A Path to Joy in Singleness

single-valentines-dayValentine’s Day is coming up, but instead of a blog on romance, my guest writer today will share her story of singleness. Jennifer Howell is a business marketing development officer (and 4word woman!) here in Dallas. She has a passion for encouraging single women, and she’s currently launching a women’s website, www.seekingluminaries.com. As I read Jennifer’s story here, I couldn’t help but reflect on the times when my own life just didn’t seem to be going according to plan. I found Jennifer’s openness and her wisdom encouraging, and I hope you do too. -Diane

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Most Valentine’s Days throughout my 40 years of life reminded me that everyone had found love, but me. The years I started to date someone near the holiday, he would magically disappear for a week or two. It’s weird how that happened.

During my 20s and 30s, I attended every networking event in town, volunteered, attended church, bought new clothes, read self-help books, moved across country, and signed up for dating sites – all with the hope of finding my husband. I found dates, but I didn’t find “the one.” The continual reminder that my husband wasn’t showing up led to a growing sense of loss – loss of what should have been, loss of the life I had hoped to live, loss of feeling “normal” and married like everyone else.

Several years ago, I decided to make a change. I’d had enough! My soul was exhausted with negative thoughts and deepening sadness. I had a great job, I was blessed with friends, and I had my health. However, I didn’t feel a sense of joy.

My path to finding joy in singleness was filled with self-discovery, a shift in perspective, and new daily routines. I also sought counseling and found refuge in my relationship with God.

Letting Go. During a crying spell, I pleaded with God to ease my loneliness and pain. Why were my actions helping me build a successful career, but they weren’t leading me towards marriage? Then it hit me – God did not put me on earth for the purpose of finding a husband. He had much greater things in store!

Of course I already knew that to be true, but my actions were saying otherwise. Behind almost every activity, there was an ulterior motive to find my guy. I realized I needed to completely let go of my desire for marriage and start living God’s purpose for me. It was also essential that I trust He had my best future in mind.

My mantra became, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind." It’s a hybrid of Proverbs 3:5-6 and Matthew 22:37.

5 Things. A friend suggested I list five things I am most grateful for every day. At first it seemed silly, because I felt grateful most of the time. I decided to put the challenge into practice. My list became a daily prayer, “God, I am so thankful for my family. I am thankful for my precious dog. I am grateful for the ability to spend my free time any way I want. I am grateful I woke up!” You get the idea.

This daily practice changed my life. For one, my relationship with God grew stronger. I also began focusing less on what I didn’t have and more on what I did have.

I realized I had lots of love in my life! Because I had been single for so long, I had the opportunity to build deep relationships with numerous people in my community. I even discovered - I may have more love in my life than most married people! I just hadn’t noticed.

Seek Luminaries. Another shift in perspective came when I sought single luminaries - women who inspire me. I live in a large city so I am fortunate to know lots of fabulous, single girlfriends. However, I have to admit, I didn’t realize I knew so many. I felt like the only unmarried person in the South, where most are married by age 30.

During a season of loneliness, I wrote down the names of every female I admired that wasn’t married. You can imagine my surprise when the list grew to over 25 within minutes!

What great company to be in! These women are pursuing passions, striving for purpose, enjoying their careers, traveling, owning homes, and not shying away from singleness. I encourage everyone to make a list of women who can be luminaries in your life. If your list isn’t as long as you want it to be, keep seeking. They are out there!

I’m reminded of a powerful quote by Kathy Bates in the movie, P.S. I Love You, “Thing to remember is, if we're all alone, then we're all together in that too.”

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Do you have luminaries in your life?