There is so much that I love about being single, and at the same time, there is so much that I hate about it.
Love: having time to myself (introvert alert!); being able to do what I want/need to do any time I want; not having to be bear the responsibility of taking care of anyone else; being able to come home from a long day at work and plop on the couch and watch whatever television show I want to watch (after growing up in a family of six, it's nice not to have to fight over the remote); being able to spend what I earn on the things I want/need; that feeling of independence of being able to take care of myself; being able to hold and cuddle other people's babies while still being able to hand them over to momma when they have a dirty diaper
Hate: having too much time to myself; the intense feelings of loneliness; coming home to a quiet, dark, and usually messy house; being responsible for everything (chores, bills, etc.); waking up from a nightmare and being alone; seeing others living their vocation to the fullest (and mostly happily); not being able to truly care for others like I feel called to do; longing for communion with others on a deeper levelI don't know if you noticed, but many things on the "Love" list are, well... selfish. There's a lot of "I" and "myself" and "what I want" in my list of loves. Yet, I wasn't created to "not have to bear the responsibility of taking care of others" or "watch television whenever I want". I was created for union and communion - which requires an Other.
All of this leads me to the following conclusion:
I am absolutely terrible at being single.
Just like the many stages of grief and healing, knowing and accepting the fact that I am awful at being single is just the first step. It is one thing to say this, but it's an entirely separate thing to actively will this knowledge and make the changes I need to make to stop being absolutely terrible at being single!
I had a mini-revelation during a conversation with someone I had just recently met at a friend's wedding. We were talking about where we'd been in the past year in terms of discovering that "What's next?" phase of post-school life. He was talking about how he didn't really know what he wanted to do, and didn't really have a job, and wasn't sure where he would end up - but that none of this really worried him. He said that all he desired to do was to follow Christ, and so that's what he was doing - and he was confident that if he put following Jesus first, then everything else would fall into place.
It hit me when he said this that even though we were in a similar place in terms of discernment, he was completely further on the path than I was. He got the point of being on the path, while I was still stuck on trying to figure out the reason for it all. I realized that one of the reasons my single life has felt so stagnant is because I am not following Christ as much as I claim to be doing/want to do.
I have to use this time that I've been given to learn how to truly put God first in my life. I realized that I have to live this single vocation to the best of my ability, and until I can learn to be better at being single - and putting God first in my life - whatever God has planned for me won't happen because I won't be ready for it.
As much as being single can be a burden sometimes, I have to see the single years as a gift. At no other time in my life will I be able to say that I have no direct responsibility for the well-being of anyone else. This is actually a good thing, and is part of the purpose of the single years, because not having direct responsibility for others gives me time to grow closer in union and communion with the one Other that really matters - God!
That's what makes these years so crucial for learning how to put God first in my life. If marriage and a family are to come later on my path, I have to be ready to care for others, but I can only truly care for a husband and my children if I am able to love them through my love for God. To do this, I have to care for myself first by truly striving to follow Christ.
Like I said, it's one thing to realize and know all of this, but it's another thing to learn how to be good at being single. So, just as God built us for community, I've asked for a little help from my friends.
Over the next couple of months, I am going to have some amazing Catholic women guest posting on my blog with the theme of "Being Single"!
I will be chiming in on this topic as well, but this series is as much for me as it is for you - we are going to learn from each other's experiences on how to be good at being single.
We'll hear from women who are truly single - like me - and who may be discerning. We'll hear from women (and maybe even a lad!) who are single, but are discerning marriage by being in a committed relationship. We'll even hear from some ladies who have discerned marriage and are engaged.
Even though we are all coming from a different place in life, we will all share the fact that we are all trying to truly live the single vocation that God has called us to at this point in our lives. We will hear what these single ladies do to live out their single vocations, and also hear things that they wish they had done or could do better.
You can follow along with this series by checking in with the Being Single Series tag on my blog. Read each guest's input, reflect on what they say, and join me on the journey of living the single life to the fullest by growing closer to God.