What Does Your Story Say About God?

Singleness is often treated with sorrow or sympathy. People usually respond with surprise, saying things like, “I can’t believe you’re not dating someone.”

After that, they attempt to set me up on blind dates or make suggestions regarding online dating sites.

If all else fails, they remind me that God will send the right man at exactly the right time. I just have to be patient.

While all of these sentiments are well-meant, they’re not helpful. Or true, for that matter. These statements aren’t what single women need to hear.

Even better than that, these statements don’t actually reflect my life.

I know that married people, especially those who have been married for a long time, often struggle to understand what single life is like.  If they’re in happy marriages, they naturally want the same thing for me.  

But I don’t have to be married to have a happy and fulfilling life.

God is Good all the Time

Last week I had a conversation that helped me see things differently. A friend and I were talking about the challenges some of our married friends were facing, and how fortunate we were not to have to walk those same paths.

That led to us discussing the ways we had seen God work in our own lives. Neither of us is married, but that doesn’t mean He hasn’t shown up for us again and again.

We both agreed- Our stories show us, and you, that God is always good.

How do I know God is always good?

Let me share a few examples with you:

  • God lets me be the fun aunt

Last Friday night I attempted to sleep on a cramped couch in a stuffy living room. My tenuous grip on sleep was interrupted by my five-year-old niece, whispering frantically that she was “Sinking. Really sinking!”

Her air mattress had a hole in it. A hole that my brother-in-law assured me she wouldn’t notice.

As I groggily blew up the air mattress again, at 2:30 in the morning, I managed to be grateful even in my sleepless state.

I am so, so thankful for the two little girls sleeping (sort of) in the living room with me. I love our sleepovers, our “dates,” and all the crazy times we spend together. I’m equally thankful for the four other little people who hold a special place in my life.

Being the fun aunt is one of my favorite things. I don’t have children, but that DOES NOT mean I don’t know what it’s like to love a child.  

God has given that gift to me.

  • God meets all my needs

My friend and I were marveling at this last week. Neither one of us works in high-paying jobs, but we’ve never gone without, either. My needs, and many of my wants, have always been met.

There have been times when I’ve seen God work in amazing ways. He provides miracles, sometimes before I’ve even thought to ask for them. He is our Good Father, and He truly delights in giving us good things.  

Even in the times when God doesn’t work the way I would want Him to, I know He’s still good and I can always trust Him.

  • God gives me my own unique opportunities

There are so many good things in my life! I don’t have to be married to say that. And you don’t have to feel sorry for me because I’m single.

Singleness just means my life looks different, not less.

Volunteer opportunities

Peaceful, quiet evenings with a good book.

Staying up late and sleeping in

A small, zippy car. with the windows down and music up

Not having to cook every night

Travel, hiking, exploring, studying, and experiencing new things

All of these are available to me.

I couldn’t be more grateful.

You don’t need to feel sorry for me. I really don’t want you to.

Being single can be hard, but I’m learning to see all the ways it grows me, too.

It’s a major part of my story.

And what do I want my story to tell you?

God is always good.

Though my eyes can’t see,
You are always good, only good.

Looking back, I can see Your fingerprints
Upon my life, always seeking my best.
There were times when Your way would make no sense,
But as You said, You have never left.

You are always good, You are only good;
You are always good to me.
Though my eyes can’t see, help my heart believe
You are always, only good.

-Ron and Shelly Hamilton

This week, I’m thankful for so many things. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!

Birthdays, Single-Style

Birthdays are not my favorite thing.

To me, they are a tangible reminder of two facts:

  1. I’m steadily moving towards middle age (kicking and screaming).
  2. Another year has gone by and… wait for it… Nothing’s changed!

I’m in exactly the same place I was a year ago.

Still single

Still promising myself I’ll lose the extra weight around my hips

Still dreaming of…more

So, I’ve struggled with feeling like there’s not much worth celebrating in my life.

But this past year has changed my outlook, both on birthdays and life. Surprisingly, the tumult of 2020 has brought a lot of clarity. It’s shown me that even a single girl sliding toward middle age can find things to celebrate on her birthday.

God’s plan is worth celebrating

I keep coming back to this point because I need to keep reminding myself of it. My life is in God’s hands. Every aspect of it is in His control. That means my single status is the plan God deems best for me.

Celebrating my birthday as a single woman can feel lonely, but that doesn’t give me the right to lament against it. I have to remember: True satisfaction with my life will never stem from a husband and children.

A woman who rests in God’s will is a woman who fully trusts His plan. She understands that He alone is the source of our satisfaction. I want to be that woman.

God’s plan is always worth celebrating.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does H withhold from those walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

Freedom is worth celebrating

The world is a frightening, uncertain place. I suppose that’s always been true, but it’s never touched so closely into my life before. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen disease, political turmoil, and tension on a level most of us haven’t experienced before.

Things have changed so much, and I think some things, good things, are gone forever. It’s caused me to be thankful for the freedoms I’ve enjoyed for the last thirty-nine years. Today, I am thankful for freedom, family, and my ability to live life the way I want to live it.

Freedom is always worth celebrating.

Growth is worth celebrating.

I have a very weird cactus. I seem to specialize in ugly plants. This one started small and cute but has grown exponentially. At some point, it also grew itself a “friend”- a second cactus out the side. Last summer roots began to come out the top.

Yes, out the top.

It’s not attractive, but I’ve become attached to it because of its oddness. It’s also a great reminder- growth often looks ugly, but that doesn’t make it bad.

Life’s ugly moments? Those are the ones where God can work the most.

For instance, as I look back over this year, I can see major areas where I’ve grown:

My relationship with God

My perspectives on life

The value I place on Scripture reading, memorization, and meditation

The way I view my job

And so much more. Because of what I’ve gone through, I am not the same woman I was a year ago, but that is not a bad thing.

Growth is always worth celebrating.

Life is worth celebrating.

Okay, this might be a little cheesy. Bear with me, though.

God has given us so, so, so many things that make life good. When I pull myself out of my “I’ll be celebrating birthdays as a single woman for the rest of my life” pity-party and start to look around, I’m amazed at what’s in front of me.

I mean, hello? Can we just start with cheesecake?

And then we can go from there: laughter; bonfires with friends; sunrises stretching golden fingers across the promise of a new day; driving with the windows down and the music up; family game nights; inside jokes; a warm baby nestled under your chin; pizza parties; soft blankets; the first sip of coffee; art, music, museums; getting lost in a good book; warm summer rain; sunny afternoons at the beach

I could go on and on. We have so much. How often do we even think about it?  

Life, in all its messiness, is a gift from God, and it is always worth celebrating.  

Happy Birthday to Me!

Thankful for thirty-nine years!

That’s where I stand on birthdays right now. Doing birthdays single-style?

It’s okay. I haven’t always been able to say that, But for right now, it’s okay. More than okay, actually.

Birthdays mean God isn’t done with me, yet. Another year=another opportunity. And I’m looking forward to seeing what thirty-nine will bring.

This week, I’m thankful for God’s good gifts in our lives. He is the One who makes everything worthwhile. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!

A Not so Romantic Valentine’s Day

One smile.

That was all it took to send a wave of sadness crashing over me.

It happened last week in the grocery store. I picked up a lemon and somehow began one of those crazy juggling routines as it slipped from my hands and I tried again and again not to drop it. Eventually, I lost the battle with the lemon. As I bent down to pick it up, my eyes met the eyes of a guy who had been watching my circus performance. I smiled at my own foolishness and he smiled back.

At least I think he smiled. It’s hard to tell when you’re both wearing masks. Perhaps he was just reveling in his own ability to pick out fruit without flinging it around.

Whatever facial expression it was, it did me in. Suddenly, my desire for a man of my own to smile at, to laugh with, overwhelmed me. Loneliness, sorrow, and frustration rose within me and I found myself trying not to cry in the produce section.

Afterall, I’d just had Lasik, and the doctors hadn’t told me if crying was okay.

Not wanting to burn out my new eyes, I kept it together and finished my shopping, but the feelings lingered inside me.

A Not so RoMANtic Holiday…

One of friends recently introduced me to the term “rotic.” I’d never heard it before. When she told me it was romantic without the “man,” I had to laugh. Apparently, it’s a way for single women to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

We singles try so hard on Valentine’s Day, don’t we? We either do our best to stay positive and make the day special, or we wear black, eat lots of ice cream, and hide away.  

No matter what we do, though, it seems like the whole world throws our singleness back in our faces-

 No man. Which must mean…

No happiness.

No fulfillment.

No flowers, romantic dinners, sentimental cards, or anything else.

No life. Not one that anyone really wants, anyway.

When the world is sending us that message- What’s a single girl to do on Valentine’s Day?

Acknowledge it.

First, I think you need to start by being honest with yourself. I believe there are times when it’s okay to struggle with being single. For many, Valentine’s Day is one of those times.

I’ve said it before- being single is HARD. Especially if you’re a woman like me, who’s never been in a relationship. That’s tough. I’m not advocating wallowing or bitterness, but I think it’s okay to occasionally grieve over your singleness. Sometimes, you simply must confront the hard truths:

I will probably not get married.

I will never be a mother.

I will always be on the fringes of society.

There they are- honest statements about being single and approaching forty. Some days that truth is really, really going to hurt. Some days, a smile in the grocery store is going to knock you sideways.

Embrace it.

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge the hard days, but don’t stay there. Don’t let them bring you down. Eat the ice cream (I may have eaten a pint of strawberry cheesecake ice cream on Valentine’s Day…), cry for a bit, but then get out of your chair and move on.  

On the days when loneliness seems to hang around you like a heavy cloak, fight it.

When the sight of red hearts and mushy valentines makes you want to choke, look elsewhere.

Tell yourself you are not a victim of your circumstances. Being single isn’t a prison sentence or a guarantee that you’ll die alone someday. It’s not a commentary on who you are as a woman.

It’s the life God has chosen for you right now.

Failure to acknowledge that leads to anger, both toward God and life. It produces women who are sharp-tongued, resentful, and unpleasant to be around. You know- like those spinster governesses we see stereotyped in old movies.

Even on the toughest days, I have no intention of becoming a spinster governess.

Instead, try to remember that singleness really is a gift from God. It is possible to be single, fulfilled, and satisfied with your life!

Move on. 

Acknowledge the pain of being single, work through the pain to embrace the truth of God’s plan, and then move on. Get going with your life.

No one is meant to live in a perpetual state of wanting. Married or single, life is going to throw challenges at us. We can work through those challenges, or we can sink down in the middle of them.

Some challenges may last forever. I don’t anticipate my single status ever changing. I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking the “single” box on my tax returns for the rest of my life.

Every time I check that box, I feel a tightening in my throat. Unwanted whispers through my mind.

But…

Independent, I can whisper back.

Free

Open to anything

Available

Adventurous

Growing

Trusting

I can fight back with my own adjectives. I don’t have to let Valentine’s Day, society, or my own mistaken conscious label me, and neither do you.  

Hold your head high and live each day with intention. Embrace your singleness and move on, confident in who you are by yourself.

Who knows? Maybe next year, on Valentine’s Day, you won’t even need the ice cream.

You might want to stay out of the grocery store, though.

This week, I’m thankful romantic holidays don’t last forever.  I’m also thankful for the friends, family, and resources we have to help us work through them. God’s plans are always best, even if they don’t feel that way at times. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!

What Can You do on Your Own? Four Women Who Show us Anything is Possible!

“I could never do that by myself.”

These words whisper through my head all the time. They manage to talk me out of everything from attending weddings to remote hiking to simply eating out for dinner.

How often do you dare to step out alone?

Seeking inspiration…

I love to read. My earliest childhood memory is of going to story hour at the library. I know I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet. Once when I was young, a lady in my church took my sister and I out for dinner and we both sat at the table and read the entire time!

While my manners have improved since then, my love of reading has stayed the same. Good stories thrill me, delight me, and draw me in for more. They never get old.

Two years ago, I set a goal of reading fifty books. I met that goal, but as I looked back over my list, I realized I hadn’t liked many of the books. Often, I’d finish one and thrust aside in disgust, saying, “How in the world did she become an author?” or something to that effect.

I didn’t want to waste my time reading books I didn’t enjoy or find helpful, so last year I set a new goal: Read twelve Christian nonfiction books and twelve classics. Thanks to COVID and lockdowns, I was able to meet that goal, too.

Along the way I discovered something- those Christian nonfiction books were… good. They encouraged, uplifted, challenged, and pointed me to God.

My favorite books were biographies about single women doing crazy, inspiring things for God. I don’t even like to go to a hardware store by myself, and here I was, reading about women who rode camels into deserts, horses into uncharted jungles, started schools in Uganda, and even survived concentration camps.

These women were incredible not in themselves, but because they were totally sold out for God. They were so willing to live for Him, He enabled them to become super-women.

In my continued effort to live deliberately, I reset my goal of reading Christian nonfiction this year. I wanted to share a few of my favorite books with you in the hopes that they would inspire you, too.  

  • The Hiding Place

You must read this book! I’d heard of it but hadn’t picked it up until last summer. You will be beyond moved as you read about Corrie and Betsie ten Boom’s courage, grace, and strength as they hide Jewish refugees in their house. When they were discovered and arrested, their trust in God carried them through the horrors of a concentration camp.

I don’t usually (ok, never) cry over books or movies, but this one got me.

  • Kisses From Katie

Katie Davis was only eighteen(!) when she first traded her comfortable American life for a hut in Uganda. She started out as a kindergarten teacher for dozens of children and eventually created a successful non-profit while simultaneously becoming the adopted mother of thirteen girls. All of this was done while she was still a very young, single woman.

My favorite part of her book is the first page, where she states, “Jesus wrecked my life.” He took all her typical college-girl plans and threw them out the window. I know I often fear total surrender to God for this same reason- that He would “wreck” my life and fling me into the vast unknown. Katie, however, makes it look like a wonderful adventure.

  • Made for the Journey

Elisabeth Elliot is one of my favorite writers because she tells it like it is. She goes straight to the Bible and never steers from the truths she finds there. This little book, originally titled These Strange Ashes, is fascinating- it presents us with the first year of her life as a missionary, when she was still waiting for her future husband, Jim Elliot, to decide if he even should marry her.

I was both thrilled and horrified as I read of some of her ordeals- riding on a horse for days through uncleared jungles, floating down roiling rivers in dugout canoes, battling slimy, unknown creatures, attending women in childbirth, and attempting to translate the Bible into an as-yet-unwritten tribal language. Her devotion to God is evident throughout every challenge.

  • Give Me This Mountain

I’d never heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare until I came across a reference to her in Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s excellent book Choosing Gratitude.  Helen didn’t live a quiet life. Instead of practicing medicine in England, she chose a far more radical path- the life of a medical missionary in the war-ravaged Congo.

Being a foreign doctor in an impoverished country was challenging enough, but things became much harder, and more personal, when guerillas took over Helen’s hospital compound. Many missionaries had already left the country, but Helen’s deeply rooted trust in God compelled her to stay. For five months, she and several other female missionaries were held captive.

Helen braved the ordeal and even learned to give God thanks for it.

What can We do on Our Own?

These are just a couple out of many books I enjoyed last year! I wish I could share more with you. I think I like them because they show me what’s possible when God is fully in charge of your life.

So often single women hold themselves back because they’re on their own. Everything feels twice as daunting. Believe me, I know.

A life devoted to God may not be pretty or easy, but these women show us it’s possible to live boldly all on your own.

It’s amazing what women- even single women- can accomplish when they let God work through them.   

This week I’m thankful for the blessing of good books and the inspiring women they share with us. May we all learn to be more like them. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!

New Year, but Nothing’s Changed

I like the New Year because of the optimism it generates. Hope for the future is a good thing. In my last post I wrote about taking intentional steps to create positive change in your life. The New Year is a great time to sit down and evaluate where you’ve been and where you want to go. I think resolutions, goals, and change are all worthwhile.

But… what about the things we can’t change? What if there are circumstances in our lives which might never change?

How do we approach THOSE on January 1st?   

Frustrated with Your Unchanging Single Status?

“Why does it seem like nothing ever changes?”

I’ve had so many single friends say this to me. I’ve said it to myself. In fact, I’ve often viewed my single life as a long, straight road stretching on into the distance, as far as I can see, with nothing ever changing.

A lack of change feels frustrating, especially when you can’t do anything about it. It can feel like you’re on a never-ending treadmill. The New Year just seems to highlight the fact that your life didn’t, in fact, change at all last year.

I can resolve to lose twenty pounds, but I can’t resolve to change my single status.

Instead of resetting your life, reset your thinking!

Staying single isn’t the problem. It’s my point of view that’s the problem.

I thought about what I would want someone to say to me the next time I feel frustrated with my single status. I also thought about what I would say to you when you feel that way. How do we break out of the “Help, I’m trapped in a never-ending state of singleness” mindset?

Here’s what I came up with. If you and I were having coffee, this is what I would tell you:

  • Look to God.

First, last, and always. If you’re ever going to find peace and contentment with your life, it has to start here. Put down your cell phone and open your Bible. Read about every amazing thing God has done and then remind yourself- the God of the Bible loves you, too. He has plans for you, just like Ruth, Esther, Mary, Deborah, and other amazing biblical women. When God says He’s working everything (including singleness) for your good, He means it.

Believe it. Hold onto it. Tell yourself the truth again and again until it starts to sink in.

And then surrender. Surrender everything- your hopes, dreams, plans, and wishes for a husband, 2.5 kids, and the big house with the picket fence. Give it all to God and trust Him with it.

  • Identify your triggers.

What causes you to struggle with the unchanging nature of your single life? Some of my triggers are a lack of sleep, comments from others, holidays, and romantic movies. These things affect my outlook, cause me to question who I am, and make me discontent.

Figure out the areas where you are most vulnerable and work to avoid them or devise a plan for getting through them.

  • Focus on the good in your life.

Do you have a great job? Do you revel in being the fun aunt? Has God provided you with an unbelievable circle of friends? Is your church family loving and supportive?

What are the best aspects of your live? Travel, hobbies, witnessing opportunities, meaningful time spent with family and friends, the fantastic coffee shop down the street, great workouts, or just extra quiet time to sit and read a book. Work to identify all the positives.  

If you’re struggling with contentment right now, I would also encourage you to start writing down blessings or keeping a thankfulness journal. It really, really helps.

  • Quit playing the comparison game.

Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop jealously eyeing their beautiful, swishy hair (hair has always been a sore spot for me), skinny bodies, cool lives, or cute kids. Most of all, eliminate the assumption that there’s something wrong with you since every other girl can get a guy and you can’t. That type of thinking will never help you. So cut it out.

  • Find ways to invest in others.

I write about this a lot because I think about me, me, me a lot. Being single naturally draws the focus inward. The more I dwell on myself and what I don’t have, the more frustrated and depressed I get about my single life. Shifting the focus toward another person changes my perspective. Life becomes less about me and more about the needs of a friend, niece, or neighbor. Get creative and look for ways to help and connect.

  • Love generously

This ties in with investing in others. I think, the longer we’re single, the more comfortable it becomes to withdraw or hold back. Be friendly, but not too open. That’s usually my motto. But we miss so much this way!

A lack of romantic love in our lives doesn’t mean we can’t fully, generously love other people. Being able to embrace the people God brings into our lives is a beautiful gift. We will be richer for it.  

Accept your life where it is today.

To anyone who’s struggling with the question, “Why doesn’t anything ever seem to change?” I would remind you some things may never change.

It’s far better to accept that fact than rail against it. Rather than hoping this is the year you’ll meet someone, or that this is the year for big changes in your life, try making this the year of quiet acceptance.

Stop struggling and start surrendering.

I pray that the changes will be in me, and you, this year. Not necessarily in our circumstances.

This week, I’m thankful for the blessing of a hope and a future, however they might look. Together, let’s celebrate every SINLGE blessing!