Hands, fingers, and hearts

As I looked around the room at my friend’s bridal shower, I felt out-of-place. I couldn’t pinpoint why. A ton of my friends were sitting next to me on the floor and dispersed in chairs around the room; that’s not it. We were all smiling, overjoyed at our stunning friend, the bride-to-be; that’s not it, either.

And then, subtly and softly like a whisper, it came to me. I looked around the room at some of my best friends, all in their early 20’s, who are married, engaged, or in the same cul-de-sac. And then, less gently and more like a ton of bricks, it hit me a bit harder . . .

I’m single.

I’m single, and most of my friends are not single. Not only are they simply not single, they’re making lifelong commitments. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this realization, and the following pattern usually ensues:

The first question creeps into my mind — What am I doing wrong?

This question alone scares me for the way I’m wired.

Suddenly being in a relationship versus not being in one is this black-or-white, right-or-wrong game. I don’t know at what point we grow up and are trained to think this way. That we are trained to believe that singleness means loneliness or that not having a band on a certain finger is wrong. I do a lot of things wrong. I wait until I’m out of socks to do laundry. I am good at giving others grace and terrible at giving myself grace. I haven’t eaten a piece of fruit in four days, and I forgot to call my best friend back yesterday. Trust me, I’m doing plenty of things wrong right now, but I don’t think being single is one of them. Your relationship status is not “right” or “wrong”; it’s a status.

The second question then follows. If I’m not doing anything wrong, then what is wrong with me?

Now we have entered the dangerous ring of picking ourselves apart from top to bottom. My mind starts at my weird earlobes and drifts to my sarcasm. I think about how I’m probably too type A and ask too many questions, and about how the Proverbs 31 woman is infinitely more delicate and graceful.

(This all happens in about 18 seconds.)

We are in a culture that is focused around and centered on relationships and love. We are made by Love to love others, so this makes sense. We are (quite literally) designed to love people and to be relational.

There are television shows — The Bachelor and alike — that display singles in their twenties and thirties searching for the one. We’re accustomed to our friends getting engaged and married. Instead of birthday parties, we plan Bachelorette parties and bridal showers. Our conversations have switched from our favorite classes or weekend plans and revolve around bridesmaids’ dresses, color wheels, and photographers. My explore feed on Instagram has been showing me less puppies and scenic beaches, and more engagement rings and white dresses.

And honestly, that’s good. It’s arguably great. I never knew the difference between cotton and chiffon until now, and I am probably better because of it. It’s a really exciting season of life when your best friend is becoming a wife.

However, sometimes our rat race mentality kicks in, and something that should be beautiful and sacred, can become merely the next step on the list, the next check in a box.

We have to stop treating marriage like it is some end goal. If you are married or engaged right now, the Lord is using you and your relationship to bring glory to Him. If you are single right now, the Lord is using you to bring glory to Him.

Single friends who are tired of being single: God does not make mistakes. God has you here purposefully and deliberately; He has you here because this is where He wants you.  It is not by default, and it is not a last-resort option.

Friends, you are not single because you aren’t pretty enough, strong enough, or good enough. You are not the complex of “too much” yet all the while feeling like you’re not enough.

Please don’t believe the lie that you’re just killing time until you get married, and that day marks when you’ll start experiencing full life. There is a beautiful, crazy, messy, Jesus-filled life to be lived, and that’s true for each of us: with or without a band on our left ring fingers.

Please don’t believe the lie that if you’re single, you’re unloved and that if you’re in a relationship, you’re more loved.

I hope you run hard and fast after Jesus. I hope you lock your eyes on Him and sprint, and if He’s given you the desire to be a wife or a husband, a mom or a dad, I fully believe one day you will look to your right or left, and someone will be running alongside you. God finishes what He starts; He keeps His promises. That day will be full of rejoicing and excitement as He continues to write your love story, but I pray you do not wait on the starting line.

Don’t wait on the starting line because you are not in a “season of waiting” — God does not withhold Himself from you. You are not incomplete and in need of a “better half” — you already have the greatest whole.

God doesn’t give His heart in pieces; He’s given you His whole heart. In the same way that relationships, engagements, and marriages are gifts and intentional blessings from God, your singleness is an equally valued treasure.

A changed relationship status will not rid you of your insecurities or anxieties. Maybe it’ll stop the classic I’m-just-going-to-end-up-with-12-cats line or the self-deprecating jokes, but it won’t solve the greater heart issue: that being in a relationship is going to somehow validate you or suddenly abolish self-image issues or raise your confidence or break addictions or make you feel complete.

You will never be more loved than you are in this moment. Better grades, 10 pounds less, 100 more Instagram likes, a significant other . . . whatever you think will do the trick, it simply won’t. You are loved unconditionally, unfathomably, and have a love story that is being written, regardless of your relationship status — a love story that began on the cross.

Not only are you loved, you are pursued. Sometimes it’s in the quiet way the sun sets with clementine and pink hues, sometimes it’s in the way you feel His presence, sometimes it may simply be the way the wind blows subtly across your forehead when it’s warm outside. You have someone unconditionally chasing after you, asking for your attention. God doesn’t need it, He wants it. He wants you.

He sees you in the moments of scrolling through Instagram, of clicking the heart button, but faintly feeling your own heart crack a bit.

He knows the insecurity you have from never being kissed or the shame you feel from the number of people you have kissed.

Trust Him.

With every disappointment, broken dream, should’ve been and could’ve been, He is and always has been working in you.

Trust Him.

He sees your bare finger, the location that the world tells us love is noted, and He shows you holes in His hands, the location where love was born.

Please don’t seek a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship, for the sigh of relief you can breathe when you know who your +1 will be. Please stop trying to shove a square peg into a circle slot because there seems to be comfort and security there.

A man getting on one knee won’t complete you because you are already complete in Christ. The man on one knee cannot heal you, but the Man who got on the cross will.