I know. Another letter telling you all the things you should focus on while you’re single. How you should make this your time to serve, and how you should enjoy those years of doing what you want before life gets crazy, and blah blah blah.
This isn’t about that.
Because the truth about being single is that most of us see it as a filler-spot. You know, the little spacer on your lifeline that is just a temporary blip until you meet the person you want to do life with. The person that you’ve prayed for and hoped for and longed for your entire life. There is no shame in that. It’s a huge part of life.
This letter is actually about that person. (Cue: heart emojis floating across the screen)
Because after spending 17 years married, and now four years single-again, I have a few things to share with you before you make that plunge. Things I wish I’d known. Things like this:
1. This person won’t be your everything, but you should still hope for that when you are looking.
Because doing otherwise will lead you to settle on things that you don’t really want, because everyone is telling you that you can’t have it all. It’s true, you really can’t. But you need to shoot for it anyway. Find someone who completely blows your mind with how close they are to the bar you set (that high bar, not the one you lowered after a few years in the dating pool). Because God does know the desires of your heart. In fact, He put them there for a reason. So don’t go second-guessing every single thing you’ve ever wanted in a person because you fear they aren’t out there. They should be very, very close.
2. Don’t ignore a single red flag.
One. Flag. Because the person you choose determines so many things about your future that you may have never realized. What position faith will hold in your home, how you’ll live, where you’ll live, the people you’ll do life with, how your children will be raised, who your friends will be, the way the community perceives your family, the kinds of weekends you’ll spend, the mood of your home. All of these things matter. They matter so much that if you don’t think about them when you are single and looking, you’ll kick yourself later for wearing rose-colored glasses.
3. Put in more than you take out, and you’ll get more than you put in.
If the person you decide to spend your life with doesn’t make you want to put them on a pedestal, they probably aren’t right for you. It takes work to make them feel loved beyond the rush of those first months together. And though it will always come easy, maintaining that position of serving the one you’ve chosen to love causes reciprocal behavior. You’ll get the returns you hoped for. Feeling unloved? You’re likely not giving enough.
4. Don’t buy into the hype of an equal marriage.
Your marriage will equal out where it’s supposed to. Don’t be so picky about who does which chores or who plays what roles, to the point that you need a score card to keep up. Men and women are made differently, and that’s a good thing. In a marriage, two people bring very different things to the table, and that’s a good thing. Allow room for both of you to find your natural strengths, and let the strongest win. As it turns out, things will be pretty equal when it’s all said and done. But it may not look the way you expected.
As singles, this is our moment to shape our lives into what we want our future to look like. The person we seek out and ultimately choose will determine how our life looks 10, 20, or even 50 years down the road, more than any other thing we do. Spend your time wisely, thoughtfully. Get to know the deepest desires of what you’ve always wanted in a mate. Admit those desires and start seeking them out. Now is not the time to cut corners, or look at those in your community and pick the only other Christian you can find. Go for the whole enchilada. Find that person — or the one who’s so stinking close, it’s scary.
This is your moment to make a radical difference in your life. Don’t miss it.