December marked the celebration of my one-year anniversary of singleness—a huge milestone for me. To some, one year does not seem like a long time to be single, but for the chronically attached, a year seems like an eternity.
You see, I’ve been off the market since I was old enough to date. I was the high school freshman who lost friends because they always took a backseat to her boyfriend—the guy she dated until she graduated. I was the college grad who jumped right into married life before she ever considered what kind of life she really wanted. I was the divorcee who clung desperately to a rebound relationship, secretly terrified to live life alone.
I had become a woman with no sense of self, and one year ago, I threw an absolute fit when I realized I would be single for a while. I had no idea I was missing a sense of self because my significant other had been my sense of life, worth and identity since I was a teenager. Singleness forced me to face this ugly truth and dive into some much-needed self-discovery. I thought this just might be the death of me, but it ended up rewriting the story of my life.
It didn’t take me long to recognize that I had inappropriately assigned my significant other as my idol.
I knew it was God, not a man, who should be holding that number-one spot in my life, but there was a bit of lag time between recognizing this and actually making the change. It took me the better part of the year to realize there were two heirs in line for the idol throne: first fitness, then my business. Both were huge sources of worth for me; I was making something of myself! If my business was a success and my body was beautiful, then I was worth something. I was valuable.
What a sad and dangerous way to live.
The Message translation of 1 John 2:15-17 highlights the problem perfectly: “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
This raises a great point: My business and fitness will eventually fade. If these things are my source of life, then I’m bent for destruction, too. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a career or physical health, but there is a huge problem with allowing these successes to determine my peace, worth and joy.
By the time the last quarter of the year rolled around, I finally had God in my number-one spot where He belonged. My relationship with Jesus had been growing stronger all year, and I was learning how to hear Him, how to be still, how to worship Him and how to follow Him. I learned that the void I kept trying to fill with broken men can only be filled by Jesus, and I now know what it’s like to have peace and joy despite circumstances and people.
The last thing to heal was my missing sense of self; everything shifted as He spoke to me about my true worth and identity. The truth is I’m a child of God (Romans 8:16), all my needs are met by Jesus (Philippians 4:19), I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13), and I’m an heir of eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). No part of that identity needs a significant other to be true.
In summary, I get it. I get why this season of singleness was necessary. I still believe that the bond of a lifelong partner is one of the most special things this life has to offer, but I no longer feel lost without that kind of relationship. And now that my source of life is coming from the Author of Life, I am so much better prepared to find that person.
If your number-one spot goes to anyone or anything but God, please give this some thought: Understanding the truth about my identity changed everything.
I’ll never be the same, and I’ve never been better.