girlfriends who made me eat something and drink water and brought me out of that darkness into the light of healing.
I’m an educated, capable, passionate, creative woman who happens to be single. Not because I’m not a good enough catch. Not because I refuse to talk to boys. Not because I can’t be serious. Not because I don’t love Jesus enough. And also not because I’m not “content enough.” (Side note: We are called to be “content in all circumstances.” It’s not the magic formula to marriage. When people say “when you’re content in your singleness you’ll meet The One”—that’s the prosperity gospel, so no thanks.)
When it comes down to it, I’m single because I just am.
My friend Kelsey is married and if you ask her why, she’ll say it’s because she was reading a book that her husband also liked to read. Simple as that.
We live in a world in which everyone seems to be an expert. “You’re next,” they say at weddings. Or, while being well-meaning, “Your husband is going to be amazing.” As if they just ran into him down the street and he’s this incredible human everyone—except me—seems to be certain of. Here’s the thing: the only time you should say to someone, “You’re next!” is in, say, a waiting room or a line for ice cream when that person is most certainly about to be next.
We speak with much certainty about some things that are not guaranteed. Do I hope to get married one day? You bet. The whole being-pulled-in-close-under-a-streetlight-in-the-snow bit was fun. But do I bank my whole life plan on it? No. I’ve moved from being a Californian child to a Chicagoan college student to a Bostonian grad student to a Texan intern to a Nashvillian because it’s where I was called. I didn’t stay put just in case The One was there.
Christ makes me whole. He gives me my identity. And if one day I find myself absentmindedly playing with that well-worn ring on my ring finger as I wait for my husband to run back inside to grab the umbrella I forgot, I’ll be no more whole or found. If we really believe at our core we are more than our relationship status, we have to start giving one another the benefit of the doubt. And that goes both ways. We have to stop making marriage the highest pinnacle of holiness and put-togetherness.
We have to treat single people like equal members of society, not like the poor unfortunate souls who don’t have an elusive membership card that somehow feels like it dictates our worth.
And to my fellow singles, I say this: your married friends are just as valuable as you are, they just operate a little differently. Don’t eye-roll if they can’t get away til 8pm because the kids won’t stay in bed. Don’t assume they’re too busy having awesome sex to come to your art showing. Don’t believe they have it all together. And cut them some slack when the first response at an invitation is “let me talk to [insert spouse name here].”
A lot of what we’re doing on this side of eternity is awkwardly navigating how to care for one another well. So, let’s start with this: don’t ask me why I’m single. I don’t ask you why someone would marry you. Ask me how I’m doing. Ask me if I want to grab lunch and talk about Parks and Recreation. Join me for a walk in the woods. Pray for my heart that (honestly) feels subjected to others’ assumptions about my ability to have a relationship.
We can get through this together if we stop asking why with a made-up answer already in our heads. Life is complicated. Sometimes, we’re just single. I promise to not assume your life is perfect if you promise to not assume mine is a relational dumpster fire.