Things don’t have to be the way you think they need to be.

I’m going to go there. While I’m certainly empathetic, I think it is time for some tough love.

You don’t have to be married to be happy.

I’m not trying to sound uncaring. I’m not trying to disregard the ache that you have to find a place of intimate belonging. I’m just trying to warn you not to miss out on the wonderful, adventurous life of possibility that lies before you because you are stuck thinking things have to be the way you think they need to be.

I’ve talked to so many women who struggle with their singleness. I’m guessing there are single guys who do too. Let me say that I get it. I’ve been single my entire life and certainly have had my seasons of overwhelming longing and sadness. It’s no wonder we feel that way. After all, we’re hardwired for relationships. But I think it is more than that. I think every message in our culture magnifies those feelings.

Conventional wisdom says finding “true love” is the most important thing.

Conventional wisdom says to go to dinner or movie alone is weird.

Conventional wisdom says if you don’t have someone than you are somehow “less than.”

There’s only one problem with conventional wisdom. It’s not always true.

When Jesus walked on the scene 2000 years ago, he turned heads and ruffled feathers because he didn’t buy into conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom says, “If life isn’t working out for you, there’s something wrong with you.” But Jesus says, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. ” (Matthew 5:3, The Message)

Conventional wisdom says, “You can’t be really happy unless you get everything you want.” But Jesus says, “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.” (Matthew 5:4, The Message)

Conventional wisdom says, “Contentment will come when go after and get everything you’re dreaming of.” Jesus says, “You are blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less.” (Matthew 5:5, The Message)

Oh, and by the way, Jesus was single.

Things don’t have to be the way you think they need to be.

Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that the desire that you have to be with someone should be squelched or ignored. I share that longing to love and be loved. To have somewhere I belong. To have someone I’m supposed to text or call when I’m traveling.

But do you think it is possible to hold that longing open and honest while at the same time grabbing life by the horns and living it to the fullest?

I think it is.

At least I’m pretty sure it is. Why do I think that? Because I am single. And I feel happy.

If I try to step outside of my life and analyze what has helped me, two things come to mind. Two things I would offer to you.

First, ask yourself, “What do I love to do?” And then do it.

Do you love eating at unique restaurants? Then make a reservation for one and do it.

Do you love going to the movies? Then take extra money for popcorn and do it.

Do you love traveling? Then book a hotel room and do it.

Muster up some courage and choose to defy the cultural expectation that says it’s weird to do certain things alone and just do it. Sure, the first time or two or twelve it will be hard because it is unconventional, but I think you can get over that. Don’t miss out on experiences because you don’t have someone to share them with. Learn to enjoy the things you love even if you have to do them alone for now.

For me? I love sports. Personally, I think I’d be a sports-loving guy’s dream. It would be fine with me if we spent our entire entertainment budget and TV watching time on sports. However, not many of my girlfriends like sports. I decided a couple years ago that I wasn’t going to let that stop me so I became a season ticket holder for three Chicago-area teams. Now, I’m also not rich so it’s not the Bears, Bulls, and Cubs. It’s the Chicago Sky, the Chicago Red Stars, and the DePaul Women’s Basketball team. And you know what? I’m loving it! Not only do I enjoy the games, but I’m enjoying the friendships I’m building with fellow season ticket holders. Sports make me happy.

And the second thing? Let the Author of unconventional wisdom become your place of belonging. If I reflect back on my life, I think it was during the loneliest times, the hardest times, the times when I struggled with my singleness the most that Jesus became dearest to me. I wish I could say that it was because I put him first and pursued him above all the other distractions, but it wasn’t. It was because I had no where else to go. Through long days of isolation and aloneness, he was the only one to talk to. And so we talked. Through journaling. Through music. Through walks in nature. And somehow in that shared time, I fell in love with him and found out that he already loved me. One of the coolest things is that he’s so secure that he doesn’t even mind when I talk about wanting someone else too. He’s unconventional.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. (James 4:8 NLT) Click To Tweet

Things don’t have to be the way you think they need to be. Start defying conventional wisdom and you might just find things can be pretty great the way they are.

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