Being single is a struggle sometimes. Of course being married is its own struggle. Just being a human being is hard and rife with unexpected circumstances no matter what your relationship status is on Facebook.
But because I haven't dealt with the struggle of being married, I can only talk about what it's like to be single.
I've written about a lot of personal things. But one of the things I haven't written about much is my first romantic relationship. Partially because for a while I was too emotional to be fair in writing about it and I respect the guy I dated too much to trash talk him on the Internet; in ten years when I'm a super famous author, I don't want people to troll him. I'm joking but the INTERNET IS FOREVER, PEOPLE. Also, I haven't told my story publicly because it wasn't just my story to tell, but if my story of being single is gonna make any sense, you're gonna need a little background info.
Aside from a guy I wouldn't even let drive me to prom my senior year, I didn't date anyone at all til I was a freshman in college. Then when I was 18, a sophomore began pursuing me hard. In my mind, the beginning of our relationship was chick flick level perfect. It was equal parts cheesy and sweet and I loved it. If you were at MCC between Fall 2011 and Spring 2012, you most likely saw us sitting on a swing multiple times. We were smitten. It wasn't long before we were talking marriage. I don't mean in the abstract "make sure you're both on the same page" way. I mean we had our lives planned out. We talked baby names and where we would live. I had the next 50-70 years mapped out and I loved it.
But we weren't ready for a serious commitment like that so things went south and the relationship ended. I was devastated. But life went on and I adjusted to being single again.
At first, all I wanted was to go back to the first relationship. Then I wanted to be loved and adored by someone new. Thinking back, I was getting obsessed with the idea of being in a relationship. I still had standards, but I was no longer ok with being single. However, as time passed and I got used to being comfortable alone, I got so sick of hearing myself and others lament their lack of romantic partners. I was convinced that viewing being single as a curse was wrong and not biblical. So I took to heart Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 7 about how it's better to be unattached. I even read the passage multiple times a day when I was feeling especially discontent. And gradually I became content with being single. To further convince myself and others, I arrogantly preached to anyone who I thought needed to hear it how God didn't promise us spouses and being single isn't some curse.
Both of those statements are so true, and while I don't retract my statements, I do apologize for the spirit they were said and thought in. God didn't call me to be a beacon for single girls everywhere. That's someone else's job and may she fill her role with the grace, love and softness I abandoned.
Because strength doesn't lie in bravado or assurance. It lies in gentleness and quiet perseverance. It's the ability to keep going and stay compassionate and not let life make you hard.
No, Jesus didn't call me to singleness and he's recently revealed that to me. He very firmly told me "Jackie, you've preached singleness for so long but I made you for marriage. I made you for nurturing."
Which was kind of jarring to hear. My first thought was something along the lines of "What do you mean I'm made for marriage? Why have I worked so hard to be ok alone for the past few years if you didn't want me to be alone forever?" I don't really know the answer to that question except that I am alone now and I might still be alone during my life. Because I don't know whether I am made for marriage with a man on earth or to be a part of the Bride of Christ and lovingly serve through the church. Maybe I will nurture children of my own or maybe I will give my love and time to other people's kids. But as a Christian, I'm not called to be know everything; I am called to be faithful and that's what I'm trying to do.
For a while I needed to learn how to be independent and comfortable on my own but I've learned that lesson. Now it's time to work in cultivating the qualities of a biblical wife. I'm not discontent in my singleness but I am seeking the Lord daily and preparing to be a helpmeet and learning about submission and gentleness. I'm kind of excited about it. I've got this new challenge in my life and I'm learning more about the different ways to glorify God with my life. It's a struggle every step of the way and it's hard but I'm going to keep trying and relying on his strength and grace til He sends me the unexpected, life shaking challenge. Til then, y'all.