I didn’t always love being single.
I did my share of crying myself to sleep at night, thinking no one would ever love me. I wondered if I was doomed to be alone forever. I went through break-ups that broke my heart, and wondered if it was all worth it.
Single life certainly had it’s ups and downs.
But after twenty-some years I had also just sort of settled into it. I’d become accustomed to the way I could wake up in the morning and make my own choices about what I was going to eat for breakfast, or if I was going to socialize after work or just come home, make popcorn, and watch a movie.
I’d developed hobbies that actually made me really happy. I picked up long-distance running, started keeping a blog that I hoped would turn into a book someday, and would spend Saturday evenings lounging around with a hot cup-of-something and whatever book I was enjoying at the time.
I had friends. Lots of them. I traveled when I wanted, and would make decisions at the last minute about what to do, with who, and when.
I loved my church community and spending time with my family.
I never had to wonder if there was milk left in the fridge because, if I left it there, it would be there, right where I left it.
My life was so predictable. Easy. Under control.
That’s why one day, a little more than a year ago, while I was running with a friend, I told her that I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married anymore. I wasn’t trying to sound strong. I wasn’t covering up a deep loneliness I was feeling (at least as far as I knew). I wasn’t pretending to be more mature or self-actualized than I already was.
I was just really content being single.
Less than a year later, I was married.
When I stood at the altar and committed my life to my new husband, I told him I would be with him in sickness and health, regardless if we were rich or poor. But what I should have told him was that I was laying down my single life for him. I should have told him that it was okay if he moved the milk, or even drank it all, and that I would have grace for him when he left the seat up.
I should have told him that I would love him more than running, or writing.
I should have told him that he would be mine forever, even if he never ran a marathon with me.
I wish my heart was in that place on my wedding day, but it wasn’t. Instead, I stood at the altar and said “I do,” oblivious to the ways that my life would inevitable change after my wedding day.
Relationships I cherished would change.
Hobbies I loved would change.
I would have way, way less control over what is in the fridge.
I’ve heard people say that you have to “be content in your singleness” before you get married
—I guess I understand what they are getting at — that you have to be a whole person before you can offer yourself wholly to someone else, but I wonder if becoming “content” in our single life is actually accomplishing that objective.
I don’t feel like it accomplished it for me.
Maybe that’s because, when I said I was “content” in my singleness, what I really meant was that I was attached to it. The reason I didn’t want to get married was because somewhere, deep down, I knew it would mean giving up what I had.
Packing Light. You have to let go of one thing to grab onto something new.
I wonder if generations before us, or cultures outside of us, have the same concept of a single, adult life we have. I wonder if they are given opportunities to grow attached to their own sense of autonomy, a life they one day have to “give up” in order to be part of a community, a family.
I wonder if they feel the need to become “content” with their single life.
I wonder if they see life with (as opposed to life alone) as all there is.
I wonder if it is our attachment to things, our insistence to bring more than we really need, that keeps us from really enjoying the trip.
[photo: Braden Spotts]