This isn’t a topic that I’m given to just generally broadcasting about, but I’ve been fielding a fair amount of questions about my single status lately (at what age do people stop trying to set you up with their relatives and friends – or maybe even your own relatives (I love you, Aunt Susie, but a step-cousin is still a cousin!) – and can I hurry up and get there?), so I thought perhaps an explanation was in order.
Most of my friends and family know that I was in a serious relationship that ended early last year. And while it was a necessary ending, it was a particularly painful ending, and one that could have threatened to send me reeling into all manner of craziness. There, but for the grace of God, went I. Several amazing people stepped in and spoke grace and strength and truth and peace and comfort during those days, and I emerged stronger and more whole than I’ve ever been.
One of the more common reactions to a painful breakup is to go right back out and start dating again – preferably finding someone more handsome who has loads of money this go ‘round, right? (wink wink) Seriously, though, it happens. Folks get their hearts broken, and they think a new person can help it hurt less, so they hop right back on the crazy train. I’ve done it myself scads of times. This time, I just happened to have one very serious advantage. The thought of dating again made me physically ill. Problem solved.
But then the autumn came. And I started to wonder – am I ready? I mean, maybe I am…funny how all it takes is a little wondering and then POOF! in walks Mr. Opportunity. Or, in my case, he called and asked me to lunch.
It was, hands down, one of the very worst dates I have ever been on.
I should clarify that this man seemed perfectly nice and normal and what have you. We just did. not. click. I mean, in that painfully obvious we-aren’t-clicking-and-our-food-hasn’t-even-gotten-to-our-table-yet kind of way. I’m so glad I can laugh about it now but my mercy me. It was awful. The whole thing was a nightmare – from the getting ready to the awkward silences to the walk up the porch steps and the clumsy sideways hug and him saying, “I’ll call you soon!” and me thinking, “Really? Why would you?” and him not calling and me thinking, “How dare you not call me!” and oh. Listen.
I hate dating.
I enjoy being in a healthy relationship. I just hate that first bit where it’s all awkward and nervous and clumsy. Still, all of the awkwardness and nervousness aside, this verse from Song of Solomon just kept running through my head during the days after that date: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (Song of Solomon 8:4) I just couldn’t shake it. I began to think beyond this one date and onto the broader landscape of my life. And honestly, it just didn’t make any sense to add dating to the mix right that second. So I decided that it was no longer a question of readiness, it was a question of availability, and, for the next few months, I was not available for dating. I felt like there were already so many areas of my life where I’d been called to serve the people I love, and I needed to be singular in focus. Which meant I was choosing to be single on purpose.
It should come as no surprise that within one month, our lives were changed drastically and unforeseeably. It has absolutely nothing to do with my marital status, but it does have a very real impact on how my daughter’s life will be shaped from here forward. It’s a private matter, so give me grace for the withholding of details, but rest assured that all is well, and this can be a very good thing for her. Still, change is change, and we have needed grand amounts of space for the adjusting. I am so grateful now that I decided, back in December, to lean into my singleness and embrace it as a gift from the Lord during this period in my life. I’d always heard people say that if you are single right now, you should thank God because that is His provision for You in this moment, and His provision is always a gift. I’m not gonna lie to you, I thought that was a load of hooey. But I was younger then, and I had very different ideas about who God was and how He operated. But now…well, now I see. It was a gift. That horrible date and the ensuing charge from Solomon’s Song…a gift. A gift that freed me so I could be ready to turn on a dime when our lives changed and my daughter’s future needed my full attention. A gift that meant I wasn’t simultaneously trying to nurture a new relationship and navigate this massive new and permanent reality for me and my daughter. It was all a gift.
Someone asked me recently if I really believed, to my core, that God has a plan and is interceding on my behalf, and that it’s okay to be alone for a while until the person He provides comes along. How I loved answering that question. A thousand times yes, was my reply. My, do I ever believe that. I love answering that because I spent so long knowing that I should believe that but not quite being able to fully get there. And my choices reflected just that. But now, I’m there. And I can tell you all day long how wonderful it is to be here, and how much peace there is, but I bet you’d receive it in just about the same way as I did all those years: Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Keep talkin’, lady. There any cute single guys here?
So I will just tell you not to lose heart and not to lose hope. It truly is okay to be alone for a spell – you never know what He has in the works. At the end of the day, I remember this: my Father knows my heart, and I know that He is unfalteringly good. And He loves me. And that is enough.