Happily "Just ME"
I've always been so fascinated with the Art of Marriage. How 2 perfect strangers can connect on such a level that takes them from strangers to inseparable is magical. Where they once lived perfectly fine on their own, this other person is now someone that they never want to be without. Somehow "the stars align" and all the pieces just fit! It's like a beautiful dream. Okay, obviously I've seen one too many Disney movies. And as women, we grow up with these beautiful yet completely unrealistic ideas and fantasies on what our relationships will be like. Eventually many of us assume the role of a damsel in distress that is utterly lost and unhappy (even if she's not aware of it) until the moment our Prince dashes in on the white horse to rescue us from our captor.
A single woman with no children in the South in her late 20's and older is taboo. We are encouraged at a young age to find our husband as soon as we get to College. "Don't know what you're majoring in? No problem! Forget a degree, get the man!" Then when we get him we have all of these rules to follow: "Start young or your eggs will go to waste. Don't be picky. Be grateful. Don't nag or complain or you'll run him off. All men cheat so don't expect otherwise." And the list goes on and on. It wasn't until a few months ago that I realized everyone was really asking women to settle while men have the luxury of choosing their mate carefully. They can comb through dozens of women, never marry & no one bats an eye! He can be 50+, never married and considered an eligible Bachelor while a woman is considered an old maid. Tap your neighbor and ask, "HOW SWAY?" It's even worse within the confines of Christianity! Singleness in the Church is like cursing in front of the pastor.
I titled this blog "Happily 'Just Me'" because for the first time in my life I've spent the last 12 months happy, fulfilled, focused, and single. And despite everything I have accomplished this year it all diminishes to nothing in almost every conversation regardless of gender, race, or age when I pronounce that it's just me. No husband. No kids. Not even a dog. OH MY! One would think I have a death sentence. I receive sad puppy dog eyes and the shaking of the head in disapproval. Even from women! It's infuriating to think that my worth because I am a woman must be tied to my relationship with a man or how many children I have. Not how well I excel in my line of work, not even my character or how I treat people.
Some of you may be wondering why now? In everything there is a season. After taking far less than I I deserved for years I decided enough was enough. This season of singleness is definitely something I believe God mapped out for me. Because I was dating nonstop during puberty, in college, even post college, all I ended up doing was knowing a man better than I knew ME. My thoughts and time were so filled with everyone else and their wishes and wants that I never took the time to get to know myself during some of the biggest years of my life.
The past year has been a gracious yet uncomfortable, eye opening experience. I've enjoyed every minute of it. I'm watching myself grow more now that I have in the 12+ years I spent dating. Here are some things I've learned this year:
1. I am in desperate need of personal alone time with Jesus. God is our friend. He loves and cares for us. He listens. He's faithful. He holds our hands and comforts us. He wipes away our tears. He whispers goodness and mercy in our ears all day long IF we take the time to listen. H'e's beautiful. I learned to seek His face. I learned to hear His voice. I learned that He is the perfect One. I learned that God is all around me and I'd been missing Him for so long. With arms outstretched He stands there waiting, wanting and desiring us as much as we want and desire something else not knowing that all we really want is everything He already provides. He is the One that our soul longs for. That emptiness we feel inside, the thirst that never quenches, that's our Soul desperately asking for more. We were made to live and breath in Him.
2. I enjoy dating myself. Long walks in the park, movies, dinner, flowers, out of town trips. ALL THAT! I learned that anything someone else could give me in that regard, I could treat myself to. I also learned that gifts from a man didn't have to impress me. Those were the things he should do in general as a gentleman.
3. We need community! Our lives were not meant to be lived alone (Gen. 2:18). We need people to walk with us. We need friends to do life with us. We need human interaction to show us love, kindness, grace, etc. Everything that our Father also shows us. I used this time to specifically develop strong relationships with women. This has been a struggle for me since childhood. I never knew how much I really needed them until I actually did. They have been my rocks. Uplifting me when I wanted to quit or when I felt lonely. Sheltering me when nay sayers that made me doubt what God spoke to me. Reminding me of the promises of God during this season. I learned that God truly supplies all that we need. Even in the form of other people. Even if we don't want it.
4. How to secure the bag! Because I have all this free time I now have the opportunity to do something with it. Things that I couldn't do because I was so lost in love. Goals that God gave me before the man that I ignored because I would rather be tied down to him than to HIM! I've been pushing myself to go the distance. I have 2 companies working on a 3rd. I read that millionaires believe that to be financially stable we need at least 10 streams of income. I'm currently on income stream number 6!
5. What I give off is what I'll receive. I believe that though our society means well, they don't properly teach us how to be completely ourselves, how to completely love ourselves, how to know who we are or whose we are. They teach us to be the better half of someone else. Sure, better than others, but still not whole. I have to be a whole person before a whole person can find me. I've read books and blogs and attended conferences and seminars because I knew I needed help in this area. How can I know what I'm attracted to if I don't know myself? How can I not waste another 6 years of my life being bamboozled by the empty promises of one who refuses to change? The problems were always there, but why didn't I see them before it was too late? For my own sanity I needed to learn me. Now I can spot a fake a mile away. "Can I buy you a drink?" No Mr. I'm 'bout to waste your time, you may not! I can see in how a man approaches me if he's worth my 5 minutes. They can't even get through the front door.
I'm writing this for the serial dater who believes it's better to keep man hopping than to be alone with your own thoughts for more than a day. We are what we attract. We must acknowledge that there is something about us that draws a certain type of guy to us. Not all of them, but definitely if the last 4, 5, or 6 have had the same problem in common. Stop. Do the work to know yourself, to love yourself. To enjoy life to the fullest. God loves you! I'm writing to the single who is tired of watching others get their happy ending and wondering what is wrong with you. Absolutely nothing. To the single who is all about securing the bag and hasn't had a moment to look left or right checking for a man because she's so focused. I see you sis! Keep grinding. You don't need a man to complete you. You don't have to have children to be somebody. You already were one when God created you! You are no less a Princess because your Prince has not yet arrived. He's coming. Good things come to those who wait.
NOTE: I started writing this blog in my singleness in 2017 and never shared it. Although I finally let someone through the door at 19 months of singleness I did not settle. I have been happily in a relationship for almost a year now. I'm sharing my story because I believe it could help someone else now. Let me know if that someone is you below!