Love and Marriage / Relationships

All the Single Ladies: An Open Letter

Dear single friends-

I know. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I got married when I was basically a toddler and what on earth could I possibly know about being single and I should just shut up already.

Well, joke’s on you, because I have 21 years experience of being relationship-obsessed and a pink diary to prove it. In fact, during the first semester of my freshman year of college, my roommate and I made a pact to punch each other if we started getting dewy-eyed over a boy that had made eye contact with us at the library. We realized that we had been trolling around campus like creepy pre-wives, waiting for someone to open the door for us so that we could start scribbling “Mrs. Boy in the Green Shirt who Smiled at Me” in cursive all over our notebooks. It was out of control.

I can guarantee you that at least some of you went through/are going through the same sort of thing right now. Where does this crazy, raging desire to be in a relationship come from? Why on earth would we link our worth and our value to another person, particularly one who farts loudly and has armpit hair and spits in the kitchen sink?

Our Southern culture tells us that “A lady gets married”. That’s it. There’s a standing underlying assumption that if you aren’t married then there is something inherently wrong with you and you need to go into panic mode. If you grew up in church, you always talked about relationships in the context of a future marriage. There was never ever any discussion of life sans spouses. Culture was perpetuated right there in the stinky youth room. American parents don’t tend to be so obsessed with their children finding spouses, but, man oh man, it’s certainly an important parent-child issue in Asian cultures. After talking extensively with my Asian friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that many Asian mothers care about precisely two issues: 1) Are you alive? and 2) Do you have a boyfriend?

Commercials, books, TV shows, movies, magazine adds, facebook envy all tell us that we need to be married and ASAP!

I have a friend who describes chick-flicks as girl porn, because they are, in a sense. They present a false reality. The things that happen in the movies rarely happen in real life. Here’s what culture teaches us via movies about relationships:

– You can’t be happy unless you’re in one.

– Once you find a man, nothing else matters because that’s all you need.

– Once you’re happy, you’ll be happy forever.

– It’s completely normal and healthy to be consumed with the task of finding a man.

– All rejection is horrible.

Ugh, LIES! ALL LIES. Can I speak some truth to you today, dear friends?

You have been, are now, and will always be more than your marital status.

You are not defined by the people around you. Your worth and your value should never ever ever be determined by a box that you check on facebook.

Here’s why: Because the freakin’ Creator of the Universe created you and said, “She is good. She is worth my attention and my affection. She is worth saving.”

We set up these idols and we pull our identity from our jobs or our families or our appearance or our money or our relationships. When one idol topples and they will topple, there’s another to immediately take its place. Let me let you in on a little secret: None of those things will ever satisfy you. You’ll think you’ve found someone who makes you feel worthy and valued and then they’ll forget your birthday or spit in your cupholder and your world comes crashing down around you. Because those idols that you’ve built weren’t meant to be your everything.

I used to kind of hate Paul because he seemed like a grumpy curmudgeon, with his assertions that it’s better to “stay single” (See 1 Corinthians chapter 7). Actually, he just says, “Be who God called you to be” in so many words, but that “it’s better to be single” thing really rankled me because I grew up in a society that said everyone was destined for marriage.

But, now that I’m married, I get it. I GET IT, PAUL! I’m incredibly happy in my marriage. I love my husband, I’ll love our kids to death BUT…I’m also now inextricably linked to another person and soon a few other little people. If I want Thai food and Alex doesn’t, then we have to reach a decision together. I know that God wanted me to be married to Alex but I can hope that I would be fine with being single if He had called me to that too. Single people can move to China and work in a low-income hospital. Single people could go work with sex-trafficking victims in Thailand. Single people can go back to school and follow their dreams without much hindering them.

Alex isn’t my everything. He can’t be. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a Big Personality and it takes more than just one person to wrestle that personality to the ground. It’s too much pressure to pin all of your hopes and dreams and needs on one person. I tell you, they’ll crack and so will you.

Psalm 127:1 says:

Unless the Lord builds the house,

the builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the guards stand watch in vain.

Who’s building your identity and your value? Are you running around like a crazy person trying to build yourself up with other people and things or are you letting God build your house? God knows what you need. He created you.

I know that thinking this way is not easy. I know that having this perspective is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute battle. This is not a one-time decision and it might be one that you always always have to work on.

But, this is my prayer for you- that you would fully and deeply understand the depth of God’s love for you. I pray that you would understand it so completely that you have a peace that passes all understanding about whatever your current situation may be. I pray that you would cling so tightly to God’s definition of you that culture and stupid men couldn’t tear you away from the Truth that you are a beloved of the true King.

Because you are already loved, deeply and completely, my dear friends.

From your recovering, boy-crazy friend,

Beth

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