Just typing the title of this post feels overwhelming. To be honest, the days when I feel grateful for my singleness don’t come often. Because of that, I wonder if I’m even qualified to write about this topic. I write from somewhere along the journey rather than at a destination. Maybe that’s the point, though. I haven’t yet arrived, but I can share what I’ve been learning along the way.
Before I go further, I want to define my singleness. Sixteen years ago I broke up with my high school boyfriend. Officially, we dated for ten months. Unofficially, we were together for a year. Since our breakup, I have been on precisely one date and in zero relationships. I don’t tell you this to elicit your sympathy, but rather to help you understand what singleness has meant for me. This journey has not been short or easy.
Over these years, I have had feelings for several men I’ve met in various seasons of my life. On a few occasions, I dared to hope those feelings might be reciprocated, but I was ultimately disappointed. In those circumstances, I wouldn’t have listed gratitude among the emotions I felt. I was probably as far from gratitude as you can get.
As time continues to move me forward, however, I sometimes discover myself looking back and experiencing the gratitude that once seemed so distant. It arrives without fanfare as the feelings of rejection, hurt, and anger recede. Gratitude takes hold as I begin to understand what God was doing in each of those moments: saving me from myself.
If things had gone the way I wanted them to, I might have married a man struggling with the same addiction I struggled with. How would a relationship where both people are hiding a soul-killing secret turn out? I can’t know for sure. However, I do know God led me in my singleness to a place of freedom.
If things had gone the way I wanted them to, I might have married a man whose dreams would always be more important than mine. How long would I have supported him before my strength gave out? I can’t know for sure. However, I do know God showed me singleness is better than losing myself to someone else’s dreams.
If things had gone the way I wanted them to, I might have wasted my emotional energy on a man who would never love me back. How long would my fear of singleness have kept me trapped in a one-sided relationship? I can’t know for sure. However, I do know God showed me I am worthy of requited love, and that my singleness is not a result of some defect.
With each realization of what might have been, God reminds me of his goodness. He hasn’t been holding out on me; he’s been protecting me. Suddenly this long season of singleness feels less like a burden and more like a gift. As my perspective shifts, gratitude grows.
Undoubtedly, your story is different from mine; not better or worse, but different. You’ve faced different circumstances, made different choices. Regardless of how our stories differ, two truths remain: God is the author and he is good. If you want to join me on the journey to gratitude, ask him to show you his goodness at work in your life. Look back and seek it out. You might find gratitude in your singleness too.
Katie Mumper is a daughter, sister, friend, writer, and singer. She loves Jesus, music, books, and great TV shows. Because she’s far from perfect, she is grateful for God’s grace in her life. She writes with the hope that others might be encouraged to let God make them new as well. You can read more of her work at beautyrestored.me.
Photograph © Guilherme Stecanella, used with permission