The Boundless blog is a collection of unique voices addressing the issues young adults care about right now – everything from dating and faith to current events.
Last weekend I was at a charity gala with a few of my single girlfriends. We bid on a week in Mexico at the silent auction, and we won! As we excitedly started planning our trip, I stopped for a moment and thought, I’m kind of glad I’m single and can just decide on the spur of the moment to go to Mexico. Not that I wouldn’t have been able to go if I were married, but it wouldn’t have been as simple since it wouldn’t have been solely my decision and my money.
But then my next thought was, Oh, no! Does enjoying one of the benefits of the single life mean God will think I no longer desire marriage? Will He think I’m so good at being single that He’ll decide to keep me that way?
That line of thinking may sound a bit dramatic, but in talking with my other single friends, I’m not alone in feeling guilty for seeing the positive side of being single. The reality is that there are awesome things about being married (I would have loved to be planning a trip to Mexico with my husband) and awesome things that come with being single. Much like there are reasons for discontentment within marriage and singleness. The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side; it’s greener wherever you decide to invest your time, emotions and energy making it greener.
For those who are single, we can spend so much time focusing on working toward marriage that we lose sight of the good things about our current state. And that doesn’t mean we desire marriage any less; it simply means that maybe, just maybe, we’re learning what it means to be content in whatever circumstances we’re in.
And while it’s not always easy to relate to God as a loving Father who is for us, the truth is He is. No matter what our circumstances say, He promises to withhold no good thing from those whose walk is upright (Psalm 84) and loves us even more than our earthly fathers. When we ask Him for bread, He won’t give us a stone, and when we ask for fish, He doesn’t tease us by giving us a snake instead (Matthew 7:9-11). And when we ask Him for anything, we can trust Him with the when and who and what of our deepest desires. And no matter how He answers, we can be thankful for the good things we do have.
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--I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who wonders if I'm "too good at being single!" As much as I long for marriage, it is true that being single has its perks. Over the years, I've definitely gotten used to being able to do what I want, when I want. I've enjoyed not having to check with someone else if I want to spend money on something frivolous. Girls' nights out, church events, last-minute ice cream runs, sleeping in shamefully late on Saturday mornings, etc....there was nothing and no one to stop me. Now that I'm in the early stages of a dating relationship, I'm realizing that if I'm already having to consider someone else in my decisions at this early stage, marriage will be much more "restrictive." Still, I'd give up all this freedom for a solid, Godly marriage and a family. I've enjoyed the single life for long enough. I've been selfish for long enough. Now I'm ready to move on and enjoy the perks of NOT being single!
--No offense, but this logic is quite puzzling....
--Being single definitely gives more freedom. Whether or not that is a bad thing depends on what you use that freedom for. Singles should use their freedom to commit themselves to ministries and social justice work before they have a spouse and children to take care of. I used to volunteer at my church plus three organizations and put in around 20 hours of volunteer work a week when I was single. Now it's so tough just to commit myself to one ministry. There's just no time left.
--Definitely find myself thinking I'm awfully good at being single. As a graduate student, I can't imagine trying to stay focused/work my life around a marriage--and since I'd like to become a professor eventually, I'm not sure life will ever slow down.
But if the right one came along...
--Sometimes I think the same thing. In fact, I have become quite comfortable being single, because I am free from the countless obligations that marriage brings. I can be spontaneous and not have to check in with those to whom I am accountable. In my opinion, the only bad thing about being single is when married friends try to put me on a guilt trip. They say that I am acting selfish with my life, keeping it all to myself. I have even been accused of depriving some woman that I have never met of what she needs most. They say that I am robbing from the future population of the world.
--If there's one thing I'm good at, it's being single. In this stage of life, I'm generally quite content with myself, my friends, my social life, etc. I can work extra to make more money if I want to go on a trip. I'm going to the Georgia/Florida game at the end of the month, and there was no one I needed to check with first when my friend called and invited me to go with him. Sometimes I'll think that I'm meant to be single all my life. My friends give me a hard time about having standards that are too high, but I'm not just looking to get a girlfriend. The fact that someone likes me doesn't obligate me to date them just because I'm single.
Every once in a while though, I meet a woman who makes me rethink my singleness hard. After all, I'm not necessarily committed to being single, and I'm not necessarily committed to being married. Maybe it'll work out in the future. Maybe it won't. I certainly don't know.
--MissC1 - I'm in the same place. A single girlfriend and I have been making plans the last couple of years to take a few months backpacking through South America. Now I'm in a relationship. Do we still go? It would be totally different if I invited my BF, and I'm not sure what to do. Relationships are life-changers.
I know I am very, very used to saying, "Yes!" to everything and I find it very frustrating to have to check with someone, who may not have an answer for me right away.
--I know I was very, very good at being single. I had years of practice, after all. ;) The one thing that stands out to me most is this: you are SO much more efficient as a single person.
I loved my single life. I knew it would take a very special person to (1) drag me out of it, and (2) consider giving up all of the good things for a different path, and (3) make me NOT scared.
I constantly had guilt for turning down 2nd or 3rd dates with guys who didn't fit the above criteria. But I'm glad that I didn't settle, so-to-speak. I loved my single life so much that I was worried I'd never find someone I liked enough to convince me that it would be okay to give it up.
So from that perspective - don't worry. It's okay to love your single-life. If God brings you a person that is better for you than single life, it will be very obvious. And if He doesn't, then you still get to love life. Both paths bring glory to God.
--I can relate to the comment by a sassy sister. I found myself scratching my head after reading this one, but I had a hard time articulating why. Both the article and several of the comments seem to have one thing in common – the benefit of being single is rooted in freedom. But what exactly is “freedom”? Freedom is defined as “exemption from external control/influence.” And I’m not sure that this idea of “freedom” is necessarily a good thing. I could just as easily define freedom as “doing whatever I want, whenever I want.” And it sounds awfully selfish, and the polar opposite of responsibility.
And I wonder if prolonged singleness tends to turns this freedom into an unhealthy lifestyle. After all, one could argue that unemployment’s greatest benefit is freedom – don’t have to wake up, don’t have to work, don’t have to listen to your boss, don’t have to dress appropriately, don’t have to follow work policies, etc. Obviously no sane person would argue this, but isn’t the concept similar to the freedom you experience as a single? Don’t have to do what your spouse wants, don’t have to take their needs into consideration, don’t have to ask them anything, etc. Perhaps this lifestyle of freedom hinders people from growing into responsible adults….?
Here’s another thought – there’s really no such thing as “freedom” in the Bible. The only “freedom” Christians have is being freed from sin into slavery to Christ.
Not sure where I’m going with this, but just had some thoughts to throw out there.
“The one thing that stands out to me most is this: you are SO much more efficient as a single person.”
Can you explain what you mean by this? I don’t understand how being single makes you more efficient.
--@Johnathan, I have a roommate, family, friends, a church, and eventually will have co-workers and a supervisor, so I take other people's needs and wants into account very often. None of them require as much as a spouse or a child of course, but it is practice if I ever have them.
Freedom can be used wisely or foolishly. Some single people use their extra time and flexibility to serve others or pursue worthwhile goals, while others waste it all on trivial pursuits. Also, marriage does not necessarily make people more mature. There are a lot of married people who have selfish and inconsiderate tendencies. Their marriages probably won't be healthy or long-lasting, but they exist.
Totally agree. As a long-term single and now long-term unemployed, I am always bemused at the focus on "freedom" as this amazing upside of singleness. I've never aspired to be able to do my own thing, at a moment's notice. In fact, it's really a myth. Many things I want to be doing most badly require advance planning and cooperation with others. Being able to go on holiday on my own isn't that great (I've had to do it a couple of times); I'd much rather have someone to go on holiday with.
Yes, I take advantage of the fact that I have no commitments, in terms of a job or a husband, but it's also lonely and unhealthy to have so little structure.
Saying "but you can do whatever you like?!" sounds a little juvenile. Well no I can't, I don't have the money to do whatever I like, there are many constraints. I don't even mind the constraints and limitations, I'm a grown-up.
To answer Ashley's question, I don't think you're misleading God as to what you really want, however, I do think God wants us to own our deepest desires (like mariage). Also, are my actions communicating to others (esp men), my true desires, or am I giving off vibes I don't want a husband? Tough questions for me to answer. I honestly don't think I am really communicating my yearning for a husband and children particularly clearly. I've improved, but I can't say I've completely cast off my defense mechanisms, chippiness and negativity. I'm not saying I've got to have it all together, but there is work I need to do on myself to get to a healthy marriage, also known as repentance. Faith in God isn't a means of avoiding that, quite the opposite. It means I will see that as my spiritual discipline for today.
--Johnathan asked: "I don’t understand how being single makes you more efficient."
If I'm going out, and I'm ready to go out, I can leave NOW if I'm by myself. If I'm waiting on another person, who also has to get ready, who may forget something, or has to send an urgent email before we leave, etc... well, I'm sitting around waiting for them instead of just going.
[This goes both ways. We recently had a very short time between events but he got ready in half the time because make-up and hair takes longer than throwing on a suit!]
If we're going to the beach, or a BBQ, I now have to get twice the amount of stuff ready. Actually, three times the amount of stuff (blankets, water bottles, towels, etc), because I would be happy with a granola bar and an apple but my BF kind of likes to have real food. :p So I have to go out and shop for food I didn't necessarily have before = losing even more time. :p
(And that would quadruple if there were kids!)
Plus, the co-ordination involved! If I have to go meet him BEFORE we go to the event together = more time = less efficient.
Dating someone is a massive time-suck. I have had to compensate in a lot of other areas because of this. It's worth it, but I used to be able to do so much more!
My apologies if I'm being overly concerned w/semantics, but what you described doesn't seem like a matter of efficiency to me. It seems more like a matter of quantity of work involved. You also stated that you used to be able to do more before you were dating someone. I obviously can't speak to your specific relationship, but I would imagine that in general, when single people say they can "do more" as a single, what they really mean is they could do more of what they wanted to do. They still do the same number of things, but those things usually change.
--Honestly, I don't think that God's perspective of is at all impacted by our operational success while unmarried.
However, I do think that it's easy to get so good and filling one's life that there isn't space for someone new to fit in anywhere. Recently I asked someone if they had time to sit down and chat. They suggested...maybe in November... (I think I was literally shaking my head.) She did change her mind and found time after a couple of days. But it was a stark reminder that we are very good at filling up our time. And if someone gets up the nerve to ask for a slice of your time, and you say you're busy for weeks and weeks...well, I think it might convince other humans you'd rather be single.
Unless of course you blog about it, then anyone who is really interested will know that's not what you mean.
They might assume it's personal rejection instead...(just kidding)
--LOL, BDB, that has been me in the past. (The whole, "I'm really sorry but I think I have an opening in November!" thing.) It is so easy to fill up your schedule so that you don't have time to dwell on being lonely or feel sad and alone.
That said, whenever I really liked a guy, I made space in my schedule faster than I would have otherwise. ;)
Jonathan - I see your point. I think the main thing that I have trouble getting used to is "waiting around for another person to get ready". Obviously I must learn patience! ;)
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