Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All the Single Ladies

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." -Irina Dunn

I've recently come to some strong conclusions about relationships--mine, and those which I see or hear about regularly. This could be for any number of reasons. For starters, I have several friends getting married this week. I also celebrated 6 months of marriage on Sunday (along with Christmas.) And, quite frankly, this is the time of year when young, single women complain about relationships quite frequently. They do it with speed and passion, and are diligent in scorning every dating relationship they see--but not marriages, because if a couple gets married that means they're less public with how in love they are (or perhaps just less in love?), and naturally less prone to "couple-y" habits that cause such vexation in the single woman.

There are a few points I'd like to make, to ease the confusion of such women. 1, I'm going to tell you what the experts say. 2, I'm going to tell you a personal story. 3, I'm going to sympathize and criticize at the same time.

1. What the experts say.
-Many counselors would be quick to tell you that there is someone out there for you, and that you just need to keep looking. They will also tell you that your life is up to you and that if you make goals and follow your dreams then you will be successful and happy. Yeah, right.

During premarital counseling my then-fiance and I were told that the belief that there is one person out there for you is complete crap. (that's not a direct quote.) Now, this was not a crotchety old widower telling me this. This was a respectable pastor, with over 20 years of preaching under his belt and countless counseling sessions with newlyweds, very in love with his wife and not at all trying to be cynical. He was being reasonable, and accurate.

Take this quote from 'Ever After', for instance...

"Do you really think there is only one perfect mate? ... How can you be certain to find them? And if you find them, are they really the one for you, or do you only think they are? What if the person you're meant to be with never appears? Or she does, but... but you're too distracted to notice? ... Then, let's say God puts two people on earth, and they are lucky enough to find one another. But... one of them gets hit by lightning. Well, then what? Is that it? Or perchance you meet someone new
and marry again. Is that the lady you should be with? Or was it the first? When the two of them are side by side, were they both the one for you...and you just met the first one first? Or is the second one supposed to be first?" [Prince Henry]

"The one" does not exist. The Bible does not promise that every woman has a prince charming or a knight in shining armor just waiting around the corner of college graduation and your 25th birthday. There are billions of people on this earth and any number of them are compatible with each other, in any number of combinations, and you could fall in love with one or the other given the right opportunity or circumstance. If (by some horrible accident) Joey died tomorrow, I am not unhappy in the thought that, after a few (hundred) years of mourning, I would be able to love someone else. It wouldn't be the same love, it would be different because the person was different, but I don't doubt that I would be able to fall in love again.

2. A personal story. Well, two.
-I spent many of my high school years wishing for love. I did, in fact, have a boyfriend during high school. He didn't treat me well and we were still "in love" when we weren't dating. (Sounds healthy, right?) I liked having a boyfriend, but I also liked my life without a boyfriend. I believe that most of my turmoil in high school was due to depression, and not because I actually needed a boyfriend. The year and a half after said boyfriend dumped me (for the third time) I had the time of my life. I had a relapse later. But again, a boyfriend was NOT the solution. And I didn't believe it was! My desire for romance and my depression were connected, but they were not the same thing, and I was aware of that.

I was still aware of that during my second semester of college when I was dumped by a different boyfriend. I didn't handle that break up as well, for different and more damaging reasons. But after a while I found some peace about the situation, and was content in my singleness. I had four glorious, adventurous, liberating months of singleness. I had decided early in the summer that I wasn't going to think about dating.

And then I met the man that I married this last June.

3. Sympathy and criticism.
-I'm sorry that all you lovely women are without love, and that you find it to be the focus of your lives. But trust me, there is so much more to think on, to explore, to discovery. If there is a man out there whom you would be inclined to fall in love with, let him find you. Don't dwell on him, or it. It's just a waste of time. I can personally say that, as a married woman, I do sometimes miss being single. There are so many things you can do as a single woman that you can't do when you're married. Go into ministry overseas, write a novel, be yourself--discover who you are before you put your whole life into someone else. And who knows, maybe God has called you to the single life? That part is in the Bible, my friends.

Now, on another significant matter, when you discover who you are, don't give up any part of yourself for anything. We no longer live in an age of arranged marriages. If you do find the person you're going to marry, you'd better be able to express yourself in love or anger without fear. You'd better be able to follow your dreams and have him follow them with you, and follow his as well without feeling you've compromised something too important. You've got to be in everything together, and if you have to hide part of yourself or change a part of yourself to be loved and accepted, then you chose the wrong "prince."

So stop complaining. Stop whining about other people's relationships and crying about your lack of romance. Stop expecting to find it. Marriage is not a promise, it is a blessing. Ask for it, pray for it, but don't keep yourself waiting. Don't spend your life waiting for a prince/knight/doctor/lawyer that may not even exist. You are worth so much more.