For those of us in the stage of life in which our news feeds are teeming with engagement and birth announcements, being single can be discouraging. We’re told to “not compromise” and “work on our own walk with the Lord,” but it can be easy to grow bitter.
These are 10 ways I see myself and other single people do a disservice to ourselves and our current phase of life. These things will not magically grant you a spouse or contentedness; but they will make the load a little lighter.
1. Stop Thinking of All the (So-Called) Reasons You Are Single.
Everyone has stuff. The baggage, the insecurities, the frustrating habits you won’t notice at first. Humans don’t need help finding flaws; we are actually too good at it. But still, too often I hear the expression “this is why I’m single,” escaping from my mouth. There is actually a chance that someone in your life sees all those things—and is still interested in you in spite of them. Getting caught up in all the flaws you see in yourself is pointless because a virtuous man or woman (with their own flaws) will not reject you in light of those. Self-deprecation is not the same as humility.
2. Stop Coveting the Dating Lives of Others.
Some days I log out of Facebook and have to repent for my bitter heart. Bitterness roots itself in jealous attitudes that can easily create a life of “woe is me.” Be joyful for those around you in relationships, celebrate with them and they’ll do the same for you.
You have permission to desire, to grieve, to want, but you may not allow your life to stand still in the mire of bitterness. Every person should actively pursue a life full of rich moments. The truth is, our lives days are numbered, so breathe in and out and move forward.
3. Throw Away the Wish List.
At church camp and youth groups, many of us were told to make a list of our desired spouse’s qualities. If you don’t know what I mean think, “name it and claim it: spouse edition.”
Years after writing my own list, I revisited it and sorted the items into two categories: things that matter, and things that don’t. Things that matter are that of the eternal, inner, spirit- related nature; things that don’t are the more shallow attributes. I trashed the list and set standards instead.
4. Set Standards.
A standard is a firm precedent that is non-specific and open to God’s will. They cause us to look beyond height and haircut and directly at the substance of a man or woman—things that matter. I personally have firm standards for what type of character I look for in a man—like a passion for the Kingdom of God. That passion could come in many forms, though: intercessory prayer, revival, worship, justice or others.
5. Make Friends With the Opposite Sex.
“Men and women cannot be friends.” I’m convinced that this widespread idea is why a lot of single people label themselves as socially awkward. Due to this frame of mind, single men and women have a very tough choice; because, if you cannot be friends, your options become either to date or to politely entertain conversation until one of you walks away.
If that sounds awkward, it’s because it is—and it’s an unnecessary awkward. Not every single man or single woman is a potential spouse, you can (and should) be friends.
6. Get Over the Fear of Being Alone.
Our culture says to be alone is equivalent to being undesirable. But the truth is, there will be points you feel alone all through your life—even when you’re married. If you learn to be at peace with simply existing in a room all by yourself, you will better cope with your entire life. Healthy people do not need to constantly be affirmed as valuable via the presence of other people. You must know your value comes from the one who created you.
7. Stop Waiting for Life to Start.
This is rather embarrassing to admit, but I had an epiphany this last summer that I’ve been finding ways to fill my life until I become a wife. This was just not a suitable way to live, so I began to dream for my own life once again. I’m learning to dream about the potential of my own life. If I am going to “wait,” I’m going to at least make the days count. Think about the wildest things you could ever want to do—the things that would truly make you feel alive—and walk toward them.
8. Work on Your Own Character Development.
No addiction of a self-glorifying nature will be cured by signing a marriage license. The ugliness of your sin and selfishness will not diminish in the presence of a committed relationship—it will most likely be amplified by the comparison and accountability to your significant other.
If you’re not willing to work on breaking your bad habits and sinful attitudes while you’re single, it’s only going to get more difficult when you’re in a relationship. We must find a motivation that comes not from a desire to be more desirable, but a need to be more like Christ and live more like Him before and after wearing a wedding band.
9. Never Say Never.
Romantic comedies have destroyed the public mindset on love stories. It needs to be said that there is no right way or wrong way to meet someone. It might even start with friendship. Try living life with an openness to happiness. Go on blind dates and to weddings with friends. You don’t have to be constantly looking for love, but you also shouldn’t automatically dismiss someone based solely on your first impression. Love stories are epic because of the love found, not because of the meet cute.
10. Start Praying, Keep Praying.
Treat prayer for a future spouse as a hope mechanism rather than a desperate plea. When you have hope, you are fighting for your heart. Praying for your future someone is an act of love that is beyond understanding and it is a statement of faith. Prayer is powerful.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s about surviving or even about thriving in your single years. The most important thing in life is to begin to fight for joy and right living, which gives freedom to live enthusiastically, whether single or married.