Saturday, May 25, 2024
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A Letter To My Younger, Single Self

Photo courtesy of Pimthida via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Pimthida via Flickr

It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me. I already know. You’re absolutely freaking out. You’re not at all sure what to do with the fact that it seems like every one of your friends has gotten married or is getting married. Turning 25 and being what you internally call yourself, “irrevocably single,” isn’t easy.

You feel alone.

There’s no road map.

Life after moving that tassel a few years ago hasn’t been all that the commencement speaker said it would be. You haven’t conquered anything, and in fact, you feel less hopeful, less like dreaming and terrified of the void ahead. (The void, of course, being the likelihood that you won’t get married by 30.)

You’ve cried in your car listening to this song and this one on repeat. You’ve cried to mom—trying to explain yourself to someone who is empathetic but who had no trouble finding a husband before the threat of crow’s feet and death by hyperbole.

You’ve sat through so many conversations where girls list their 4,235 required qualities in a potential suitor, dialogues with your married friends who tell you to just stop looking and you’ll find someone, and of course, the sermons by pastors giving you the top five screw-ups in your life that you’ll have to fix before someone might even look in your direction. In between mournful readings of Persuasion, you’ve watched Sleepless in Seattle, Sabrina, and Return to Me so many times that you might break George Washington’s cardinal rule if someone ever asked you about.

Although it may seem like I’m placating you, I’m not. I want you to know—even if I tiptoe up the very edge of Cliché Canyon—that it will get better.

It’s okay to mourn and be confused about why God seems to have given the gift of marriage to everyone else, but your life isn’t ruined. I would be lying if I didn’t say that learning to walk down a road that you don’t want and don’t understand isn’t hard. It’s painful, and you’re probably going to finally have to look at those quaint ideas about God, the world and yourself that you stuffed in the back of your closet with the crusty shoes and frayed sundresses. Don’t lose sight of the fact that God has good things for you here and now. Look for the ways that He is meeting your needs and not leaving you alone.

I see that thrift-store dining-room table that your mom bought you sitting in the garage. I know it’s stressing you out that you feel like you don’t have an “adult” life because you’ve been living with roommates and other people’s stuff. You imagine that if only you had a husband, that somehow it logically follows that you’d also have not only a place to put a dining room set, but complete say over the decorating scheme. I hate to remind you that correlation is not causation.

God is going to provide for you. He may not provide in the way you expect or even understand, but He will.

Don’t be afraid to dream and plan. And while you dream and plan, pray. When you are worried that you will die a wrinkled, lonely prune with nothing but a tuft of curly hair left, pray. Pray that God will build up men and make them bold to walk into relationships with godly women. Pray that God will soften your heart so that He can work His will in your life (even if there’s never a ring). Pray that God will give you the gift of marriage. Don’t be ashamed of your—gasp—still-single story. Own the fact that your story is different.

You’re in a weird place.

Politicians studying you think they’ve got you figured out. The donkeys and elephants think you’re not married because you’re a “career woman” and a feminist. They don’t actually have a clue. It is possible to be single and not see keeping a home, husband and kids as Alcatraz. Leave the talking points to the talking heads, and look for those precious few friends who don’t idolize marriage and, at the same time, don’t denigrate it either—people who understand that a change in circumstances isn’t going to make you or them more or less holy. Sanctification isn’t dependent on a heavier left hand.

I saved what I’m going to say next for last because I wanted you to keep reading and not offend you until the end.

You’ve been to a lot of weddings lately. There’s a lot of talk about soul mates, love at first sight and being with someone forever. Stop waiting for that to happen to you. Ignore “Twilight” with it’s subtle Mormon marriage theology about eternal romantic love. God’s plan for the redeemed creation doesn’t involve you and whatever Nora Roberts cover art you’re imagining. Human marriage is good and beautiful—but it’s a picture and a shadow. It’s a gift, but it’s a temporary one. There is only going to be one marriage in Heaven, and it’s not going to be the couple who put a beach McMansion on their registry.

I know you’re probably wondering if I can tell you whether or not you get married by the time you hit the big 3-0. You’ve seen what happens to Marty McFly too many times not to realize that I can’t tell you. In fact, I’m probably breaking Doc Brown’s rules by even writing this letter. The whole time-space continuum may be just about to crack. I’m not a magic 8 ball, and God isn’t either. He doesn’t want to be your genie and your wish granter.

Jesus wants your heart—even your tears. He’s not asking you to travel down any road that He’s never traveled. Your life isn’t random. Singleness isn’t a detour.

Be at peace. You are seen and heard in the courts of heaven. Good days are ahead.

About Anna Hayes

Anna is a 30-year-old who recently left the East Coast for a life as a grad student in a small city somewhere in the middle. She spent several years in East Asia teaching English and loves words, language and being a small part of applying the Gospel to current cultural trends: gender-role confusion, marriage/family breakdown, sexual sin and delayed marriage/unintended singleness.
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