the wonder in the waiting {singleness}

I wrote this post earlier this month, and while it is different from anything I usually share, I felt it was a needed statement of my trust in the Lord and my everyday decision to be thankful for the season I am in. If this resonates with you even a little bit, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

I think that turning eighteen set off some alarms in my mind concerning my relationship status. Up till that point, I was either too young or too weird to have a boyfriend. But now…now that I had officially earned adult status, and I didn’t think I was horribly weird…and yet I was still single, these red flags started popping up in my mind. Things like what is wrong with me? or maybe it’s the braces were (and, let’s be honest, still are) some of my everyday thoughts. I’ve had people tell me that I am less qualified to photograph couples and weddings because I am single. I feel the pressure from culture telling me that I should’ve had seven boyfriends by now. Yet the Bible says that singleness is a good thing, and I know this in my heart, deep down. Still, a part of me clings to the irrational fear that says being single at eighteen means I will still be single at eighty.

I could go on for days about how scared I am of being forever alone, or how rejected I can allow myself to feel simply based on that one word: single. I would imaging that every person has felt, at one point or another, the hidden meaning that being single means nobody wants you. These are lies. I could give them time, but I refuse to. The devil’s tactics don’t deserve that kind of attention.

Instead, I will remind myself, and anyone else reading this, of the truth. Here is the truth that I like to keep hidden when I’m having my pity parties in front of the mirror, wondering what it is about me that guys don’t care for: singleness is a beautiful thing. It. Is. Beautiful.

As a single young woman, I have just as much love, compassion, and worth as any other person on this planet. My relationship status does not have the power to tell me who I am.

Singleness allows me to pour out the love in my heart to many, many people. Singleness is showing me how to not rely on one human for the entirety of my emotional satisfaction and fulfillment. Singleness, or rather, the lack of motherhood, is helping me learn what I do and don’t want in a future family. I am able to love on other peoples’ children more intentionally than if I was a mom right now. My business and educational pursuits are able to flourish because I am single.

I don’t like the idea of singleness being a time to grow closer to the Lord, even though that is what it is. What I don’t care for in that term is the implication that once I have a boyfriend, I spend less time focused on Jesus. Friends, we are committed to the Lord before we are committed to anyone or anything. If that is not a true statement, then we are idolators. I am not perfect at keeping God first as a single woman, and I know I will never be perfect at this. I am still an idolator at heart. But I would hope that being in a romantic relationship would actually drive me closer to the Lord, as with every season. So I do not think of singleness as a season, or as a specific period of time where growth is easier/more convenient. I would like to see myself free of any labels; this is not necessarily a season of singleness, this is right now, this moment. Ann Voskamp said,

“The whole lot of us are done with waiting room living. We are done waiting for some elusive moment to say life is good enough…to finally think we’ve arrived at the abundance of being and living enough. Real life is happening, and it’s happening right now…what if abundant life isn’t about what you can expect from life, but what life can expect from you?”

So often in my mind, I equate singleness with just that: waiting room living. Honestly, though, to make that connection is shortsighted at best and ungrateful at worst. If I were God, I think I would want to shake single people by the shoulders and say, “Don’t you see? I have a purpose and a plan, and it’s happening in this moment! Yet you are a living mourner of what you do not have.” Please don’t mistake me for the Bible; the Lord has said these things Himself:

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…why do you spend your money [or your time, thoughts, energy] for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant; my steadfast, sure love for David. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near…’for My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:1-3, 6, 8-9 ESV

There is beauty to be found, right here, right now. Jesus calls us to abundance, to contentment and perfect peace in Him. His love is steadfast and sure, His heart is open and listening to us, and though His thoughts and ways are nothing like ours, He is still compassionate and forgiving. While it is good to have desires and dreams, and to occasionally mourn the way that life has perhaps not gone according to your plan, I can’t help but think that God has something better for all of us than “waiting room living.” Maybe in the call to “wait” on a future dream (in this case, my desire to be married and have children) lies more blessing and wonders straight from the Father’s heart that we cannot even begin to imagine. As my friends Diego & Emily would say, “waiting is wonderful.” They know this more than anyone; it took many years for their love story to finally unfold – exactly the way God planned. I can trust the truth that Jesus has wonders to share right here: in the waiting.

Aliyah Burton