It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m supposed to feel one of two ways: extremely excited to be in a relationship or extremely bummed out that I’m not. But to me, it just feels like any other day. I’m not jealous of the girls gushing about their relationships (and yes, it’s been just girls). I’m not feeling sorry that I’m single. Today just feels like an ordinary day with some extra chocolate floating around.
It has taken me a long time to be ok with my single status. And that’s because I don’t consider myself single “right now,” but just single, with the possibility that I’ll be single forever.
Getting married and having kids is one of those assumptions I’ve just always grown up with. Go to college, get married, have kids. They were spoken of as not possibilities, but inevitabilities. I spent Sunday mornings looking at the front of the church, decorating it in my mind for my wedding. I went to school expecting to go into a career I loved, but only for 8 or 10 years, because surely by then I’d be staying at home with my children.
I still want to get married and stay at home with my children. But I know that what I want might be different what will be. I don’t particularly feel called to the married life. On the other hand, I don’t feel particularly called to a religious life or celibate lay life either. My vocation is up in the air. Right now, God’s just telling me to join the Church. After that, I don’t know. It was frustrating at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.
But the silence on this issue has given me room to seriously contemplate that I might not get married. And if I don’t, what does that mean? My biggest concerns aren’t that I’m missing out on being a mother, or having sex, or all the lovey-dovey feelings of romance. My first concern is that my parents will be disappointed in not having grandchildren, and my second is that I will be unsupported in my old age. Both are the hazards of being an only child that I thought having children would alleviate.
There is the social stigma too. I’m not that old, but around here, 23 is creeping on old to not be engaged or married. Everyone assumes you want to be married, so if you are older and aren’t married, you get pity. Not many people understand being called to be single, especially a chaste singledom. Maybe it’s just a Bible Belt thing, but girls are constantly reassured that God has the perfect guy waiting for her in some not-too-distant future. I loathe hearing people say that. I don’t believe in “the one.” I believe people can fall in love, be very compatible, and commit to one another, but that’s different than God lining all of humanity up Noah’s ark style. That idea leaves no room for people who don’t wind up madly in love, by choice or circumstance.
So if I do fall in love again, and if we decide that God wants us to commit to marriage, then that’s wonderful. But if not, God hasn’t forsaken me. I haven’t failed in finding “the one” God picked out for me. God will make good use of me either way.
“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” -C. S. Lewis