Friday, April 6, 2012

yes, it's true. i'm not married.

I know what the Bible says: that it is not good for man to be alone, that marriage is a symbol of Christ's unending love for the church, that an excellent wife is worth more than jewels. I recognize that raising a family is one of the most significant ministries a person can be a part of, and that it's probably a good idea to have some kids around to drive me to the doctor when I get old.

But I also know that Jesus spent thirty-three years on this earth without a "significant other" other than the Father he served, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't whining about it. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians that it's better to stay single and that singleness is a gift.

Now, I recognize that I'll never be Paul, and I certainly will never be Jesus, and statistically it's incredibly likely that I'll get married. But that doesn't mean I need to spend every moment of my singleness eagerly waiting for this cursed season to end so I can start my "real" life.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about someone we both know who is single. My friend made an offhand comment that she thinks this person isn't really the marrying type, but she immediately corrected herself, saying she hopes she's wrong. It was almost as if saying that someone might not want to get married is an insult, that it's implying that he'd never reach first class status. I didn't mention anything in the conversation at the time, but the comment has stuck with me. Why do we assume that it's wrong or shameful for someone to choose a path other than marriage?

Certainly there are people out there that choose to remain unmarried for the wrong reasons. If you're too selfish to want to share your living space, or if you're terrified of commitment, or if you're dating too many people and can't imagine choosing just one, maybe your priorities aren't quite in order. But I think a perfectly sane person can also choose to not walk down the aisle.

I know too many women who have given up on their former goals because their husbands had something else in mind. I know couples who've only been married a year or two who already wish they'd made a different decision. And I have friends who're pondering the kinds of adventures they could have had if they'd waited a few years before tying that knot. My heart breaks for those friends, the ones who thought getting married would solve all their problems and make them complete. The thing is, it doesn't take two halves to make a whole in marriage; you both have to be whole from the start.

I wish I'd realized this sooner. I spent all of college sizing up my friends, trying to decide if any of them would make a decent husband. I felt like every new class was a race to snatch up the single guys, and I was secretly disappointed every time someone chose to pursue one of my friends because I couldn't figure out why no one ever wanted me.

Sadly, this mindset didn't disappear when I was handed my college diploma; I continued to believe I would be second-rate until someone finally took pity on me and agreed to be my husband. I begged friends to set me up, I tried every online dating site anyone mentioned, and I scouted every room I walked into for The One. And man, was I miserable.

It wasn't until I was sitting on a rooftop in southern India that I realized what an amazing gift this season has been for me. I'm committed to no one but Jesus. I've been able to quit my job and move across the world because no one else was counting on me. I've had the beautiful pleasure of traveling across Asia on my own, making friends for the day with other lone travelers and scheduling my entire trip the way I want it. When I teach, my students are free to be the most important ministry in my life. If I had a husband and children, my time would be divided, but I'm able to allocate all of my energy to the kids in my classroom.

Being single doesn't mean I've failed. It means my life doesn't look exactly like yours, but neither does my haircut. That's okay. I'm deeply grateful for the life I have, and I sincerely hope you are just as thankful for the life you've been given. And sure, if someone comes along with whom a lifetime commitment is the logical conclusion, then fantastic! But I'm not going to start by desiring that commitment then seeing if I have any takers. I don't think my singleness is something to "fix". Getting married is going to have to be a significant improvement on what I've already got going on, and I have to be honest, this life I've got is pretty spectacular.

So don't feel sorry for me that I don't have a ring on my finger. I'm not waiting for my life to begin; I'm smack in the middle of living it. And if I have to dance to "Single Ladies" at a few more weddings, that's not the worst thing in the world.


  1. Well said. As one single girl to another, this is where it's at. Go us!

  2. I'm so proud of you for having this mindset. I've watched single friends be so down that they are single, and I honestly believe that if God has someone set in mind for you, he won't introduce you until you are comfortable knowing you might be single your whole life. That's not to say it isn't hard to be single at times, but as you said above, being married can be hard as well.

    Right now is the time in your life to live it up and do things you wouldn't necessarily be able to do married, like go to Korea for a year. :) Enjoy these moments and your adventures and I hope you continue to have them even if you are married someday.