When I was younger I never understood why people complained about being single. Being single was awesome. At 19 years old I wrote in my diary, “I’ve decided I don’t want to date until after college. I don’t want to feel tied down when I want to travel, hang out with friends or pursue my education.”
After turning 20 I wrote, “I want to live my life radically for God. I’m thinking of the children working in sweatshops across the world. And maybe foster care. Who cares about getting married…”
To me, life was full of purpose and adventure and I didn’t want anything (or anyone) holding me back. Why couldn’t other people view the world this way? Why did they feel they lacked something by not having a mate? It didn’t make sense. I figured they were just discontent and needed to get over it.
Instead of going on dates and dreaming of my wedding I was busy having fun. Who wants to get married when you can skinny dip or have sleepovers with your girlfriends? Exactly.
My affection for singleness remained strong after college. I went on road trips and moved to Nashville. I met people and heard their stories. I read books, I wrote letters.
At 23 I left for the World Race with my best friend. She came back with a boyfriend, I came back with a broken heart.
But still, I was happy to be single.
Being single meant I could pack up and go to Nicaragua for four months to lead an all-female team. A dream come true.
It was there I encountered my first genuine desire to get married. Two months before my 25th birthday I wrote,
I’m tired. I’m tired of sharing the stories that make up my life – I just want someone to know them already. I’m tired of starting over. I’m tired of being in this season alone – I want a partner in crime. For the first time I’m beginning to understand the beauty of marriage, of constant companionship. It feels weird to even write that. I’ve never felt a need for marriage until now.
And then, all of a sudden I wanted to get married. The desire startled me – it was as if my heart flipped inside out overnight. In an instant I was able to grasp what all those “other” single people were talking about when they said they wanted to get married.
I was one of them now.
During the months that followed I wrestled with this newfound desire – sometimes being completely consumed by longing, other times holding back tears when I thought about the loss of my singleness.
When my best friend married the man she met on the World Race, I stood beside her as she pledged her love to him. To my surprise I felt something I had never felt at a wedding before – jealousy.
I was jealous because this was the first wedding I attended where I actually wanted to get married – I wanted someone who would stay by my side in sickness and health, til death do us part. I had friends who stayed by my side in sickness and health… until they got married or moved away.
In college and the few years that followed I was surrounded by people on the same journey as me, but when I hit my mid 20s everyone seemed to split off onto their own path. I was left alone. People still passed by as their journey intersected with mine. But no one stays for long, or so I’ve learned.
This is why the older you get, the harder being single gets.
This is why churches have single groups. This is why people get cats. This is why I’ve stopped judging people who want a spouse and pray for them instead.
And this is why, despite my [former] dismay, I have become one of those people who just wants someone to put a ring on it. Someone to go to Elton John concerts with me, someone to buy groceries with, someone to fall asleep next to every night (…until death do us part.)
In October my friend wrote in an email, “It’s so weird for me to hear you talk about wanting to be married. Because it’s so foreign for you to talk like that.”
It’s weird to me too. I honestly can’t believe I’m the person who, when asked how I am, will somehow end up talking about how I want a husband. I can’t believe I’m the person who Googles “destination weddings” late at night, or who looked at engagement rings that one time (…meaning a week ago cough cough.)
When I was younger I believed being single was the best way to live an adventure. And maybe it was.
But now I’ve come to believe the adventure doesn’t necessarily come to a crashing halt when a man enters the picture…
instead it continues.
So here I am, 26 and single and longing for someone to come adventure with me.
Together, we will fly.