There is a dark side to singleness.
An ugly, evil, green dark side.
Four years ago, I was preparing to move to my host country. I packed up my house, held a yard sale, boxed up what I wanted to keep, and made all of my own arrangements for what to do with my earthly possessions. I sold my car, bought my own plane ticket, booked my own pre-field training, and packed my own bags. I fundraised, explored potential job options, and made my rounds saying the big goodbyes. And I did it all alone.
I never felt so solo in my life.
At the same time, one of my best friends was also preparing her own move overseas. She was also boxing up her house, looking into international insurance plans, and learning how to juggle luggage while standing on a bathroom scale.
But she wasn’t doing it alone. Her husband and three kids were joining her every step of the way.
And from the outside looking in, I felt green with envy.
Why can’t I have someone to do this with, Lord? Doing brave things alone has to be one of the hardest things you ever ask people to do. What is up with you giving my friend companionship but asking me to ride this out solo? Where’s the fairness in that?
The good thing about God is that He’s not taken back by our honest questions. Another good thing about God is that He always gives us a way out of “stuck” spots, if we’re willing to take it.
One day, I was together with my friend and we were discussing the ups and downs of the season of transition we were in. She shared with me how she feels stretched thin, walking with her husband through the hard things he’s facing with this impending move, learning the needs of her 3-year old, her 2-year old, even her infant daughter, and having to do all of this in a sleep-deprived body. She didn’t pour this out as a pity-party, but rather as an honest confession of what it’s like to do transition as a wife and a young mom.
It was so good for me to hear that. She didn’t have it nearly as easy as my jealousy-ridden story line had constructed.
Listen, ladies. I’m in it with you. I know how hard it is to carry the alone reality. It seems we have two polar opposite paths to choose: grin and bear it, pretending to be wonder-woman, or hang our heads in deep self-pity for how hard it is to walk solo.
It can feed an attitude that says that we have the trump card on loneliness and hard. It can skew our perspective even on the Apostle Paul’s reminder that singleness is better because we have more time for God’s work (1 Corinthians 7:32) and turn even that into a pity-party (see, I always have to be the martyr).
We’ve got to cut the hand of the green monster who feeds us those kinds of lies.
Lies that say our lot in life is the hardest. Lies that say we have reason to become bitter and demanding. Lies that lead us to believe we don’t matter.
About a year after our arrivals on the field, my young mom friend and I were FaceTiming, sharing stories of lives in our new respective homes and catching up on what we’ve been through. She honestly shared how hard the year had been, feeling so busy with keeping her children in a secure place that she felt isolated from so much of the work they had come to do. The few meaningful relationships she had been able to establish were those who were able to come into her home.
Again, I was struck with how good it is to walk close to people in different seasons of life. While my year had also not been easy, after twelve months of heavy investment in my job and community, I now had a number of relationships that were giving back to me. Maybe what the Apostle Paul was saying about having more time for the work of the Lord is not only something that benefits the kingdom, but something that is an enormous blessing to me in the here and now as well.
Let’s lay aside our desire to slam the trump card of singleness on top of every conversation about loneliness. That doesn’t mean pretending the lonely isn’t there; it means not using the lonely as a weapon to defend our kingdom of self.
It means laying aside the stones we want to throw and staying current with people in other stages who are doing hard things, too.
Singleness is hard. It’s lonely. It’s long. But don’t let the lonely and the long turn you green. Don’t let it isolate you from others who have what you want, because maybe, just maybe, they’re dealing with their own lonely and long.
What if we could then join forces and walk together? It might still be long, but it would sure help the lonely dissipate.
Stay strong, sisters. And stay soft. Jesus is near.
How do you find the balance between being honest about the lonely and not using it as an unhealthy way of garnering pity?