Singleness. It’s a topic that everyone seems to have an opinion on, especially during the month of February.
“Why aren’t you seeing anyone?”
“That biological clock is ticking!”
“The ‘right one’ is out there! You just have to keep looking.”
While it’s true that a significant other becomes part of your identity, having a significant other does not define you. This fact, however, doesn’t change that inner desire to be with someone.
4word woman and relationship coach, Jennifer Spaulding, understands this all too well: “It’s a real struggle to stay positive, put yourself out there to meet someone, and then end up disappointed – sometimes over and over again.” Jennifer lived with a deep unmet desire for a life partner for many years. She broke off an engagement when she was 29 and began a ten year stretch of singleness filled with a mixture of dating and tears, lots of learning, and searching for purpose in her life.
Being single is not a sign that there’s something wrong with you, as some people might make it out to seem. If you’re single, it could be because you’re currently focused on other areas of your life, such as your career, your relationships with family, or on growing closer to God and determining His path for your life. Every one of these areas show a desire for growth in your life and an interest in bettering yourself, both excellent steps to take before entering into a relationship.
“I think contentment in our current life stage is directly related to loving yourself, loving others, and loving God,” Jennifer told us. “Contentment isn’t wrapped up in romantic love.”
Use your time in singleness to invest in hobbies or interests, or explore new paths you’ve always been curious about. Discovering what makes you as a person happy will not only benefit you now, but will also help you one day find someone who shares your interests and will know how to enrich your life.
Singleness can also become a unique opportunity to make new friends. “We all want community with like-minded people,” said Jennifer. “This was definitely true for me when most of my friends were married, and I felt like the only one who was alone. So I began seeking out women who were blazing a path in the single world and succeeding at it.
It was comforting to know that I was in great company with women I admire. These women became mentors in my life, and I learned nuggets of wisdom from each of them. Plus, it was just great to call them up to go see a movie or grab a bite to eat. I think everyone should seek out girlfriends you admire that are walking in similar shoes. I call these women ‘luminaries,’ and I will forever seek them out.”
If you arrive at a point in your life where you feel like dating might be your next life adventure, Jennifer has an interesting proposition she personally undertook and benefitted from greatly. “When I was 36, my counselor at church advised me to take a break from dating. I thought that was a crazy idea. Take time off from dating?! Especially when I thought I “needed to be out there more than ever!
My counselor told me that when you’re in a relationship, you’re less likely to work on yourself. People usually focus on the ‘we’ instead of the ‘you,’ slowing individual and relationship growth.
During my nine-month break from dating (yes, nine months!), I looked at choices I had made, spent time with my emotions, mended some pain in my life, and worked on my struggle with trusting God and His plan for me. I took some other actions as well that I talk about in my blog, A Path to Joy in Singleness.
Now I understand that giving up dating for nine months isn’t for everyone. I don’t expect others to jump on the bandwagon. However, I do recommend taking advantage of the gift of singleness and focusing on your growth opportunities. That nine-month period of reflection and growth was life-changing. I attribute my relationship with my fiancé (now husband) to that period of time.”
At its very core, singleness is about trusting in God and His plan for your life. Jennifer had this to say about trusting: “Trusting God’s timing and plan for our lives allows us to focus more on our life’s purpose and less on what we don’t have. This perspective shift lets us see how truly blessed we are.
I struggled with managing my desire for a husband, mainly because I thought I was doing a lot of right things to prepare myself for him. I addressed areas I needed to grow in, I prayed a lot, I surrounded myself with great people, and I put myself in situations to meet new people. But after fifteen years of searching, my guy still wasn’t showing up!
I eventually realized that I wasn’t fully letting go and trusting God. I was so used to relying on my own skills to make things happen in my professional life, that I wasn’t relying on God to take over my personal life. I had grown frustrated with His timing. Once I realized I wasn’t giving everything over to Him, I began to repeat, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind,’ a hybrid of Proverbs 3:5-6 and Matthew 22:37. Over time, my faith in God deepened, as did my sense of joy.”
If you’re in a time of singleness, EMBRACE IT! This time in your life is a gift from God, not a curse. Perhaps He has blessed you with this time so that you can discover life-changing skills or interests. Maybe your singleness is a rare and much-needed time for mental and physical rest and rejuvenation. Whatever the reason, know that being single is a stage of life everyone journeys through, and it’s up to you to make the most of your time!