The other day I was in a conversation with some friends and I caught myself discussing why someone in the group was single. We all laughed and smiled as we discussed tactics they could try and ways they could put themselves out there. She said "I used to stay off online dating but since you met Patrick that way I'm going to try it." I smiled, feeling kind of proud that I had inspired her recent dating venture and said as I walked away "I'm sure you'll meet someone soon."
Within minutes of the conversation ending, I felt sick to my stomach. "WHAT THE HECK?" I thought to myself. I couldn't believe the way that I talked to my friend. It was as if her career and her love for Christ and dedication to family and friends and pursuit of passions paled in comparison to the fact that she was single. We all smiled and nodded as we shared tips of how she could meet someone and none of us stopped to encourage her and remind her of how whole and full her life is.
Sometimes I feel like culture, especially Christian culture, tends to treat being single like it's a curse. Like if you're not married you're doing something wrong and you need to figure things out quick so that you can be married and happy and have the perfect life. I think all of that is crap but for the majority of my life I believed it.
It took a very long time for me to enjoy my season of being single. My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to travel the world and never once pressured me about settling down or getting married. I did all of that. I traveled and pursued my dreams but in the midst of all of that I really just wanted to be in a relationship.
I longed for the grass that I thought was so much greener on the other side. I wondered what was wrong with me and since so many people would always ask me about my relationship status I felt like I needed to be with someone. It wasn't until I moved to Denver, in 2015, that I fully began to flourish and bask in the beauty of being single. I helped plant a church, moved a few times, switched jobs, grew closer to Christ, made friends, went to parties and had more joy than I even knew was possible.
It's in that intentional season that I learned that to be single is to be blessed, not cursed. It's a blessing to be able to move through life, pursuing all that God has for you without any distractions. When you're with the right person I do believe that they help you to draw closer to Christ and your passions, that's what Patrick does for me and that's awesome but still different. Very different.
When I was single I would come home from work and spend hours reading my bible. I would go on random impromptu trips that took me up mountains and across state lines. I developed relationships that really helped me to feel like I had community in a city that was so far away from home. My confidence grew and my sense of self was solidified.
Who I am today is partially a result of the time and space that I spent with myself and with God when I first moved here. I told myself that for the first year I wasn't going to date and have my Denver experience be attached to a person or a relationship and I'm so glad I did that. If it wasn't for that period of growth and discovery, Patrick and I would not be together. I would have met him as someone who was still struggling to feel complete and whole and would have looked to him to fill those empty spaces.
Rather then encouraging single people to get back out there and to try every dating option available I would like to take a different route and encourage them to be intentional. If I could go back in time this is what I would have said to my friend. Be intentional with the friends that you have in your life; spend time with them, love them and cultivate those relationships. Be intentional with yourself. Discover your passions, develop your faith and if any part of your life feels empty, explore that and don't be afraid to find out why.
Be intentional about deciding which things that you will and will not accept in a relationship. Be intentional about what your standards are and things that are non-negotiable and things like how far is too far and how much is too much. If you're able to figure all of that out when you're single and level headed and not distracted by a person it becomes so much easier to stick to your convictions when you do in fact meet someone.
If you're single I hope that you're enjoying it. I hope that you're reading books and hanging out with friends. I pray that you're going dancing and moving to new cities and starting new projects. My wish for you is that you're thinking about what you want in a person and things that you're not willing to compromise. I hope that you're filling your time because when you meet the right person and if it all works out, you'll never be single again. You'll move into a new season of life that is beautiful and rich and filled with joy but you'll never have that uninterrupted time again; time where your mind is mainly focused on yourself and your growth.
I hope I have one of those conversations again soon. One where I'm talking to someone who is single and instead of trying to urge them in to the next season of their journey encouraging them to thrive in the one that they're in. Because they don't need to change and they don't need to add someone to their life to be happy. They are not incomplete, they're not lacking and they are not in any sense of the word cursed. They are blessed.