The Vocabulary of Singleness: From Shame to Messy Celebration

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I really don’t want to be known as the girl who always writes about singleness. Like if there was a list of ways to make yourself un-dateable, talking about how single you are all the time is probably towards the top of that list. However, it is probably a step below becoming a foster parent at 21, which is another thing I’ve considered, so I think I’ll embrace the possibility of accidentally becoming the poster child for singleness.

Singleness is a topic that is not super fun to talk about and even harder (and weirder) to do while you are still currently single. When you’re in the thick of it all, it can feel daunting and embarrassing and like talking about it means that you hate your life, are codependent, or have no dreams outside of relationships. Lies. Lies. A whole lot of lies.

Shame is what convinces us to stay silent – to not be willing to get messy and vulnerable and honest. Shame is about hiding. It’s about feeling fake and that if you let people in, they aren’t going to like what they see. Singleness is a topic that we’ve covered, coated, and sprinkled in shame.

There’s this presumption that if you talk candidly about singleness you are angry or depressed or needy or not dependent on God. Honestly, I’m none of those things. I am incredibly happy and love my life. Being a somewhat “hip” twenty-something surrounded by creatives and world changers with adventures around every turn is so freaking fun. I don’t view relationships as the beginning or the end of fully living life – just getting to sharing it with another person.

In Christian culture, there seems to be so many mixed signals of definitive statements and honestly, it’s both frustrating and confusing. We push being content in your singleness while at the same time praising marriage as the end-all-be-all. We tend to project this idea that marriage is a prize – a spouse is something you achieve if you do everything right, are blissfully content, and sprinkle some magic fairy dust in your bedtime prayers. Life is so much more messy and complex than that.

For example: please, do not tell me one more time to focus on becoming a better gift.

The reason I am single is not because I’m not a good enough gift.

Lies. Shame. No.

That’s implying that I am not enough. And that if you are in a relationship, it makes you more “enough” than I am. It implies you’re a better gift, potential spouse, and human than I am. I’m not going to believe that lie. Aint nobody got time for that sort of comparison and condemnation. Now if you use that phrase, there’s grace and I’ve said stuff along those lines before too. We get to move past that to tweaking how we talk.

That’s why I write about singleness – to extend the conversation and hopefully figure out how to change the vocabulary to allow people the freedom they need to live their lives without condemnation or shame. I don’t pretend to be an expert, I’m still working through lies and mental patterns that are destructive. This is what I am learning though as I seek the mind of Christ and critically examine this season of my own life.

The biggest lie I’ve identified is that of “enough-ness.” That because I am single, I am somehow less-than. That I need to do or be something more in order to be good enough for a relationship or for a guy to choose me. Getting really real here, this is a list of my own lies that I’ve believed:

  • “I am a less valuable potential mate because I haven’t traveled the world.”
  • “I am a more valuable potential mate because I can cook a mean crockpot soup.”
  • “I am a less valuable potential mate because of my family past and baggage.”
  • “I am a more valuable potential mate because I’m doing cool things with my life like starting a photography business and running a strip club outreach.”
  • “I am a less valuable potential mate because I struggle to keep my bedroom clean.”
  • “I am a more valuable potential mate because I have certain talents, giftings, or callings.”

No. This stems from a view that our worth is wrapped up in what we do. It’s performance mentality. It’s striving. It’s bondage. It’s religion. It sucks.

Identity is the core. I am hidden in Christ. I am seated in heavenly places. I have been crucified and raised.freaking.again. I am a kid and coheir in the Kingdom. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am redeemed, restored, and set free. I am enough because Jesus gives me His “enough-ness.” Do we really get this? Like truly? My life’s worth is unchanging. So is yours.

Is it sometimes easier to work on our junk while being single? For some people, yes.

Are there some areas in our lives that may need some serious growing or adaptation when we get into a relationship or get married? Yeah, life is full of processes.

Do some people take longer until they want to be in a committed relationship? Definitely.

Is it always the best idea to get into a relationship if you’re going through a big crisis, have a current addiction, or are emotionally unhealthy? Probs not.

What I am saying is that I am no more and no less enough in my singleness than my awesome married friends are. Marriage isn’t a Mecca or a state of enlightenment. They didn’t do something right that earned them their relationship, it was just that the life tapestry that God is weaving for them happened to include a spouse earlier on than mine. My engaged roommate is amazing at not giving off the vibe that she is better because of her relationship status – in fact, she’s one of the coolest, humblest, accepting, and validating people ever.

Now, I know that no one is trying to give off a bad vibe. No one intentionally is out to get single people. It just creeps into out attitude and is worth taking a look at in order to do some self-examining. That’s really all I ask for – let’s be willing to ask questions and see if the way we talk about singleness, relationships, and marriage is promoting lies about identity and worth.

I just want to live in the fullness of freedom and see others do the same. I want us to just admit that we don’t have cut and dry answers as to why some people get married earlier than others. It’s not a formula. There’s no “get married quick” scheme that will result in a perfect life. People are individuals and we all are living unique stories with twisty, messy plot lines. It’s part of the beauty. Let’s not let that beauty be under attack by over-glorifying any particular plot lines or plot points. Let’s make room for messy – for honesty and individuality.

Above all, can we just celebrate each other more? More high fives, hugs, dance parties, cake, and presents all around no matter what your life looks like. For that result, I’d gladly become the poster child of singleness.

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Instead of Falling in Love // Single Summers

 

 I can’t decide if listening to Taylor Swift may help this. If settling down with tea, popcorn, and my trustedjournal while blaring songs that are about that lil’ ol’ topic called love will be a cure. See, I have “Trouble” and “I Would Walk 500 Miles” in my spotify playlist right next to the tunes of Ingrid and Regina. They hum to me with dedication and admiration. One part Taylor Swift’s girl perspective – one part males crooning about their beaut’. This is probably not the best recipe for a single girl’s summer playlist.

 

 It seems that summer amplifies my own desire for romance.
 Can you blame me?

 

 My friends are off on dates at every turn. Even more friends are giddily saying, “we’re just best friends” in the midst of texts, talks, walks, letters, and eyes all telling a different story. The summer romcoms beckon and call. Camps are the perfect place for everyone to find a summer fling the Christian way which involves facebooking post camp until school rolls around. The air is sickly sweet with the smell of weddings, engagements, and googly eyed couples all making me smile politely while holding a bit of my heart back.

 

 There’s that part of my heart – maybe you’ve felt it too – that wants to have that boyfriend or that best friend with a bit more that everyone can see and you know that they are secretly planning their wedding.

 

 But that’s just not me. It breaks my heart at times, but it isn’t. God has said, “nope, this isn’t my plan for you. Not yet at least.” So here I am. Being me. Without a guy adoring me. And that’s okay. I can say that out loud, but truthfully, my heart is being a bit more stubborn.

 

 “So where’s your boyfriend?” asked a friend’s father as this very topic came up in conversation. I leaned on the picnic table, adding in a famous eye roll for dramatic effect. “He’s invisible. Or just hasn’t shown up yet.” Then I proceeded to tell the boys about my imaginary husband from childhood. His name was Pablo. We had a few hundred children. And the more I think about it, it’s okay that he hasn’t shown up yet saying “as you wish” with a British accent.

 

 See, instead of falling in love this summer, this is what I’m going to do:
  • Take an online Math class. Alg II to be exact.
  • Work lots and lots at VI. Maybe save up a bit.
  • Drive an hour to drink tea in Babbitt.
  • Attend camp with some of my dearest friends.
  • Read the Harry Potter series for the first time.
  • Re-read many of my favorite books.
  • Get tan. Ish.
  • Go camping in the boundary waters for the first time.
  • Get my PCA license for future use.
  • Counsel a gaggle of junior high girls and hopefully impact them to not fall for guys that say “swaggie”
  • Spend time with my sister and all her cute little friends. Tea parties y’all!
  • Dance like a maniac with my cousins at the wedding of the summer.
  • Road trip to Fargo and Minneapolis.
  • Go to the Not For Sale training in the cities.
  • See beautiful friends. Hopefully including a few blog friends.
  • Have “dates” with my single gal pals.
  • Listen to songs like “I Don’t Need a Soul” and “Gonna Get Over You” for moral support.
  • Not fall in love. And that’s okay.

Dear Little Liv (A Letter to Jr High Girls)

Hi guys, In addition to this being a post on my blog, it is also a guest post over at Sincerely Rachel Christine. I’m super excited to be a part of this series of guest posts aimed at women and what your heart yearns to tell them. So therefore – I’m only posting part of the letter here. Go HERE to read the rest.

 

 

Today’s post is something I wrote as a letter to myself as I was five years ago, something that I wanted to tell to all the girls that I know and love in my life. My sweet camp and youth group girls mean the world to me and this is my love letter to them. It’s a plea for them to be patient with romance, but also that I’ve been there before and I remember.

Dear Little Liv,

You sat there with your feet dangling out your open window on a warm May night and you cried to yourself, wishing for a man to throw pebbles and sweep you off your feet. You were almost twelve. I wish that the one night could have been the only night you cried in your loneliness, but it wasn’t. There will be many more nights to come.

There will be nights of loneliness – of deep heart aches and longings for boys to notice you and for life just to hurry up so you can find a man. There will be nights of regret – of giving your heart slowly, over time to boys where you realize that things are suddenly complicated and you just lost a friend. There will be nights of deep pondering – ofquestioning intentions and feelings when you’re not sure if you like the attention or are terrified of it. There will be many tears, many racing thoughts, and many desperate prayers.

It sounds daunting, but there are also brilliant days ahead. There will be days of comfort – of realizing that the men in your life are a blessing. There will be days of confidence – of knowing that you did the right thing in a friendship with a boy and seeing the positive results. There will be days of laughter – of getting to be the little sister to the boys around and having their respect. There will be many brilliant days that will in time make up for the tearful nights.

………. Continued here.