So when I was single in my early 20s I just figured that I would meet someone in the next couple of years. Then as I moved to my later 20s I still kind of thought, “Hey this will happen soon enough.” When I was in my early 30s, it was time to hurry this thing up a little. HAHA. But in my late 30s several interesting things have happened. First, I realized for the first time, “This thing might not happen at all.” That was fun. During this same time (about age 35 or so) God really walked me through some hard stuff and at the end, I’ve ended up being a lot more comfortable with who I am and being single which has been great.
One of the other things I’ve realized is that no matter what happens there is some stuff that won’t happen.
If I get married, my wife and I will not get to start out life together. Yes I know we will start a new life together, sort of – but thats not the same thing. I will not enjoy the wife of my youth – because I won’t be in my youth. I won’t get to share any of the moments of victory or defeat that I’ve had over the last 20 years of ministry.
I probably won’t have kids and if I do it will be different. I was joking with a friend on the golf course today who asked if I still wanted kids. I said, “Maybe, but I’m 40 this fall and let’s say I get married in the next year and had a kid within a year. I’m 42 and changing diapers. Then I’m 50 or so when they are really ready to play catch. When they are a teenager I’m in my late 50s.” I still remember the first time, the summer before my sophomore year, that I beat my dad one on one in hoops. My kid might beat me at 12.
About a year ago, I started thinking about this stuff. And you know what it kind of hurts. Now it’s all redeemable. In fact God has redeemed so much of my story already. For example after working with teenagers for a long time, I’m a father figure to a pretty large amount of people. That’s awesome and means the world to me. I love those guys. But it’s not the same thing.
We all (single, married or other wise) face loss.
We need to mourn those losses appropriately. It’s part of being emotionally healthy. If we deny the losses then we aren’t living in reality, we are staying in the pretend. That is not where we want to be.
This might be obvious when we have a big physical loss, like a death of a friend or family member. But is the less obvious stuff that creeps up on us. Loss can come from sin (like the loss of our virginity), it can come from wounds from our childhood, or from friends. Even just the common stuff in life, things like the loss of our dreams, our youth, a business loss.
Peter Scazzero points out that typically we insulate ourselves from the hurt through things like denial (It doesn’t bother me I’m not married yet), minimizing (It’s no big deal if I don’t get to be a mom), along with rationalizing, blaming, intellectualizing, and distracting (make a joke, change the subject).
But God invites us to more.
He invites us to enter into loss with HIm. This doesn’t mean dwell on it. This doesn’t mean make it bigger than it is. My cat dying and a friend dying should elicit a different amount of mourning. By the way over reaction to a minor loss is usually a sign that there is a bigger loss that hasn’t been grieved.
God isn’t asking us to deal with it so that we can stay there, but rather so that we can move through to freedom. There’s not space in a blog post to go into all of the process of this but here are two key things. First we have to take it to God. We need to take our hurt and loss to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to heal us. Jesus is fully capable of healing any loss – He came to heal the brokenhearted and put things right. Secondly, it will go a lot better if you have other people you can trust in the mix. We need people who walk with us in community.
Whatever we do we need to face our losses and honestly admit it hurts. It’s hard but freedom is worth it – whether we stay single or get married, it will help us grow.
What losses have you grieved? What losses are you avoiding dealing with?
This is some powerful, raw stuff. It really grabs my heart. Thank you for sharing what you have experienced and all that God has taught you. I pray that God may continue to be greatly glorified through your life and faith!
Thanks for this – for the permission to mourn (appropriately). It’s sometimes hard to admit hurt when that hurt is less obvious, and maybe not as socially recognized as an area of real grief. (On a related note, I also appreciated this HuffPo piece on disenfranchised grief: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-notkin/my-secret-grief-over-35-s_b_1202808.html)
That is a great post as well. Thanks for reading and sharing.
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thank u. ive been thinking about this bc im 40 and fstill single. I thought I already lost. God already said no. I wont experience being a young bride so I felt like if that was really what I wanted why get married now. im grieving the loss of having a young family bc even if I marry next week I will not b a young bride. so it is what it is. glad u brought this up.
Yes. This is something my friends who tell me maybe i’ll be “lucky” enough to marry in my seventies like their Aunt Hilda fail to grasp.
Note to all you complacent marrieds: Do NOT tell this to a girl of twenty crying because no guy on campus finds her worth dating. It won’t cheer her up. Trust me.
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