Reading Time: 5 minutes
Earlier this week, a tweet started circulating in my circles of Twitter and it exploded. And it made me explode as well. I know people say that unfounded, dumb takes shouldn’t be shared, as it only gives them more views, and yes, while I agree with this - I’ll probably do it in hopes that maybe that person will see my words and gain a new way of thinking that maybe will make them pause and reconsider. Naive? Probably. Because the likelihood of that person caring is probably very slim.
But I do care what others reading their words think.
And so, I’ll share mine, in hopes of encouraging, not shaming. Here they are.
Reading your tweet that I should “just get going” on married life struck a nerve deep within me. Your response was in regards to another tweet that gave some stats on marriage. Particularly that in 1978, 59% of 18-34 year olds were married. And by 2020, 69% of 18-34 year olds had never been married. Now, here are some things single women in 2020 could do that single women in 1971 could not:
The list of what a woman could do on her own grew greatly in the 70s, so it makes sense that more younger women were married then. They needed a partner to do, what are now, basic things; and still, most jobs for women (those that had one outside the home) were to serve others or strictly the family they came to have.
This isn’t me bashing marriage…or men. But maybe it helps shed some light on why singles, women in particular, are waiting later to get married. Marriage isn’t needed as much as it was then…
And that leads me to my next thought. Marriage is not a requirement, or something that I must do. It is a gift. If you find yourself married, be blessed by it and of course enjoy it, but do not shame or guilt those of us who are unmarried. It’s your opinion that marriage “is the best thing in life” and that as a single, I’m “missing out”, but that’s all that it is. An opinion. Your words continue the narrative to singles that they are missing out on something they should be doing to have a fulfilling life.
Marriage is not the end all, be all of life. I’m not less than you, or less fulfilled, because I’m single. Not only do I think singles are waiting later to get married, because they don’t need it as much, but also, I think we are recognizing marriage is hard work. And we are doing what we need to now, on our own, in hopes that if marriage comes, it will be successful.
Marriage is not like me picking out an outfit in the morning. Too many want the wedding, the party, but don’t want to work for what comes after the recessional or sparkler exit - the actual marriage. There is a lot of work, in people as individuals first, that needs to happen before they “get going on nuptial life.” For some that’s working through trauma - of seeing ugly divorces in their family, domestic violence, or any of the other traumas that life throws at us. For others fear - that they won’t be enough for someone to stick around when the hard parts of life happen. Or that years pass and suddenly one day they find themselves abandoned, because they weren’t wanted anymore.
And society tells us that’s okay, to just quit, and move on to the next marriage. But it’s not. Marriage is so much more. It’s not something to “just get going on.” And this isn’t to shame those who have been divorced. For some, there are deep hurts and deep wounds. We all have our own guilt and shame we are working through for a myriad of reasons, we don’t need others to help pile that on. Me as a single, or you as a married.
Both marriage and divorce rates are falling - showing that some just don’t want to deal with it, whether that’s getting married or staying married. Society sees it as a disconnect from the idea of marriage, and maybe so. But marriage has become an idol. Perhaps that is why you stated it as being “the best thing in life.”
And I’ll end with this - if you truly believe that marriage is the best part of life and that I’m missing out, I know you are missing out on something as well. What marriage is a picture of - Christ and His church. It’s a beautiful gift, that should point you and others, back to Jesus. As a man and woman sacrifice for each other, Christ sacrificed for us in the ultimate way. He died for us. And as a woman is called to submit to her husband - we are to submit to Christ. And as a man is called to love his wife as much as he loves himself - we are to love Christ that much.
So, plot twist: I actually am a bride because I’m part of Christ’s Church.
And that may be cheesy. But what wedding doesn’t have some sort of cheese - both in puns and actual snack?
If Christ being my Groom and I His bride is cheesy, give me all the cheese. If it’s the only marriage I ever get to be a part of, it’ll be the longest nuptial ceremony you’ve ever been a part of. And I do hope you’ll be a part.
But not because it’s required of me, but because I’ve welcomed the gift after knowing I didn’t deserve it in the first place.
A single gal, learning to love and like herself (and others), and live fulfilled, outside of marriage.
Reading Time: 5 minutes
I have two companions in life. Loneliness and Jesus.
Both are with me, everyday. Both fight for my attention, everyday. One leads me closer to the other. One outshines the other.
And I honestly don't know who I would be without each of them.
I don't think anyone ever wants to admit they are a lonely person. At least not to other people. It's never something I just come out and say when I meet people. "Hello, my name is Jess and I'm lonely." I play that out in my head and see everyone shaking my hand as they reply with a long, "Oookayyy." Completely unsure about what the heck just happened and if they want to even continue a conversation with me. Simply, it would throw people for a loop if I introduced myself that way.
I remember my counselor saying to me one day, "That seems lonely." It was the first time I heard someone else say out loud, what I had been feeling and experiencing. I couldn't even say the words myself, she had to say them for me. Sometimes we need help saying things.
Loneliness is the constant low hum of my life, like singleness, that seeks to make itself known in my life each day. But when I surrender over that low hum? There's Another that seeks to make Himself more known in my life.
Surrender involves opened hands, not fists clenched around things I think I want or that I think might fulfill me. Surrender means to give up or hand over. I'm emptying my hands, trusting Jesus with what I'm giving up, and standing in front of Him with now empty hands. I could stop there and think how maybe that feels lonely in itself. To have nothing in my hands, to still be without something. Because something is better than nothing right?
But when standing in front of Jesus, with open hands? The possibilities are endless to what He could now fill them with.
But, I've learned something. When I open my hands in surrender and find them empty, I must turn them back over towards the Father in a posture of praise. When I find my gaze fixed on Jesus, when I find myself in His presence, I not only find myself far from loneliness, but completely filled with the one thing needed: Him.
Psalm 27:4 says, "One thing I have asked of the Lord; this is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple."
To gaze on the beauty of the Lord. I think of Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet when I read this. As Martha scrambled around the house, Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the good portion, the one thing needed. To be in His presence. Mary looked for Jesus and she found Him.
Something else I think about when it comes to surrender. If I'm no longer holding it, that means someone else is. Jesus holds my loneliness for me.
Holding it for me is great, but why doesn't He crush it? Why doesn't He get rid of it completely? Why must this be something I carry? Well, that happens at the end of my story, and we aren't there yet. So He keeps holding it for me. And honestly, loneliness is what is at the center of my surrender. It's the one thing that keeps me coming back to Him.
If I've surrendered it once, why would I choose to take it back from Him? We all may have different reasons, but we do...we see Him holding it, but get afraid, so we grab it back, thinking that we must hold it to have control. To have stability. To have something, rather than nothing. Empty hands scare us. Complete surrender scares us.
Another definition of surrender? To abandon oneself entirely.
It could be easy for me to choose loneliness as my only companion. To surrender, abandon myself entirely to loneliness. I could shut myself off from the world, keep the blinds close, and watch the entire catalogue of Netflix while I play games on my phone. I could. And it would keep my hands busy. But they would also be too busy to stop and be filled with something much more.
So, what's the other choice? What could I simply choose to do instead? Abandon myself entirely to Jesus. And it starts with open hands.
Jesus said if we seek Him, we would find Him. There isn't just one roadmap of life that all of us must follow that will lead us to finding Him. Perfect grades, the right job, getting married, making money, building a house. All those things might be on our map, but they aren't what must be done to seek the Lord.
The good portion is found by sitting at His feet. And if we are sitting at His feet, surely we won't miss Him. But if we think we have, when we go to shift our weight or get up from our spot on the floor, may our hands hold us up and our gaze turn upwards. To see the One we were seeking. To know and realize He was there, waiting for our eyes to lock with His. Then may our hands move from the floor to our sides, as we lift them up and open to Him. In surrender and in praise. And may our desire not be in grabbing back what we surrendered, but in gazing at His beautiful face. Until everything else disappears, until all else fades, until only one companion remains.
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