It’s November, the month that those of us living in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday reminds us to give thanks for our blessings. In my own life, I’ve been working to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” As my attitude has shifted, I have noticed a much higher level of contentment in my life! Life definitely isn’t “perfect”–but it is all a blessing!
For the past two years, I spent Independence Day watching fireworks on the rooftop of my apartment building.
I loved being a a part of the city life, of having access to so many events at my fingertips. It was a total gift to be able to invite friends over for the 4th of July and walk up a
few flights of stairs to the rooftop. We could stand on the rooftop and see downtown, and watch numerous firework displays from over the lake. Now, I am in the suburbs. I definitely do not have my own apartment, but live in someone else’s home. They have graciously opened up their space to me and my (very unique) cat for a low price.
This Independence Day, my no-longer roommate drove us twenty minutes away, to another suburb’s fireworks display. By God’s provision, we found a parking spot. We followed many families of energetic young children to the fireworks watching location, chatting about our still-single state of life and the general complexities that we never imagined would still be the reality at our respective ages.
We staked out a spot and laid out a blanket. The sun continued its setting. Music played over loudspeakers, and we continued to talk. Finally, the music stopped. All the lights turned off. There was a collective gasp in the crowd. Complete darkness covered the area as we waited for the fireworks that celebrate the freedoms and independence we are offered in the United States of America.
My life has turned out vastly different than I ever imagined. This is especially in relation to being 28, where I find myself now. As I contentedly watched the magnificent fireworks display, one of my best friends beside me, what echoed in my heart was “different, yet beautiful.”
Watching the fireworks in a well-removed location from city life, and surrounded by families, is vastly different than watching them in the city. Yet, it was beautiful.
Living in the house of married couple friends is much different than living in a house with my own husband, as I always assumed would be the case by this age. Yet it is beautiful as I benefit from the hospitality of my friends and learn more about the beauty and struggles of marriage.
Making friends with other single women my age and older, yet still trying to figure out men and how anyone finally makes it through all the steps to the altar is different than I ever expected would be the case by now. It’s different than having “couple friends” and arranging play dates, yet it is the most beautiful blessing to have these sisters to share this unique journey with.
Life sure is different than I ever expected it would be at this point in my life. Still, grace and blessings abound, different blessings than I expected. Each day I find blessings and strength, treasures to hold onto. Our Father is a good, good Father.
Life is different, yet it is immensely beautiful.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”~Romans 8:38-39
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! This day and every day, at every moment, you are totally and completely loved by God.
Have you ever examined your current life and found it is just not what you expected or wanted? At my current age, I thought I would be married with two children, living in a house
purchased by my husband and I. Obviously none of that has come to pass. For so many years I lived under certain assumptions about how life would go, that the milestones expected by society (and dare I say by some members of the Body of Christ?) would just fall into place. My life has turned out very different than the milestones expected by society. I have come to a place of joy and contentment. This did not come overnight. There are a few steps I’ve realized that those of us who are very single (& expected to be living life married by now) can benefit from:
- Accept the disappointment. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, but will make it worse. Pour it out to God! Be honest with God. Talk to trusted people, other single friends, maybe even a counselor. Figure out what it is exactly that you are grieving. Put a name to it, realize your disappointment, but don’t let yourself stay there.
- Accept the reality of your current situation. Most of all, find the blessings in it! Find the wisdom. For many of us, marrying at a young age may have been detrimental. In your current season of life, there are many blessings. In fact, single people are doing amazing things! We have more “free time” than married couples/parents. We have more time to focus solely on the Lord, not distracted by human love (1 Corinthians 7:34). Though it can be painful, there is much freedom found in singleness.
- Pray to see the bigger vision. I’ve written before about this. At least for myself, I had a limited vision for my life. My Heavenly Father continues to expand my vision and show me new aspects of my self and the purpose for my life. There is so much more than marriage or children. He will surely do the same for you. When you are living within the bigger vision and understand it, you will find great peace and contentment. You can also ask loved ones or spiritual mentors how they see the Lord working through your life in order to gain more insight. The Lord has the full vision for our lives-we see but a glimpse.
- Love others. We were created by Love, for love. You have the time, and you have love to give. For now, it’s not a spouse or children. However, there are so many others in need. Perhaps they even live within your home or right next door. Service is so important. Don’t dwell on your own single state. Build community.
- Love yourself. I’m not talking narcissism. I’m talking about taking good care of yourself, a unique human being created in the image of God. You are a temple of God! Realize your own needs and the way God made you. Treat yourself with kindness and make sure you are not ignoring any part of yourself.
- Cultivate a strong relationship with God. God made Eve for Adam. He didn’t allow Adam to be alone for long. We have the ability to create community with other people around us. Yet I don’t believe that living out an extended period of singleness is natural. It’s not. Celibacy is not a call given to many for a lifetime. It is a difficult call to walk out, as long as anyone is asked to walk it out. Only by leaning on the love of God can we do this. We must find our identity in Him and in living within His great love and abundance. Only by living in relationship with our Creator can we make sense of our lives.
On this day when society (at least American society) might make you feel sad due to the focus on couples, delight in the perfect love of God. Delight in the love of the people around you. Reach out and spread some love to those feeling hopeless or unloved. This life might not be what you expected or wanted. Yet it is your earthly life, and in it there is abundant purpose and blessing. No matter whether you are courting, married, or completely single for the Lord. Let’s live in the joy and freedom!
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”~Philippians 4:10-13
This is one of my favorite Bible passages. It speaks of learning to rely on Christ alone. Our circumstances in life are constantly changing. If we are relying on the situations of our lives for our contentment, then we will never be truly content. We may even become bitter or resentful. Contentment is something we can learn from a close relationship with Christ. Once we realize that He is our firm Foundation, then we learn to be content no matter what life throws at us.
I am learning this lesson day by day. I’m in a profession that doesn’t make a lot of money. Sometimes I don’t have “extra” money. I’m learning to be ok with that, and to realize that a climbing number in a bank account doesn’t mean much. Of course, money is a necessity. A safe, sturdy shelter, and food are needed to survive. Yet, what does more money mean at the end of the day? A pile of cash won’t buy me or others into Heaven. At the end of my life, I’m sure that how much money I saved will be the least of my worries. How much I loved will matter. So, no matter whether I am barely squeaking by financially, or whether I am rolling in the dough, I am content. Christ is all I need to be content, and He gives me strength each day.