September reminds me of “back-to-school,” return of routine, and the re-ordering of life. It’s been a different transition this year as I have found, along with many recent graduates, that the order of life changes when you don’t have classes and professors to return to. We have started to think about things that feel even more overwhelming in the order of labels that come after “graduated”… dating, engaged, married, pregnant… Many of us however, find ourselves sitting with the most intimidating label for a woman… “Single.”
I can’t count the number of conversations I have had with women my age who are struggling with what that means. We infuse contempt with the ink in checking the “single” box. As friends get engaged we smile and swallow down the “you’re next” comments. As friends get married we dread going to celebrate without a “plus one.” As friends have babies we try to think of who in the world could be so hateful as to invite us to the “couples shower.” This all becomes even more difficult as we creep up through our twenties and realize the “order” of life we envisioned as a girl is turned upside down. (Didn’t we all think we were going to marry our high school sweetheart and have babies before we were 25?)
Some of the words women have told me they associate with being “single” are undesirable, unwanted and lonely. If those are synonyms for the word single, then half of the female population must be miserable. Sadly, I know exactly where these feelings come from. What’s worse about feeling undesirable, unwanted, and lonely is how we live it out. In our pursuit of life’s “order” some of us run to whatever relationship we can get and believe when the man tells us “no one else could ever love you.” We’ve attached contempt to where we are at in life and let it destroy, however silently, the moments of happiness we should have for our friends and the glory of what God is doing in our hearts today.
I’ve been reflecting on this a good deal recently, and I still haven’t come up with the “12 steps to living a single life with grace.” What I have found though, is that I have to start by working with the Lord in allowing Him to mold me into the woman He wants me to be. It’s so easy to lose sight of ourselves when we begin to pursue what we think our life’s order should be instead of who Christ says we are. What kind of woman is the “right one” going to meet? The undesirable, unwanted, lonely single girl? Or the confident, passionate, and totally in love with Jesus single girl?
The ache that comes with being single and how to sit with the longing and hope of finding “the one” is in my experience, one of the hardest for women to talk about together. My hope is that we can encourage each other to speak up for those parts of our hearts that only God can hold and keep for us well. And I hope too, we won’t be afraid to be fearless in the pursuit of the unique order of life GOD has laid especially for us.
Anna Hull is a recent graduate of Schreiner University with a B.A. in Religion & minor in Political Science. Currently pursuing her M.Div in Theological Studies through Liberty University, Anna believes in rich authenticity, celebrating beauty, and saying yes to unexpected adventures. Anna loves Jesus and spending time with her family.