"The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband." -1 Corinthians 7: 34 ESV
Paul makes both the advantages and disadvantages of marriage and pursuing relationship clear in 1 Corinthians 7. On social media, we are given view after view of the advantages and the highlights of relationships. Let me say that again, we are repetitively seeing the ADVANTAGES. This causes us to grow a desire for it- just like seeing pictures of puppies makes us think we need a new pet and seeing pictures of the perfect beaches of the Bahamas makes us think it's about time we took a vacation! While societal culture is pushing these positive messages for relationships, we forget that there are real challenges to relationships, real sacrifices that must be made, and real changes that have to happen.
I've been single for 22 years now. Yes, high school, college, and entering adulthood have been years of complete independence for me. I learned how to navigate flat tires, open the pickle jar, make friends by myself, go to new places, try new restaurants, put together furniture, and everything else by my lonesome. Some people might wonder (or maybe not, but I'll answer anyway), "How did you stay confidently single for THAT long?"
Well- I wasn't always "confident." Sometimes it was HARD. Really hard. Especially seeing everyone else around me getting help from their boyfriends and having that extra and intimate support. I struggled, especially, trying to navigate the new and scary world of adulthood alone. But I kept hearing God's whisper- "Don't settle. I am with you."
God provided the confidence I needed to get through the tough times "alone", but with Him. His love is better than any. It's easy. It's abundant. It's never failing. It's unwavering. It's forgiving. It's gentle. It's strong. It's better than any man could ever give me, even in a good and healthy relationship. And God also provided me some pretty cool friends to help with the pangs of loneliness.
Throughout high school, I began to understand my worth was secured in Jesus which, thankfully, helped me to quickly understand I didn't have to prove my worth to a boy, and, besides, boys don't fully mature until well after high school (and that is just science). Also some dark times for my family repositioned my priorities and took over my life for a season. I chose to put all selfish desires like that on the backburner to care for my family and more important things.
Then I attended Abilene Christian University. I was fully expecting to meet a good looking, respectable, man of God and gain my Mrs. degree, but God had other plans. As soon as you step onto the campus at ACU as a baby freshman you are told the legends of the "ring by Spring." This is talked about by the students, professors, and even the campus newspaper. It is joked about, but it is not a joke. I wish there was a statistic about graduates that leave engaged because it is probably nearing 75%. In my sorority, we had an engagement celebration ritual for when a member got engaged. It was a WHOLE thing. And we had one of these ceremonies every. other. weekend. Everyone around me either had a boyfriend or had a ring. The constant messages of "ring by Spring" literally trained us to believe that we were doing something wrong if we graduated without a man and a plan. It wasn't until I got out of the ACU bubble, into big city Austin, and watched Tayshia Adams, of the recent season of The Bachelorette, get engaged to 36-year-old and near perfect Zac Clark, that I realized that maybe it's not really so normal to be engaged or married so young! I have time.
For me, it helps to remember all the advantages of singleness. Just how Paul recommended his path of singleness in 1 Corinthians 7:39, saying, "So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better." (ESV) When we are single we can focus our attention on our relationship with God and matters of the Kingdom. We are free to travel where we want and do what we want to do without the extra consideration and restraints of another. We can give our undivided attention to God and make the most of our time as "the present form of this world is passing away." (1 Corinthians 7:31 ESV) Honestly, in singleness: We have to make less sacrifices. Consider less opinions. We are more free.
Singleness is as much of a gift as a relationship with another is a gift. Just different benefits and different obstacles to overcome. Don't forget.
So with this view, I am learning how to be okay without a boy. Actually more than okay, I am enjoying my singleness. Relishing in the freedom and knowing I am loved.