Dear Single Girls (particularly those in their early twenties),
My dad called me up this week: “Sarah,” he began, “I’ve been thinking and I want to say ‘thank you’ for holding out for the right young man. I know you want to be married, and I’m proud that you do not allow your desires to cause you to settle.” (Yes, I have a wonderful father; and yes, this made my day.) He then shared with me yet another instance of another father worried about his young daughter because she’s all wrapped up in the wrong guy.
I see it happen all the time. A girl gets to be in her late teens or early twenties and the first guy who shows an interest in her simply must be “the one.” Just like that, she tosses reason aside, gives her heart away (and perhaps her body too) in some desperate attempt to find love. It no longer matters that daddy doesn’t approve; it doesn’t matter that the young man keeps her on an emotional roller-coaster or asks for things that no true gentleman would ask; it no longer matters what she wanted in a man; all that matters is the fleeting enjoyment of having somebody.
As a girl myself, I understand – it’s an easy mistake to make! God has created us with the natural desire to be somebody’s helpmeet and to be loved. I want it; you want it; every girl I know wants it. On top of that, our culture pushes relationships, love, dating on every front. Your social media accounts show picture after picture of your friends in love. Movies and books tell story after story of the princess meeting her Prince Charming and living happily ever after. Artists sing song after song of love and adoration. And to top things off, you have your friends, church family, or coworkers constantly playing matchmaker or asking when you are going to date. It’s hard to say no; it’s hard to wait; and it’s hard to feel complete without that other half.
But I am here to say that it is possible! I have been in your shoes and I am still in your shoes. I’ve been doing this whole single bit about ten years longer than I had ever planned, and it’s not all that bad! With that in mind, allow me to share a few lessons and tips I’ve learned along the way.
You are complete in Jesus.
No matter what message the world shoves down your throat, please understand Jesus Christ makes you whole. No husband, no child, no job, nothing will make you complete except the Gospel. So this lie that marriage is your end goal and that you are simply a half until you say “I do” is simply that—a lie. Recognize it, reject it, and rejoice in the truth that Christ has made you perfect just as you are…single.
God works through your parents.
It’s easy as a young person entering adulthood to begin to think that your parents don’t know everything. Girls, pay attention! God works through your daddy. God gave you your daddy to protect you. And your daddy is not so powerful as to mess up God’s plan for your life. Decide now to listen to and respect your parents. If you need Biblical backup, read Luke 2 where an adult Jesus submits to and obeys his earthly parents even though they didn’t understand God’s plan for his life. When I hear a young lady say that God wants her to date her boyfriend, and then I find out that her dad can’t stand the young man, I shake my head. There is no way God wants you to do something that goes against the authority structure He designed for you—and he never designed you to be the head. How do you think you will ever be able to submit to your husband when you disagree on where he leads you if you can’t submit to the God-given leadership of your father? In the occasion that you truly do have evil parents or no parents, find a godly pastor or father-figure and apply the same principles.
Being alone is a good thing.
Learning to be alone with yourself is a difficult task, but one that will benefit you greatly in life. No one likes to be lonely, but did you know that marriage does not solve loneliness? I know many young wives that struggle greatly with loneliness. Take time now to accept being alone; learn to be ok by yourself and even to enjoy life when alone; then when you get married and hubby is busy at work, you will both be happier because you will already know what to expect and how to handle being alone.
Live life to its fullness.
This is one of my favorite aspects of being single…the fact that I get to do so many awesome things that married couples can’t! I just booked a flight to Jordan and Israel for November. I’ll be a part of history working with Syrian refugees for half the time, and the other half I’ll be touring the Holy Land. I plan to ride a camel and swim in the Dead Sea and to worship my Savior where he was born. How awesome is that! How many married couples your age can say they’ve been zip-lining over the Amazon jungle, straddled the Equator, rode a peki-peki (oversized canoe) to visit a primitive tribe in Peru, spent a year as a missionary, traveled several other countries, and experienced countless other memories? I’m already planning a return trip to Peru for next year. Instead of moping over not having a boyfriend, come and go with me! Live life to its fullness! There will be hard days no doubt (sickness, death, etc.), but don’t let loneliness and the fact that you’re single be one of those hard days. There is no better time than now to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Travel, learn other cultures, get your concealed carry permit, watch a sunrise, climb a mountain (or two or three), eat cereal for dinner, buy yourself flowers, learn a new language, take music lessons, get your masters or doctorate, swing in a hammock and read a good book…and the list goes on. Someday you’ll have three little kids, healthy meals to prepare for five, and a never-ending pile of laundry and dishes. Perhaps you’ll still be able to pursue these things after marriage (I certainly hope so), but there is no guarantee. So why not live out your dreams now, today?
Please don’t settle.
The boys will come along, telling you you’re beautiful and amazing and all the other things you want to hear…but just because he likes you does not mean you are supposed to like him. And yes, it’s very easy to have the wool pulled over your eyes. This is why it is vital that you involve wise people (for me, my entire family) in any relationship. Look for red flags; don’t be afraid to test him; and if he starts asking you to be something that you are not, stand your ground. My pastor once said “It is better to be lonely and single than lonely and in the wrong relationship.” Wait for a real man; if he’s a real man, he’ll wait for you. Don’t settle.
Learn to provide for yourself.
God designed men to be the providers so learning to provide for yourself and juggling the pressure of a career is a tad more difficult for us. However, it is a skill you will never regret. Don’t sit at home letting mom and dad meet all your needs and fix all your problems. I am so thankful for a dad who pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to be independent! I’ve learned to figure out my own car problems, to visit the doctor alone when necessary, to grocery shop and manage my schedule, and to care for my housing needs. I have a good job, I’m good at what I do, and I hold the respect of both my male and female coworkers. All this has infused me with a confidence that does not come naturally to me. I’ve learned to step up and do what needs to be done even if it terrifies me. As a result, when the wrong guy comes along, it is so much easier for me to say no because the alternative is not so scary anymore. Plus, if and when God brings the right man into my life, I’ll be a better helpmeet to him because of the skills I’ve learned providing for myself.
Invest in people.
Someday, your focus will be your husband and your children. Today though you have time to invest in others. I’ve been able to spend so much more time with my little sisters and to make so many more memories with them than my other siblings…simply because I’m here and available. We’ve gone on road trips, experienced the fair, watched movies, enjoyed the snow, and spent countless other fun times together. Do you have a sibling, niece, or nephew that could use your love? What about other children or adults in your church or community? Everybody is looking for true friendship. Go be that friend, and share Christ’s love with others. You’ll find yourself blessed beyond measure in return.
My heart goes out to you, dear girls. I know the struggles, worries, insecurities you face. And yes, I’d trade my singleness in for marriage in a heartbeat if the right guy came along. But please make sure he truly is the right guy. In the meantime, know that you are already loved by Christ more perfectly than any man can ever love you; know that you are not alone; and know that being single is not a bad thing, it’s just a different thing. Don’t be in a hurry to escape your singleness; instead live each day to its fullest and have fun!