I am a stereotypical Christian girl. I like calligraphy and flowers and tea. I post Instagram photos of my devotions. I have read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And to top it all off, I made a commitment to being single for a year.
Now, it may sound incredibly silly to you, because it definitely did to me when I first heard people talking about this. Commit to being single? If you’re already single, there isn’t really a purpose to this, right? Wrong! Though I was and am single, and I didn’t have anyone banging down my door with marriage proposals, I decided that taking a year to purposely be single could be a cool idea…And you know, all my friends were doing it.
I started off the year with this firm resolve to not date…Which wasn’t that hard considering I didn’t have anyone asking. But after a month or two I realized that, though I was single and not in any form of romantic relationship, my head spent a weirdly large amount of time thinking about it. I guess you can say that I have been a bit boy crazy for the majority of my life – I have found that I always had this desire to love and be loved in return by a guy. I don’t know where this came from or when it started, but it’s been there for a very long time. Without meaning to, I would size up the guys I met and see if they were the one for me, and I would also try to fit myself into a mold of someone who could be deemed loveable.
As my year of singleness progressed, I realized that this had nothing to do with not dating and everything to do with what I based my identity in. I took time to reflect on the past seasons and moments in my life and I found one thing: I have always been searching for romantic acceptance to validate who I am as a woman. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t vying for some guys affections or trying to catch someone’s eye. I wouldn’t call myself a big flirt, but I do subtly invest my heart and attention into someone and expect some kind of return. Eventually there were little pieces of my heart that I had handed over to people without any intention of doing so. Now, I had time set aside to gather those pieces of my heart and learn to hold onto them a little tighter.
I had some days that were incredibly hard and I would get mad at God because I felt like he just wanted me to be lonely and miserable. I had other days where I felt on top of the world and had huge revelations of my own identity and who I am. All in all, it was an amazing year, if not a very difficult one. As I grew in the foundation of who I was, I struggled with other things like stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness – it was like I would take two steps forward and then one step back.
Eventually it became clear to me, this year wasn’t about focusing on being single and not dating, but it was time to focus on God and who he wanted me to be. As soon as I stopped expecting myself to stop feeling and thinking about relationships and centered myself on hearing God and obeying him, the whole thing became significantly easier. No longer was I worried about feeling the wrong things, but I automatically started focusing on more important things. I created a habit of not making romantic relationships my goal, but I made knowing God my goal and watched a lot of other things in my life fall into place.
My year ended on March 31st and I did celebrate a little bit. I had the joy of cutting off an ugly bracelet I had made as a reminder of what I had committed the past year to. However, the end of my year of singleness brought a lot of self reflection with it. After the eight month mark the whole singleness mindset became automatic and at the end of the year I rarely had to stop myself from actively thinking about being in a relationship or even wanting it badly. At the end of the year I also found that I have never been more comfortable in my own body – without even meaning to, I grew hugely in my confidence and physical security. I noticed that I trusted God so much more. I had spent a year putting him before relationships every single day and purposely choosing him over seeking a person to spend my future with and, while trusting him with something as large as that, I began to notice that I trusted him immensely in most things. I trusted him with my health, and through that I began to take care of myself more and start better habits. I trusted him with my finances and I was blessed so much in donations and gifts. I trusted him with my desires for education and he gave me clarity and direction of what to do next.
The most important thing that I learned over the entire year was that I am God’s child. That is my identity and it doesn’t rely on other people. I don’t need to be special to someone else to be special to God. He has found me lovely and beautiful and lacking nothing – now I am working on seeing myself that way. I do desire to be in a relationship one day, but I’ve realized that that isn’t my purpose or goal. I am here to know God and to love him. Only through doing those things will I feel the full satisfaction of living.