She sat politely on the edge of the floral couch as the bridal shower games progressed in a steady stream of party events. The pastel mints balanced next to the empty cupcake wrapper on the plate as she rested it on her knee to take another sip of fruit punch. Her mind wandered to another place considering what time she should leave this party to get to the next one. She returned to the room to wonder just how long she’d have to listen to the woman in the bright blue sundress go on and on about the glory days of her wedding some twenty years ago. Jolted to reality, the bright blue woman asked in a condescending tone, “So why is it that you haven’t found a man yet?”
Realizing that the question was pointed abruptly and publicly towards her and her empty plate of cupcake, she refrained from rolling her eyes as she struggled to find a proper response. The awkwardness was palatable. Married women in the room jumped in hoping to fill the space of the empty moment with antidotal responses.
“Oh, don’t you worry he’s gonna come when you stop looking! You’ll see. That’s how it happened for me.”
“You know, there’s no perfect man out there. At some point you just have to choose…”
“It’s not your fault, there just aren’t enough good men out there for all the good women. It’s a ratio issue.”
“What I’d give for a week of being single!! Take your time! Live it up.” (insert knowing married lady laughter.)
She sat alone on the couch to wonder which was true. Should she stop looking or look harder? Settle or wait? Were the good men running out and getting snatched up? Did she have to give into the question and feel like a half-human for being a single woman over the age of 21? Was marriage something she’d have to find before she could start her life or could each day be valuable and important all on its own?
Life doesn’t start when you get married—it’s happening right now. Don’t wait for the next season of your life to bring you happiness. Every season, married or single, will hold a longing of its own version and kind. Contentment is not something owned by any stage of life, but by the attitude we choose in each day.
One November I sat in the living room at my parents’ house and paged through a catalogue. From the other room my mom said, “What do you want for Christmas?”
Because I love to cook and bake she said, “How about one of those beautiful colored mixers?”
I responded, half-joking and shouting to the other room, “Don’t you have to wait for marriage to get one of those? Doesn’t that go on a registry and not a Christmas list?”
I’m not sure why I had believed this to be true, but it was my assumption that I would get a mixer when I got married. My dad turned around from the computer and said, “If we buy you a mixer will you wait for the right guy?”
“Sure,” I laughed. It sounded like a great deal to me (and I wanted the mixer too).
I got a grass green mixer that year and it struck me each time I looked at it that I shouldn’t get married to get a fun party or a mixer or a ring. I should get married when I find a kind man to share my life with.
Now is the time to travel. Throw parties. Visit art galleries. Learn to play tennis. Take a cooking class. Grow comfortable with yourself and smile at your imperfections in the mirror. If there is one thing I have seen from watching hundreds of couples struggle and triumph through marriage, coming to this relationship with a load of expectations doesn’t set things up for a very good road. Be the full, incredible woman you are already and grow healthier each day so that when you do meet a great man you’re ready to connect with and love him well.
You should go ahead with your mixer and your Christmas tree or whatever it is that you think will be perfect when you get married because this is your life now. This life is good and being single is a season of life with its own freedoms and adventures, heartaches and pains. Lean into this day and live it well. One day you’ll wish you could talk to your single self and whisper something true: “You’re already enough. You can live this day and trust that the next day will unfold with a whole new story to discover.” Each day connects to the next and all strung together they contain our life. Be present to every moment.
Live your life right now. Today was created for a purpose and has its own story to be lived. Being content with your singleness doesn’t mean that you forgo the hope of marriage and a family, it just means you let story unfold as it will and don’t miss this day. Don’t sacrifice your present life for a preoccupation with your fantasy life. We can’t be planning on a someday to begin living. Decide today to live fully and completely present to each day.
Let’s live this day to the fullest while preparing ourselves for the kind of healthy connections and relationships we are created for:
1. Discover what you love. Make a list of all the things you’re curious about. Buy some art supplies, take a tennis lesson, go for a hike, travel to that city you’ve always wondered about. This is a time to go and get to know yourself and become more and more of the woman you are.
2. Get Healthy. Your body deserves attention and care, but so does your mental and spiritual health. Don’t be afraid to go find a great therapist and dig into the details of your story. Do some healing work. We all have hurts that shape us, but don’t live out of your hurt forever. Find freedom. Work out, eat and cook food that nourishes your body and feel fully alive.
3. Create Community. You might be single, but you don’t have to be alone. Fill your life with wonderful people. Join a church. Get to know your neighbors. Throw a dinner party. Enjoy your life and fill it with loving people who are an encouragement and will be with you in the good and bad. Life is meant to be lived with others.
4. Pursue contentment and live your life. Exhale a little and sink into the grace that just as you are, you are enough. The best thing you can do right now is to come to love the person you are and also daily becoming.