A moment of inspiration
After an agonising few years of self-doubt and frustration, it slowly dawned on me that maybe I was not alone. Maybe there were other Christians in their late twenties like me, unhappily single, alone, looking for support. Maybe there were resources out there for such singles and I just needed to find them.
Maybe I was not alone.
So I went shopping. I went to a large Christian bookstore and eagerly scoured the shelves for resources on singleness. “If there are any resources for Christian singles to be found,” I assured myself, “they will be here.”
Guess who was wrong?
I found piles and piles of books on marriage. I found mountains of books on dating – for teenagers. Fantastic resources but irrelevant to the single twenty-nine-year-old.
I kept looking. And found. . . nothing else.
I found myself standing there in the middle of the store, adrift in a sea of books, looking helplessly about myself. “This can’t be it!” my mind cried out in disbelief. “Why, judging from the resources in this bookstore, one must assume that all Christians are either teenagers or married!”
I told God exactly what I thought.
I walked out and told God exactly what I thought.
“God,” I complained, “this is not ok! There needs to be something for people like me, something to acknowledge that not all Christians get married the moment they graduate adolescence.”
Then I prayed a stupid prayer. It was, quite possibly, the stupidest prayer I have ever prayed. (Ever done that?) “God,” I pleaded, my blood still boiling, “please prompt a writer somewhere to write a book about this extremely urgent and vital topic.”
Spent, I stopped talking and listened for God to reply. He doesn’t always answer with words. On this particular day, he was silent, except that he seemed to be staring right at me.
I realised I had just prayed he would prompt somebody to write a book.
He seemed to be staring right at me.
“Oh no,” I said hastily, panic starting to rise. “Surely you’re not looking at me God? I can’t write! I have never written a book in my life. I have no idea where to start.”
Nothing from God.
I continued my protest. “I have no training, no education, no experience as a writer. Surely you want an experienced writer for an important job like this?”
Still nothing. But it almost felt like God was laughing. He didn’t care. He didn’t care that I was inexperienced. He didn’t mind that I had no training. He didn’t seem worried about my worries. He just wanted me to write.
He didn’t care. He just wanted me to write.
I shrugged. “Ok God. You’re on.”
I have since published my first book, Surviving Singledom. It has been a wonderful, vulnerable, rewarding process. And it has helped other single Christians who, like me, have been searching for much-needed resources on this subject.
Writing that book helped with my own self-esteem and self-doubt. It solidified my ideas about singledom. It affirmed who I am, and in so doing, it highlighted the importance of keeping my self-esteem afloat while single.
Here are my five top tips for surviving singledom while keeping your self-esteem (mostly) intact:
1. Talk to my best friend. Or find your own best friend instead. But they must be the encouraging sort, as well as genuine. You need authentic feedback, positive but real, when you are swept away by self-doubt.
2. Pray frankly and freely. Polite prayers do no good to yourself or to God. Tell God exactly where you stand. He is near. Maybe he will answer. Hey, maybe he will even use words.
3. Write a book – or blog, or song, or sonnet – about your experiences. It can give you mental clarity about what you are going through. Then share it. It can resonate with others and support them. You never know who is going to benefit from your words.
4. Never mind the busy-bodies. Someone will always have an opinion on or advice about your singledom. They want to help you fix the “problem”. Stay away from those people. Tell them to mind their own business.
5. Find your strengths. I have discovered a passion for writing I previously did not know I had. I have lots of other strengths as well, as I know you do too. You have much to offer the world. You are valuable. You are needed. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
You are valuable. You are needed. You have much to offer the world.
When you feel like the social leper in the room, remember you are not alone and you do not have to endure this alone. Reach out to others, to fellow Christian singles, to supportive people, to God.
Singledom may be hard but it is survivable.
What are your top tips for surviving singledom? Do you talk to God about being single? How do you respond when others try to “fix” your singledom? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.