***This blog post first ran on February 14, 2012, and was originally given as a Sunday School lesson/pep talk in 2010 to a group of single women in their 20s-30s back before I ever dated Mr. Right. I hope you enjoy!
I was single for 30 years, and the I will admit that I used to hate Valentine’s Day, because it was just highlighting the fact that I was still single. Probably the only one – or so it seemed. So a few years ago I gave this pep talk to my Sunday School class to encourage my fellow single friends that we could survive our single years, and not only survive… but do it fabulously. Here’s what I told them:
How to survive your single years:
1. Your fabulousness isn’t determined by your relationship status.
Sometimes that’s hard to remember when you see all your friends post pics of their beautiful husbands/boyfriends/babies, and you’re home hanging out with your Schnoodle. But whether or not you have a Valentine does not determine your value.
2. No pity dates. Learn to say no.
It seems like yesterday. I was 24. I had a boyfriend. And yet some sweet clueless boy in my singles group at church cornered me and asked me on a date. To a Joel Olsteen rally. (I couldn’t make this up.) I was so caught off-guard, and so worried about hurting this poor boy’s feelings that I panicked and blurted out “I’ll email you.” My boyfriend was obviously mad when I told him, and it just delayed the inevitable rejection. From that point on I decided that I would learn to be good at saying no. And I did. It’s a great life skill to have. I found that boys really do want a direct answer – and for you, it’s like ripping off a band-aid… you can just get it over with.
No pity dates girls. Even if he tells you that God told him you’re the Ruth to his Boaz. If God didn’t tell you, it’s okay to say NO.
3. Never, never, NEVER settle. Don’t waste your pretty.
We all know that the bible says not to be unequally yoked. Meaning, if you’re a believer, then you need to only date believers. No missionary “I can change him!” dating. Don’t even dip your toe in the water, or you may fall in.
But it’s not just because God wants to take away your fun and eliminate what seems like 95% of the hot guy dating pool. God has a better plan for you – check out Ephesians 5:25-33 and know that having a husband who “washes you with the Word” is such a total treat. Wait for a man who will pray for you. Who will lead you and your children well. Who will love you in the same sacrificial, intentional way that Christ loves his church. It’s worth the wait, even if it seems like you have to wait forever. I promise.
4. Being single doesn’t mean there’ something wrong with you. God’s plans are bigger than that.
Well-meaning people used to infer that people were single because God had some work he needed to do in their hearts. Like somehow the entire singles department was made up of weirdos, and the entire young marrieds department had everything together.
Ummm… have you seen some of the crazy people who are married out there? God’s still going to still refine you after marriage. Probably more. But there may be other reasons why you’re still single.
You may be single because God wants to use you to encourage another single girl. I think God kept me single for what seemed like FOREVER because he wanted some older girls to encourage those sweet 22-year-old girls who thought life would end if they weren’t engaged when they got that college degree. My 29-year-old self showed them that life isn’t over if you aren’t living the white picket fence American dream. God is a whole lot more creative than the American dream.
Or, your Mr. Right may not be ready for you yet. God did a major work in my Mr. Right’s life, and we just wouldn’t have been a good fit a few years ago. Plus he lived in Colorado, and I would have hated long-distance dating. But when the time was right… he practically dropped in my lap. He moved suddenly from Oklahoma to Fort Worth and then drove FORTY-FIVE MINUTES to my church – I have assured him that I prayed him all the way here. So keep praying for your future man… he may have a long commute to get here.
5. Use this time to its fullest. Find an adventure.
For me, I decided I would use my time to travel. And I did – three trips to Europe, plus I traveled all over the US and to Mexico… basically anytime a friend or family member was up for a trip, I was the first to volunteer. And because of that, I watched sunsets on the beach in Greece and saw my Rangers beat the Yankees in New York. I also ran a half marathon, learned to quilt, got a master’s degree, took salsa lessons… no need to sit at home on Friday nights wondering where your man is. Go find an adventure.
6. Serve. Serve. Serve.
“Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
While you’re waiting for Mr. Right, keep yourself busy by serving others. You’ll end up having a blast, and when you’re focusing on others you have less time to sit and worry about when your prince charming will make his grand entrance.
7. Don’t be bitter. Don’t make all guys pay for the sins (or extreme stupidity) of just one.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
There’s nothing uglier than bitterness. The cutest girls are the ones with sweet spirits.
8. When you DO date… don’t peace out on your church and your ministry.
We’ve all seen someone do the break-up walk of shame back to church… they fell in love and disappeared from the face of the planet. And then somebody changed their mind, and whoops, she’s back. Don’t be that girl. But if you see that girl… go love on her, because she probably could use a friend.
9. NEVER compromise your morals. Remember your lines and don’t cross them.
Know your limits in advance… because in the heat of the moment, when that cute guy looks at you with those big brown eyes… you’re probably not going to make good decisions. So already have your mind made up – it’s worth it.
10. Remember that God’s timing is PERFECT. He has a plan for you. He keeps his promises, and he has not forgotten about you.
“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)
“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you.” Isaiah 26:3
So my fabulous friends… any other advice that I missed? How have you chosen to thrive?