dear sharideth: Where’s the balance?

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Dear Sharideth,

I’m in my 30’s. I’m single. I’m over it. I recently attended a wedding, and during the ceremony the pastor mentioned that, before they met each other, both the bride and groom had been wondering if they should pray for contentment in their singleness. Honestly, that is a thought I have never had. I guess I assumed that, should I be content in my singleness, it wouldn’t be something I would need to pray for. After all, God gives us the desires of our hearts, right? So if I want to be married… I’ll get there someday. If I’m going to be single forever, my heart will change without me having to ask God to change it, right? Maybe, maybe not.

But where is the balance in all of this? Where’s the balance between throwing myself at a guy vs hinting that I’m interested vs waiting for someone who thinks I’m worth pursuing? Where is the line between being content in the waiting and giving up hope?

Sincerely,

(Im)Patiently Waiting

dear (Im)PW,

don’t you love hearing married people talk about being content with singleness? it’s like telling an Ethiopian you were hungry once. it’s not that they don’t know how you feel, it’s just that they have forgotten how not helpful it is to say something like that to you.

do i think you need to pray for contentment in your singleness? no. if you want to pray (and praying is good), pray for your steps to be led everyday whether they lead you to a spouse or not. maybe that way you’ll run right into someone else walking the same path. it is certainly not wrong to also pray for the right person to come along. nor is wrong to pray for contentment in your singleness. asking for that does not mean you’ve given up or that there is no one out there for you, it only means that you don’t want to be so churned up all the time and could use some peace.

the balance in the pursuit and/or being pursued is not all that tough. throwing yourself? no. hinting? no. waiting? no. making yourself available? yes. it’s perfectly acceptable to suggest coffee or strike up conversation or straight up tell him he should ask you out. none of those things are too much in my never humble opinion, but they do require you to be an active participant in your own romantic future. just not in a crazy stalker way.

the unfortunate truth that nobody wants to talk about is there are no assurances of marriage for anyone. that totally blows and isn’t fun to hear or say or even think about, but it is the truth. i wish it wasn’t. even though that might put me out of a job. all you can do is fill your life with things you enjoy, accomplishments that are your own, a firm sense of self worth and hope. never let yourself get bitter or lose hope. easy for me to say, i know. i’m one of those insensitive married people. and a hypocrite when i tell not to pay much attention to those stupid platitudes people like me throw at you.

the answer is whatever allows you to wake up looking forward to another day. if somebody says they have a formula for that, they’re lying and/or lying. but i do not doubt God wants you to have the desire of your heart, so there’s a heckuvalot of hope to be gained from that.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

what other advice do you have for our frustrated friend?

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6 comments on “dear sharideth: Where’s the balance?

  1. Maybe I’m the last person to offer advice on this one, but I’ve taken to the belief in holding the desire to be married, loosely. I would like a life partner, but at 30, while I know I’m not old, I am old enough to know I can make the community and family I desire, with or without a life partner. I hold to knowledge, that a ring doesn’t define who I journey with in life. Sure that choice doesn’t come with all the social affirmations of a wedding and the gifts etc, but for right now, it gives me some sense of peace. Sure I keep looking, I keep engaging with people but I know that for myself, if I’m going to be happy and live present in my community, I cannot be stuck dreaming about that future someone but I can dream about the bigger things I see coming together at the moment.

  2. Paul said that he had learned to be content in whatever circumstance, and proceeded to list off a long set of opposite circumstances. Contentment doesn’t mean “I’ve accepted that this is how it is and will never change.” It’s unfortunate that it gets used that way, particularly of singleness.

    Contentment in every circumstance such as Paul spoke of means that my circumstances are no longer a factor in my decision of how I will view life. if this is where God wants me and I want to be where God wants me, then it doesn’t matter if this is a “good” or “bad” circumstance, it’s where I want to be right now because it’s where God wants me to be right now.

    It’s not a level I can claim to have perfectly obtained, about singleness or a lot of other things in life. Paul said he had learned to be, so it’s a process of learning and I’m not sure just how far along that process I am. But what Sharideth said about praying to be guided, wherever that guiding leads, is definitely a part of it. Sometimes the place God wants us is a painful place; contentment doesn’t come in being happy that we’re in pain, but in trusting that God has a purpose for where we are and that His purpose is a good one. I’m still working on learning that concept.

  3. jcfeb14 says:

    Dear (Im)PW,

    I hear you! I too am in my 30’s, single, and over it. Well, ok. Not really. Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m in my (mid) 30’s-ahem. And yes, I want to be married.

    In my day-to-day life, I’m pretty content. I have a great group of friends, and a wonderful family. I’m blessed to travel often and regularly cross items off my bucket list. I’m growing spiritually and challenging myself physically. Life, as a single woman, is pretty good.

    But every now and then, my singleness kicks me in the teeth. Like when I stood up on that stage tonight, and accepted an award for my hard work, I wanted somebody in the audience who was cheering just for me.

    I think finding the balance (in anything) is hard. It means living with the tension of “right now and not yet.” It means believing God is good. It means trusting Him with the desires of our heart and our future-even when the waiting/trusting hurts. You probably already know that. I guess, if you’re like me, it’s just nice to know others feel the same way.

    Totes (Im)PW

  4. Breana says:

    I have absolutely no advice, given that I regularly have conversations that sound exactly like this. And
    “the unfortunate truth that nobody wants to talk about is there are no assurances of marriage for anyone.”
    Yes! The older ladies who tell me that God has someone for me seem to forget that bit. It’s kind of like when I was going through a bunch of physical problems and people said, “well, you serve God so much, so He’s certainly going to heal you so you can do it again.” Um, no, not necessarily. I don’t know if it’s any help to any of you, but it helped me back then to realize that, whatever happened to me physically, God was going to use it for my good and for his glory. Not saying it would necessarily be comfortable, or fun, but that my good and his glory would be the end result. Same thing with singleness.

    I could go on, but I don’t think it would add anything to the conversation, so I guess I’ll stop there. 🙂

  5. Hannah says:

    I am no expert. I will say that. I will also say that there is a lot of garbage messages out there that bombard single women. As someone who has been single for most of her twenties (until the very last bit of the last year of it), it’s something you hear all the time. Most of it is well-meaning, but is still really annoying in the very least and occasionally hurtful.

    My least favorite one is, “if you stop looking you’ll find it!” I don’t find that to be true. At. All. I think what is true is that if you want to date someone or get married, be the best version of you (Sharideth’s blog about being, “the keeper,” is a good one to read about that) and that you have to be open to opportunity. And there is opportunity. I didn’t think there was until I just started forcing myself to do things that were uncomfortable for me (online dating, being asked to be set up, etc.).

    But it is hard to find that balance… Being content most of the time with your singleness until you realize that everyone around you is married and having babies and wondering if you would ever have, “your chance,” but not being really sure when or from where that chance would come.

    Ok, enough rambling.

  6. “Lying and/or lying” is my favorite line I’ve read on a blog in like forever. And I’m not lying.

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