Singleness From The Perspective of a Professional Third-wheeler
I'm a wedding photographer. I make a living off of being a professional third-wheeler. Literally. I get paid to make people kiss.
I spend more time than most watching other people get married, but as for me, I am far, far away from hanging out at the alter (without a camera in hand that is).
And bless their souls. The elderly woman in your church who starts every new conversation with "so you must be dating someone by now" and tries to extend her sympathy and remind you that "it's okay dear, it'll be just around the corner" when you inform her there is "still" no guy. Or that family member who let's just say, quite ambitiously, is always trying to set you up with people in hopes to save you from your unfortunate case of chronic singleness. They mean well. They really do. People who love you want to see you fall in love because they think it's what's best for you. But that's part of the problem isn't it? Sometimes, it's not what's best for you.
There seems to be a real glorification of relationships in our society, especially in church culture, and if you're single, it's sometimes pre-imposed that you have to find someone to reach a certain level of wholeness and purpose. I disagree with that strongly. I don't believe relationships are math. I hate that phrase "looking for my other half". You don't need to look for your other half because you aren't a half. Well, I hope you're not. I would hope that you could enter a relationship as a whole. That's not to say that you won't have room to grow. We always will. And we are meant to grow in the company and support and unity of others. But if your motivation for pursuing another human is for them to be your only source of happiness and fulfilment, you will be putting an unfair pressure and responsibility on them that will most likely end in defeat and more emptiness than you started with.
And quite frankly, that's why I'm still single. I am still on a journey of finding my identity, my worth, and my joy. And I'll tell you, it's taken a long time of navigating my way through this aspect of my life to get to the place where I am not only no longer insecure of my current relationship status but able to embrace it with intentionality and excitement.
But before we get too deep into that, let's get one thing straight. This isn't really about singleness at all. This is about stewardship.
This is about stewarding every opportunity given at a point in time. And whether you are as single as single can be, been dating for 10 days, or married for fifteen years, how are you stewarding the opportnunities you have in the current state you are in? Because that's exactly what I believe singleness is, just like a marriage, an opportunity. And beyond that, a gift. For many, a gift with an expiration date, but no less a gift.
It is. Think of the freedom you have? The freedom you have to go anywhere, chase anything. The deep friendships you are able to form and nurture? The opportunity to find out who you are as a unique individual? Of course, all of those things can still happen within the borders of a relationship, but not in the same way. And this time should not be taken for granted, but it is. By so many of us.
To give you context into where I am personally coming from, can I let you guys in on a secret? The secret of a dream I've had since I was just a wee little one? I have always wanted to be a mother. Always. I used to keep it very hidden because I didn't think it was significant enough to be even called a dream. And for a while, I went through a phase where I completely denied it and preached "never getting married, experiences over kids, blah, blah, blah", but I think that was mostly because I was insecure about being single. That's not my problem anymore, and I have let that dream back inside of my heart to stay there for as long as it takes. I know it's a good dream to have, nothing to be ashamed of, but one that I have had to give back to the Lord. He's a better keeper of it than I have been, and I trust in His timing and will before my own.
And in the meantime, I have one call on my life that will always be a constant. To pursue a lifestyle that exemplifies the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ. For me, I think that looks like becoming fully satisfied in the Lord in the season He has me in. It looks like falling more in love with Him before anyone else. It looks like surrendering every piece of my heart to Him even if He never were to fullfill the dreams I have let Him hold for me. That can be the greatest testimony in my life. In all things, to learn to be content in Him. That's what I should be desiring firstly.
*Cue favourite passage in the Bible:
"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am in, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be hungry and to be full, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:11-13
And that's really hard and seemingly awful sometimes. Like of course I get lonely here and there. Of course my heart flutters and breaks every time I hold a baby. But if I look back on the past couple of years, I couldn't be more awed by how beautifully the Lord has orchestrated my journey. The things I have seen, witnessed, experienced, cultivated, while (weakly) running towards Him, by myself, I know would have looked very different if I were in a committed relationship. And it's been amazing to see other dreams arise as I have surrendered that long-time desire back to Him. He has brought forth other passions and paths I am pursuing whole-heartedly right now, and there is a kind of freedom I have in this moment that I may not have forever. At least not the same kind of freedom. So why wish it away?
Why spend one, single, precious, fleeting second wishing any of this away? This day, this year, I will never get back? Lord-willing, in 5, 10, 15 years down the road when there's a ring on my finger and a little babe balancing on my hip, I would just hate to look back and regret wasting even a minute wishing I was at a different place. I would want to look back and see how I embraced life fully, in all of its forms, and stewarded my time of singleness in such a way that brought glory to the Lord and drew me closer to His heart, just like I pray a marriage would do the same.
Sooooo, for all of the "single ladies" (and lads) who are feeling all sorry for themselves these Holidays, GET OVER IT. Quit your mope'n and praise the good Lord for His perfect timing. Keep on chasing Him with everything you have. It's worth it. WORTH IT. Don't underestimate the blessing and the purpose in this time. This time that could be very well behind you before you know it.