When Singleness Stinks

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"I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me." Psalm 57:2, NIV

Let's be honest, there are days when being single stinks.

As much as I love being single and try to eek out every ounce of joie de vivre this life station offers, there are moments when loneliness launches a surprise attack and threatens to overtake me. It comes at random moments - when I see a couple exchange a loving glance, when I'm sitting alone at church in a sea of happy families, when I'm having my 237th straight Girls Night. It's the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other syndrome that strikes when everyone at work is talking about their spouse - except me. It's that little voice in the back of my mind that occasionally whispers, "What if I never find the love of my life?"

I'm not talking about a pity party, that well-known gathering of whining, selfishness, and tunnel vision. I'm talking about the gut-level pain of a broken world - in which we were created for relationship yet not all matched up in loving pairs. God made us with a deep desire to know and be known, to love and be loved. And when those God-given desires go unmet, it hurts. We hurt.

For years, pride prevented me from confessing to the pain of singleness. It felt like admitting defeat - or at least extreme patheticness. I didn't want to get mired in self-pity or be the recipient of others' pity.

While most days I'm very content with my life, there are days when loneliness looms large - and, well, singleness rots. But what's surprised me more than these off days, is the antidote I've found most effective: honesty.

When I'm honest with myself - and refuse the urge to paste a happy face on a day or moment or situation that's anything but happy - I'm able to move forward . I remember sitting on the floor a couple years ago and crying over an ex-boyfriend. We'd broken up nearly six months prior, but when I stumbled upon a gift he'd given me when we were dating, a fresh wave of grief overcame me. I allowed myself to stop and grieve the loss of this relationship - and the overall dream of being married by that point in life. In the midst of my tears I discovered the best part about allowing myself to express these negative emotions - they get out so I can get on with life. It's nice to know there's a healthy middle ground between bottling up these feelings and getting stuck in the "oh-woe-is-me" stage.

I've also learned the value of being honest with others. A couple months back I shared with my singles Bible study a recent struggle with my singleness and how God worked in that situation. After the study was over, three different women in the group told me how much they appreciated my honesty about my struggles with singleness. They could relate. We had some wonderful conversations, and left that night feeling encouraged, understood, and not so alone.

Most importantly, I've started being honest with God. It amazes me that my simple, uneloquent prayers - "God, singleness stinks today. I feel so lonely. Please help." - are answered with such depth of understanding, compassion, and love. No, God doesn't offer human arms to hold us or eyes to gaze lovingly into ours. But when we go to him in all vulnerability and honesty and allow him to minister to our very core, he is more than enough.

Camerin Courtney
March 8, 2000

2002 Christianity Today. Used by permission.