It probably helps that I’m writing this post at a hotel in the Andes mountains in Ecuador, experiencing one of the upsides of being single, which is having a vast amount of freedom.
I’m a spokesperson for Compassion International, and I’m here for a week with a team of artists to meet the children that Compassion serves. It took 15 hours of plane travel and layovers to get here, which gave me a lot of time to think. I just wrote three posts about the challenges of singleness.
And now I’ve been thinking about the benefits of being single. I jotted down a few things on my napkin on the planeride from Miami to Quito. I’m sure this list is not complete, but here are some of the top reasons I appreciate my singleness:
1) I’m not trapped in a bad marriage. If you gave me the choice between a contentious or toxic marriage and singleness, I’d pick singleness every time.
2) There are less variables in my decisions. If I want to move, for instance, I don’t have to worry about what school district I’m in, whether or not my partner can also find a new job, etc.
3) I have more free time. I don’t just mean free time in terms of relaxation and recreation, I mean free time to help other people, visit family, serve at church, etc.
4) I have more flexibility. For instance, I can drop everything and fly to Ecuador for a week. My schedule is malleable because there aren’t other people to take into account, and no one’s depending on me to cook dinner every night or run the monthly PTA meeting.
5) I can pursue my gifts more freely. If I were married, or married with kids, there’s no way I’d be able to do as much writing, traveling and speaking as I do now. As I contemplated these things on the napkin in front of me, I started wondering why singleness can be both amazing and awful.
There are seasons in my personal life where singleness swings between these two extremes, but also, there are single people whose experiences of singleness is vastly different. Why is that? All of a sudden, this picture came to mind — a picture I used on a previous blog post. And I realized that if you happened upon this scene, you could describe it in two ways.
First, you could say that there’s a hole in the wall. The bricks are missing. The bricklayer didn’t do a very good job. Whoever designed this flawed wall should be fired.
Or, you could say, “That’s not a hole in the wall; that’s a doorway.” I think single people have a choice to make. We can approach this with disappointment. The wall of marriage we’d anticipated — the one we expected to give us security and protection and a sense of belonging — is missing. God screwed this up. We’ve been jipped. We’re missing out. We’re going to have to stand here and vent anger at God, and/or refuse to move forward until this hole in the wall is repaired.
Or, we can approach this wall with anticipation. Sure, we can be surprised that it’s not what we expected. But we can trust that God knows what he’s doing, and that his way is better than ours. And instead of standing here yelling that our bricks or missing, or sitting down and refusing to pursue dreams like travel, a cross-country move or a ministry opportunity until we have a partner, we can walk through this doorway and see what adventure awaits us on the other side.
So if you’re single, take heart. The wall of your life is not flawed. God didn’t screw this up. An adventure is waiting for you. Pick yourself up off the ground of discouragement, dust off your disappointment, and start walking.
In the next post, I’ll talk about how we might be able to take advantage of the amazing opportunities singleness provides, while still acknowledging and navigating its challenges. In the meantime, let me know what you think. Have you seen your singleness as a void or a door? What opportunity have you had as a single pereson that you might not have had otherwise?