I’m sitting alone in a coffee shop as I write these words. Comfortably situated at a small table built for two, I enjoy a raspberry Italian soda, the blank page, and the occasional conversation courtesy of Twitter and text messages. I see couples enjoying their coffee, watch young hipsters pass by on the sidewalk as they take in the sun, and I feel content. I don’t envy them or wish I was them. I’m not embarrassed of the empty chair across from me.
A year ago, I couldn’t have done it. I couldn’t have displayed my aloneness, my singleness in such an obvious manner. If I wanted to go for coffee, to the bookstore, or on an aimless adventure, I would have sought company. I would never have gone to a movie alone. I would have begged my sisters or pleaded with friends to avoid going out and announcing to the world that I was alone, unattached, by myself, single.
I would rather have just spent untold hours in the dark quiet of my room.
I’ve spent years being embarrassed and maybe even ashamed by my lack of a relationship status. I’ve never gone on a real date or had a first kiss; brought a guy home to meet my parents; celebrated an anniversary with my boyfriend; had a guy bring me flowers, chocolates or poetry (though I could probably do without the poetry). I’ve never looked at a man and said, “I love you.” I’ve been the perpetually single at twenty-four young woman, and I’ve done everything to hide it. I didn’t want people to wonder what was wrong with me. I didn’t want guys to think I was defective. I didn’t want to feel unwanted, unattractive, or untogether.
Women often try to turn their desire to get married into a joke. Girls at college (especially those of the Christian variety) laugh about getting a “ring by spring” or an MRS degree. We create notebooks and Pinterest boards dedicated to our eventual wedding. We write letters to our future spouse, pick out baby names, and wonder if every guy we meet is the One while the wedding scene from The Vow scrolls through our mind in slow motion.
Basically, we turn into the female version of Ted Mosby.
But for some, it doesn’t just happen. We see our friends marry their high school or college sweethearts. We see our sisters date the good Christian boy from church. We begin to question ourselves. Why isn’t it happening for us? What am I missing? What’s wrong with me?
I’m guilty of looking at finding a guy, the guy, as a rite of passage. I have my degree. I’ve done some traveling. I’ve taken risks, made some mistakes, and probably screwed up my credit, so where’s the guy? I’m here at twenty-four, ready to meet my Mr. Forever, but he’s nowhere to be found. The man who is destined for me, supposed to complete me, the other half of my soul seems to be playing the ultimate game of hide and seek.
And I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.
The thing is, technically I haven’t done anything wrong. But I have approached it all wrong. Unfairly, I looked at my future husband as some sort of hero-meets-knight-in-shining-armor-meets-Mr. Darcy-slash-Ironman. He is the epitome, the ultimate, my crowning achievement. He’s what I deserve after my years of patience, my years of singleness. He’s my other and better half.
Only he isn’t. He isn’t an object to be won, or a cure-all for my loneliness.
My mistake as I see it now is thinking that I’m somehow lacking because I haven’t found the guy, that being single means I’m under construction; that I’m missing some essential piece to the puzzle that is my heart and soul.
Not having a man doesn’t mean I’m anything less. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. It doesn’t mean I’m incomplete, unfinished, or half of a person. Having a guy isn’t going to solve all my problems, fix my insecurities, or bring untold and uninterrupted happiness. That isn’t his job. And it’s a bit unfair to put that on an imperfect and flawed man.
But I can put that on God. I can seek Him and be made absolute. He is the piece that my heart and soul require. I’m made complete in Christ; in His grace, mercy, and salvation I am made anew. To live with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit within me means I am whole—I’m wholly His and wholly finished.
I’m not deficient, defective, or broken. I’m not empty or alone.
I’m the best I can be.
Finding the right man should be about finding the guy I can be my best with. It shouldn’t be about finding the guy can improve or fix me. It should be about finding the guy who lets me be the wholly finished creation that God made me and challenges me to grow in Christ, and not about finding the guy who wants to make me into something else or makes me want to compromise who I am.
So I sit at my quiet table, and I accept the aloneness. I accept that I am single. I accept that I haven’t met the right man not because I’m broken, but because I’m not ready. I accept that having the right guy come into my life isn’t something I deserve, but a gift that God gives me. I accept that one day God will bless me with the man I’m meant to marry.
I accept that until then, I’ll be the single girl drinking an Italian soda in the coffee shop beside an empty chair.
And I revel in the fact that regardless of how my love life plays out, I am complete in Christ, in His presence and in His love.