I don’t pity you.
Maybe you find that harsh. Or maybe you find it refreshing. I’ve certainly had mixed feelings about pity in the course of my single life. Sometimes all I wanted was a pity party, for all my friends to agree that my life was hard and that I had every right to be upset and sad. And sometimes it was one of the worst parts of singleness. “Are you seeing anyone yet? No?” *sad eyes* “Oh…well…I’m sure someone will come along soon.” …Thanks? But one thing I’m sure of is that pity is not helpful in the long run. And cultivating a habitual attitude of “woe is me!” is even less so. Friend, your story is not a tragedy. None of us were called to be Ophelias or Juliets. It may be an epic, or a romance, or an adventure, who knows? It may be a story about overcoming or simply about living well. But it’s certainly not a tragedy. God doesn’t write those.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Right now, you’re in the middle of this story. A big, beautiful, epic story that began long before you were born and will continue long after this current lifetime. If you can, start trying to zoom out now and then to get a little perspective. And I’m talking the eternal kind of perspective. Because even if your life were to end today, your future would still be long and bright. Your present moment, though it may be painful, isn’t the whole of your story and it isn’t the end of your story. It’s very easy to think of it as the end of your story, because there is, to your mind, nothing after it. But there will be. Don’t get caught in that trap; it will take you one of two ways. Either you will become angry, disillusioned, disappointed, and bitter because “God brought me here and it’s the worst!” or you’ll try to make a home out of this wilderness you were only meant to pass through, thinking, “God brought me here, so it’s where I’m meant to be.”
I tend to be one of the former types. It took COVID and an extended period of a world in lament and a roommate who was quite good at feeling bad for me, but I finally had this moment of realization that the disillusioned pity party is wrong and I was done with it. My life is not “woe is me” and that is not the narrative I will allow to be spoken over it by me or anyone else. The same goes for you. You are better than that. You are stronger than that. You are a daughter of the living God, and He has promised that all things work together for your good. And it may be a hard road, and “good” may not be exactly what you expected, but it WILL BE DAMN GOOD because the Lord of creation knows the difference between good and miserable. It’s time to get our stories straight and not let our own frustration or the world’s pity define our narrative. Right now, if you’re single, you may not be living your most ideal life. But friend, you can still be living your best life. You still SHOULD be living your best life. Your attitude, your narrative, depends on nothing and no one else. Dare to believe it when God says that He’s actively working for your good. Dare to trust that the outcome of whatever phase you’re in right now will be so worth the difficulties of the current moment. Dare to define your life in His terms instead of the world’s.
I’m not especially good at quiet acceptance, so I don’t have as much personal experience with the second alternative, but I’ve sure seen it a lot. As Christians we sometimes get so wrapped up in the idea that God likes to transform us through tribulation that we just want to sit there, noble suffering written on our brow. As if our pain itself makes us more Christ-like. It is true that God uses the difficult situations in our lives to mold us and make us look more like Christ, but, friend, there’s a difference between letting God lead you through suffering and form in you character, patience, and hope along the way and wallowing in the suffering. Our pain doesn’t make us more Christ-like, our response to it does. Our choice to turn to God and let Him walk us through it does. Our choice to forgive instead of hold a grudge, to hold onto hope rather than give into hopelessness, to reach out to Him and to our community instead of curling in on ourselves – all of that helps us be more Christlike. Living a quietly miserable life isn’t as noble as the enemy likes to make it seem.
So whatever hard situation you find yourself in, whether it be singleness or something else, try to take a step back and get some perspective. Ask God to show you how He’s using this time for your good, always for your good. Say no to pity, from yourself or anyone else. Say no to settling and making yourself comfortable here. Keep moving forward; keep looking up. You have places to go, my friend! And I just bet they’re going to be GOOD.