I have a secret board on Pinterest. This secret board has more pins than any other one, even the Jesus one. It’s called “Loved, or maybe not.”
While most people have given Pinterest the good ole heave-ho, I still keep it, primarily for that secret board. I’m pretty great about sharing feelings and being transparent about everything, except talking too openly about my heart feelings toward love and romance.
Too often, as a single woman (I’ll speak from the I perspective here, though I’m sure many of my single friends would find some agreement here, too), if I talk about being in relationship with someone longingly, then people assume bitter about my singleness.
Or I get so much unsolicited advice about how to find my husband.
Or the Christianese platitudes about how we all have our season and that my husband is coming. How do you know, have you met him??
Or the questions that always come up–how are you still single? Why are you still single?
Or the comments like–when you’re married, you’ll wish you were single.
Or the always crappy saying that if I just loved myself more, someone else would be able to love me, too.
Or the but “you’re so pretty” and “you cook so well.”
Or the “take this time to work on yourself.”
Or “have you thought about understanding why you’re still single?”
Or being told that being married isn’t all that great and also that it’s the greatest thing ever.
Or the… “if you lost weight, cut your hair, grew out your hair, wore more makeup, wore less makeup, change your shoes, wear different clothes, etc.”
Or the “I wish you’d meet someone.” Yeah, me too.
Or when people ask what I’ll do when they’re not around to help. Probably just die.
Or the “do you even go on dates?” “Put yourself out there?” “What about…” Has anyone precisely figured out where out there is?
I could list things out for days. Maybe even weeks.
This is why I keep a secret board on Pinterest. It allows me to feel all my feelings–good, bad, ugly, unkind, sad, unsure, insecure, content–safely tucked away for just me.
I’ve been single the majority of my adult life–that’s 30(ish) years of adult singleness. I have also wanted to be married the majority of my adult life–that’s 30(ish) years of adult singleness. There’s a good chance that I’ve processed through every suggestion above, at least 37 times. And have plenty more of my own, too.
Offering hope to people and also allowing people to sit in the reality of what might be is something that has to be navigated with empathy and compassion. The truth is that it just isn’t going to happen for everyone, and we need (that’s a strong word #sorrynotsorry) to stop telling people it will. Especially when we tell them it will happen if _______ (fill in the blank) because unless God has spoken a word to you and confirmed it through something else, you don’t know.
Singleness can be and often is, sacred time well spent learning lots of things about our spirituality, our flaws, our goodnesses, and about other people. It’s respectable. It’s not something for which we need to feel shame. It is just what it is – a part of who we are and our experience on this Earth.
And sometimes it sucks.
And sometimes it’s great.
And sometimes we have secret boards on Pinterest to deal with it.
It’s tough for single people… lemme change that…it’s tough for ME to open myself up about a topic that is so tender. When I do, and it’s met with all the things (like those above) that won’t allow me to feel what I feel, it doesn’t give me permission to explore my own emotions, and that’s not okay.
One of my favorite things to say is that sometimes we just need to sit with our people in the dark. We don’t need to force them through it, or false hope them out of it, or quickly encourage them to the other side of it – there’s a time and a place for that, for sure. However, sometimes we’re just called to sit with them.
If you’re single and struggling in this season right now, I hate it with you. I still believe in fairytales, and I believe many of us will experience our own kind of fairytale. Yet, at this moment, I hope you give yourself permission to explore everything you’re feeling. I hope you remember that you won’t stay in that place; you’ve been there before, and every time you’ve gotten to the other side of it – I believe you’ll do that again.