Monday, October 24, 2011

Transitioning out of Singleness (part 3b)

Hi Friends! Today we have a follow up to my previous post "How did I do it?" A friend of mine, who was also single into her adulthood (I can't remember at what age she met and fell in love with her now husband of four? five? years, but she was not 21), had a comment that turned into a post. 

We worked together in the University Ministries Office, when we were both studying for our graduate degrees at Baylor and one thing I admire about her is her candid way of communicating, and her sense of humor. Her response to the last blog post is below. I've copied it here in its entirety because I thought it was just so good! Enjoy.

Hey Tiffani-

I really enjoyed your blog post today and I was writing a comment and well the comment just got away from me and became more of an essay (yikes). I'm posting in via email and will leave it up to you on how to share it.

I love this post, because it is SO honest.  Kudos to Sally for asking and wrestling with really good questions.

As a woman who was single for a while, dated A LOT (not in a good way), and struggled often with these same kinds of questions I think I can offer some encouragement and advice.

Just last night, I spent the evening with a group of married women in a bible study and the subject of our discussion was about the hurt, loneliness and rejection women experience and carry around mainly because of abandonment (usually by a father figure).

I sat and cried alongside these friends and shared a bit of my own story of sexual abuse by a family acquaintance right about the same time I was emotionally abandoned by my father.  I know that these kinds of feelings are not isolated to being single. I was also reminded of a truth that I learned while being single that helped in those moments when I felt “like shit for being single” and even now when I feel like “shit” for some other insecurity or fear.

Truth #1 “It is not hard to love me.”  The worst part of dating and having your hopes dashed, regardless of how high your expectations or hopes are, is the nagging feeling of rejection.  Even if the reason things don’t work out has little to do with you, there is still an underlying sense of “is something wrong with me?”

It doesn’t help that there is a prevalent idea in Christian culture that lauds marriage as an accomplishment reached only by those who have “gotten it all together” or somehow fixed all their broken parts.

 The challenge is not to believe the lies the Enemy tries to tell you in these vulnerable moments.  The lie says that you are broken and unlovable.

The TRUTH is we are all broken, but we are all redeemed!  I am healed and made whole by a savior who loves me.  It is not hard to love me.   Christ loves me.  I can remind myself that this is true because of the host of people in my life that show love to me on a daily basis.  This is a struggle I dealt with as a single person and one I still deal with as a married

Getting counseling is a wise move.  It will help.  It was for me as I was able to see clearly and deal with the underlying hurt and rejection that contributed to the “shitty” feelings of being single.  I was able to see them as just shitty feelings, less about my relationship status and more about hurtful things that happened to me or that I did to myself.

The longing didn’t go away, but understanding made it a lot easier.  Knowing why a feeling is happening helps give perspective.  When you have a good understanding of your “issues” (for lack of a better word) Relationships, dating or otherwise, are *easier* (note I didn’t say easy).  Realistic expectations for dates are more manageable when you have good perspective on yourself and how (& why) you deal with various challenges and situations.

Truth #2 “Give the Time value.” I refuse to spout any of the cliché’s I heard while single about waiting.  My only encouragement is to use the time. Don’t look at this single part of your life as a time of waiting or getting ready for something next.  Rather than view this as a “time of singleness” or the future as a “time of being married” or a “time of whatever,” just look at your life as *time*.

When I was in college I could do things that I can’t do now because of work and family obligations.  There are things I can do now, working rather than studying, because I have more financial resources than I did in college.  There are things I can do now as a younger person I won’t be able to do when I am older.  I will be able to do things when I am older that I can’t do now.

Time doesn’t have good or bad value.  It is just valuable.

I would encourage anyone younger than 30, married or not, to use the time to create some really good habits (Tiffani's note - I would encourage this at any age! you are never too old to develop good habits).  Develop the kind of habits that become so ingrained in who you are that you must do them in order to function properly.  Bible Study, prayer and contemplation, exercise and self-care are the habits that will see you through whatever life brings your way.   If these kinds of things are challenging to make into habits, then again,
counseling is a great place to figure out why.

Romans chapter 12 is, for me, a guiding treatise on how to live life in every time.  The final verses of the chapter seem appropriate here:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: 
   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
-Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)


Amanda said...

Hey, Tiff! I didn't get to know you a whole lot at Greenville, but I sort of felt like I did vicariously through Erin and many others :) So not to sound super weird or anything (since it's not like we're the best of friends), but I am really so excited for you getting married. Your excitement and joy are SO obvious in the pictures I see and posts I read, and it's so beautiful. I've enjoyed reading your blog about transitioning out of singleness, and I think you have a wonderful viewpoint and godly advice.

You'll have so much fun at your wedding! I can't wait to see pictures. Blessings on you both. I'll be praying for you! Jordan and I are actually going to a wedding that same day, so it'll be easy to remember!


Tiffani R said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Amanda! I really appreciate it. :) I've actually been enjoying reading YOUR blog as well! Thanks for your prayers and we'll be posting pics, for sure!!