Comparison is the thief of joy. –Theodore Roosevelt
These words from Roosevelt are so true and so very applicable to many areas of our lives. Comparing ourselves to others is something we do everyday, but the difference between us and others somehow seems magnified on Valentine’s Day. It brings to light our flaws. It shows us what we lack. It reminds us that there must be something that makes us less valuable. These thoughts are nothing new to anyone, although we seem to consistently brush aside how much they can really affect us. There’s no denying they can. They make us unsettled and discontent with our lives. Although the alluring idea of comparing ourselves to others can creep up in any area of life, singleness seems to cut us more deeply than other things. The Lord has placed a desire in our hearts to share our lives with someone we love deeply. But we tell ourselves all sorts of lies we too willingly believe in order to answer the questions behind our loneliness. Being told, even if by our own thoughts, that we aren’t good enough for someone else can break a heart.
These thoughts we have, trying to justify or explain our current relationship status, are nothing more than excuses. And they aren’t true. We’re perfectly capable, ready, and even willing to quickly highlight all of our faults and make ourselves feel worthless. It’s so much easier to accept that there’s something wrong with us and we’re somehow unlovable, than to accept that where we are in life is intended and purposeful.
We constantly look at other people and see the lives that they have and wonder why we can’t have the same things. Instead of realizing we each have our individual circumstances for unique reasons, we come up with all sorts of rationalizations for why our lives are different from others. We’re wearing our hearts down and looking at ourselves with a tainted perception. You are not them. They are not you. Each of us has our own path and something specific we’ve been called to do. Whatever it is, it can only be done in the place we are in now.
…An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit… – 1 Corinthians 7:34 (NIV)
This verse is relevant to both men and women, and I love it. It can soothe a restless heart and remind us of our first purpose in life. Let it sink in. Singleness only lasts for a short time in the perspective of a whole life, and there is work to do right here. There are things we can only do while we’re single. It gives us a completely different view of life, filled with opportunities to focus exclusively on the Lord’s affairs.
I don’t want to waste my singleness looking for what I don’t have and wishing for different circumstances. I would be wasting time the Lord has given me, resources He has placed in my hands and missing opportunities to fulfill tasks He has given me to do. The older we become, the closer and closer we get to the end of our singleness. It will happen someday and it could be sooner than we think. But it won’t happen before, and certainly not after, the correct timing. Then, we’ll be given tasks we can only do alongside someone else.
Our Christian culture has also told us that if we’re not in a relationship and on the path towards marriage like so many others, we must not be good enough yet to be classified as “marriage material”. We’re handed a list of things to be and ways to act to make us into “the one”. But they’re wrong. You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect match for someone else. The Lord will take these flaws we have and use them to build a godly relationship and marriage, just like He uses our flaws to constantly remind us of who He is and how He loves us. Not being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re anything less than you should be. You’re not in a relationship because there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing right now. If the Lord is bringing to the surface things about yourself you feel you need to change, He’s not doing it for the sake of hopefully making you so perfect you won’t ever bug your future spouse. Let’s face it, that’s an unrealistic expectation and unrealistic pressure on you. He’s compelling you to grow into the best person you can be, for the sake of a close relationship with Him. He’s cultivating you to be ready and capable to serve, to do the Lord’s work and walk the path He has laid out for you; no matter what that path may be.
We should never believe singleness is only training for life after being single. That is what robs us of joy. It’s so much more than that and we’re letting it slip through our hands without a second glance. Singleness shouldn’t be something that we’re eager to get rid of. It should be a special time in our lives that we cherish and embrace as enthusiastically as any other season in life.