Breathe that in ladies. What you’re smelling right now is the sweat that forms when I am about to attempt to answer the all-formidable question of “You’re so great; why are you single?” from the one-millionth church member, random stranger in line at Target, grandfather, mom, and the young twenty-something-boy who can’t take a hint that if we were in Bible times he would be young enough to be my son!
That question is my least favorite question of all questions in all of the world. I would rather talk about pap smears, kale chips or gluten free cookies – anything else that we all have to endure but actually hate.
Being single nowadays is tricky. I think every non-single person thinks it’s a breeze. “You can do whatever you want!” “You can travel!” “You don’t have to worry about anyone else!” Or my MOST FAVORITE one-liner: “He’s going to come when you least expect it!” Well ya know what, happily married person, I certainly hope he doesn’t.
Because me when “least expecting it” would look something like this: 3 day old hair, sports bra bound, and the sweat pants that I dust the house in; picking up tampons or footwart medicine out at Walmart, wearing yesterday’s mascara with some sort of pasta sauce crusted hoodie that I’ve owned since college and have simply refused to part with. I would actually prefer to be a bit more prepared, thankyouverymuch.
So what is it about being single that makes everyone want to chat about it with you? What is it about being single that seems like the hugest blessing and the greatest curse all at the same time?
I recently had a conversation with my mom about my singleness and how there are so many things that I want to do. I told her that my greatest fear in life isn’t that I won’t get married and have kids; it’s that I won’t accomplish the things that I was set on this earth to accomplish.
For me, getting married and having kids is a given. It’s a desire that God has given me and I believe that he gives us the desires of our hearts. But God gave me much, much more than just one desire to marry a man over 6’ feet with dark hair and have beautiful, brown haired children, naming them after hockey players and presidents.
As women, that is inside of us. Not even necessarily the desire to get married, but the desire to be romanced; perhaps not even the desire to be a mom, but the desire to be needed. That’s human nature. We shouldn’t deny that.
But somewhere in the rush to the alter, we have missed something. Ourselves.
We have been so focused on being exactly who everyone expects us to be, that we have forgotten to be who we want to be. I am not fearful of missing out on marriage or babies, but that is all I will end up doing. I know that I was made to accomplish more than that. I know that God made me more complex than that. I know that I am more powerful than that.
My biggest fear is that I won’t be true to myself – that in the race to be the Pinterest Mom that everyone wants me to be, I’ll lose everything that I’m truly talented in; not because it goes away, but because I ignore it.
We ignore ourselves so often, ladies. We ignore the fact that there are many, MANY different paths for women in this world. We ignore that we are beautifully intricate and complicated. We try to dumb ourselves down to make it easier for men to love us. We ignore the very inner part of who God made us to be, simply to land a man.
The other day I said something so profound that I actually paused and wondered if I had heard someone else say it before: Would never getting married be the absolute worst thing that could happen to me? Would not being able to bear children be the thing that ruins my life?
Both would undoubtedly carry their difficulties, but don’t we trust that god has an answer for everything? I can think of 26 things off of the top of my head that would be worse than never getting married. I would venture to say that you could too. And when we are truly, truly honest with ourselves, we will all come to the same conclusion: The world will not end if we’re still single at 30. Or 35. Or 40. Or 50. Why?
Because our happiness is not founded in moments, as moments pass. But our happiness is founded in KNOWLEDGE. I am eternally grateful for my singleness and not because I don’t have to submit to anyone or because I don’t have to do someone’s laundry; but because I have taken the time that I need and will continue to take my time in order to be true to myself. I will be able to walk into a relationship, and maybe even one day marriage, with the complete and absolute knowledge that I am Leah; I am complex. I am beautiful and am SO going to be worth someone’s time!
I believe it more than almost anything- singleness is a gift! I believe it not because some married person who is sick of their spouse told me so. I believe it because I have had the time to form a relationship with my creator that is just mine and His.
I now view singleness as an opportunity to be me- without reservation, without fear of upsetting anyone, and without responsibility to anyone else. I experiment. I try. I fall. I recover. I rejoice. I cry. I pursue. I am pursued. I am Leah. I am worth my time. I am worth my Savior’s time.
A few years back I was in a dysfunctional relationship with a man who couldn’t decide if he loved me or not. It completely destroyed my self-confidence. One night in crying out to God, He told me to meditate on the book of Ruth in the Bible. Like every woman in the world, I automatically assumed that “my Boaz” was right around the corner and I needed to start getting myself ready for him.
About one year passed and I was still with the man who couldn’t figure out where my place was in his life. I was still waiting for him to be “my Boaz,” when God basically backhanded me with a Bible and told me this:
Ruth wasn’t successful in landing Boaz because she was in the right place at the right time or because she gave up her dreams to follow her mom-in-law around the globe (bet she got a few jewels in heaven for that.). Ruth was successful in landing Boaz because of her faithfulness to what God had called her to do. Ruth was most true to one person: Herself.
Ruth wasn’t rewarded with Boaz. Boaz was rewarded with Ruth. Ladies, you are a prize!
She was confident in what God had called her to. She was actively living it out. She was well spoken. She saw herself as worthy. She presented herself to Boaz; not daydreaming about a ring or planning their life together in her head, but with an overwhelming knowing that she, in one way or another, could enrich his life. Boaz could have turned his back on Ruth and she would have continued to be true to herself and to the call that God had on her life. Why? Because Ruth’s happiness wasn’t founded in moments.
If it were she would have lost herself years earlier. Ruth’s happiness was founded in the knowledge of the complexity of her very being- the being that God wove together when He formed her. Ruth viewed herself with respect. She didn’t view herself as alone. Instead, she viewed herself as whole simply because she was living the life that she was created to live.
A man would enhance it, but he wouldn’t justify it. We make excuses for our singleness. We justify and form reasoning to why a man wouldn’t want us. We automatically assume that we are empty when not attached. We, in that moment, deny everything that God has placed in us.
We deny the very best part of being a woman- our feminine, beautiful, delicate strength. We focus so much on the man being our “answer,” when ladies, we are actually their answer! The answer to every single desire that you have is found inside of you, right where God planted it when He formed you in your mother’s womb.
The answer to every single ounce of happiness that can come out of your existence is found in the knowledge of who, not what, but who God created you to be. I am Leah. I am happy. I am single.
Who are you?
Leah Barterian works as the Youth Program Director at Grace Christian Church in Metro Detroit, Michigan. She is extremely passionate about singleness, purity, and instilling purpose in others. She loves baked cheetos, puppies, nature, and twitter. She inexplicably hates green beans and black beans. Follow Leah on Twitter and Instagram @Leahbarterian.
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