A Non-Review Book Review of Party of One

My complicated relationship with singleness has been well documented on this blog. There is the singleness itself, and all of its complexities and emotions, but bigger than the singleness is a deep sense that life has not gone according to my plan, and I can’t figure out God’s reason for that. While this has played itself out most starkly in my life in the area of singleness, at its core, it’s a tension we all feel–all has not gone as we thought it would in our lives, and we’re not sure why. Sometimes surprises turn out better than we had hoped or dreamed, but often we feel the unplanned nature of our lives most acutely when what we wanted to be good turned out otherwise.

In her new book Party of One: Truth, Longing, and The Subtle Art of Singleness*, Joy Beth Smith writes:

It’s hard to live in this tension of desperately wanting something and never knowing when or if it will come. We need to actively cling to promises that are in Scripture: promises that God will never leave us, promises of his control in all things, promises of his goodness, promises that the trials of this world pale in comparison to the glory of what is to come. These are sure things. (page 13)

It’s tempting to think if we work hard and do all the right things we may be able to get ourselves where we want to be, and in certain situations, that may be true. But it’s certainly not always true. Then we have to face down what we really believe about God, and ask ourselves, how do we honor God well wherever we are? How do we honor God in the city we live in, the relationships (romantic or otherwise) we’re a part of, the workplace we go to–even if we didn’t expect or hope to be there?

I’m still figuring out how to do this well in my singleness. Being unmarried and childless at nearly 28 was definitely not what I expected for my life, and yet I find myself here, gainfully employed, a homeowner, deeply grateful for the wonderful family and friends I have, and trying to steward what I have been given for the glory of God–all while trying to remain deeply hopeful that someday (preferably soon) my deep desire for a husband and children will be fulfilled.

7

But I have to recognize that God’s goodness doesn’t depend on whether or not that happens. As Joy Beth writes:

The success story here isn’t the girl who wants to be married, and suddenly at age forty, as she follows all the advice she’s ever been given, the stars align, she reaches a point of freakish contentment; then God deems it the right time, and suddenly she’s married, rewarded for her years of faithfulness. Success in this world is the woman who lives her whole life longing for marriage, remains single, and dies more convinced than ever that God is good, with “Glory, glory, hallelujah” as the last words on her lips. (page 155)

For me, at this point in life, it’s singleness that makes me question God’s goodness. But it may also be illness, or divorce, or childlessness, or homelessness, or so many other things. We are so quick to say “I’m blessed” when thing are working out the way we want them to, but what we often fail to recognize is that we are no less blessed when things are difficult than when they are easy. God never promised he would give us everything we’ve ever wanted simply because we want it; he’s promised to be with us whether we get those things or not.

Til next time…

~Brianna

P.s. I’ve been privileged to be a part of the launch team for Joy Beth’s book, which itself has been such a joy, and the book is as well. If you are single, you care about single people, or you’ve ever met or talked to a single person (aka, everyone), it’s a book I highly recommend.

How Harry Potter Helps Me Understand the Bible

*Note: This post contains mild spoilers for the Harry Potter series.

One Saturday night, I watched the last Harry Potter movie. On Sunday morning, I went to church. These two activities seemingly don’t have much in common, but I was surprised by the way my viewing of Harry Potter informed the way I heard the message in church that day.

King Herod is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, though we never get a lot of background information on him. Other sources have recorded his often-brutal ways, such as killing his wife and two of his sons, and ordering a large group of people to be killed when he died so there would be what he deemed an appropriate level of mourning (his son did not carry out this wish, however). A ruler like him may have instilled fear and worry in people, never knowing what he might do next–or who might find themselves in trouble next. All of this backstory doesn’t come through in the few verses I read about him in the Bible though, so it’s easy for me to skim over it. Sure, King Herod wasn’t great, and then I’m on to the next piece of the story.

20180118_202404

In the Harry Potter series though, there are seven books (or eight movies) detailing the life of Harry and the back-and-forth struggle in the magical world between Harry and the other “good people” and evil Lord Voldemort and his followers. As the series goes on, the worry and fear over Voldemort’s power and sinister ways grow and grow, culminating in book seven, when all hope seems like it may be lost. Society in the magical world is in chaos, with many people on the run for fear of being caught as part of the small remaining group who opposes Voldemort and his tactics.

Comparing King Herod to Voldemort is by no means perfect, but there are certainly similarities. They were both very powerful, had morally questionable methods of getting what they wanted, and squashed those who tried to stand against them. The main difference, of course, is that one is a historical figure who we can verify actually lived in a real time and place, and one is a fictional character who lives in the world of pages and screens.

But their similarities are why stories, even made up ones, matter. At their best, they help us better understand our actual, day-to-day lives in new ways, and give us a deeper grasp of other stories we encounter, be they in the Bible, from a friend, or in a movie. When I experience a story in a long format, getting to know the various characters and their actions, I can develop a fuller understanding of who they are, why they do what they do, and what their world is really like.

When I read the Bible, there are many instances where entire years go by in the matter of a few words or verses. It’s hard for me to fully comprehend what actually took place in that time frame and to put myself in the place of the people who experienced it, because I don’t have very much information. Other stories give me the words and ideas to better understand the fear or joy or despair Bible characters may have felt, even if the text doesn’t directly tell me what it was like for them. As I listened to my pastor talk about what life may have been like for people living under King Herod’s reign, I imagined the same kinds of feelings characters may have felt at the end of the Harry Potter series when Voldemort was in control, and it gave me a new and different view of the story.

While I don’t read and study stories like Harry Potter the same way I read and study the Bible, there’s a beautiful value in being able to take the kind of learning I get from one and letting it inform how I learn from another.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What are the stories that have helped you understand life differently?

Looking Back for Thankfulness

Last year at this time, I was not feeling overly thankful. A variety of situations, most of them entirely out of my control, had spiraled me into a place of frustration and discontent. Looking back at my journal from that time, the resounding theme was, “I don’t know what to do.” Getting out of that place required difficult and what proved to be wise yet un-fun decisions, combined with the simple but irritating solution of time.

 

photo-1452251889946-8ff5ea7b27ab

Photo Credit: Andy Chilton

Comparing our past with our present can be a dangerous game, because things don’t always turn out to be greener on the other side, and while memory lane is a nice place to visit, it’s an impossible place to live. This year though, looking back is giving me a fresh perspective on my reasons to be thankful. It’s both a general and specific thankfulness–I’m thankful life is going better than it was last fall, though much of that isn’t my own doing so much as the circumstances around me happen to different. And specifically, I am so thankful to have a place of my own to call home, a place I chose, I bought, and that I will get to decide when and if I move out of it. After the past few years of moving frequently, it feels like an immense gift to know next fall, unless something really goes haywire, I will still be living in the same place. It’s beginning to feel like real home, and to know I get to continue to build that sense there is deeply, profoundly comforting.

While much of my thankfulness stems from an upturn in life circumstances, there is a spiritual component to it as well. For an undetermined amount of time, I’ve felt an uneasy distance and strangeness in my faith. Though I’ve come to see it as a natural part of being in any sort of long-term relationship, I’ve never welcomed it or been particularly at peace with it. Maybe the season is beginning to change in my relationship with God, or maybe I’ve grown used to this place enough that it doesn’t bother me anymore, but it doesn’t concern me like it used to. It’s not a giving up, walking-away-from-faith kind of change. Instead it’s a peace, however still unsettled, with not fully understanding how the ebb and flow of a relationship with an unseen God works.

None of this is permanent, none of it is guaranteed to be the same (or even better) next year, and there are still plans and hopes I have for life that haven’t shown as much of a glimmer of turning out like I thought they would. Those things don’t go away, but I can choose to not let them detract from this, here, this place and time where I am thankful for what is instead of so caught up in what could be. 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What has looking back made you thankful for?

Good Christian Guilt

Following Jesus is, in theory, quite simple. Except for all the times that it’s not.

Growing up in a Christian environment has been both a deep gift and a multilayered complexity. When kids are taught about what it means to follow Jesus, it’s essentially boiled down to the good characteristics people who call themselves Christians should have. None of this is, at its core, a bad thing–nuance has to be introduced at some point, but most kids wouldn’t have the capacity for it at young ages. At some point though, all the “shoulds” of following Jesus start to get complicated.

27033676242_cb95276cfc_z

Photo Credit: Flickr User Volker Stetter, Creative Commons

Recently, a new group was starting up at my church. They were going to read and discuss a book I own and have been meaning to read for quite some time. As I thought about my fall though, I realized adding one more activity, even one as good as reading a book that would likely challenge and inspire me, would not be wise for me right now. And as I realized that, I had a twinge of guilt over not being able to participate.

Fortunately, I later came to my senses about how absurd it is to feel guilty about not being able to join another group at church.

But there are other areas of the Christian life where I have, and do, feel guilt, and it is these complicated spaces that I struggle with. For example, I believe there’s nothing humans can do to earn God’s grace in all its various forms–whether it’s the grace that saves us, the grace that loves us, the grace that holds us–all of it is, and must be, completely free. Otherwise it wouldn’t be grace at all.

However, I also believe that if I say I follow Jesus, that should manifest itself in my life in daily, tangible ways. The way I treat people, the way I do (or don’t) use my resources of time and money, the way I make decisions, and all the other pieces that make up a life–all of those should be absolutely saturated with and informed by my faith. All over the place in the Bible there are mentions of serving others, of gathering in community with fellow believers, of praying, and so many other good actions that demonstrate thankfulness for what God has done in our lives and our desire to share that with others. None of these actions, on their own, have the power to save. But we’re supposed to do them, as long as our intentions are right.

And therein lies the difficulty. It’s easy to say things about living in God’s love and letting our actions be an outflow of that, but it gets very messy in the conflicting motivations of life in the real world. Where do we find the balance between living from a place of knowing we can never earn God’s love, yet following his words about praying and serving and being generous and all the other wonderful actions the Bible tells us to take part in? Is signing up for a service project because my friends did still a good action? Is giving to a good cause still good if it’s out of guilt because you haven’t given to anything else that month? Is it even possible to be a “good Christian?”

A simple definition of guilt from Dictionary.com is, “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong,etc., whether real or imagined.” Even the definition gets complicated though–the feeling of guilt doesn’t always correlate to an actual offense, but there are times when guilt is a legitimate, even necessary response. When I know I’ve done something wrong, I should feel a sense of remorse about it. That doesn’t mean I have to forever dwell in that feeling of guilt, but allowing myself to feel it allows the severity of my actions to sink in, hopefully so that I’ll learn from them. 

Yet I don’t think we’re supposed to live in a constant state of feeling guilty about all the things we could, or even should, be doing for God. That level of guilt would be crippling. It would be too far to say that doing things out of guilt negates the good of those actions, but it does forget the true purpose of those actions. None of it is supposed to be about us and how we feel, and all of it is supposed to to be a response to God.

Again though, “a response to God” is one of those Christian-y phrases that sounds really nice but is crazy difficult, arguably impossible, to truly implement. But I’m beginning to hope that God honors the process. Our motivations may always be a little off-kilter and with a few blemishes, but God already knows that. Since the beginning of time he’s been using imperfect people and their mixed-up motivations to accomplish his work, and I have to trust he’ll continue to do so–even through me.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How do you live in the tension between guilt and grace?

3 Reasons the Olympics Rock

I’ve never been into sports. Even as a kid when nearly everyone at my school was playing at least one of the school sports, I was not–nor did I particularly mind that I wasn’t. But every two years or so, for a couple of weeks I become obsessed with sports. Wish-I-had-cancelled-all-nonessential-activities-for-the-entire-duration level obsessed. There is something about the Olympics that captivates me in a way unlike anything else.

 

Olympics.jpg

Photo Credit: Agberto Guimaraes

First of all, there’s the togetherness of the Olympics. So many countries and people groups represented, all united around the common goal of pursuing sports–whether it’s participating themselves or watching. International competitions happen on a regular basis, but for the Olympics, everyone pulls out all the stops. TV networks dedicate days and days of programming to it, fans come from nearly all the countries in the world (having never attended the Olympics, I can’t personally vouch for this, but I imagine it’s likely to be true), and an entire city gets taken over by it. Even for those people who don’t travel to be a part of the event, we feel a part of something as we watch on our screens, discuss it over lunch, and gasp over it via social media. For both the lovers and the haters of the Olympics, there is a kind of bond, a unity all its own.

Second, there’s the dedication. I consider myself to be a fairly loyal person, and I’m dedicated to certain things, but I cannot even fathom dedicating my entire life and livelihood to a sport like many athletes do. While there’s a piece of me that thinks they’re a little over the top about the whole thing, there’s another piece of me that deeply admires the kind of dedication it takes to focus so much time, energy, and physical strength on one activity the way Olympians do. Training years for perhaps a 10-second run requires a single-minded focus I would do well to carry into aspects of my own life.

Third, there’s the sheer thrill. Swimming gets at this the most for me–the races won and lost with mere hundredths of a second making the difference, or sometimes even dead ties–but other sports certainly have it too. The nail-biting anxiety of waiting to see how the other athletes will perform and how the judges will award certain elements of a routine, the unadulterated joy on the face of an unexpected champion, the beauty of athletes so in control of their bodies in a way that seems almost impossible. There’s also the magnificent complexity of an event as large as the Olympics actually taking place–all the coordination, the travel, the scheduling it takes to pull off such a feat.

There are downsides to all of this too, of course. Togetherness, dedication, and thrill all have their flip sides of discord, addiction, disaster, and more, all of which run rampant at the Olympics. Steroids, corruption, violence, cheating, overly inflated egos–the list could go on and on. Yet I don’t think it would be possible to have an event like the Olympics that’s completely free of all these unfortunate realities, and their existence doesn’t outweigh the many positive attributes.

 
So for the next week, unless I have a prior commitment, I can likely be found on my couch, watching the Olympics. Yes, I will cheer too loudly at athletes who are on another continent, I will talk too emphatically about people I’ve never met but feel as though as I know, and yes, I will cry over the inspirational stories and the underdog athletes no one thought would win. And in two years, I will do it all again.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What do you like about the Olympics?

One Reason Being Single is Hard

For all its freedoms (and they are true and they are lovely), there are times when being single is not my favorite. While I’m a firm believer, though not always a good practitioner, of the idea that being alone does not have to equal being lonely, there are times when certain kinds of loneliness feel more pronounced.

mountain.jpg

Photo Credit: Levi Price

Lately, one of the larger difficulties of being single is not having one specific person. One person to take all of my stories and troubles and joys to, and in turn, not being that person for someone else. It’s not that I have no one–many times recently I have been thinking of, and rejoicing over, the abundance of good, deep, meaningful relationships I have in my life–yet for all they bring to my life, there is a particular kind of with-ness they do, and will always, lack. It’s the with-ness of having one particular person who has vowed to keep showing up even when it’s hard, to keep hearing the same stories even when they’ve heard them all before, to keep caring about the little things that matter to me even when they’d rather watch TV.

All of these wonderful qualities are ones that can be found in family and friends, and again, it’s not that I don’t have those. But it’s too much to ask just one of those people to be my go-to for all of life’s complexities. Burdens are better when they’re shared, and I know I would become an unhealthy mess of a person if I didn’t vent and talk things through with other people.

Yet for single people, I think that sharing burdens can be more difficult than for those in a relationship–not having one constant person means we have to spread them around a bit. One friend might be our person to talk to about frustrations at work, a different friend for talking about the lows and highs of singleness, and another friend for talking about the complicated mess of trying to be an adult. There’s a beauty in this, of having enough good, solid relationships where this is even possible–but there are unavoidable complications to it as well, and an ache of wanting to not need to remember who I talk to about which things, because there’s one person I can talk to about all of it.

Some of this might be “naive single person wishes,” and I realize that. Should I ever get married, I truly hope and intend to maintain other healthy relationships besides that one specific one. There will always be certain situations that specific people will understand better than others, because of shared history or experiences or simply because of who they are. I also realize that, along with having one person for all my stories, I would then become someone’s one person as well–there is immense weight and responsibility in that, which I hope I don’t take lightly.

Still, there are times when, and reasons why, being single is just plain hard. There’s a certain dimension of these qualities that cannot be met in the same way through family and friends, no matter how wonderful they are. I have a good life and am reasonably content much of the time, but I have no neat and tidy resolution to these thoughts. It’s simply the way things are right now, and will continue to be at times. It’s mostly okay, but it is also, deeply and truly, kind of hard.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What’s a reason being single is hard for you?

Christian Baggage

Growing up in a Christian community is simultaneously a wonderful gift and an odd kind of difficulty. I don’t know what it is to not know about God, to not go through the practices of prayer and devotions and church, to not be taught all the stories of the Bible alongside English and math and science. For me, they were all commonplace, the usual, simply the way of life. There is certainly a grace in my kind of upbringing, even while recognizing other’s experiences have graces all their own.

backpack

Photo Credit: Mayra Carreno

At the same time, approaching Christian faith as a school subject taught me to read the Bible in an academic way, poring over it for answers to fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice questions and essay topics. There is much value in the ability to read the Bible closely and study it thoroughly, but there’s also a subtle danger. For as much as the Bible is to be studied, it also meant to be experienced and lived. Aspects of my schooling tried to incorporate that crucial element, but there is only so much that can be done in a school setting and with students who are there, primarily, not through their own choosing but through their parents’. Only recently have I begun to notice the baggage I carry with me as a result of growing up in such settings. It’s not any weightier or more profound kind of baggage than many other people who grew up very differently than I did carry, but it exists all the same.

In my current phase of life, this plays itself out in the ways of faith formation I am and am not drawn to. The kind of writing that ties up difficult sections of the Bible with neat little bows and a “The Bible said it, that’s the end” mentality makes me break out in hives. There are so many ways to interpret the Bible, and I am increasingly less confident that there is one way that is the only way. Certain kinds of Bible studies, the ones that require lots of fill-in-the-blanks and copying down answers straight from a Bible passage, make me want to run away. I filled out many Bible worksheets as a child, and while I absolutely believe they have value and can be a helpful guide, they are the exact opposite for me at this point. Any idea that memorizing Bible verses or working down a “spirituality checklist” is a magical gateway to getting closer to God makes me nauseous. Knowing the Bible is so important, but there are other ways of knowing it that better meet me where I’m at today.

As I’ve been noticing some of the Christian baggage I carry, it’s tempting to feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be looking for any way to work on my relationship with God, through any means? On some level that’s true, and I want to be faithful to the practices that help facilitate that possibility, recognizing some form of these are vital to the Christian life. But I’m also a firm believer in the idea that we experience seasons in all areas of life, be they physical, emotional, spiritual, or anything else. Being taught the Bible as though it was another school subject was good for me in many ways, but just because it was good for me then doesn’t mean it’s good for me right now–or that it won’t be good for me again at some point down the road.

What to do with baggage is a complicated question. For now, I think it’s enough to begin to see my baggage for what it is and to recognize the ways it does and will continue to shape the way I approach my faith, while also appreciating that other’s journeys look different than mine. And to know that my own trek is, in many ways, just beginning.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How have you dealt with any baggage from the faith background you were or weren’t raised in?

Another Tragedy? Don’t Look Away

They happen with alarming, heartbreaking frequency. Shootings. Kidnappings. Bombings. The kinds of tragedies that take over all the news outlets across the country, or even the world.

And I hate that they’ve become so commonplace that I rarely even gasp when I find out about another one. And instead of “How tragic” being my first thought, it’s, “Another one?”

news

Photo Credit: Matt Popovich

Which is, of course, part of the problem. The frequency of the tragedies has made us lose our heartache over them, because how do we hold so much devastation? Our numbness makes us forget, though: To many people, this is not just another tragedy. This is the loss of a sibling, a best friend, a child, a coworker, a significant other, a barista or server or hairstylist. For so many people, they do not have the option to look away from the tragedy, because it is staring them down. A new, shattering, reality is facing them–a reality that holds an emptiness they never expected, and certainly not in such a way. No one wants their fifteen minutes of fame to come like this.

It is so tempting, so easy, to click away or change the channel or ignore the newspaper when we see yet another story. Why did it happen? What caused it? How could it have been stopped?

There are the other stories though too–the stories of the people who are living the news. They can’t click away, change the channel, ignore the newspaper. The news is simply a reminder of what they already know, because it has become their world.

For all the very real sadness we may feel, theirs is so much deeper, so much wider, so much more all-encompassing than ours, and they are not given the option to escape it like we are. They will live with it every day for the rest of their lives.

In the face of yet another shooting, it can be hard to know what to do. Saying a prayer, sending money, and attending a vigil may all be appropriate responses, but I’d suggest we also have the awful privilege and responsibility to not look away. We, who are far enough removed to have the choice to overlook what’s happening, must make the active choice to look directly at it. Listen to the stories about the people whose lives have been needlessly cut short and the people who must find a way to make sense of a senseless act and find life beyond it. Choose to see the humanity and beauty of each person involved in and affected by dark acts committed by people with a terribly warped view of how the world should work. Don’t run away from the news even though we have that choice.

Because the reality is, the news stories we read today could become part of our own stories tomorrow. It is tempting to think such things could never happen to us, but that’s exactly what every person involved in any shooting thinks. Malls, churches, movie theatres–simple places we frequent regularly, and all impossible to keep absolutely free from people who wish to do others harm.We don’t need to live in constant fear, but we can’t live in ignorance either. Should our own stories ever become marked by the kinds of tragedies that make the news, wouldn’t we want others to read the stories of the people we loved? To catch glimpses of who they really were and why they mattered? To see our world-shattering tragedy as something more than a headline?

This is a weighty duty, and at times our own lives are so full of heavy darkness that to continue looking at the rest of it would be an unspeakable burden. But for those of us who are not in that place, we must look. We must read the names, see the faces, and refuse to let it become just another tragedy. Because it’s not. It’s real people who have died, and real people who are left behind to grieve and mourn. We may not be able to take away their pain, but at the very least, we can honor it by choosing to really, truly see it.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Dead Goldfish, New Condos, and Things That Matter

 

For almost four years, I’ve had a goldfish named Manasseh. I bought him a few months after I graduated from college, while I was still living at my parent’s house. A year later I would move out, and have now moved five times in just under three years. At the beginning of June though, I got possession of a condo I bought. It’s mine. After years of transition and uncertainty, I get to stay here as long as I decide I want to. It’s been an exciting, scary, and overwhelming few months as all of this came together. And, during that time, my goldfish swam around his little bowl like he always had.Fishy

Except last Saturday I woke up to discover he was swimming no longer. I had fed him right before going to bed on Friday night, the same night the last of my furniture and possessions made the move to my condo, and he had seemed fine. A few hours later, he was gone.

He was a nineteen cent goldfish who, while I’d argue he swam to the side of the bowl when I walked into the room (probably because he thought he was going to get fed), had about a three second memory and no capacity for love or any meaningful feelings–I’m not losing sight of that. But he was also the only other living creature that has been with me through all my moves, and was by far my longest living goldfish. He also became my companion on a series of Christmas cards, to not only my own amusement but, I’m told, other’s as well. So my attachment to him goes far beyond what is normal, or some might say even healthy, for a pet of his ilk. His death, coming on the tails of a busy, complicated season of life with a lot of different emotions, has been One More Thing to process.

And so, because I have learned that if a thing has value it is worth mourning, I am mourning my goldfish a bit. Not beyond what he deserved, I hope, but I won’t pretend I don’t keep feeling like I’m forgetting to feed him and then get a little jarred when I remember I don’t have to anymore. He was a fish, sure, but he was part of the ritual of my life. It’s easy to dismiss all of this, because he was a nineteen cent goldfish after all, the kind most people feed to their other pets, not keep as pets themselves. A thing’s value shouldn’t come from its price point though–he had value because he mattered to me. While I suppose this may be a bit of circular reasoning, his death is sad because I will miss him.

Yet in a strange way, the timing of his death feels perhaps a bit fitting. Now that I’m in a setting I will hopefully be for a good while, maybe my place can be my constant instead of my pet. 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Have you ever had something that, while its monetary value may not have been much, had a lot of value to you?

On Being Single: What if the Problem Really is Me?

I’ve spent years internally battling the lie that being single is a sign of something “wrong” with me. Marriage isn’t a reward for especially “good” people, and singleness isn’t a punishment for the “bad” people. They’re simply different, neither one being objectively better or worse than the other. This is truth. But there’s a piece of me that doesn’t always feel as though this is true. Society still seems to celebrate couples and marriage and families much more than it celebrates single people, and on an individual basis, I’m pretty sure I’d like to get married.

But I’m not. I’m nowhere close. My life is good and full and busy, and most of the time I can truthfully say I deeply enjoy it. These words I wrote several years ago still ring true though: When you desire something and that desire is coming from a good place, all the wonderful things in your life can’t make up for what you don’t have.

happy ever after.jpg

Photo Credit: Ben Rosett

It’s only natural for me to ponder why I am single. I’m fortunate to have a fairly positive sense of self-worth–I think I’m decently great, and I probably just haven’t met a guy whose particular brand of greatness aligns with mine. But inevitably there are times I wonder: What if the problem really is me? What if I’ve been missing some glaring flaw in myself all this time, and that’s why I’m single? Even with a good sense of self-worth, I also know I’m not perfect. My faith isn’t perfect, my relationships with my family and friends aren’t perfect, I’m not a perfect employee, I’m not perfectly fit, and so on. 

These aren’t uncommon things–I’d be incredibly suspicious of anyone who said they are perfect in all those areas. Exactly zero of the married people I know are perfect, and yet they managed to find a significant other. And, of course, therein lies the problem: If so many other imperfect people can find another imperfect person to hang out with for the rest of their lives, why can’t I seem to?

Am I not smart enough?

Am I not pretty enough?

Am I not outdoorsy enough?

Am I not Jesus-y enough?

Am I not _____ enough?

Rationally, I know other people’s lives aren’t mine, and everyone’s story is different and that’s a good thing. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like just a case of “we all have different lives to lead.” It feels a lot more personal than that.

So in these times when it seems like talk of dating, marriage, and weddings is popping up all over my life way more than usual, I have to remind myself of a few things. This is what I know to be true, even if it feels very untrue for a while:

  • I’m not perfect. Congratulations! Welcome to being a human. We’re all that way.
  • It’s good to identify specific areas of my life I want to work on, not because doing so will magically conjure up a significant other, but because doing so will make me a better person for life in general.
  • Marriage is not a reward, and singleness is not a punishment. It’s not a matter of being _____ enough to get married.
  • Singleness and marriage are both good. Just because I’m one right now doesn’t mean it will always be that way, and the grass is not always greener on the other side. The grass is just different.
  • There are things wrong with me, as there are with everyone, but I am not too “broken” to find a significant other. I haven’t yet, but it doesn’t mean I never will. And if I never do, I’ll make a kind of peace with that someday.

None of these are new or earth-shattering, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of simple truths. Now, will you share with me? If you’re single, how do you fight the lie that there’s something wrong with and that’s why you’re not in a relationship? If you’re not single, how can you support the single people you know?

Til next time…

~Brianna!~