I looked up from my computer after sitting down and typing for an hour– It was 9:30, the thought Happy Valentine’s Day crossed my mind. Another Valentine’s day was about to be gone and I was single. A few years ago I thought this would be a form of punishment like a prison sentence. After ten years of being aware of the fact that I’m single, I sighed some relief and said chose to be content and happy again this year for my relationship status and according to the Barna group I’m in good company because one out of five people (22%) in the United States never marry. I will go on record and say I haven’t given up on finding someone nor have I taken vows of celibacy. However, I am happier with my relationship status than I have ever been. I am not opposed to marriage or dating because I think both can be beneficial and people find meaningful relationships in both.
I am a Christian who was raised in the evangelical movement and I was exposed to the ideas of dating in my early teens through youth group and church camps. I remember a game we played where the girls had to sit in the guys’ lap and try to make him smile. It was very awkward and uncomfortable for a teenager with little to no dating experience. I still shudder a little bit even thinking about it today. I’m sure some of you may share this experience. It is interesting to note that while my generation (the Millennials) are often associated with non committed relationships in another Barna survey 82% of millennials interviewed said they would “like to be married someday”. Why the rush to get married among Christians? Did the church start producing miniature Ted Mosbys?
We Don’t Distinguish Between Singleness and Loneliness
In a culture filled with dating shows who seek true love between one man and twenty-seven women, It is hard to imagine someone who can or even wants to live as a single. We have made a terrible mistake equating being single with being lonely. I don’t think people become lonely people because they don’t marry someone, they become lonely if they don’t have intimate interactions on a regular basis. A community must be built not only for a marriage but for a life outside the relationship. People can live without a significant other but they can’t live without others.
Loving Yourself Is Harder Than You Think
One of the main comments people kept writing in response to my Facebook questions was people need to learn to love themselves before they learn to love someone else. Jesus talks about this when he tells us to love others in relation to ourselves. For many, It is easier to love other people because they look smarter, funnier, and more talented. Even though it isn’t fair to place that kind of standard on other people because it is unrealistic. Loving yourself feels like narcissism, however, the action to love oneself is one of the most reasonable habits someone can have because it acknowledges the identity and value of the whole being. It is an involved and laborious process. Half-truths are said but not felt and later are repeated in hope that they become the truth someday. Loving sentiments are expressed on the days you don’t feel like it. He or she says that they’re important when they feel inadequate.
One of the themes that kept showing up was the theme of preparation. Examples like “I need to prepare myself and my relationship with God first. First, no amount of preparation can properly prepare someone for that relationship. Second, As Christians shouldn’t we focus on growing closer to God throughout our lives? Drawing closer to God doesn’t stop when someone marries nor does it become any easier with the challenges of marriage.
Love Is Not Guaranteed
I am a child of the 1990s and I think Disney films ruined my expectations of love in a way I never thought until recently. For a long time, I thought love was an automatic response because in most Disney movies the protagonist and heroine pair together (except for Hunchback of Notre Dame). The protagonist is expected to automatically love the Heroine, however, as I live more years I am learning love is a response and a constantly chosen one. The choice must be made for love to exist, even if no one wants to make it. While a person may feel the emotions of love they may never act on them. Even if they act on them everyone fails in love it might not be an appropriate action.
As Valentine’s weekend closes, I reflect on my single status and current lifestyle and it isn’t too bad. It’s not the prison sentence I thought it was a few years ago. I have learned some good lessons from my bachelorhood. If you are interested in reading about them please comment below. I wish you a great weekend and a good week. Peace and Good things to you, Reader.