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Dearest ladies, who also happen to be single on Valentine’s Day,
Can I just say, right off the bat, that you are not merely “a single lady”? That phrase tries to mark out your identity, but it cannot do so. You are single, circumstantially. It’s a part of your life. It is not who you are.
Second, I want to say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for how the church doesn’t always quite know what to do with you, how to help you.
I’m sorry that you’ve primarily been taught about marriage as “the ideal,” when, in reality, it is not.
I’m sorry for how this ignorance & teaching tends to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on dating.
I’m sorry for how my own marriage draws me away from our friendship in new, different ways, and that I struggle to bring up anything about my marriage, because I’m afraid of how that might affect you. That’s not fair to you or to me. We need each other. In every season, we need each other.
Now, may I share a few things that I’ve learned over many years of being single on Valentine’s Day?
I spent all but about 4 months of 28 years of life before marriage, single. I went on one date in college (a blind date; 10/10 would not recommend). I lived two years overseas with zero prospects. Then, I moved to a brand new city, and hesitatingly thought about online dating, but put it off in favor of meeting someone organically—at church, at a coffee shop, wherever.
I lived by myself during that year, and it was maybe one of the most glorious times of my life. I got to know myself. I took care of myself. I spend a lot of time writing and going to yoga classes. I loved living on my own, having friends over (eventually), and making habits like going to bed at 9 PM, much to the dismay of my husband now.
But I also knew that I was 27, and that I didn’t want to be single forever. I knew I wanted to be married.
Let me tell you something that may sound too good to be true:
that does not mean that I was not content with my life.
Not wanting to be single does not automatically equate to not being content.
If nothing else in this letter speaks to you, I hope that does. Alongside that truth is the unraveling of another thing the church has taught many of us: you will not meet your husband when you “are content with your life,” nor when you “replace the desire in your heart for a husband with Jesus.”
Jesus is the husband of the Church, not of you. Your desire for a husband is a good, holy thing. God is not waiting for you to grow enough or mature enough or be content enough; you already are enough, period. Not because of how content you are, but because of who you are.
In fact, it may be a holy discontent that leads you forward in the seasons-change that dating is. It was for me. I was content in life, but not in my heart. I had this desire—falsely spoken of as a “bad” desire or a desire we shouldn’t feel—and I couldn’t shake it.
I believe he wants to give you the desires of your heart. Especially the ones you can’t shake. Maybe you aren’t meant to.
Not because you rightly complete a formula or meet the right metrics in your behavior regarding your singleness, but because he wants to.
He wants to.
Ask for what you want
That’s the most important thing about God that we need to understand: his heart towards us is good. He desires to give, lavishly, to us.
Sometimes, though, we have not because we ask not. Not always—again, don’t look for a formula here; I do not have one for you, and neither does God!
I started asking in 2018. Using my favorite prayer journal, I wrote down one single-line prayer for my future husband a month. It was very simple, not super involved; I simply wrote down the first thing that came to my mind, things like:
- who makes me laugh
- patience for both of us in falling in love
- who is understanding, kind, and compassionate
About halfway through that year, a friend helped me learn how to swipe on dating apps. I went on a handful of dates, had some very awkward experiences, and had to both endure being turned down and turning down others.
Meanwhile, I kept leaning into God. Wholeheartedly leaning. He helped me do this, by giving me pictures like him taking my heart into his hands, and by meeting me on my bedroom floor to continue to affirm that this season of singleness, for me, was finally changing.
And he only asked me to do one thing.
He did not ask me to figure it out.
He did not ask me to be more content.
He did not ask me to stop online dating and wait for divine intervention.
No, the one thing he asked me was this:
“Get your hopes up.”
Now, let me be perfectly clear: this is also the hardest thing he could’ve asked of me. I had gotten my hopes up before, and I had been left severely disappointed. Shattered, even. I didn’t want that again. But I knew it was what he was asking, and for me that meant online dating, putting myself out there, and continuing conversations even when I didn’t know if there was any future.
And I was disappointed by one guy in particular a year after I started those prayers. So much so that I quit the dating apps for a few weeks. So much so that I postponed a first date with someone that I was enjoying talking to.
But God nudged me again. “Get your hopes up.”
Three months later, I sat on my bed on my birthday and realized I was in love with that boy I refused to meet for coffee at first. Six months later, we’d go through those prayer journals and marvel at how each prayer was answered.
This may not be what God is saying to you yet, but I wonder if it is a common phrase he uses with us. Because even when you are single, there are still reasons for you to get your hopes up:
For the new job.
For the amazing open door.
For the words you have to say.
For the friends you’ve yet to make.
For the growing you are doing.
For the steps you are taking.
So that’s where I want to leave you, with those words:
Where do you need to “get your hopes up?”
Perhaps not in a season change, but in a heart shifting closer to its creator. Perhaps not for the husband of your dreams, but for the person God puts in your path, today. Perhaps not for the fulfillment of a desire, but for the gift of knowing yourself, and knowing this God who wants what is best for you.
Lastly, let me commit again to walking with you in this season. I am more than happy to talk, pray with you, and just share life with you. My home, my heart, and even my husband and cat are open for you. Always.
a girl who knows what being single on valentine’s day is like
ps: I'd love to hear the answer to that question for you. click here to email me.
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