I have been single for as long as I have breathed.
Lately I've been asking myself: How do I give thanks for something that is familiar to me as my own name?
The simple answer is that I ask God to show me the jewels, the hidden things within this familiar mess. He is the maker of the moon and the stars and of me; He knows the good in all. He can show me. But do I want Him to? That’s a real question I need to ask myself. Do I want Him to change my perspective on this status that our generation refers to as a curse? My lack of significant other is something that causes people to pity me, to question my well being, so why should I want to give thanks for it?
Culture tells me that I need to do everything I can to pursue changing the fact that I’m single. For a long, long time I believed that. I had a hidden ideology influencing the way that I think about myself because of my relationship status. I was dissatisfied with where my God has me in life because I grew up believing that happiness and singleness are not synonymous.
Today, I’m calling crap.
I decided not to date when I was in middle school. I was in a small group and we were making purity bracelets. I remember thinking about boys as I slipped each bead onto the elastic string and I realized that dating before you’re ready for marriage is pointless. At 13, I learned that dating is meant to have purpose and at 21 I’m surrounded by people that still don't believe that. People will do anything to justify what their flesh wants and what our culture tells us is true.
I would ramble on and on about my almost-dating forever. Long story short: I lead guys on and they lead me on and it was stupid. We were emotionally immature and selfish, but aren’t most teenagers?
I’m learning that being single isn’t a curse.
Last fall I had a breakdown of breakdowns because I felt so unwanted. I was single and no boy, despite my many emotional relationships, had ever told me that he wanted me. I believed so many lies about myself. I lived enslaved to my concern about what guys would think of me. I was allowing my long-term relationship status to blur the truth of who I am, the truth of who my Maker says that I am. I didn’t know how or when He would heal me but I had nothing left to hold onto aside from what God says.
And what does He say? He promises that He only has our good in mind, even if it’s hard. He tells us that He has a perfect plan. He is a God of purpose. The One who made us deeply and intimately knows us. Nothing slips past Him. He tells us that we are chosen and righteous and beautiful and able and worthy. He tells us that He loves us and promises that His love is all we need.
Let me repeat: His love is all we need. Not a boyfriend, not someone we’re “talking” to, not a spouse. Just God. Always.
So, there’s nothing wrong with being single. Who knew?
Since my graceful breakdown, I’ve accepted the challenge of searching for the beauty in the familiar. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s allowed me to see other parts of Jesus that I hadn’t before. The search has been a gift.
Being single is a gift.
I don’t know if I’ll ever experience what it feels like for a man to tell me that he loves me or wants me or has chosen me, but I’m no longer waiting for that to happen. I am confident in the plan of my Father, whether that means I will be single forever or if I will get married next year. I am no longer concerned with when my relationship status will change. There are much more important things in life.
The jewels of singleness sometimes look like coal. Sometimes the gift is being pushed to God because I don’t have a person to run to. Other times, the gift is the freedom not to care about what anyone else in the world is doing. I get to spend as much time alone as I want to (which for me is a dream). Being single means one less person to buy Christmas and birthday presents for. I don’t have to care about my morning breath (I do, but I don’t have to).
I have been single for 21 years, but I am just now learning to love it.
The truth is that our God is a God of purpose. He has protected me from the could be’s of breakups and abandonment. He has healed me from the almosts and He will lead me if it’s ever time it to change. I am not defined by my relationship status now and I won’t be if I ever get married. I am Ashton, a beloved child of God, single, married, pregnant, dead, whatever.
I am single and I love it. I am excited to continue to find the jewels, to see Jesus’ face when it sucks and when it’s perfect. I will no longer allow what culture says influence what I believe about myself.
Freedom is mine.