They Do Exist.

Singleness

When The Man You Thought You’d Marry Breaks Up With You

girlaloneinbed

Editor’s Note: Kimberly shares her story on going through a breakup with the man she thought she would marry. A story that so many of us have experienced, including myself. You will make it out alive. She blogs at Bloom Of Hope and tweets at @__youareloved__. – Lauren

Last year, the guy I thought I would marry broke up with me.

Flash back to two years prior – life was busy but good. I met an amazing guy. He listened, loved Jesus, and made me laugh. He became my best friend.

Eight months later we were dating. A few more months and I was in love. He wasn’t like the other guys I had dated. I felt genuinely accepted, loved, and adored. After being in several bad relationships, I was hesitant, but eventually I let my guard down and trusted him completely. “This is what a real relationship looks like,” I would tell myself. “This is the man I’m going to marry.”

Then, after a year and a half, everything changed. He wanted out, he was done, there were things about us he didn’t like. I told him I loved him, that I wanted to work at it, fight for it. But that wasn’t something he desired anymore. I wasn’t something he desired anymore.

So there I was with a heart full of love and arms empty. Totally rejected. To put it gently, I was disoriented and very, very confused. To put it bluntly, I was a wreck.

For a while, I tried to rationalize his decision and have some control over what had occurred. My thoughts constantly churned in my head as I tried to come to some sort of resolution. This was exhausting and pointless. I eventually had to accept the fact that I’d never fully understand what happened and why. And that’s when the true ache set in.

A pain I could not control crashed over me, knocking me down and leaving me completely paralyzed with heartbreak. “What is the matter with me?” I cried out to God. And not the cutesy one tear, makeup-is-still-in-tact, movie-star kind of cry. I’m talking about the ugly kind. Red cheeks, tear stained face, the whole bit.

The man who I totally trusted, who knew me better than most, decided I wasn’t worth it anymore. So doesn’t that say that I’m worthless? His actions made me feel as though I was nothing, that I had no value. That is the underlying message when someone leaves us, when someone hurts us. If we were valuable enough to them, they wouldn’t have walked away in the first place.

This kind of pain shapes and scars us. We start to believe that our pain was deserved and that those who wronged us did so because they knew. They knew who we really were. And we start to believe it: that we deserve to be left, to be hurt, to be alone. But that is a vicious, seething lie that we must not believe.

In my times with God, I’ve realized that I’m worth much, much more than the pain I’ve experienced. The person that hurt you didn’t treat you with the love, respect, and dignity that you deserve. You are loved beyond measure and God’s heart breaks when yours does. He has taught me that the abandonment I experienced had nothing to do with my value as a person. NOTHING.

I am God’s child. His heir. His princess. His beloved. His creation. And so are you.

Your circumstances and your past do not reflect your value. But Jesus does. Jesus died for you, suffered for you, laid down his life for you. Because you’re that valuable.

Because he adores you and delights in you.

Because he wants to keep you safe and protect you from harm.

Because he loves you more than you can even fathom.

I don’t want the men who have hurt me in my life to speak for my value anymore.

If I let any man speak for my value with his actions – I’ll let it be Jesus.

This gives you and me great freedom. We no longer have to hold onto bitterness and anger towards those who have hurt us because their actions don’t reflect anything about our hearts, bodies, minds, and souls. In the midst of our healing, join me in remembering what Jesus has done and what it says about you.

Your value is secure. Even when your heart is breaking, even when you are hurt beyond measure, even when you feel small and sad – your value is spoken for. Irrevocably.

You are loved, admired, adored, and taken care of. Forever. The pressure is off. Because you will always be enough to the man that means the most.


Last Valentine’s Day I Watched Kill Bill & Broke Dishes

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Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Kelsey Manning. She’s the one who takes care of our Facebook page and is simultaneously obsessed with music, puppies, puns, and Jesus. We love her like something else around here. You can read her full bio here or check out her blog and Twitter! Tomorrow we’ll be doing a SPECIAL GIVEAWAY for Valentine’s Day, so make sure you pay attention! – Lauren

Last year, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, my friends and I watched Kill Bill and broke dishes.

I’m pretty sure that it’s not quite what Hallmark had in mind.

It’s not that I’m against love, but watching gory revengeful movies and getting out all your feelings on one of the dumbest holidays ever is healthy. Because, you know, I’m an expert who needs no entanglements or silly boyfriends or head-over-heels-crushes to stay happy. Or you know, I might just be a cynic of love who is scared to admit that she still is a hopeless romantic who loves musicals under that tough skin and making-fun-of-relationships-facade.

TMI?

Being single on Valentine’s Day is dramatic even if you don’t acknowledge it. Every commercial on television is for chocolate and perfume and K-Y warming liquid. Every store display is disgustingly overdone with teddy bears and roses. But it isn’t the cheap gifts or obnoxious displays that get me – when you’re single on Valentine’s Day you entertain the thought that there may be something wrong with you, because it seems like the rest of the world is coupled up. You hang on to the reason you’ve failed in relationships in the past, unable to let go. And then, at least in my own heart, I pile on guilt from other mistakes I’ve made and suddenly one tiny little holiday makes me feel worthless.

Last year, all these feelings had hit me at once, along with my group of friends – all fantastic people, yet all feeling guilty and left out by being single – and I decided we should take action against these feelings. And when I take action, most often, I do so with a vision.

You see, I’m a visual learner. As much as words can comfort me and I can bask in them, roll them around on my tongue and rewind television shows just to hear the rhythm in the way certain sentences sound, if I really want to drive a point home, I have to see it with my baby blues. I want to open my eyes wide and get to know the colors and shapes and textures and how the light hits something just so.

Luckily, I got to learn this particular way last February 14th, when my friends and I had ourselves a little “Break” party.

What does this entail?

It’s simple, really. We drove to Goodwill and collected a handful of cheap plates, all of different colors but all those that looked extra fragile. We then brought the plates back and attacked them with Sharpies, writing out everything that we wanted to see break into a million little pieces. Fears, shame, bad dreams, regrets, doubts, guilt, experiences that hurt, and, since it was Valentine’s Day, most of our plates had failed relationships, lost loves and the names of soul-crushing boys and heart-stealing girls that we wish we’d never run into in the first place written all over them. We kept our plates to ourselves, mulling over them until we were all ready, then trekked out to the railroad tracks behind my apartment, and huddled together, we said goodbye to our precious regret-stained dishes. One by one, we said goodbye to pain and failures and secrets and feelings that left us worse off. Standing across from each other, we addressed our plates individually, addressing them like they were our own hearts, and, as if in slow motion from our very own Tarantino movie scene, then smashed them down into the tracks, watching them all break away and cheering with each broken dish at the realization that, surely, it was all just words on a plate anyway.

When we’re wrapped up in the past, we’re unable to handle what happens day-to-day, much less think about the future. God says that when we ask for forgiveness from our mistakes, he cleans our slates (or plates!) immediately. Psalms 103:12 says that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” But even believing in this promise, after being forgiven, we still so often hold onto the guilt and shame with a clenched fist. We know we’re forgiven, but the ways in which we’ve failed come up in our conversations like word vomit and hang over our heads like a dark cloud, refusing to let us live. But the truth is, that is no way to live at all!

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m trying to approach it less dramatically. I’m trying to let Hebrews 10:22 wash over me – ”let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience,” and simply invest in my own Valentine’s Day by remembering that I am fully forgiven, justified just the way I am and loved deeply by Jesus.

But, I’m not promising that I may not invest in another 25 cent plate and a sharpie.

Call it dramatic, call it childish, but I can honestly say that last year, I left a few things on that railroad track that I won’t be needing anymore. Maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t meant to be spent wallowing in romantic comedies and cookie dough. Maybe our mistakes in love shouldn’t bring us down, even on a day that can be hard to be alone. Maybe visually smashing the things that we need to let go of costs way less than therapy.

Maybe plates need to break so that we don’t have to.


It Is About Us

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Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by my sweet friend, Haley. She blogs here and tweets at @haleykristine. This month as we share stories about dating, not dating, and trying to date, I want to take a time out and look at this from another perspective. One we’re too often guilty of not seeing. – Lauren

So often I think it is about me. About us. About women.

Probably because I am one.

I think of our broken hearts, shredded and lonely, waiting and wondering if anything but Christ and loneliness will ever live here.

I think of tears cried in the darkness and at empty kitchen tables, and smiles forced over cups of coffee pretending stories of others’ togetherness are simply a source of joy.

I think of how it feels to wonder who and to wonder why and to wonder why no one ever just asks, because you never know unless you ask.

But I rarely consider the responsibility you bear, brother.

I rarely think of what it must be like to be the one to ask the question, to make the first move, as your broken, lonely, shredded heart beats a bit faster as you wonder what she will say.

I rarely think of what it must be like to face the choice of relationship instead of independence, to choose to love another as Christ loves the Church. For the rest of your collective time on this earth.

Brother, that must be so daunting.

I do not know if I could handle that responsibility.

Of course I have my own responsibility to bear in that same agreement, for the rest of our collective time on this earth.

But, brother, I rarely consider your side.

I rarely wonder what you think or feel late at night in the darkness or at empty kitchen tables or over cups of coffee, or perhaps for you it is pints of beer and cigars.

Brother, I am sorry for thinking it is just me, it is just us, just women.

It is about us, men and women, with hearts on the mend, waiting and wondering if anything but Christ and loneliness will ever live here.


Being Single: Rejection.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Anna Norman, and quite honestly, I will never look at “rejection” the same again. Her understanding of rejection and grace is incredible. She is 30, got married at 29, and blogs regularly on singleness and what she learned while waiting at SoTrulyLovely. – Lauren

I recently saw a post on one of my girlfriend’s pages that said that the author of “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett, was rejected over 70 times with her book idea. Of course, many of us likely know where she is now and what happened with the book-turned-movie.

We all know what rejection means: it is the act of being denied, refused, thrown back, etc. What I find fascinating is what it means in the scientific realm.

Rejection for the body means: an immune response in which foreign tissue (as of a skingraft or transplanted organ) is attacked by immune system components (as antibodies, T cells, and macrophages) of the recipient organism.

Funny how it is “built” into us what we are not supposed to want/have unless it is especially made for us. For instance, in order for a transplant to work you must have matching MHCs (major histocompatibility complexes) as well as matching antibodies and blood type.

I call this “grace.” I firmly believe God knows what is best for us and will reward those who wait for Him. Even if we don’t want to, and are faced with rejection again and again.

I wasn’t a girl that was asked out a ton and I certainly experienced rejection. But looking back: I truly have the most beautiful life that I couldn’t have even dreamt of because of God’s grace.

What the world calls rejection, I call grace.

I want all of you to know that when you are rejected, look toward hope because I know God builds up walls around us to protect us and although sometimes it hurts at first, I promise you the reward will sweep you off your feet.

Rejection = Grace.


Being Single: Trying To Write A Love Story

Editor’s Note: I really wish I could have read all of these stories about being single when I was in high school and college. Today’s sweet post is by Jessica Echezabal. She tweets at @JessieEche. Are you trying to write your own story? Or are you letting it happen? Be encouraged & be confident that your love story is in His hands. – Lauren

I have never had a boyfriend. Officially.

Yeah, there have been some crushes that have turned out to be mutual but they didn’t go far. Not as far as everyone else’s relationships did.

As I look back I really believe God was the one that made them stop. He always made something happen right before things would go to the next level. I have stories to prove it. But I know he did it to protect me.

At that time I didn’t like it. I would get mad. I wished that God would allow a relationship to develop at least once. Even if it was only going to last a little while. I wanted to be the girl that would get balloons and a present brought to her at school by her boyfriend. I wanted to be the girl that would have a boyfriend to lie on the grass with. I want to be the girl that felt someone wanted her forever. Thank God He didn’t listen to me.

Because of these desires I did little things to showcase myself in front of any potential boyfriend. They were extremely subtle but my desire was blatant.

As time went by, God began to speak to my heart. He told me that if I let Him, He would provide a future husband for me. And I loved the idea. I began writing letters to this man, reading books on how to be a good help mate, and tried to do things like cooking and cleaning on my spare time so that I would “prepare myself” for marriage.

Then it happened. God asked the question. “Can you put this completely in my hands? I want to write your love story.” What was he talking about?! Of course it was in his hands! What was I doing wrong that he would ask that?

So I threw the question to the back of my mind and let it sit there.

It took some time, but I finally realized what he was talking about.

I was on my bed writing in the journal full of letters that I would one day give to my husband and it hit me. If I have put this area of my life completely in Gods hands why am I holding onto this journal as my source of security? Why am I spending so much time trying to prepare myself to be a wife when I don’t even know if it’s in God’s plan for my life? If it is God’s will that I want, why am I still acting upon my own will?

That night I didn’t finish my letter. I let it go. I felt it all slip out of my little hands and into the mighty hands of my Father.

I’m not writing those letters anymore. I’m not spending my time cooking and cleaning (I’m not saying those things are not important – but you know where I’m coming from). Instead I’m spending my time doing things I like to do. And I love every minute of it.

I am playing the guitar, going to concerts, leaving on trips with short notice, making my own schedule, hanging out with friends (a lot), investing time in my brother’s life, learning about my parents, living an adventure.

That last one is the most important to me. I’m living this adventure of seeking God and keeping my eyes only on him. He’s been showing me crazy things and taking me to places I never imagined I would go. I am completely fulfilled in him. I don’t need anyone else and I love that.

We are not independent beings. We were created to fill a hole in our heart. But what most people don’t understand is that it can’t be filled with a guy or girl. It is to be filled by God, our creator. When hole is filled, you will know it. It’s the most fulfilling thing out there.

So I already have my partner. I’m not saying I don’t want to get married.

That is one of my greatest desires.

But it doesn’t control me.

It’s not in my hands, it’s in His.


Being Single: Are Christians Allowed To Be Sexy?

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Ruthie Dean, and she wants to ask you a question: Are Christians allowed to be sexy? How does this affect your singleness & attempt to “catch” a man? How do YOU dress? We would love to hear. You can follow Ruthie on twitter at @_ruthiedean and read her blog at RuthieDean.com. – Lauren

I think the church has misled us.

I grew up as a Georgia Peach in a conservative Christian home. I entered the 9th grade not knowing people had sex outside of marriage. Yes, true story. I heard about sex at youth group—but all I can remember is WAIT UNTIL MARRIAGE. So I made a commitment to wait until I found the one — even if he never came along. (I tied the knot this past June with a man I knew as a little girl. It was unspeakably worth the wait. Keep it up singles. You will thank yourself later.)

But as I entered college and went on mission’s trips and such, I started to notice other messages Christian groups were sending through their mandates for one piece bathing suits and for longer skirts. I didn’t walk with Christ until I was a sophomore in college, so naturally would show up to church and groups on campus my sophomore year in tank tops and short skirts–because that’s what everyone else on campus was wearing. I was pulled aside by some gracious women and some not so gracious and told to dress differently. Their reasoning? I am beautiful and don’t want to make men stumble.

I pushed back, as I tend to question everything most things I’m told. “Are you saying I can’t be beautiful? The woman’s body was created by God FOR BEAUTY—and you want me to cover it up?” And as soon as I would start dressing more modestly, I would move or join a new Christian group and have someone pull me aside for “The Modesty Talk.” It made me feel dirty and cheap, but I wasn’t sure why.

Were they wrong? Why did I feel so cheap?

Now, the older, married me has more clarity on the issue. The Bible tells us not to cause our brother to sin (1 Cor. 8:13). It is important to dress appropriately so the men around us can have a better chance of not thinking about what we look like naked. But unfortunately, many churches and church leaders have twisted these passages around to blame women for men’s lust. We all need to take responsibility for our actions and STOP BLAMING others for our sin.

What is an appropriate way to dress and act as Christian women? I believe we need balance between either extreme. I’ve seen Christians showing copious amounts of cleavage and Christian women completely forsaking their appearance (i.e. baggy jeans from 1998). Neither extreme is good, because God designed us for beauty—to please our husbands and create beauty in the world around us. We are beautiful and we are called to celebrate the beauty God has given us.

I’ve noted a general fear about sexuality because of all the problems it causes, but I want the church to do a better job of tackling issues like abuse, pornography, and sex within marriage. As women, we don’t need to be fearful of beauty. It is a gift to be treasured.

Song of Solomon references a wife dancing seductively [nude] for her husband. It references breasts and curves and other unmentionable areas. It talks about making love outdoors. I never heard these passages in church. Are the passages contradictory to the messages I’ve heard most of my life in the church?

Are Christians allowed to be sexy? What does beauty look like, dress like, act like in the single life?


The Church Needs A Different View Of Sex & Singleness

Editor’s Note: In May 2010, Leigh Kramer intentionally uprooted her life in the Chicago suburbs by moving to Nashville in an effort to live more dependently on God. She writes about life in the South, what God has been teaching her, and her ongoing quest for the perfect fried pickle. She is currently writing her first novel. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and her blog LeighKramer.com. – Lauren

I wish I was the kind of person that could get laid.

It’s been one of those weeks. I’m overloaded with emotions about several situations and I’m in need of release. And let’s be honest: exercise or a good cry is not going to cut it.

I rarely talk about sex in such stark terms. In fact, any discussion of sex, for me, is purely hypothetical.

You see, I am a rare breed. Some might even say an endangered species. I’m a 31-year-old virgin.

Rest easy. I’m not dating anyone right now, nor am I going to bed with the next guy I encounter. I’m committed to seeing my virginity through to marriage or death. Whichever comes first.

I can’t say I’m happy to be a virgin. I mean, I’m happy that I’ve been obedient, but trust me that there was a period in my life when it was more God’s protection than my will alone.

I’m not ashamed of my virgin status, but I don’t broadcast either. Most people assume that I have had sex because that is true of most women in their 30′s. Abstinence, chastity, whatever you want to call it, is no longer the norm.

I honestly never thought I’d still be single at this point in my life. I can’t help but wonder if I would have made the same choices had I known what lay ahead.

Does that shock you? It shocks me a little. We live in an age where premarital sex is accepted and often expected. It’s difficult to be countercultural when it comes to sex. There are even churches that don’t take a hard line on the matter.

Grace and forgiveness are extended to those who had premarital sex – and rightly so. Secondary virginity is an option. On the other hand, I’ve had friends that purposely had sex knowing they’d ask for forgiveness later.

Then there’s me. I love finding other ‘older’ virgins. Solidarity and all that. But also because I want to know why they waited and continue to wait. What do they do on the hard days?

Because hard days, or weeks, happen. Sex is best reserved for marriage but it’s hard being the odd woman out. I fervently hope I’ll be able to experience sex in the context of marriage someday. Now is the time to do the work of being faithful so that when I am in a relationship, regardless of my boyfriend’s sexual history, I will not falter.

I’m not alone in this. The church must start having a different conversation about sex and singleness. Here are a few suggestions of what I’d like to see.

1. Explore the framework of chastity.
Telling people to save sex for marriage is not enough when marriage isn’t a guarantee. Chastity is a way of life, looking at our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It’s not solely focused on the physical act of sex. We need to get away from “how far is too far” and move toward respecting ourselves (and our partners) as men and women made in the image of Christ.

2. Recognize that singles are sexual beings too.
What does this look like within the context of church? How can you be someone who is sexual without acting out sexually? For me, it’s appreciating who I am as a woman. I don’t need a man to affirm my femaleness, though it’s nice when it happens! I’m mostly comfortable with my body, but more importantly, I’m comfortable with who God created me to be.

3. Don’t teach that sex is a reward.
First, it’s not the best way to motivate someone toward obedience. This might also explain why many Christians marry young, only to divorce later. Marriage is about more than sex. Second, what message does that send to those who are obedient but don’t receive the ‘reward’? Have I somehow been a bad virgin? I don’t worship a God who would punish people in this way.

4. Don’t elevate marriage over singleness (or vice-versa).
The amount of people who are single, divorced, or widowed is roughly equal to those who are married in most congregations. Yet sermons tend to be directed toward those who are married and parenting. This leaves a good portion of the congregation feeling left out – and these are the unattached who continue to go to church. Many simply choose not to go anymore. We all have much to learn from each other, no matter what our stage of life.

5. Recognize that those practicing abstinence don’t have super-human self-control.
I’m not a better Christian because I’m still a virgin. I do have moments of weakness and that’s when I need accountability and support more than ever. We need people to speak into our lives – and not just about our attitude toward sex. Married folks, please support the single people in your life. Let them be a part of your family gatherings but also schedule one-on-one time as well. Single folks, identify the people in the trenches with you and continue to build those relationships. Having support in place now means you’re more likely to be ready when temptation hits.

What else would you add to this list?


Being Single: Turning Down The Perfect Man

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Therese Schwenkler. Therese writes for the young & confused at www.theunlost.com, proving that good advice doesn’t have to be boring or uncool. Her mission: to bring more & better direction to today’s mainstream. She tweets at @tschwenkler & is uber cute. Also, you should find out why she’s getting naked for 3,373 people every week. – Lauren

About a month ago, I turned down the perfect guy.

He was sweet and trustworthy and strong. He loved dogs and kids and he was ready to settle down. This guy had his stuff together.

Oh, and he was sexy, too.

But I just knew that I had to break things off.

For one, I’d met him mere weeks after my ex and I had split up, and my heart was still just as broken as my faith in love had grown to become.

For another, despite all the great things about him, I just knew he wasn’t it. For a month or two we’d had our fun, but there came a time when, for reasons I won’t detail here, I just didn’t see a future. Yes, there came a time when I knew I had to break things off.

Let me tell you – the old me never would’ve done this.

In fact, the old me has never broken up with anyone at all — not ever. Not when she knew that the relationship was wrong. Not when she was lied to. Not even when she was cheated on. You see, the old me was incapable of standing on her own. She clung to others as if her life depended on it, as if she couldn’t survive without another. This is all the old me knew.

The new me, though – the new me knew differently.

The new me remembered how I had hurt people in the past – how I had kept one guy around who I never saw a future with simply because I couldn’t stand to be alone. This was a guy who’d adored me and who would’ve done anything for me, but I could never appreciate who he was. When I was lonely, when I was bored, when I was sad, I would call up “the guy.” The rest of the time I would blow him off. At the time I didn’t realize how inconsiderate and how selfish this was. My attention was never completely there; I never treated him with the respect and consideration that each one of us deeply deserves.

The new me thought of all these things and more.

A few nights later I was out with the perfect guy, smiling as he wrapped his perfect arms around my waist. I stared up into his beautiful eyes and I just knew what had to be done. As much as I didn’t want to be alone – as much as I wanted to have him there for those lonely nights when I needed a hand to hold, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to like him “enough.” I didn’t want to keep him around just for the heck of it. He didn’t deserve that, and it wouldn’t do me any good, either. I wanted to become the new me, that person who was stronger and wiser and kinder, even if it meant hurting someone in this moment – and even if it meant being on my own.

So I told him the truth. It wasn’t an easy thing to do; I can tell you that much.

It also wasn’t an easy thing to be without him. Some nights, I felt like I needed someone to lean on. I wanted to call him up, to fall into his embrace, to hear him say he wanted me near.

But I didn’t. Instead of leaning on him, I leaned into myself. I leaned into my sadness and my fear and my loneliness. I leaned into life. I leaned into God.

A month later, it’s still hard for me to be on my own. There are still days when the sadness washes over me and when I find myself aching for the completion of another, for the comfort of a warm embrace. More than anything, I miss having somebody.

At the same time, though, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. When everything was said and done, I felt proud of the woman I was becoming – a woman who, for the first time in her life, was learning to stand on her own. A woman who was capable of treating another with the dignity and respect he deserves, and who was no longer content to keep a person around to lean on instead of to love. I came to see that only in standing on my own for a time could I be molded into that person I was meant to become, into that person who’s whole and complete and who’s deserving of the man that’s waiting patiently in my future.

In the end, being single doesn’t have to be a loathed event that’s forced upon us. It can also be a choice – a choice that we make not only to strengthen ourselves, but out of respect for another. In making this choice, and in taking the path that’s harder when we know it’s the path that is right, we are becoming better women.


Being Single: How We Waste It.

Editor’s Note: Today, Max Dubinsky (my husband!) writes on being single, and how important it is to have a healthy mentality (and reason) for being single. No matter how long it feels, singleness is a relatively short period of life for most of us – and it’s so, so important to live it fully. Max blogs at MakeItMAD.com tweets at @MaxDubinsky. – Lauren

I haven’t spent much of my life being single. But I wouldn’t call it having a girlfriend either.

“Single” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind.

It was keeping the opposite sex around to keep me comfortable. Because I thought that’s what I needed to be happy.

I needed women, in one way or another, to be content. To be satisfied with my life.

Being “single” was easy. I made the most of it. I went on all the dates I could fit into my schedule. Flirted with every woman I saw. I used pornography regularly, and I didn’t have to hide it from anyone. Being single was great. I may have been on my own, but I never had to be alone. I could be with anyone I wanted. Whenever I wanted.

Unfortunately…

You’re not making the most of being single if you’re still having sex outside of marriage.

You’re not making the most of being single if you’re using pornography.

You’re not making the most of being single if you’re fantasizing about someone else.

You’re not making the most of being single if all you can think about is finding a partner, and asking God why you DON’T have one yet.

Making the most of being single means being on your own. It’s just you and God. Being single is about discovering who you are, setting personal boundaries, knowing your likes and dislikes, your passions, and the desires of your heart.

If you don’t know these things about yourself, you’re going to date the wrong person. You will end up living a story that is unintended for you.

God will never give us anything we cannot handle. We always assume this means loss and suffering and sickness. You know, the “bad.” But sometimes God knows we aren’t ready to handle the “good” yet. Fame, fortune, and yes, even husbands and wives. His timing. Not ours.

It’s not your fault you want someone so badly. It’s natural. It’s how our hearts are wired. God made Adam. And God realized that it was NOT good for Adam to be alone. Men and women are meant to be together. We are meant to have someone to do life with. But Adam didn’t just GET Eve the moment he wanted her. Adam received Eve when God saw that Adam was ready. When God saw that it was NO LONGER good for Adam to be alone.

Are you ready? Truly ready?

The church has glamorized marriage. With all these good-looking, young couples around us marrying at 19 and 21, talking about how much sex they are having and how good it is to be married to their best friend. We want it, and we want it badly – who doesn’t?

But just like anything else, the enemy will take what is meant for good and use it to distract you from where God wants you to be.

The enemy loves that you so desperately want to be married, that you’re crying on your bedroom floor begging God for a boyfriend or girlfriend because you can’t handle being alone. That your attention is focused on finding someone to marry. He loves that you don’t think you will be happy until you find “the one.”

Because that’s right where the enemy wants you: so distracted with a desperate need for a relationship, you CANNOT live the life God has called you to while you’re single.

The way we build the Kingdom as single people is different from the way we build it within marriage.

And if all you’re praying for and thinking about is a future spouse, you’re missing the life God planned for you as a single adult. God sees His plans through to the end. He’s not going to give you “the one” until He’s completed the good work He intended to complete in you all along as an individual. It could be tomorrow, in a year, or ten.

He is a jealous God. He wants you for Himself, and he wants you to keep your life centered on Him.

Finding someone to spend the rest of your life should bring you an unbridled joy you’ve never experienced, but he or she cannot be your true source for happiness. Your future spouse–that very man or woman you fell in love with and thought could do no wrong–will fail you. This is why God needs us to practice keeping Him as our life-source before we bring another human being into the picture.

Making the most of being single is putting all your hope and trust in God. So when that person does fail you, they will never let you down. Because you’re hope is not in them to bring you happiness and a better life.

Because God is the only unfailing thing in this world.

Making the most of being single is taking the opportunity to become completely content in your relationship with Christ.

Making the most of being single is being 100% okay with being single.


Being Single: Divorced, Twice.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was written by Amanda Smith. Her wisdom and beauty is one that comes only by years of grace, pain, and throwing herself at God. Amanda blogs at AmandaSmithRunner & tweets at @runninmandy. As a sidenote, are you single and struggling? Consider becoming a mentor/mentoree & find a real, raw friendship to love you through it. – Lauren

Yes. I am divorced. Twice.

Yes. It is incredibly embarrassing to this girl who never thought she’d be divorced once.

Yes. This is a hard blog to write but it frees myself and others from shame.

I will not go into details about either union… those are private and unimportant to this unveiling.

Two Divorces. One shattered soul. Two little girls. One life to live.

I began a journey at 22 with so much love I believed I would bust at the seams. I distinctly remember thinking “I’ll never be alone again” as I walked down the aisle in my dress after our vows. But I was wrong.

One woman can never correctly determine her path alone. She is at the mercy of God, and the mercy of others, no matter how she fights against this process.

By the time I reached thirty, I was a full on co-dependent wife of an addict and even more full on worn out chick. I had my first “aha” when the alarm sounded. I sat up on the side of the bed and thought, “I’m tired. I’m physically, emotionally, and spiritually worn completely out. I cannot remember the last 5 years of my life. I’m not doing this ONE MORE DAY.”

I would love to say it was a clean process and I released the marriage with a complete lack of baggage and issues. But we all now divorce is just not that way.

I threw myself into therapy. I fought like hell. I re-discovered life, memories, and how to live alone as a single mother.

I thought I had it, but deep inside, I knew I was lying to myself. The longings for a companion were steep. They devoured my nights, they pushed to me to my lowest weight in a decade, perfection in clothing, and a need to succeed.

I met my second husband, and I AGAIN thought to myself, “Life is NOW smooth sailing. I’ve paid my dues. I’ll never have THAT kind of loss and pain again.” Thus, I sugar-coated. I did not heed the inner voice, I looked the other way. Again. Wrong.

(At this point, let me state for the record that shall be spoken, I am NOT advocating divorce in any way. I love men, and there are great men out there. I wish I had been able to live that. But my story turned out differently.)

When the second divorce occurred, something inordinately different happened. I GOT IT. I got the point of God.

No ONE can replace the relationship with HIM or YOURSELF. I was freed. I in no way handled every day with grace and understanding. I didn’t. I failed, I hurt, and I still do at times.

Driving home today, I was struck by the peaceful calm of my soul. I have NEVER been this at peace. I have never experienced a happiness to my core as I do in these days.

I thought, “Wow, God…all along you were trying to teach me my own value. My worth to you if no one else…”

It’s a weird thought for women to consider living life out alone. I get it. We love love. We love emotions. I’m the queen of that. My ex told me I’m a “super connector,” and he’s right.

Love is grand. But here’s the deal, if you are single, who said your love can only come from a romantic encounter? I’ve learned that I receive love in so many different ways. In so many different relationships. In ways that are peaceful, freeing, and fulfilling. I do not have to be completed outside of myself any longer.

Listen to me closely: Tomorrow I might have a bad day. I might have to attend a school function with the girls and wish I had a husband to go with me. BUT, in my core? I’m in love with my life.

God freed me. In a very unconventional, embarrassing, messy way, I received healing. It’s a continuous, stumbling an amazingly large amount of times, hard road, but God is the only way for me.

I’ve quit doing things I don’t want to do. I’ve quit dressing to attract men. I’ve quit raising my children according to anyone’s opinion but my own and God’s. I’ve quit dieting like a crazy person. I LISTEN to myself, and to God.

In short, I’ve relaxed into life…I’ve relaxed into me…I’ve relaxed into HIM.

I’ve found and continue to be the person I was created to be. As cliche as this is going to sound, HE is my lover. He is my peace. He is my coolness.

I am not perfect; I skip devotionals, I miss prayer times more than I make them, I fall more than I run. I eat more than I run, I lose keys and I lose my way.

But isn’t that the beauty of it? We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to be His.


Being Single: What Do I Do With This Sex Drive?

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Editor’s Note: Today, we’re asking a question we want YOU to answer, as originally asked by Kristin (@kristin_rea) on her blog Dirty Treasures. We know your sex drive doesn’t go away just because you’re single, so we all want to know – how are YOU handling it? Leave your answer for Kristin in the comments. – Lauren

It is everywhere: a unnaturally large chested, blonde girl is on a billboard next to the highway advertising a club; it’s something found in almost every movie or TV show in some capacity; attractive half-naked people are on ads for selling clothes. And naturally, sex is on our minds.

I grew up in a middle class conservative-minded home and a Southern Baptist church. I attended a fundamentalist Baptist school for twelve years. Sex was never a frequent topic.

The “s word” was never mentioned at school except in the context of adultery, and other perverted forms of sex that eventually ended up in punishment and eventual death. At church, it was talked about more, but only at True Love Waits weekend retreats, or, when sex was a big no-no. And sometimes around February when the pastor decided to do a series on Song of Solomon. At home, I wasn’t allowed to watch certain movies until I had reached a certain age. And, I was an only child so there was no one to bring “it” up around the dinner table except me, and that obviously wasn’t going to happen.

My mom took preteen me on a weekend trip where we listened to some tapes about sex. Later, I would realize that this was “the talk.” I had known for a long time boys had penises and I had some inclination about genital interaction, but still held on to the belief that babies were made by kissing. I was now informed.

Fast forward about ten years. I am now more informed about sex. I have gleaned what I know from movies, the news, conversations, etc. I am not going to claim to know a lot about sex, but for not having any, I know a lot about it.

My question is… What the hell do I do with this sex drive?!

The stereotype is that guys want sex more than girls. Well, I guess I haven’t been in a guy’s mind to know, but I’ll just say that I want sex, and I want it a lot. And no, it’s not just when I’m ovulating.

For some people this really isn’t an issue—just go get some! But for me, this is issue. I am virgin, and have the conviction to stay abstinent till he, whoever he is, “puts a ring on it.” But with this sex drive, I have had plenty of thoughts of abandoning this conviction.

What I’m trying to say is that I want to know how to have healthy sexuality when I am single and unmarried. I don’t want to know how to suppress it, but how to live within as a complete spiritual, emotional, physical, and sexual being.

I’m not blaming others for my lack of knowledge, but I wish that those who I had looked to for mentorship when I was growing up would have shared not just the “when you’re married” or “sex is bad and here’s why” info, but they would have shared what lies in between the two extremes.

Other people are giving advice how to be “healthy”: condoms, masturbation, and oral sex “because it’s not really sex.” But what does the church say about healthy sexuality? How do I as a single young woman who is trying to follow Christ, do this?

Church, we need your educated and spiritual input. We need your mentorship.

I’m raising the issue, because I am naive. And that’s kinda my point.

 

Question: How are YOU handling your sex drive, if you are looking to wait until marriage? How do you view your sexuality, and what advice to you have to offer to Kristin?

Note From Good Women Project: Please note that GWP does not support or standby all opinions represented in the comments. We are merely seeking a place to hold open, honest conversations in the safe community of women we strive to develop here.


Being Single: They’re Never Going To Like Me.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes it strikes me how incredible it is that we all have the same thoughts, the same fears. And also how powerful the words we tell ourselves are. Today’s post was written by Hilary Sherratt. She blogs at Sittin’ There On Capitol, Hil & you can shoot her an email at hilary.sherratt[at]gmail.com. – Lauren

“They’re never going to like me.” I wrote this the summer before my freshman year of college. I wrote it definitively in the strong strokes of a ballpoint pen, after a summer of chasing the dream of dating.

He had been interested for a while, it seemed. In between the haze of July and the fear of starting college in the fall, we’d had coffee once or twice. We’d kissed on a bench looking out over the ocean – right there, he had put his hands on my cheekbones and kissed me. We weren’t dating, but I was sure it would become something. That it had to become something.

He disappeared. Texts went unanswered; the facebook message thread faded, and then was deleted. The summer dissolved, and I started school with the words, “they’re never going to like me.”

And that voice was followed by this chaotic hurricane of reasons: I must not be pretty enough, skinny enough, sweet enough, funny enough. I’m too young, not young enough, too intense, too light-hearted, too poetic, and not poetic enough… I contradicted myself two or three times over while I made that list. I inked a wall around my heart.

I wanted to believe someone would fall in love with me, but the hurt lingered. Every so often that vision flashed across my mind: kissing him in front of the ocean. As I watched, he disappeared. As time slipped from fall to winter to spring, and it was harder to remember how it had happened, and I repeated the strange logic: he didn’t want me, therefore… they’re never going to like me.

Not just that boy. Every last one of them. Every single guy you meet, I told myself, will do the same thing. Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t expect them to like you. Don’t believe it, Hilary. I harbored a secret hope that someone would prove me wrong. I wanted a guy to appear and say, “you’re beautiful” or “I want to be with you” or (the most treasured in my journal pages), “I choose you.” But I buried the hope under that line, “They’re never going to like me” and I promised myself I was being realistic, that if I let the hope out of its cage it would just hurt more in the end.

And then I gave up makeup. I threw out eyeshadow and blush and mascara, and suddenly my face looked back at me bare and pale and new every morning. Suddenly I was not smudging black liner beneath my eyelids and trying to look older, or looking forlornly at my pink makeup case wondering where on earth I’d even begin. I began to smile more, to watch where my eyes crinkle in laughter and how every passing feeling etches itself in my skin.

And then I met Anne of Green Gables. I read her books with a fierce pleasure, laughed at how dramatically she ran through life, how she and I rush over fences and through storms and how we create chaos and perhaps a bit of joy, too. And – still without even noticing it – I scrubbed away the skepticism. I washed off the makeup and the cynical, disbelieving heart. I repeated, over, and over, Anne’s own words: “I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation. It’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset… almost pays for the thud.”

And so I began to hope again. I began to undo the words hidden in my journal, and all the words about unworthiness, and all the words about what would never happen. Every guy became the story of one or two guys. Because the one guy I kissed in front of the ocean is not every guy. The one guy I hoped for the summer before college, who disappeared with a piece of my heart he didn’t know he had – is one guy. And I am me, one girl, with a big smile and a hopelessly hopeful heart.

And so I’m beginning to undo the words about what could never happen and believe the new words: “I will someday stumble into love.”

Because one guy is not every guy.


Being Single: Don’t Waste The Wait

Editor’s Note: A recent grad from Lee University, Hannah Salsberry is beginning cosmetology school in January. What awesome advice she gives. Step outside of yourself for a moment & look at her suggestions with an open mind. Hannah blogs at MayHopeArise & tweets at @hannahelisabethLauren

So, we’re waiting. Waiting on the one our hearts love. And sometimes, it’s hard. Over the past year, I’ve learned so much about waiting. I’ve learned so much about viewing singleness as a blessing and not a hindrance. I’ve especially learned about proactively waiting. What does that look like? Here are a few things that it looks like in my life, and I hope it encourages you while you wait!

Read books. Marriage books. Relationship books. Literature. Poetry. Inspiration books. Anything. READ. There are so many good resources out there.

Find a Mentor. Find someone who is older than you and who can give you wisdom from “the other side.” Someone who can speak into your life and give you practical advice and encouragement during your single years, because they’ve been there themselves.

Ask questions. Ask your brothers. Ask your dad. Ask your mom. Ask your married friends. Don’t be afraid to seek people out and get knowledge from them and ask them the tough questions. You’d be surprised at how much it means to people to know that as a single girl, you value their thoughts during this season of your life (which is one of the most important ones you’ll ever be in!)

Become the right one. I know, I know, you’re probably as sick of the phrase “the One” as I am, but really. We spend all of this time expecting and wanting the right one, yet we do not spend time BECOMING the right one. Become the right one for someone. Use this time to strengthen characteristics of grace and respect and boldness and humility. Use this time to become the best version of you that you can be.

Stay confident. Confidence is attractive. We look for men who are confident, so why aren’t we? Get healthy. Try new hairstyles and make-up tips and products. Change your style if you feel like it. But whatever you do, do not wallow in self-pity. Chances are that you being single has very little do with there being something wrong with you. God’s timing is God’s timing, and it has to happen when it’s right. Don’t get so strung up on getting skinny enough or pretty enough or _______ enough. You’re enough. Be you. Be confident.

Pray. Seriously. Pray over your future. Pray for your husband. Pray for his family (which will become your family too). Pray for his friends to speak into his life. Pray for him to find mentors. Pray for his heart. And pray for your heart. Pray for your home. Pray for wisdom for your husband.

Write him letters/journal. My sophomore year of high school I started a journal to my husband. I haven’t written daily, or even monthly, over the years… But I’ve been writing prayers and dreams and things I want for our lives together. I’ve been writing frustrations, I’ve been writing about actual dreams I’ve had. I don’t know that he will ever read it word-for-word, but what a precious gift I will have to give him someday! It truly makes it “easier” too, because in my temptation to worry or be impatient, I can go back to that journal and remember that this man I’m writing to is worth it all. One of the things i’m looking forward to most on our wedding day, is giving him this journal that I’ve been writing for years!

Build relationships with girl friends. I remember having a period in my life where I for some reason didn’t think I needed girl friends. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are some things that only women understand and only women can truly help you through. I wouldn’t trade the past year and a half of growing closer to my “forever friends” for anything. They have been there on the nights I’m crying over being single, and they’ve been there to put me in my place and speak truth into my life in love. I cannot tell you how important it is to have women in your life who walk through life with you and carry your load for you when you cannot carry it for yourself.

Take advantages of opportunities. Babysit. Cook dinner for your guy friends. Write letters. Buy dinner for someone. Travel. Volunteer. Sew. Serve people in your life, especially if you know young moms. Organize. Hang out with friends. Pursue your dreams. Go back to school. Blog. Go camping. Learn new recipes. BE YOU.

What makes your heart come alive? What makes you feel fulfilled? Pour your heart into that! ENJOY it. Life is sweet and beautiful and even though waiting can be difficult, these are very, very precious moments.

You have your whole life to be married. Allow the Lord to work in you and through you. Wait for the man God has made for you, knowing that he will come into your life when the time is completely right!


Being Single: A Story About Damage & Change.

Editor’s Note: My favorite part of Good Women Project is how different every woman’s voice and story is. And how honest, how raw, and how real they are. Today’s post is by Kristin, and she shares her life with us. It is my hope that you will hear her heart in this, and learn something of yourself and of God through it. Kristin tweets at @almondflavor and you can also find her on Facebook. - Lauren

I don’t date. I can count the total number of relationships I’ve had on one hand and still have fingers left over. I have a mean loner streak and for almost three years, I’ve been single.

My relationship with God never happened. When I had my confirmation at age thirteen, I stood up and left my peers at the front of the church while the entire congregation watched. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God. I did. I just didn’t want to commit when I felt I had never met God in the church I had attended for my whole life.

As I began dating, the normal insecurities ensued. I got damaged. And without God to heal me, my bruised heart got broken in the next round. And it happened again, and again. My relationships never improved.

“Single” me in-between the relationships was awful. I was whiny, hung up on the past, and slowly lost my passion for things outside my love life. I never learned, and I never brought any wisdom to the table for the next relationship. My relationships weren’t so much commitment as an emotional addiction to give my insecurities a quick fix. Hearing a boyfriend tell me he loved me and that I was beautiful? How could I not become attached to it?

My last break-up hit me the hardest above the rest. I was finally giving God some attention at the same time I had made a real commitment to that boyfriend. When our relationship fell apart and this God I was getting to know didn’t save it when I prayed for Him to, I was not a happy camper. My very young opinion of God made Him fall short in my eyes and so I went to back to ignoring Him…and hit a very cold and lonely rock bottom.

Not only did I lose a boy I was in love with, but I lost friendships that for the first time, I really valued. I saw the emptiness of my job, and I got close and personal with a nice dose of depression. I was as single as single gets, which in my mind was synonymous with failure. But as much as I had committed to my boyfriend at the time, I had also committed to God. No matter how little of a space in your heart you’ve lent Him, He’s taking that as a cue to do some serious work in you.

And He did, through various signs in my life. But trust me, it was enough that I was listening now. This God, who sent a son to die for me knowing that I didn’t want Him anyway, still wasn’t having my bull. He wasn’t leaving, and He wasn’t calling it quits. Not only that, but He was trying to win me over by showering me with gifts that I didn’t deserve.

This crazy desperation God had for me to love Him was disconcerting and even a little weird. I had never, ever had any boy want me like that. But at that point, I was completely empty and very, very single. My non-memory foam bed had a very distinct outline of me because I never left it. I had no passion for my old hobbies, and with time to kill, I slowly began to give it to God.

And the more I focused on Him, the less I found myself thinking about my ex. The more I missed connections to life. The more I saw God show love to me (for me, this was as simple as a free surprise shot of espresso at Starbucks* on a bad morning or an unexpected loving text from a friend), the more I began to find reasons why He would love me, and those reasons I found were reasons I used to start loving myself. The more I let God in (albeit slowly), the more whole I felt.

It was work, to be sure. For someone who doesn’t commit, it was intense. I sought Him in others who had known Him for years, and I asked people about Him who knew nothing of Him. I read about Him. I talked to Him, instead of demanding things I wanted. I formed new passions. I suddenly felt a whole lot of guilt that someone I didn’t know died for me only for me to have wasted so much time trapped in a single state of mind. And just as suddenly, a whole lot of love for Him followed and I found myself happily committed.

And we flash forward to now. My life is in transition – it’s moving forward, fast. My first paragraph still stands. I don’t date, and rarely find myself feeling lonely. And my lack of five-minute crushes, my lack of quick feelings and the disappearance of my need for them worried me until I finally received a very clear insight as to why I no longer wanted to date around. For the first time, I’m not waiting on a relationship to feed my insecurities. I’m preparing for a relationship to fuel a hunger for God – a relationship with a man and God as the central line in it.

One of the biggest things I’ve done in my commitment to God is to give him my trust that He has a purpose for my life.

If there’s work to be done in and through me, I trust Him to give me a partner in crime for it or use my freedom and independence to make it happen.

For now, it’s through my independence. And now, I see “single” as an honor. It’s a nod from God that you are enough to do His work just as you are. It’s an opportunity to do work on your heart and to be better. To prepare yourself so you have so much to bring to the table when you meet your man that he barely has room to put his elbows down.

There is absolutely no shame in being single.

*By the way, Happy Pumpkin Spice Latte Month! (Commonly referred to as “September”)


Being Single: Finding Goals, Purpose & Happiness.

Editor’s Note: If you’re single & reading this, I want strongly encourage you to do exactly what Laura did in her story today…make a list of goals to accomplish before you get married. If you want, share them in the comments below! We’d love to read them. You can find Laura Hill on Twitter at @laura_doom & on Facebook here! – Lauren

I was raised in a church and family that praised getting married young, and by the time I was 21 I was the oldest unmarried female in my family. I was constantly questioned about my singleness, and I always felt behind and inadequate.

I felt that I was not being useful as a single woman, and I felt that God would not properly use me until I was a wife and mother. It was all I had ever wanted, because it was all I was ever taught that I was truly good for. This is a lie.

In 1 Corinthians 7:34 Paul speaks on the blessing of singleness; “… a single woman is concerned about the Lord’s matters. She wants to serve the Lord with both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the matters of this world. She wants to know how she can please her husband.”

By no means am I speaking anything against marriage; simply that this verse speaks that there is purpose in every season. If we are constantly looking to change where we are, to find a husband, to start a family, then we are not reaping the full benefits of NOW. We are not properly utilizing the time we have, and we are not taking advantage of all the opportunities we have. And we SHOULD be! 

I would have saved myself so much heartache if I had allowed myself to be purposefully single for the entire time that I have been single. Instead of wondering when my time was coming, or concerning myself with finding a boyfriend, I could have been allowing myself to be concerned with bettering myself, and my relationship with Jesus. I serve a purposeful, intentional God.

I spent three years in an abusive, manipulative relationship. If I had truly known myself and what to expect from a man, then I would have never been with him. It is when we are desperate that we settle. It was my impatience that caused me to go through the pain I did. There is always full healing and restoration for broken hearts, but we have to be aware of the things that happened to bring us to that place in order to protect ourselves in the future.

Impatience can be incredibly dangerous.

I’ve been single for years now, and though it gets lonely sometimes, I’ve learned that someone else cannot absolve loneliness. If I am lonely on my own, I will be lonely with someone else. It gets tough to wait because a relationship is something that I desire, but I know this season is just as purpose-full.

At first, I wasn’t happy – but what I’ve learned? That God is my comfort, my affection and my company. He loves in a completely genuine, unflawed way. He teaches me how to love like Him, and how to receive love that is real.

Yes, It’s hard to be single. I can’t just say to myself “Oh, I’m going to be happy being single now.” — and expect that to work. So, about a month and half ago I decided to make a list of all of the things that I want to achieve before I get married. I didn’t make it so I would have something to cross off and then know I could get married. I made the list so I would have things that I could focus on instead of worrying about focusing on a relationship.

Things I Want To Accomplish Before I Get Married

Get rid of at least one of my most distracting bad habits.
Read through the Bible at least once.
Write one last letter to my father, truly forgiving him.
Learn to play guitar proficiently.
Decorate my bedroom exactly how I want it, regardless of what anyone thinks, or how girly it is.
Learn to ride a bike.
Write an article on something and submit it somewhere online. It doesn’t matter if it ever does get published.
Paint something I’m actually proud of and would want to hang in a future home.
Perform in public, and accompany myself.
Learn what I really want in someone else.
Buy one expensive pair of shoes.
Get at least two more (visible) tattoos that I’m very proud of.
Write my mother a letter, thanking her for everything and letting her know exactly how much she means to me. The more unexpected the better.
Visit a big city that I’ve always wanted to see.
Go on a trip alone.
Have one day where I’m completely disconnected from technology…computers, phone, tv… anything.
 

These are things that I know will make me independently happy, that don’t take anyone else but myself, and that I know will make me proud to achieve. They are for me, and I’m the one that will get the benefit. Obviously by writing this I am achieving one of these goals, and I look forward to completing the rest.

Having goals that I know I am capable of achieving has allowed me to take charge of my singleness… to take pride in this season of my life. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”

This is my time of singleness.


Being Single: Red Flags & Being Alone

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was written by Victoria Lienemann. She blogs here and tweets at @VictoriaGraceL. She also wrote for us a few months ago on Bodies & Beauty: Made With Purpose. As a sidenote, are you single and struggling? Consider becoming a mentor/mentoree and gain a close friend to love you through it. – Lauren

As human beings, we are created with weakness. We are created to be imperfect. We are born with characteristics and traits that cause us to fail and to fall. As human beings, we have a tendency to immediately jump to the worst conclusions and lose hope quickly. I am a walking billboard for immediately losing faith when things don’t go my way.

As a Christian, I know the first thing I should do when I see a red flag in my life is pray about it. But do I? Of course not. I’m too focused on fixing things by myself, laying them out in front of me and trying to figure out where I’m going next. I constantly forget that it’s not my road. I did not build it. I did not choose this path.

When my last boyfriend broke up with me, I cried for weeks. After that break up I felt instantly like I was fighting the world by myself. I felt abandoned.

After countless failed relationships, I decided I was going to finally accept the advice older women had given me year after year since I can remember being in a relationship. I was going to take time for myself, to grow, to be single and learn about who I was. This wasn’t because I was ready to be empowered and liberated as woman, but more because I thought every man was out there to take advantage of me and break my heart.

I was so blinded by the men and mistakes in my life that I didn’t see myself for who I really was. For years, I’d looked in the mirror and saw myself as someone’s girlfriend. Someone’s lover. Someone’s future. Someone else’s something else. All I’d ever wanted in my life was to make someone happy. And I was failing miserably at that.

I took my red flags and I bundled them all up and wrote them all out.

I pondered another solution (being the stubborn woman I am) but knew in my heart there was only one. I began to pray about my new found single lifestyle. I prayed that I would find someone eventually, but for now, I prayed that I could just enjoy my life.

I prayed for strength in situations. I prayed for my heart to stop aching. I prayed for trust. I prayed. It was as simple as that. I’d received blessings before this, and I realized that I’d prayed for those. So maybe, if I prayed for God to “fix” me, He’d do that too?

Well I learned something funny in the past year or so since that break-up. God doesn’t want to “fix” you. God doesn’t want to test you. God doesn’t want you to feel lonely and abandoned. God wants to mold you. He doesn’t sit on his throne and laugh while we make mistakes; He aches for us to throw up our hands and say “I give up, go ahead, take me.” He is fully aware of how broken we are, and He doesn’t hang out on the sidelines just watching you fail. He sets a path in front of you to shape you.

When I prayed for strength, what I got in return was a new heart shaped from the old pieces. When I prayed for laughter, for happiness in my life, what I found was the sadness and disappointment fashioned into something to be grateful for. When I prayed for God to fix me, I received a foundation of qualities, morals, and values to build from. And when I prayed, I unconsciously threw up my hands and said, “I give up, go ahead. Mold me”.

When we fall, we are not supposed to stay there and lay flat while the world passes by. We dust off our hands and pick ourselves up. These characteristics, traits, weakness and imperfections we carry within ourselves are meant for a purpose. Each time you fall, you are given the strength to pick yourself up again.

Being single doesn’t mean you need to be lonely. And being single certainly doesn’t mean that you need to feel abandoned. You’re not alone and you’re not abandoned. You’re being built into a perfect creation, a woman that God wants you to be for the man and the children He is going to bless you with.

You’re single because you deserve to be alone. Not because you don’t deserve someone else to love you, but because you deserve to have time to love yourself and just yourself. Because you deserve to be the best possible version of you for everyone else in your life.

You are single because this is the time that God is going to use you the most, where you’re going to learn about what you want in life, where you’re going to learn that independence comes from inside of you. This is where God is casting your mold. This is where He is shaping your weakness into strength. This is where He is gluing the pieces of your heart together in an entirely new shape so that everyone else in your life can see the light shine through the cracks.

A year later, I am not quite the perfect mold. But I’m getting there. I will not settle, and I don’t deserve anything less than the kind of love from a man that completes me and makes me feel whole in every single way.


Being Single: Pining for Someone to Like It & Put a Ring on It

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Editor’s Note: We’re launching this month’s topic on Making The Most Of Being Single with an awesome confession by Brandi Larrick. As a sidenote, are you single and struggling? Consider becoming a mentor/mentoree and gain a close friend to love you through it. – Lauren

I’m finished making excuses for being single.

I’m not too busy for a boyfriend. I’m not focusing on my studies. I’m not focusing on my career. I’m not trying to discover who I am. Mom. . . Dad. . . You know how you ask if there are any guys at college and I say, “No, not a one.”? That’s a blatant lie. There are lots of guys. Lots of great looking, intelligent, witty men who would donate one of their kidneys to an Ethiopian orphan and nurse a sick, baby bird to health.

So, why am I single? Because I am discerning what God wants for my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fought Him on this issue. I’ve prayed that God find me a man and deliver him in time for the release of *Insert Movie Title Here*, so I’d have a date. I’ve prayed that He would send him to me before grad school, because that seemed like a swell time to tie the knot. I’ve even avoided praying and rationalized my way through giving my number to a 32-year-old, gas station attendant with a knack for being clingy whom I knew absolutely nothing about (let me just say, that did not go well). To say I’ve wanted to be single for the last few years would be quite the work of fiction.

Despite the moments I’d wished God had given me the go ahead on some guys who’d asked me out, I can genuinely say I’m glad, even thankful, He kept me stag. Why? Because I’m a dependent coward. In the past I wasn’t looking for someone to share life with. I was looking for someone to leech onto and live life through. By staying single, I had to leech onto and live through God. Without a set of broad shoulders to lean on, I learned to find strength and purpose in Christ.

This little epiphany hadn’t dawned on me until one night when I was. . . well, sort of panicking about my future. I’m graduating soon, and I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. It’s not that I didn’t have options, I did. But simply having options doesn’t calm nerves. The fact I could choose the wrong one and have a stagnant, unenjoyable life was where the panic comes into play.

So, what did I do when I couldn’t prevent my mind from wandering into the potentially dismal abyss known as my future? I genuinely, earnestly, sincerely, redundantly wished with all my might that I had a husband, so I could just go with him wherever he ventured and take care of his home. As soon as I had fully realized what my proposed solution was to my uncertainty, I felt sick.

I had completely abandoned turning to God for comfort. I’d stopped discerning God’s direction and purpose for me and started yearning for some faceless male being to drag me along, so I wouldn’t be alone.

I turned to marriage not as a means to grow closer to God and glorify Him with someone but to replace Him.

This is not my announcement that God has called me to be single ’til death. This is me saying singleness is not a death sentence.

It’s amazing what I’ve learned these past few years, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to grow like I have in my relationship with Christ while attaching myself to someone. I simply couldn’t have handled it.

I just want to make sure you never think I’m single because I’m independent and strong. I want you to know that I’m single, because I’m dependent and weak but depending on Christ.