Tuesday, November 11, 2014

perk #15 – a less complicated life

It has been said that the beginning part of a relationship is the most carefree, exciting, and easy. Maybe that is true of young singles, those still in college or maybe those just finding their footing in their first full time job, when nothing really seems serious, and it may be easier to believe that the next person they date could be “the one.” Going to a Christian college and living in the same town after graduation, I’ve seen so many marry young. I’m not saying that is a good or bad thing. The point I want to draw with this post is that as a single person, the older you are, the messier life can become. Some lives are more complicated than others, it’s true, but if you’re single and have been firmly planted in the real world for quite some time, you develop a level of independence that can only come when you just have yourself to take care of. Life can throw some serious trials when finding this independence, and the result is a person with baggage. We all have baggage, but in many cases the baggage will be heavier as we get older for many different reasons.

I think as you get older you also know yourself better. If you’re like me, maybe at some point you had this realization that not everything about yourself is so great, and it is going to take work to control certain unsavory personality traits that may be detrimental in relationships with friends, family, or a significant other. And to be honest, I think it is easier to deal with those things as a single person. As a single person, there are occasions when these things can be worked through internally, and therefore, privately. But in a relationship, not only are you having to be vulnerable in a way you can’t always prepare for, but that other person will eventually see those faults surface, and when that happens, it can be emotionally and mentally challenging. I think it’s easy to forget how selfish our human nature can be until we are in a position where we can no longer hide from the truth.

A relationship is taking two independent, sinful, selfish by innate nature individuals and merging their lives into one. That requires time, effort, hard work, give and take, vulnerability, understanding, patience, self-control. I’m not saying any of this is bad. It is a stretching experience and I think we can gain so much from what relationships have to offer. God created relationships, after all, which means the work that goes into them is meant to make us better people. But there will be dark and difficult days in relationships, just like there are when we are single. There is no light switch that turns the darkness to light the moment someone walks into your life. Life will be relatively similar to how it is now. You’ll still work and do many of the same things, but then you will have to consider another person’s feelings and needs in addition to your own.

The older and more independent you are, that is going to be a challenge. I am very independent. I’m used to doing the things I want when I want to do them. But relationships change things, especially when they progress and become more serious. As a single person, life can still be complex and difficult, but it is going to be far less complicated than when your life is merged with another’s life. More decisions and more compromises await. I am in no way anti-relationship. I think relationships can be a very good thing. But I also don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that some long awaited relationship is going to bring out the sun and it will just stay shining forever. When that day comes, get ready for some hard work. In the meantime, if you are single, realize that as much as it may not feel like it now, life is more carefree and less complex as a single person than when a relationship eventually comes along. Recognize it now, and appreciate the beauty of a less cluttered mind. It is a gift from God. Truly.

I want to segue into some self-reflection. One year ago this month, I started this blog. If I’m being honest, I started it to convince myself that singleness is not a punishment from God, but there is purpose and beauty in it. I didn’t believe it. I thought I was doing something wrong or missing some clue from the Lord as to what I needed to change in order to transition into the next stage of life. When I began to write, it was like I was writing to myself, willing myself to believe the words pouring out of me. I know that God was showing me something I needed to learn at a particular moment in time, and those lessons became the perks that I’d write about. Slowly over time, I truly did begin to appreciate this time that I have. Not just appreciate it, but actually loved it to the point that I remember once asking myself…do I really want a relationship right now? I’m not saying I became against the idea of being in a relationship and all of the sudden I wanted to stay single forever. But I believe God truly transformed my heart and helped me find real joy in the singleness stage. I’m not saying it’s been smooth sailing. There were rough and lonely days. But looking back over these 15 perks, I can see that God wasn't holding out on me, He was giving me a gift that I was too blind to see.

I have had so many people in the same life stage approach me about this blog. I should have realized that the world is full of people going through the same stage, but I felt very isolated until I began publicly sharing these posts. Although I am so thankful that somehow these words have been a source of encouragement to many, this is, after all, my journey and lessons the Lord has taught me specifically. If you are still not convinced that being single is a gift, then I encourage you to start your own journey and ask the Lord to reveal the benefits of this stage to you. Keep a journal, start a blog, whatever it takes. It will take time, and if you’re stubborn like me, a lot of overcoming the misconceptions about singleness. But if you will honestly open yourself up to it, the Lord will help show you how this stage is actually a good thing in your individual life. He is faithful, and He has His purpose for this chapter of life. We need to just trust that He isn't going to withhold any good thing from us without a very good reason, and I’m not just talking about withholding a relationship. He will not withhold any good thing from us….that includes a season of singleness. I understand the difficulty in being thankful for being single. But picture the Lord standing in front of you, telling you that He will not withhold this gift of singleness from you, because it is good, and it has purpose and beauty. You just need to have the resolve to see it, and He is ready and willing to show you if you ask.