For all of my life, I have been single. I am not married, I have not dated. I have been single for these twenty-some years. Most may find this strange, especially growing up in America where the society is fixated on relationships. While this is not exclusive to America, Americans are drawn to the latest celebrity gossip. What guy is Taylor Swift writing an album about this year, or who is Harry Styles dating now (I had to look that up. I promise), or what famous celebrity couple is getting a divorce after four months of marriage. Our television shows, movies, music, and novels center around the romantic relationships between characters. Our culture is obsessed with romantic relationships. In one of my favorite television shows, The Big Bang Theory, two characters stand as archetypes on each end of the spectrum. Raj Koothrappali, for most of the show, is a single man who cannot speak to women, and yet desperately seeks to be in a relationship. His constant plight is filling this perceptual hole in his life, a search to fill the loneliness he feels within himself. On the other hand, Leonard Hofstadter, too, seeks to fill the seemingly empty void in his life. Eventually, he begins to date the woman across the hall from his apartment, but their relationship throughout the show is rocky, full of turmoil, and angst. However, the show casts the light that being in a relationship is superior to singleness. Like The Big Bang Theory, many entertainment mediums reveal something our society lacks. Contentment.
I can attest to the struggle of being content in singleness. There have been time where I have felt lonely. I, like many people, can look at the relationships of those around me and begin to covet what I think they have. Fortunately, I have not struggled with my singleness to this degree. However, I can look and reflect on my interactions with others to draw some of these conclusions. Looking at other’s relationships, whether it be dating or marriage, and wishing that we currently had what they have is a case of seeing the grass as being more green on the other side of the fence. Just because they look happy, does not mean that they are not struggling as a couple. We can easily see things at face value, especially when we look at those around us. In my high school experience, I can look back at those I knew both directly and indirectly bounce from one relationship to another. Sometimes, it was a case of a new relationship every week (how exhausting). Singleness could be compared to the plague, it was not ‘cool’ to be single. I can only look to this as a lack of contentment. We are not ever satisfied with where we are, and seek to change that by any means possible. To use the cliche (please forgive me), it is as if romantic relationships are the key to filling that preverbal hole in our hearts, in our lives. Common language may say the missing part of us, I’m looking at you Jerry Maguire, or that we are somehow incomplete without a significant other. While we can easily explore the fantasy world of ‘what if,’ but what ifs don’t get us anywhere other than a miserable expectation of a better life.
In the last year and a half to two years, I have had a change in my desires. I want to get married, I want to have a family of my own. These things, after all, are natural. God did design us in this way.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.“
So let me be clear, it is totally acceptable to want to be married, to be in a relationship. It is not okay to covet those things, however. But as I have come to learn is that I must first be content with my singleness. I have come to realize that I must seek God first. I do not have some missing part of myself that only marriage can fill. Marriage, after all, is not the finish line. It is not the end of the road. I know that I am a selfish, sinful man. I fail often, and need the Lord to correct me. In order to grow, I must be content with correction. I trust that God knows what He’s doing. I must be patient, not rushing to complete whatever I think will satisfy me in the moment. Thus, here I am. Sitting here, writing to you (hello!).
One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is this:
“Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.“
-The Four Loves
What is important to note here, at least to me, is that in any relationship we ought to be moving toward, closer to God. That common interest should be God. Marriage is a gift from God. It is sacred, it is the representation between Christ and the church. I keep my focus on God, and know that He will take care of everything. I have no need to worry. I do not worry that I will be alone forever, because I am not alone. I also have the company of many, many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, whom I have the pleasure of calling friends. I am content with where I am currently in this aspect. I am at peace, unlike society which constantly seeks the next best thing. Always buzzing with anticipation, unable to pause for a moment and take in the moment. Our culture has grown more and more accustom to instant gratification. Want to watch a movie? Netflix is instantly streaming anytime. Want to make time move a little fast? There’s multiple apps for that. We have become so accustom to this, that we become frustrated when somebody doesn’t reply to our text-messages within twenty seconds. Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue, like contentment and perseverance. Part of wanting to have a heart like that of Christ, it growing these virtues. It is not easy, especially when I can easily set these aside for ten minutes of instant gratification. However, I try to purposely practice these virtues. Like a muscle, it does not become stronger without practice. And so, before I derail my entire train of thought, I know that there is no rush, no hurry. I have learned that some of the best things require patience. I have learned that my plans are not always the same as God’s plans. So, I continue to seek to become more like Christ. I hope and pray that along the way, God will reveal this someone to me and that we may together walk side by side toward God. Until then, I will be content in all things.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!“