Monday, June 17, 2013

Single but not alone

When I was 13 I had my first boyfriend. That relationship lasted for 4 and a half years. All our high school peers had bets that we were sure to end up married. That wasn't meant to be. We were both very different people and growing up only made that more apparent. In the end we parted ways. After that I went through a period of singleness which was just right for me at the time. I had spent so much of my adolescence bound to one person, concerned about not only my own development but my relationship's health and wellbeing. Looking back, it wasn't always the best way to spend those critical teen years. In some ways it was a blessing to have one person dedicated and consistent throughout the tumultuous high school experience. On the other hand, there were drawbacks to hitting critical life steps as a pair instead of as an individual.
For the second half of my senior year in high school and my first year of college I didn't have any serious relationship. I dated here and there but nothing stuck. But I didn't mind - in fact I kind of enjoyed simply getting to know people, spending time with a vast array of new friends at college and not having to worry about a significant other. It was a freeing experience. Of course, as is often the case, we humans tend to trade in that freedom for the security of a relationship. I was just one such human. I dated someone for about 6 months. It was a rocky relationship and a toxic one, to put it mildly. That ended with smoke and fire, and more importantly, a re-commitment of my relationship to Christ. For the first time in my life I truly surrendered my life to God's will. Getting to that point was a battle. Satan fought hard to keep me within his grasp, blinded to God's truth and  living in willful disobedience. But God is much more powerful than Satan.
It only took a short month from the ending of that horrible relationship and the rebirth of my very soul to find a new relationship that looked like "the one." I was completely convinced that I had found the person God had intended for me. I hadn't been actively seeking a relationship. In fact, I was so content and joyful in life that a boyfriend wasn't even on my radar screen. When God seemed to put a Christian man on my doorstep I thought it was divine intervention from above, delivering me my soul mate. Obviously the man on the doorstep agreed. We dated, got engaged and planned a wedding that never took place. Four months before the big day of "I do" we called it off. That is a saga all of its own but that it isn't my intent to drudge through all of the gory details of that situation. At least not right now.
That was 3 years ago. Ever since that day I have been single, alone, unattached, free - my preferred term for my status changes with my mood. Which ever word you choose the principle is the same: I've gone at each day as an individual, unburdened by the needs of a significant other and without the companionship of a partner whom I can enjoy the experiences of life with. This has its benefits and its drawbacks.
When I make my plans for the day I never have to consult with another person, making sure what I want doesn't conflict with what they want. I never have to worry about coordinating schedules to make "couple time" and I don't have to worry that my decisions of how I spend my time might cause someone one else to feel ignored or neglected. On Christmas I don't have to come up with the perfect gift that is useful, thoughtful, personal and practical all at the same time. Gift giving isn't easy and I haven't missed racking my brain over finding that perfect, special something for that special someone.
Above all else, being single has given me the opportunity to grow my relationship with God instead of focusing on growing a relationship with a guy. This has been the undeniable advantage to singleness.
But there are drawbacks, too. There are some experiences that just seem to be calling out, "Share me with someone! Make it romantic!" I swear I'm not the only one who hears this because at the very beginning of summer - when the weather turns beautiful and bright, flowers start to bud and the evenings stay light and warm - couples start bursting forth from every nook and cranny. Restaurants are filled with tables for 2, sidewalks are crammed with couples hand in hand, benches in parks are kept warm by snuggling pairs and beaches become the epicenter of evening romance complete with sandy strolls along water's edge.
This all may sound more like a movie than reality, but come summer these little scenes start popping up with increased frequency that never ceases to amaze me. The stuff of novels isn't limited to the pages of a book. These little snap shots really do take place and when you are alone, without anyone to share such experiences with, you notice their presence all the more.
This is the unpleasant twinge of loneliness that threatens to plague the single. Maybe not everyone who goes at life alone will be overcome with these feelings, but many are. For the past 3 years, as I've experienced what it is to be truly single, truly going at life on my own, I've had very few times when I've longed for someone to desire me in the romantic, twinkle in the eye, sort of way. Most days I've been perfectly content to be just me, myself and Pippy. But when the desire to be loved and wanted comes upon me it is undeniably powerful.
Today is one of those days. My heart is aching for the thrill and excitement of new love; my soul is yearning for someone to want me, romantically, for who I am. The pain of feeling undesirable has reached a peek that is unbearable. There seem to be no words that can console or reassure me. We all want to feel capable of being loved and admired. I believe it is natural to want to be wanted. That's why feeling unwanted is so deeply painful.
Deep down, in the core of my being, I know that I am wanted, desired and longed for by God. It is that fact that keeps me afloat when the overwhelming feelings of loneliness threaten to overtake me. I wish I could say that my faith is so strong that knowing God is the lover of my soul is enough for me to be content and fulfilled. But I'd be lying. My sinful and roaming heart wants to be validated here on earth by the attentions and affections of a significant other. I want to feel that I am beautiful - on the inside and out - because of the love I share with a man. I want someone to want to spend time with me, even if it is just doing something simple like taking a walk.
Truth of the matter is, God wants to take a walk with me. How foolish am I that instead of joining him, I am neglecting his offer, as if it isn't good enough? Who do I think I am going to find that is better? I have the ultimate walking partner - the ultimate life partner - and I am not satisfied.
Shame on me for my wandering heart. Shame on me for desiring someone other than Jesus Christ. He is my ultimate lover. He has proven that in ways no man ever could because no man could ever love me like he does.
No matter how lonely my life may look by the standards of the world, I have the reassurance that I am actually not alone at all. In fact, I am in the greatest relationship of my life. So, honestly, what more could a girl ask for?

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