Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Finding balance during years of singleness

Every unmarried woman is probably familiar with the following sayings:
'Find contentedness right where you are';
'Bloom where you are planted';
'Everything in His timing, according to His plan';
'Make good use of your years as a single';

I agree with all of the above! We should find happiness and be content in our single years; some will get married at 18 and be happy; some will get married at 35 and be happy. A few of us will never get married at all. Whatever plan is reserved for you – and you can never really know for sure before you're married - your life doesn't start at the moment you become a Mrs. Our time is too precious to be spent pining away for a husband and feeling inferior because we're still single at 25 (or 30, or 35…).

Our years as single women should be a productive time, a season during which we perfect our homemaking skills and prepare for our future role as wives and mothers (the majority of us will have families, someday). It is also a time when we can be more active in our community and participate in projects we might be too busy for when we finally embark on the journey of married life.

Now I'm about to say something that might sound a bit controversial: I think we shouldn't become too busy as singles, either. We might have our hands so full with the many activities we committed to, and have our next few years planned out so carefully, that we actually can't make room for the right man if he comes along unexpectedly! Notice that I'm not saying 'the first man who comes along'. But if you meet a decent man and say, 'I'd marry him after college' or 'after I'm done with this and that…' - well, I think it's quite risky: what if the opportunities you have later won't be as numerous as you thought? Here's what I think: if you're serious about marriage, keep focus and make room for marriage in your life!

Another thing we should be cautious about, I think, is being too perfectly happy as singles. How does that work with finding contentedness in each season of our lives? I think the message we should be sending isn't 'I'm quite happy as I am right now, thank you very much, and I don't need anything else', but rather, 'I'm happy, but I feel ready to move on to the next stage, and I'm eagerly anticipating it.'

What I've noticed from conversations with friends is that young women today are actually embarrassed to admit they want to get married! Some have the feministic ideas too deeply ingrained, and some are afraid to sound desperate and discontented if they tell that more than anything, they want to find a decent man and settle down. So they make it seem as though they aren't even interested in meeting men right now – which might just draw their Prince Charming away.

I don't think there's anything wrong in being a bit more active, either. I know many women who met their husbands through networking of friends and relatives: they let others know they are interested in meeting a man with the purpose of courtship and marriage, and were introduced to suitable bachelors. In a gentle, respectful and feminine way, they prayerfully sent off the following message: 'I'm ready to become a wife now; I'm looking for a good man to start a family with.'

24 comments:

melian said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this wonderful post. One of my dearest friends is single, and while she does a remarkable job of making the best use of this time in her life, she eagerly hopes for the day when she can be a wife and mother. There are times when she has felt guilty for this, and when others have made her feel foolish for working so hard to prepare and be open for an opportunity that is not immediately apparent. Attitudes like yours are a great source of encouragement to people like this lovely young woman, who are doing everything that God asks, and rightfully hoping for rich blessings.

Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph reminded me of an article I read some time ago concerning finding a mate.

It was in a frugality newsletter in the 1990's, and the author emphasized the importance of putting forth one's "authentic self". She, herself, found her husband through a dating service, and was very methodical and knew what she was looking for. I'm not sure that if I were single right now, I could sign up for this kind of thing, but in this lady's case, it worked very well. By the end of the summer, while repainting her grandmother's house (a project that the, by now, steady candidate was participating in), the two of them became engaged.

The point of her whole discussion on searching for a husband or wife was to see the person in real situations, and allow them the same. She had a disdain for what we consider normal dating in our culture: restaurant meals and flowers.....she referred to it as bait & switch.

So, I have to say that I find it interesting you should address this whole courtship & marriage question similarly: that it is not calculating to put the word out that one is ready for, and seeking, marriage.

Good post!

Brenda

Anonymous said...

Great post! I never thought that I would get married, because I was perfectly happy being single. Then I met my husband. :) He's wonderful!

Anyway, I read something once that talked about women waiting for marriage eating on paper plates and not hanging their pictures on the wall because they didn't want to settle in to being single. That makes me sad-- and I think it's a good example of discontent. It was nice to be able to combine my full, happy life with my husband's full, happy life when we got married. Now we have a full and happy life together!

Have a great day!

Whitney B. said...

I have just recently found your blog and although I am married you posts are very inspiring.

This one especially speaks to me, not on "being single" but being content. A couple of months ago I got into this deep ugly pit about wanting children. It was like in my mind I couldn't start my "real" life until I had them.

God has since brought me through this but posts like yours are a continuous reminder of where I need to be.

Thank you so much.

Anna S said...

Melian,

Good to 'see' you here! Sadly, in our culture it's predictable that young women who prepare for marriage and take it seriously will be made fun of. We must learn to brush it off, and know that what we are doing is important.

Brenda,

Haha, I love the bait&switch term. It always puzzles me how people claim they 'need more time to get to know each other better', and spend this time going to places where they can barely talk and don't act like themselves. How is this supposed to help them to get to know each other?

Anonymous,

What you described (eating of paper plates? Oh my...) is certainly discontentment. You can only give what you have. An unhappy single person will be an unhappy married person.

Whitney,

Welcome! I can understand your struggle. I, too, have been through the 'I'd be so happy if only...' situations. It's a constant struggle to regain our contentedness.

Laura H said...

Anna,
Thankyou so much for that post! It really spoke to me! I must say, that contentment is the largest part of waiting, and being willing to never get married! I must learn all these things, to be useful for my family!
In Christ Alone,
Laura H

Anna S said...

Laura,
I think this is actually the biggest challenge for us unmarried women: willingness to be contented as a single woman, but also willingness to get married! Balancing those two isn't easy.

Laura H said...

I am willing to get married, but also preparing myself for the prospect of never getting married!

USAincognito said...

I feel like the little black sheep when it comes to "fitting in" with those who read your blog. ;)

Anna S said...

I don't want anyone to feel like an outcast! :) The only ones who don't 'fit in' are the rude and insulting anonymous commenters whose remarks are simply not published.

Elizabeth said...

Anna, thank you for this post. It's really interesting! Recently I've been thinking a lot about this (perfect timing!) ...! :->

On the one hand, I want to be contented for as long as I am single ... on the other hand, I don't want to be so contented while I'm single that I lose sight of marriage as a possibility and a blessing! :-> I suppose the trick for us all is to be content with what we have - singleness or marriage - not depending on either one of those things for our contentment and happiness.

I think preparing for marriage is a good thing and I'm sure that none of the time we single girls spend preparing for marriage is wasted. Even if we're called to life-long singleness, selflessness and organisation, etc., will be useful character traits! :->

USAincognito said...

Too bad people have to be rude with their remarks toward you and then chicken out by leaving it anonymously.

Tracy said...

A very good post, Anna.

Anna S said...

Elizabeth,

Of course no training and preparation to be a wife is wasted! Even if a woman doesn't get married, she can extend her care and love to others: her siblings' families, her parents or grandparents... or just people out there who need our love and help! Her skills as a homemaker, cook, seamstress, teacher, baker and many more, are not wasted either, and can be used to serve others in the most wonderful way.

Lillian the Ponderer said...

Wow, what a wonderful post and so accurate, - know what your desires are but be content with what you have. I recently found your blog and I really appreciate what I have read so far.

Until I was about 24 or 25 I didn't feel ready to marry (I mean by that, not that I didn't want to, but that I wasn't mature enough for the responsibility). Then I started to get this longing in my heart for another person to share my life with, at this point I started (prayerfully) to look at what I wanted in a husband and what that sort of man would be looking for in a wife. Thus I now knew what to work on in my life, emotionally, spiritually and in a practical sense too. I then came to the realisation that it might not be God's plan for me ever to marry and if this was the case then it would be for my best and I would need to be happy and content with that too.

A few years down the line I met a man that I had to take a second look at! - After over a year of friendship and my best attempts of being obviously interested (probably for 6 months or more to his complete oblivion) I took matters in my own hands. Long story short -we started courting and will be marrying (by God's grace) at the end of December. This man has all that I hoped and prayed for AND MORE, and I know that I am the woman that he was looking for too.

Anna S said...

Lillian,

I'm so happy things worked out so wonderfully for you, in God's perfect timing! You have been so blessed.

Kelly said...

Anna,
Love your blog. I check in often to see what you've written. This is well said and very great advice.
The only think that I would add is that make sure you keep wonderful Christian friends, male and female, around you. How do you expect to find mister right if you don't keep some sort of social life. And I don't mean dating. I met my husband online actually, found out we had a mutual friend in common before I would meet him in the real world.
I met him when I was 29 years old, was married at 31, and we had our daughter when I was 35. So there can be many years of singleness for many of us and you must keep your life going.
We all face "the grass is greener" syndrome. When I was single I wanted to be married, when married I wanted babies, now I think I didn't really enjoy those carefree days of singleness as much as I should have.
God Bless,
Kelly

Anna S said...

Kelly,
Thanks for commenting! And yes, you're absolutely right. Some of us are outgoing, some of us are naturally shy, but forgetting our friends because all we care about is finding a husband, that's definitely not the right way. Fellowship is especially important in our single years!

Kim said...

I think I disagree on one point. It is okay to be perfectly happy in Christ while being single. I don't think we need to be too cautious - in fact, as a 27-year--old single woman with a deep, heart-wrenching desire to get married, I find the only way to honor God is to be OVERLY cautious that I am content and happy in Him. Obviously He has not ordained for me to be married right now, and I personally struggle with wanting marriage so much that it hurts. And so I have found that when I allow myself to be overly content in Him, I am at peace - and I trust His perfect timing that if I am to be married, He will make that abundantly clear when the time comes. I can't hope in marriage - I have to hope in Him. (Does this make any sense?) It's a guarding my heart thing.

That's not to say that I don't spend time with married people and moms, and that I don't "prepare," so to speak, for skills that I will need for marriage; it's just that I HAVE to allow myself to be completely and utterly happy in being single because if I am not, I am then devastated.

But that's just me. :)

Anna S said...

Dear Kim,

I see no disagreement between us. :) You are happy as a single, but at the same time are more than willing to get married. That's just how things should be, I think. What I meant was women who try so hard to 'be happy as singles' that they actually deny their desire to get married, and refuse to make any step in that direction, afraid it won't work. I have a friend who is like that.

Jess said...

It's funny that you just wrote this blog. I am a 22 year old working single who always wanted to be married young. Honestly, I wanted to be married by 20, have kids by 23 (at the latest) and live happily ever after. I am thankful to God that didn't happen, though, because I've grown a lot since then. I wouldn't have been ready at that time.

But, the other night I was saying how I wanted to have some of my college loan debt paid off before I got married. And she told me to stop putting limitations on how and when I'll get married. I didn't even realize that I was doing that. I guess money issues and having enough have always been a struggle for me. So, I'm learning to pay off what I can, to save what I can, but to not let that completely limit my opportunities!

Thanks for the post!

Kim said...

Anna - that makes sense. I think I just worry - about myself - that I have no ability to have a happy middle ground regarding marriage - I am either heartbroken about it or whatever. I do sometimes deny my desire to get married, but it's as a defense mechanism - I am tired of the looks of pity and people feeling sorry for me because I don't have what I want. :) But you're right - we're both saying the same things in different ways. I think it is important to be open to the possibility that God might want you single for a long time - and I guess that is where the being happy in the singleness comes in! (Something I am working on...)

Blessings to you!

Jaclynn said...

Wow, what you said really hit home! I am one of those girls" 'I'm happy, but I feel ready to move on to the next stage, and I'm eagerly anticipating it.'"
But at the same yeah, I am almost embarrassed to admit it because then does it mean I am not content? I realize that no it doesn't. I am content but very ready and willing for the next thing the Lord has for me. I wish I could be more active in finding a husband but I really have no idea how to be. I do not know any young men who have similiar beliefs and values and is ready for marriage. So I continue to diligently pray.

Anna S said...

Jaclynn,

Wanting to get married is a natural desire for a woman and definitely doesn't mean you are not content! Spending our time moaning about our singleness, not living a full life, putting things off - now that's not being content!

What worked for several women I knew, who also complained of a shortage of good, godly, responsible men, was to expand their circle of friends - women -who share common values and goals. This increases your chances of being introduced to a good man, especially if you're not hiding your wish to get married.

I hope you meet the right man, in God's perfect timing!