[notice]Gateway News Reporter Debbie Hemmens writes a message of encouragement to single women — adapted from a talk she presented to a group of single ladies. [/notice]
When it comes to unwanted titles, I have one that I would have loved to never have had and that would be ‘infertility’. This is a title I have had to accept, otherwise I would just be miserable and angry if I dwelt on it and stopped living. I did not cause this problem, but I am responsible for what I have done with it. I have learnt so much out of this so called crisis. I now have three completely loved, adopted children as a result of the infertility. This was the path God chose for my husband and me to travel and we could not imagine life without these three gorgeous and amazing children.
‘Single’ is a title that many would rather not have, and yet the same type of thinking needs to be applied. There needs to be acceptance of the here and now, otherwise misery and anger could abound. This article is written to help and encourage people who are single to live and enjoy life, whether they find that future partner or not.
Anger often comes from a place of pain and hurt. But if you stay angry at the people or situations that caused the pain, you will never get free. You need to make the decision for yourself if you want to change your life. That change starts with you.
Essentially there are five different ways that you can handle any problem. Fix the problem, change your attitude, accept the situation, stay miserable or make it worse. Acceptance is huge here – some problems cannot be solved and may still leave you feeling bad. In these situations, work on acceptance, then let the problem go.
Redirect your attention to other positive activities. Live with the motto – Just for today.
Don’t worry about what others are saying, thinking, feeling or doing. They are not your problem. Sometimes you need a bit of a ‘water off a duck’s back’ mentality and to brush off the judgemental comments. That might sound easier said than done, but we cannot go through life being too concerned of others’ opinions.
We need to control our reactions and thoughts. If you find you can’t get negative thoughts out of your mind, here are some remedies to try:
- Distract yourself, get up and go and do something. E.g. sing a song, listen to music, take a walk, do a chore, play with a pet, focus on a word, meditation
- Write out options and solutions when you feel stuck. Easier to deal with a thought once you have it written on paper.
- Recite the Serenity Prayer
- Breathing – breathe in for 4, hold for 4 and then breathe out on a count of 4. It is calming and relaxing. Find a ‘breathing buddy’ like a fluffy toy. Lie on your back, place the buddy on your stomach and watch it rise and fall with your breathing. This will force you to breathe deeply and correctly. — Dr Daniel Amen
Take some time to journal and write down the answers to all the questions that appear in this article. Spending time getting to know yourself and dreaming about your future in all aspects of your life is a very therapeutic exercise.
Who are you? Where’s your identity? The only safe place is in Christ. So who are you in Him?
What do you want? (Using the acronym KFC): Know what you want. Find out what you are getting. Change what you do until you get what you want (this is not meant to be an arrogant ‘get what I want’ kind of thinking, but a real search for change in areas where you are battling or not getting desired results) — Nicholas Boothman.
Here’s a great exercise to try – Close your eyes and create a ‘future memory.’ Pick a specific and reasonable moment in time. What will it look like, sound like, feel like, smell like and taste like? The raw language of the brain comes from the senses – pictures, sounds and feelings. The infinite organising power of the subconscious mind can better serve you when it can see, hear and feel what you want, rather than being programmed with abstract, unspecific verbal goals. Which would work better in the following example – ‘I want happiness’ or ‘I’ll be happy and more productive when it’s quiet where I work’ ? The latter of course. It’s much easier and more effective to show your subconscious what you mean by telling it specifically how achieving your goal will look, sound and feel.
What’s important to you? What are your values? God, friends, jobs, church activities, marriage, health, creativity, sport, local community involvement, adventure, having fun, hospitality, care of environment, ongoing education, nurturing children, wider family.
What is your purpose? Purpose gives meaning and direction to our lives – bringing fulfilment in even mundane tasks. Purpose is not what we do; it is the driving force behind our actions. It is not being PTA president, a great volunteer, a fantastic employee, championing a cause etc. Defining ourselves by activities, titles or things limits the scope of all God wants for us. Write down three words for each area of your life – use positive, life giving, dreaming words. Print this and put it up where you can see it on a daily basis.
Heavenly purpose is perspective; we are a conduit for God’s love. Purpose is God’s personalised service to others through us, taking the hugeness of God’s love and pinpointing it in our own uniqueness. Purpose is the practical application of love.
Finding purpose where you are
Sometimes we get so involved in making purpose such a complicated and mysterious thing that we lose sight of the fact that we are in the process of living it. You’ve heard it said: Grow where you are planted – or transplanted, for that matter. God uses us right where we are. When I am in line with God’s heart, everything I do falls under the umbrella of my purpose – writing, worship, career, relationships – it all rolls in. I experience extreme satisfaction when I can use my talents and gifts to bless others. I know my life has meaning – eternal meaning.
It’s easy to get into our heads that we are not up to the task and wonder: Can I do that? Will I be good enough? Then a quiet voice inside me says, “Try. I am with you” (See Isaiah 41:10) We often think we must do something really big to really make a difference, but I’ve discovered that it is not always the big things that matter most; simple acts create a legacy of meaning. Marian Wright Edelman said: “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make, which, over time, add up to big differences we cannot foresee.”
Some helpful comments from other people who have experienced or are experiencing singleness in their lives:
- Unique opportunity to get to know yourself
- Be an individual (hard to do when being a wife and mother)
- Find hobbies, activities and passions that excite you. Important to keep busy.
- Read helpful books to help you on your journey.
- Grow into the person you want to be
- No man/woman can make you happy/fulfilled except God
- Look to God, pursue joy in Him, let His love be enough, whether single, married, widowed or divorced
- Have a good group of friends around you – have weekends away, public holidays, etc.
- Serve in the church like married couples often can’t e.g. being there earlier or at times when families with kids just can’t make it
- You need to learn to be content with your own company and know and like who you are. You need this in order to connect with people. If you can’t be happily single, chances are, you won’t be happily married.
- You need to love yourself and your own company before you can love someone else and allow them to love you.
- Get to love me!
- God knows our path. Trust Him.
- Giggle of the day – I’ve been single for a while and I have to say it’s going very well. Like…it’s working out. I think I’m the one! J
- Even if you are happy with you and know who you are, it’s ok to want to be in a relationship and want companionship and intimacy. It’s sometimes a matter of timing, sometimes not. Have to trust God on this one, because the last thing you want is just any relationship just to fill the void. This just adds to the pain.
- Spend time with families, don’t isolate yourself.
- Keep praying and give the longing to Jesus.
- Be careful of the vibe you are giving off. You don’t want to look desperate. One person said that with acceptance, and stopping the active looking, that’s when she met her man.
- Don’t give up hope, but fill your life with God, meaningful people and meaningful activities, so that you can be a fulfilled person whether married or not.
- Sometimes it’s better to be lonely than unhappily married.
- Face facts that some people never get married, BUT you can’t stop living.
- Remember, you are not alone.
Some great reads:
- Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
- Hinds feet on High places by Hannah Hurnard
- There are many more…have a look on the Web.
Some helpful Scriptures
- Proverbs 16:5 You Lord are all I have and you give me all I need. My future is in your hands.
- Isaiah 43:19 Behold I am doing a new thing…
- Proverbs 3:5,6
- Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.
- Isaiah 49:15-16 I will not forget you. I have written your name on the palm of my hands.
Some helpful quotes and sayings
- Everyday I get better at being who God created me to be. I am who God says I am.
- Sometimes when you are in a dark place you think you have been buried, but actually you have been planted.
- His love is deeply mysterious. Its’ depth is beyond us and its affection leaves us in wonder.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace
Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is
Not as I would have it, trusting that you will make
All things right if I surrender to your will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with You in the next.