Tuesday, June 21, 2011

good to know - advice for married folks with single friends

Just look at her. She is obviously joyfully and willingly "embracing" her singleness. She's loving it. Bless her. But, most people I know who are single (we're talking 25+, here) look a little more like this:

or like this (poor Dawson):

Okay, maybe they aren't doing the "ugly face cry" 100% of the time, but lots of single folks out there are not embracing their singleness. And I don't blame them.

Getting married is one of the greatest gifts in life. Here you are, two people who live life separately for however many years (23 and 24 years in our case) and one day you meet, then you fall in love, and then you realize you must be together FOR-EV-ER. It's a beautiful thing. But getting there ain't so beautiful.

When I thought about writing this post, I thought about telling my journey through singleness. Truthfully, I got to a point where I really did not want to be in a relationship. I knew I wanted to date and get married eventually, but I truly was enjoying being single and having fun with my friends. Our story is so cliche - I met Blake when I wasn't looking for someone. That's how it happened for me.

I thought about writing "tips" on enjoying singleness - doing the things you want to do, investing big-time in friendships, journaling, adopting a pet, etc. And then it hit me.... it was those tips that made me so bitter in my singleness! It was the people who were married and happy and in love who tried to tell me to enjoy my "gift" of singleness that made me hate being single. Sure, those people were single at one time, but they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you're single, you're single... there is no guarantee of a light at the end of the one-lane tunnel.

Look - if you are married, stop giving advice to single people. Just stop it. Hold your tongue, let them be a little angry if they need to be angry. Don't tell them to "enjoy it now because when you get married, you'll wish you were single again." That's horrible advice! Don't tell them that singleness is a "gift" and that Paul talks about it in the Bible. If they're Christians, they already know that. Don't tell them they'll find "the one" when they least expect it - because they can't "least expect it" until they TRULY least expect it (say that three times fast). And please, PLEASE, please, DO NOT tell them that "he/she will come in God's perfect time". I mean, it's true - True - but they have probably already heard it 1,000 times and if you are a real friend, you'll come up with something more original.

Don't fret, married friends. There is some advice that the married folk can offer that is solid, and that might help any hurting single hearts. The advice I most often give to girls that seems to get the "ah-ha" reaction is this: "If I had married who I thought I was going to marry at 21, I would be miserable." It's true. The guy I was dating (and who took me to look at engagement rings) was a good guy, but there were lots of red flags. We would have been happy, but it would have been very hard.

Another bit of advice for singles is this - pray about what the Lord wants. Determine the traits that are important (we're not talking "curly hair" and "a nice butt"), and hold out for a guy or girl that possess those traits. Be ready for God to also break you of any ideals that "the one" might not possess. For instance, I wanted my husband to be older than me - I'm not kidding, this was a HUGE issue!!! There was a time where I absolutely refused to date - or even consider dating - guys younger than me. Blake is 14-months younger than me. Dang, I lose.

It's a tricky game - knowing what to hold onto and what to compromise, but beliefs, morals, and lifestyle are more important than the other stuff - and that is why you pray. Constantly. Not prayers of desperation or prayers of begging, but prayers of becoming more like Jesus and prayers of God showing you (not you telling Him) what to do and where to go.

Truthfully, singleness isn't always fun. Whether you are happy in singleness or hating it, there are just times when you look around and realize you are alone and you don't want to be alone. It sucks. Married friends, we need to remember the suckiness of being single. And, sometimes, instead of trying to offer crappy "it'll all be okay" advice, we need to go back to the sucky times and remember how our hearts felt. And we need to live in the suckiness for a moment and understand our friends.

But, there are also times of great joy in singleness. And as someone who loved, hated, desired, and rejected singleness, I remember having a lot of fun. I didn't waste my singleness... I did the things I wanted to do, I went in the direction God led me, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. So, if you're single, look for those joyful times. Follow God's lead in every step, and you really can enjoy your singleness. :) That was cheesy.

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