Relationships: Thoughts on Singleness

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There was a point in my life when I thought I would be single forever.
I shared this with my mom when we were driving home one afternoon. I told her that maybe I was like Paul—gifted with singleness for life so I could serve God with an undivided heart. She thought I was being silly. She laughed and then she told me not to close my doors. You never know.
She was right, in all her Mom Radar/Mom Intuition glory.
I had idealized the thought of being single. Choosing not to marry and be celibate for the rest of my life felt like the ideal thing to do. It seemed like the only way for me to be a better Christian. I've made some mistakes before marrying Carlo but throughout the years prior to saying "I do," I've grown in many ways I never thought possible. I treasure those 24 years.
Today I am happily married and I'm learning a new set of lessons as a wife. But before I share those, let's look back at what I learned during my season of singleness.
1.       Your identity is not in your relationship status…
…at least, not in human relationships. The most important relationship EVER is your relationship with the Lord. You might have heard this one before. If you’re not a believer, this may not apply to you. But know that you will still root your identity somewhere. It’s a dangerous thing to have your spouse/significant other, job, salary, achievements, or anything else fill that role of completing you. When these things fail—and they will—then you also will fail. No one is perfect so don't look to somebody or something else to complete you apart from Christ. In him, you ARE complete. You are more than what you do or how much you make. You are more than who you date or marry.
 A relationship with the eternal, triune God means stability and security. It means restoration, forgiveness, healing, purpose, transformation, and completion.
2.       Being single or married does not make you any better than everybody else
I shared this bit of advice during a mini-workshop that Carlo and I did earlier this year. We talked about marriage and courtship together with other couples. Married people don’t have dibs on all the good things in life. Companionship is great, but the good news is you can still make friends as a single lady/guy. You still have family. Having said that, marriage is not the ultimate goal of life. Not getting married doesn't make you a failure.
I do acknowledge that loneliness is a factor. I know people who are in their late 20s, 30s, and even 40s who remain unmarried and have told me of that loneliness. But these same people are secure in their identity (refer to #1). They are able to find happiness in the relationships that they do have. Single or married, we all need community.
3.       Singleness is a great time of exploration
I wish I had taken more personality tests when I was single so I could understand myself better. If you’re single, this is an awesome time to know your learning and communication style. Discover your likes and dislikes and set your goals. Make plans but be open to change. Don’t be pessimistic about how life might throw off your plans; it’s better to have goals than to drift. Explore when you can—go places, meet people, and in the process, grow. Temet nosce—Know thyself! This will benefit you when you start a new relationship, romantic or not. You'll know what you’re bringing to the table. This leads me to #4:
4.       Singleness is an opportunity to grow in understanding God’s view of marriage
When you’re single, it helps to know what God’s vision is for marriage and relationships. Whatever insight you gain can benefit both you and the married people around you. Just as I idolized singleness, be careful that marriage doesn't become an idol, too (refer to #2). Remember that the Church is the Bride of Christ and Jesus is the Bridegroom. Eschatology teaches us that the end will culminate in a wedding feast. Until then, today is the day to stay faithful and devoted as the Bride of Christ. 
If you're single today, take heart! Know who you are in Christ. Be secure in that. Know yourself. Have fun. Meditate on what it means to be the Bride of Christ, the Church. 
If you're married, what are some lessons you learned as a single person?
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