Tag Archive: singleness


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Seriously Single

I never imagined still being single at 26 years old. The plan I had for my life was so much different than how my story unfolded, from going to the movies with my friends to attending their weddings, all the while silently waiting for the day my turn arrives…  (on the real, sometimes I have my SERIOUSLY THOUGH moments)

While society tends to view being single as a problem you somehow need to fix as soon as possible – I vowed to live different, but I eventually gave in to a system that tries so hard to define you before you before you can discover who you are for yourself. (Spoiler alert)

So, here is my story:

Growing up I never dated. And by never I mean NEVER.  I made a decision to save myself (both emotionally and physically for my husband) – it seemed like an amazing plan, but unfortunately after I turned 18 I gave into the peer pressure of having a boyfriend… I learnt to “play the game” as they call it….

Ever heard the saying “don’t hate the player, hate the game?” – well, I got really good at playing the game. I would make guys fall for me and then dump them when it wasn’t fun anymore. I wanted the rewards of being in a relationship without paying a price.

I wish I could tell you that this part of my story included no casualties – but it doesnt. My greatest regret would be that I did not Honour “someone else’s answered prayer” -the truth is,  I really didn’t want to “BE IN LOVE” – because I didn’t feel anyone would be able to see my truth and still accept me, I didn’t want the sacrifice that love demands or the growth it requires… I just wanted the emotions that relationships produce… When it wasn’t fun anymore, I dumped them and moved on. (Yes, I was that girl…)

I thought I was invincible, I thought that I could play the game and never get hurt, but that all changed the day I took it too far. What started off as just “playing the game” – cost me more than I had bargained to pay. Anyone who told me the relationship wasn’t good – immediately became my enemy because I didn’t believe people understood that “we were meant to be together” – Looking back I realize I was just throwing around words I heard in movies, I had no idea what it meant to “be together” but in my ignorance I was ready to give up everything, my job, my church, my friends for a guy who nursed my insecurities instead of confronting them.

When it was over, I realized that he never cared for me at all…we both played each other and it nearly cost me everything in the end.

It’s been over 6 years since I’ve been that involved with a guy, I realized that if I continued to repeat the same cycle – it would keep producing the same fruit in my life – nothing would change until I changed something. (It’s such a powerful truth, until a guy looks your way) – come on, you know how it is…

The truth is, so many single people zone in on changing their status that they forget that being single is not a status, it’s a process, and while you may spend a few date nights watching series at home alone, very few focus on who they will become on the way to the altar.

In a society that tries so hard to rush me to the altar, I refuse to do something just because everyone else is doing it. I’ve seen some people marry a good person that wasn’t any good for them, evidently they live way below their purpose (no matter how fancy a car they drive or house they live in)

Remember:- a soulmate is designed for your PURPOSE. If he/she can’t bring out the best in you, they’re not the best for you.

So, here I am, nearly 27 years old, more single than I’ve ever been. Sometimes it feels like I’ve come full circle, I’ve made some mistakes, but those things don’t disqualify me from having God’s Best for me. Sure it gets lonely. Sometimes I set the table for two because there are only so many “meals for one” you can eat.  I have some people telling me “get out there, play the game” – I say, if a boy wants to play games, buy him an XBox. I’m looking for a husband not a recreational activity.

My friends always try to set me up with guys… Some of them have good jobs, amazing families, etc, but while there are many guys I could date, there are very few I would follow. Possibly the most attractive thing to me in a guy would be leadership and vision. I don’t just want a guy who turn my stomach or my head, I want a guy who turns me towards Jesus. And if I gotta wait another 20 years for that kinda man, Lord knows I will.

So darling, wherever you are… I can’t wait to meet you one day. Although I wish you were here right now, I’m thankful for this time that I can become the best for you. To know that someday God will entrust me with caring for you is a responsibility I carry daily and I’m committed to becoming “worth my weight in gold” – Loving me will cost you something, but don’t worry, I’ll be worth it in the end. Ps:- I’m saving all my date nights for you

signed,

Your Future Wife

Angie

[For a variety of other amazing stories from men and women on Singleness, click here]

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phil

I’m single and I love it! Sometimes… Sometimes not so much. Valentine’s day has just been and gone and, while it’s not an occasion that I’ve ever taken very seriously, it does bring one’s singleness to the forefront of one’s mind. I was walking through the shops last Friday (the day before Valentine’s) and saw all the people selling roses and stuff like that. There was a part of me that just wanted to buy one and give it to the next person I saw. There are times like this when I feel like I’m bursting with love and have no appropriate outlet.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about singleness since I started writing this thing and it surprised me just how much I wanted to say. Most of the time I’m hardly even aware of my lack of relationship (I’m a slightly outgoing introvert and a bit of a loner, I spend a lot of time in my own little world). I’ve tried to remove a lot of the rambling, and I’m sorry for the bits that are still left but a lot of this is me sifting through my feelings and trying to find coherent thoughts.

A bit of background, I was in a very serious, long term relationship for a bit over 5 years, from around the age of 20 to 25. I was in love, certain I would marry this girl and then it became clear I wouldn’t. Breaking up with her was quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There was just so much history and comfort with her that it was tempting to stay with her and ignore the problems. Without going into details, I can look at my life now, sometimes lonely, sometimes scared for the future but also knowing that the choice was right. Remarkably, our friendship survived, something that still amazes me (a testament to her kindness).

Which brings us to now: I’m 30 and still single, what a terrifying concept! Sometimes I feel like I’m staring down the path of time and looking at a 50 year old bachelor, coming home to an empty house and I feel more than a little despair! Watching my friends’ kids growing up doesn’t help… Then I look at what I’ve given up in the past for what I have now, future me can worry about the rest. I have a relationship with God that was all but forgotten while I gave my attention to a girl. I know Him in a way I couldn’t before and, for that alone, I’d give up much more than a relationship. I may not get to build my own family but I’m part of a family far bigger than any I could build myself.

I’d be lying if I said I was content but I am mostly at peace. It’s taken me quite a while to get the difference between these two things; I still hope for more but it doesn’t keep me from getting on with life. To be honest, it’s not actually something I think about all that often but, when I do, it’s not always with anguish or anxiety, it’s often with a feeling of hope and bit of excitement at what could be in future. I think the next step is to take that picture of the 50 year-old bachelor and see the hope and excitement that could be drawn into that image. I’m not quite there yet, but I am at peace; I’ll be alright. (I’m not always at peace either, there are times when little wars break out but that doesn’t mean I forget the peace, just that it needs to be renegotiated again.)

There are some great things about being single! Not some click here for 27 reasons why being single is the best, number 9 will make your day type of garbage but real reasons to embrace this life while I have it. I’ve had to learn who I am without reference to another person. I was anchored to a huge chunk of shared history. Once that was cut away, I was adrift in some real existential crisis type zone.

I love people (just in small doses). If you want to know me, there can’t be many people around. One on one is best. After that I’ll need to recharge alone. I don’t need to reserve a large chunk of that time for one person, I’m free to share it out as I see fit. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many people. I’ve had views that I never questioned challenged and I’ve had to mature my thinking a whole bunch. And then there’s the more selfish reasons, I’m a gamer and a dancer and I get to devote a rather large amount of attention to these hobbies.

Furthermore, I was not aware of how much I based my self-worth on my relationship status! Being single meant either redefining my worth or feeling pretty miserable for a long time. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! I started out life this way, nothing I do,say, own or make can increase my value in His eyes any more than it was when I started out with nothing, not even the ability to move on my own accord. Easy to say, hard to feel but if your worth is coming from anything else, that source probably needs to be looked at with a critical eye.

Why am I single? I don’t know. I really wish I did but I don’t. There have been some close calls, some lovely dates, the occasional mutual crush even, but even then, God made it rather clear that it was not his plan and so nothing happened. Does He want me celibate? Perhaps so, and I’m okay with that, but I wish He’d just say so and let me stop wondering… Relationships have been a stumbling block for me in the past. I’ve needed time alone to mature and build a real foundation in my life. Now I know I have to be careful in relationships. I know that any relationship I may find needs to start and end with God as a focal point. And so on… I’ve learned these things during my time alone, maybe my list just isn’t complete yet.

I was also asked for advice directed at friends who are married/heading that way. Are there many married folks reading a blog entry on singleness? Anyway, I’d like to preface this with saying it may be terrible advice, people are different and this would probably go awry in a lot of cases. For me, keep being a solid example of loving, caring people. Don’t feel the need to hide any of the joy your relationship/partner brings you, let me celebrate with you. If you have other, suitable, single friends and want to play matchmaker, go ahead but please do it openly. Yes, it’s awkward and weird but if you try be subtle, I’ll miss it. And your sharing the awkwardness makes things many times easier for me.

Cliched lines (“God has someone for you, be patient”, “I’m sure you’ll find someone soon”, etc.) are really not that helpful. I know you mean well but that’s not the way to show it. If you’re the encouraging words type, try things like “What about Susan? She’s lovely…” It’ll either open up a conversation or you’ll get shut down but at least you’ve implied that I am good enough for your friend Susan, that makes me feel good even if I’m not interested in her. (Mum, if you read this, that is not permission to start listing every single girl you know again, I know you already think I’m pretty cool :P)

Lastly, singleness in the context of the Church isn’t something that needs to be addressed in and of itself so much as relationships in general. The Christian concept of marriage is beautiful, I love it! But so often, a sermon on relationships will stick to a rather tired formula: dating and boundaries therein, wait for marriage and so on. I’m oversimplifying, there have been some amazing sermons on the topic but the problem is with the assumed progression of attraction leading to dating leading to marriage. Combine this with the ideal of marriage and there is suddenly huge pressure on dating, getting it right. There’s something of a stigma towards breakups, equating them with divorce. And so there’s this fear of dating and relationships in the church that’s not entirely warranted.

Added to that, there’s the more casual idea of a dinner date that’s completely lacking in modern social situations… I need to form an emotional connection before I can even assess whether I’m attracted to you; I can’t do this in a group. If I ask you on a date, I just want to have dinner with a person and form this emotional connection. It does not mean I am planning our marriage, and you shouldn’t be doing so either. The secular world gets so much wrong in relationships but this they get right (massive generalisation, I know but you get the point) the date is a feeling ground, not always for a relationship but also for a friendship. It’s how we plumb the depths of a bond, be it friendship or romance. You’re not making any commitment by having dinner with me, even after the hundredth time, a commitment to anything more than friendship needs to be agreed upon by both parties, I’m not trying to subtly trick you into marrying me.

I guess I’d like to sum most of this up by saying to all the single people (and those concerned) that we should take things a little less seriously. There are times when it’s hard but the same is true for being in a relationship. Just don’t let it become a central theme to your life. Love easily and keep your heart open.

One of my all time favourite quotes says it best, from C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

[For other stories on Singleness, from both men and women, click here]

Lynley

I am a 37 years old single guy.

I would point out that I have tried not to be single a few times….

I have had my fair share of relationships in life.  I was engaged once too. So technically speaking I am disengaged now (see what I did there) ha ha ha.

Before I get into the meaning of things in life for me, I would like to share a bit about me. I am a free lance sound engineer. I blog a bit too. And I do have a few online ventures going at the moment too (all above board). Living life, almost on my own terms. One could say this adds to the reasons for my singleness…

I think we all take time in life to find ourselves. And some longer than others. I fall in that category. For most of my early years were spent on frivolous pursuits and running after women lol. Clearly I never caught them or was it I that I could not maintain my grip on them (they were rather slippery). Well…. I will not think on that for too long now.

It is a humbling notion, that we actually take years to get to know ourselves. This has always confounded me, since humans tend to pride themselves on their achievements. Not that I am declaring myself an alien, but that humanity as a whole tends to think that we have arrived. For all our advances in technology, we are not born knowing ourself.

But getting to know yourself is a time thing whether we like it or not. Its the way life works. And for this reason I find myself single, I am still finding out stuff about myself.

37 years, yes most of my friends are married. No, worse than that, they have children. And to add fuel to fire, they have teenage children. And to think I knew some of my friends since they were single (gasp). Needless to say I don’t spend much time with them anymore. Just kidding.

I find that with people getting married, my friendship changes. I guess I understand because the dynamics of two people and add children and all things change. My brother (7 years younger than me) is married and has 3 children already. I get it, life changes. But I think there is still space in life for just the guys to meet. I mean without the demands of the wife and children. Obviously not every week, but I do think it is necessary.

I do think the church (by this I mean body of believers) can help here. Being single is not a disease. And the assumption that being single (church people read ‘alone’) is a curse. Imagine getting married when not ready, I cannot think of a more punishing thing to both people involved. Yes the clock is ticking, but we christians are going to live forever, right?

I have some good friends married and single, and no one ever pressures me (anymore). Maybe they afraid of the lecture I give them. Yes, I have some pre thought out arguments…… I will hit them with a few zingers like “Christian men can only get married after 33 years, because that is when Jesus was crucified he he he”.

That is a patented one, but since I am now older than 33 I guess you could use it if you want to.

Jesus we consider to be wise right? And when He was on earth……He was single….. Let that marinate a bit.

When it comes to ministry, being single is equivalent to having an infectious disease. Pastors avoid you like the plague. But in today’s age, there are a lot of singles over 30. I think there should be more single people in ministry. I mean happy single people, not perfect people, but happy ones. I mean those that are okay with themselves. There are some things only single people can convey. And I always seem to believe the “marrieds” in church sort of talk down to the singles. They get that distant look in their eye and mist rolls in and they reminisce on “their single days”.

Whether it is pity or nostalgia I never know.

To conclude.

Please treat single people like normal people. We are capable of being committed to things outside of ourselves. We want to help, we want to be part of things.

And the only infectious thing I have is my dry sense of humour…

Lynley

[To connect more with Lynley take a look at his blog over at thehonestone.co.za]

[For some other great story shares on the topic of Singleness, click here]

amanda1

HIS BANNER OVER ME IS SINGLE

Last month I was supposed to get married.

There was no ring on my finger, no invitations in the mail. But there was a date on a calendar and the seed of a dream that had been planted in my heart many, many months ago. I’d had a plan—we’d had a plan—in a world where I was part of a “we,” in lifetime that doesn’t feel all that long ago. The day came and went and I wondered if it would ever come again. If there would be a day when diamond commercials wouldn’t make my heart sink.

I have been single for all but three years of my life. During those three years I struggled something fierce to figure out what it meant to be me and to be in relationship; to be independent and private, while also being inclusive and self-disclosing; to be strong-willed and passionate, but at the same time open-minded and gentle. I am still learning those things. I have made remarkable progress, but right now there is no relationship in which to test such things and sometimes it feels like wasted effort.

The word banner derives from the French “banniére” and the Latin “bandum,” a cloth out of which a flag is made. The German language developed the word to mean an official edict or proclamation, a rule under which one lives. It is where we get the word “abandon,” which means to change flags, to switch loyalties.

We live under a great many banners in our lives; banners that represent our fidelities and loyalties. There are banners of family, religion, country and corporation. The banner of Apple. The banner of Nike. The banner England. The banner of Christian. There are banners that we stand under by our own choosing, and there are banners that are spread over us, whether we want them or not. We develop certain ideas about people who are associated with particular banners. Sometimes they are true. And sometimes they are not.

I struggle to keep camp under the banner of “single.” It is not a place I really want to be right now, though I don’t really want my single friends to know that. I don’t want them to feel it is a bad place, a lacking place, a grass-is-browner woe-is-me sort of place. But often that is how I feel. I skirt to the outside of the camp. I watch the other members under the banner of single and I see all sorts of responses. I see them weeping and laughing, celebrating and suffering. I see them angry and bitter. I see them resourceful and redemptive. I see them living and loving without reservation. Sometimes I want to be one of them. I want to accept my position and see my singleness as an opportunity rather than a limitation. But most days I want to escape. I sit at the edge of the camp, just so that God knows I am ready to leave at a moment’s notice. But after two years of leaning on that fence, I’m looking for another, better, more trusting position than my post beside the exit.

Part of the reason I’m so reluctant to stay is that I did not choose to be here. I did not leave my last relationship believing that we were poorly matched or destined for destruction. I did not run under the banner of single ready to embrace new freedoms. I did not really realize what was happening when things were falling apart, and by the time it was over, I was left to trudge under the banner of single with heavy feet.

Singleness is not something I feel “called to” or excited about. It is a place I feel I was left when someone ran out from under the banner of relationship with me. When someone who had chosen to love me chose to stop, to leave, to change flags and abandon me, leaving me single.

amanda3

Sometimes the banners we live under are banners that we do not choose. And sometimes they come with messages that they should not retain. I was told a great many things following my last break up, and even more after the change of heart I had the six months later. Among them, that:
“I deserved someone better”
“I had become a better person”
“God must have something else for me”
“If it were meant to be it would happen”
“He [my last boyfriend] was an idiot, a coward, blind, stubborn, etc.”

And though sometimes these things made me feel better (at least momentarily), mostly they made me confused. They encouraged me to view life under the banner of single as a temporary holding pen. Though many have suggested that God has someone else in mind, no one has ever suggested that God might intend for me to be single. No one has suggested that I am under the banner of single on purpose, which leads me to view it as an undesirable place to be.

Here’s another, perhaps bigger problem. Regardless of what other people believe about singleness, there are a lot of judgments and assumptions that I bring into it myself. There are messages and false truths that I associate with living under the banner of single that give voice to my deepest fears about my own worthiness and belonging. These messages do not come from God or love or goodness or grace, but from all that is the opposite of these things. And some of them have been reinforced in very painful ways.

It is one thing to be single and to feel that you are unseen, unheard, and unnoticed. It is one thing to suppose that the reason you are single is because no one has really experienced all that you have to offer. (I want to pause and recognize that this is a really valid place to feel pain, frustration, and even anger. As creatures that crave in our deepest depths to be truly known, to feel unseen is to feel invisible, inconsequential.) It is quite another thing, however, to believe that you were seen, heard, noticed and appreciated, that someone began to know the deepest depths of you, loved the deepest depths of you, and then chose to stop. Of their own will and volition, another person chose to stop seeing you. Decided they’d seen enough and judged you as no longer worth the effort.

I am not sure how to recover from that. As a consequence, I have begun to believe it must be true. That this must be the reason I am single: because despite all of the things that I have been told by my friends and family, despite all of the reassurance that God has done work in my life—has broken and molded and fashioned me into something tender and compassionate and playful and kind—I see my singleness as evidence that I am too difficult to partner. That I am too quirky or damaged or intense or odd.

Just when I am ready to embrace my giftedness, my worthiness, the hard-won wisdom that has come from full nights of wrestling with God’s goodness, I hear the voice of the last man who loved me as he choses, with great effort, to stop. As he tells me there isn’t enough time. There are no more second chances. I am not as special or worthy or deserving as he thought. This, I have begun to believe, is why I am alone.

And because I have associated these judgments with being single, it has become difficult for me to see singleness as good, to see the gift in my unclaimed time and attention, the privilege of having space to freely explore. I sometimes wonder how it is that others thrive under the banner of single, a banner that still brings me such heartache, reminding me that no matter how much I learn or grow or change, it may not be enough.

amanda2

But there are other judgments to be made, truer truths to be spoken over and into my life, and they are not made by people (who are prone to err when it comes to such things), but by the being who made me in the first place, who knows my deepest depths better than I know them myself. Who does not choose to quit on me. Does not run out of time or patience. Does not believe that I am not worth the effort. His banner over me is Chosen. His banner over me is Worthy. His banner over me is Redemption. His banner over me is Love (Song of Songs 2:4).

For some the banner of single is a temporary fidelity, but for others it is not. God has not promised me that I will marry. I wish that He had. I wish I knew that in the end there would be a mate with whom I could share all of my everything, a partner with whom I could envision and build and act a life of restorative grace. But for many that is never the case. God has not promised that I will be married, but God has promised that I will never be alone. God has promised that I will never be abandoned. God has promised that I will never be unworthy. And right now those are the promises that must become the banners I claim. And in time they may even make me bold in living under the banner of single, knowing I am foremost under the banner of Love.

[You can follow more of Amanda’s writing on a variety of topics over at her blog by clicking here]

[For some other epic stories on Singleness, click here]

katehurleyGNL

A little eight-year-old girl was asked what she thought love was. She cocked her head and thought for a little bit. Then she replied, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over to paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis. That’s what love is.” [pg 159, Getting Naked Later]

And with that excerpt, i begin the book review of this most well written and fun book by a friend of mine who i encountered on the internet.

I must have stumbled onto Kate’s blog, the Sexy Celibate, more than a year ago and in fact I might have made the connection through the amazingly worshipful music she writes and sings, but having read something about her being single, I took a chance and asked her if she would perhaps like to write a piece for the Taboo Topics series I was running on Singleness. Taking me totally by surprise she said yes and wrote this very popular piece, some of which may even have made it into her book in some form or another:

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.

And we have been friends ever since and so when I heard she had written a book, titled ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed’ I was super amped to see what she had to share about her journey and also what she might have to say to others about theirs. When she asked for some volunteers to read the book and write some reviews, I charged my way to the front flinging single people left and right and di what had to be done in the hope that she would allow me, a married guy [although married at 35 so I still feel I might ‘get’ it], to read and talk about her book:

puss

She completely fell for it:

THE BOOK REVIEW

To be absolutely honest [although I won’t mention names], I was actually already in the middle of reviewing a book on dating when Kate made the offer. The book was fine and all, but it was not really bringing much new to the topic, and knowing Kate the little bit I do, I expected hers to have a certain life and refreshment to it that would keep me interested.

So ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed’ jumped to the head of the queue and I devoured it over the next couple of days [which was in the midst of a fairly busy schedule, but there was something very enticing about Kate’s book and I kept wanting to know what was next] and I was not disappointed.

It starts out with this sweet yet heart-breaking story of Kate playing a game of ‘Old Maid’ with her young friend Isabella. When Isabelle wins the game, she looks at Kate and declares her ‘The Old Maid’ and more importantly, the loser.

“Am I the loser?” Kate asked herself and so begins this journey that at times is light and fun and skippy [can a book be skippy? if it can then Kate nails it!], but at other times deals with the raw and the rough, real and honest, angry and confused emotions and experiences of a 30 plus year old who discovered she was single a lot longer than she thought she might be and is trying to make sense of life and love and God and relationships and unrealised dreams.

In her opening chapter she invites the world’s single people into her story: I am writing this book for all of you. I want you to feel validated. I want you to know that you’re not alone. And most of all, I want you to believe that you are deeply valuable. I hope that we can walk down the road toward discovering our value together.

What I love about the start of the book and how Kate follows through with it, is that she begins with a list of ‘I am nots’ with things like ‘going to give you a formula to find the perfect mate’ and ‘tell you that the answer is to be satisfied in God alone’ or ‘promise that God will give us the desires of our heart’ and more, but instead, she writes this:

I want married people and the church at large to have a better understanding of what singles and divorced people go through so that they can better support us. I want to look at the unique challenges Christian singles face and to explore some of the unhealthy perspectives of the Christian culture when it comes to dating.’

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE PAINT BY NUMBERS

There ARE a lot of books on Singleness and for me what makes Kate’s stand out is the amount of herself she throws into ‘Getting Naked Later’. More than simply writing a ‘How to’ book with theories, formulas and excuses Kate opens the door to her life and invites the reader to join her on part of the journey she has walked and is walking which doesn’t as yet have the Disney happy ending of ‘She found her prince’ if that is the sign of success we are looking for. But along the way she does share lessons she has learned and struggles she has endured as she moves forward on her journey of hope. Possibly the biggest shout out that this book gives goes something along the lines of ‘Hey, you are not alone in this. I get a lot of what you’re going through. Let me share some of mine.’ 

I think there is something in here for everyone but it will particularly stroke a chord with those single people who are a little older and perhaps in some ways feeling like [or being made to feel like by the ‘extremely sensitive’ people around them] they have missed out on something. This piece Kate writes on ‘disenfranchised grief’ for example was a huge eye-opener:

One of the only articles I found that did talk about the difficulty of being single was called “My Secret Grief: Over Thirty-Five, Single and Childless” by Melanie Notkin. In it, the author says, “This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognise can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.

This sadness, this disenfranchised grief, is what I feel on a semi-regular basis. I have not lost a marriage, but I have never had a lover. I have not lost a baby, but I have never had a child.

Boom! Right between the eyes. And there are a fair number of moments like these.

SOME FINAL MOMENTS OF A VERY INCOMPLETE REVIEW

You can tell how much I enjoy a book I read by the amount of folded over corner tops of pages I want to go back to or paragraphs which really impacted me and ‘Getting Naked Later’ has so many of those I can’t even pretend to HOPE TO cover all of them [that would be a long blog post even by my standards!] here. But I will share a few gems as I sign off [and you really should get hold of a copy and read it for yourself, cos I feel like there is something for everyone to take away:

In a chapter looking at Hollywood movie romances, Kate nails the problem on the head: It would be wise for us to recognise our disease of loneliness and realise that getting married will not cure that disease.

I don’t think Kate is trying to suggest that loneliness is like a sickness, but she is trying to suggest that often, as single people [which I was til age 35!] we tend to get into a head space of thinking that just finding ‘our person’ will solve a whole bunch of issues in our life, when the truth is that we will tend to take those same issues with us into marriage.

Kate shows insight into the married life she has yet to experience, as evidenced in this quote: If I do get married, my husband will love me more than he loves anyone else in the world. He will also probably hurt me more than anyone else in the world will hurt me. I will think there is no one as wonderful as him anywhere. I will also think that there is no one as annoying as him. My job will not be to judge if he is good enough for me. My job will be to love him well.We will build a history together.

Getting Naked Later is also great because it covers such a range of topics – Kate dares to boldly share her take on sex while holding nothing back in her in-depth description of the pity party singles love to throw for themselves [or groups of themselves]

In her chapter titled, ‘The Great Name Changer’ she reminds us of the power labels can play in our lives by saying, ‘I am many things other than a single woman: lover of God, lover of people, traveler of the world, teacher, lover of the poor and downcast, avid reader, overcomer of a chronic disease, ridiculous enjoyer of dark chocolate and good cheese, lover of nature, worshipper, but “single” is often the only label I give myself.

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Very importantly this is the story of a woman who is already in a relationship and an important one at that. Kate’s relationship with God is the thread that weaves itself through this book and holds everything together, although not always in a way that feels nicely coloured in within the lines. This singleness thing can get messy and Kate does not hold back from the honesty and sometimes pain that is involved in that aspect of her life. One encounter she has with a mentor of hers who told her:

“Kate, I want you to focus on trusting God for the next few months.”

“I sounded like a recovering Pharisee when I said, “But I do trust God.”

She answered very gently, “No, Kate. No, you don’t.”

I realised almost automatically that she was right. The anxiety that I had just spilled out to her indicated how little I trusted Him. When it comes down to it, I don’t always see Him as good. In my heart, I often don’t believe that God will give me a good life. Sometimes I believe that even if He is good, I will negate His blessings if I don’t make the right choices.” 

And there you have it – you won’t find honesty like that in the ‘Ten tips to finding your perfect Christian man’ book that is front and centre on your local christian bookstore relationship shelf.

But again and again, it is the stark honesty and gentle humour and vulnerability that brings a wave of refreshment with ‘Getting Naked Later’ and that is what will draw you in and keep you invested as you read this part of Kate’s story. This is a worthwhile addition to your bedside table reading material and I encourage you to grab hold of a copy now.

I will leave you with one last quote that sums up a big part of Kate’s attitude as she faces a present that doesn’t look exactly like the future she once imagined and expected, from her chapter on intentional community, but reaching even beyond that:

‘It is good for u to be in a family, even if we have to build our own.’

[To buy your very own copy of ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed, click here]

[For more information about Kate Hurley and links to everything you need to get hold of, click here]

[To listen to her music and get hold of some copies for yourself and your friends, click here]

When my friend Deborah’s post on ‘What my Single Friends would like their Married Friends to know’ hit 1000 views, i figured that people were interested in what she had to say and so it would be worth seeing if she was up to writing a piece for the Taboo Topic on Singleness and turns out, she was…

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Stages of Singleness

When I was 18 years old, I attended my very first Singles Camp. Contrary to the name, the purpose of the camp was not to ‘hook up’ single people. Rather, it was designed to help single people deal with issues that are peculiar to unmarried persons. There were a range of sessions, some designed to help persons prepare for marriage, others geared towards helping persons deal with some of the challenges of singleness like loneliness. I attended this camp for years, until I realised that some of the ‘little’ children whom I had counselled at our church camp were now attending Singles Camp; I had officially become an Older Single person!

I recognise that being single in my 30s is a whole different dynamic than being single in my 20s. If I am still single in my 40s, I imagine that will again be a totally unique experience. I would like to share the stages of singleness that I went through. Maybe you can identify with one of these stages, or maybe it will give you some insight about how the single persons in your circles may be feeling.

Studious Stage

From a young age we heard the mantra “Boys and books don’t mix”. I had seen first hand the devastation of my classmates who suffered their first heart-break, so I knew that I didn’t want to experience this. As a result, I engulfed myself fully in my studies, and the results paid off – graduating with First Class Honors as Valedictorian of my faculty at university. I was single by choice.

Social Stage

Thanks to my success in the previous stage, I was able to get a decent job that enabled me to rent an apartment and live comfortably. I now had the time (and means) to lime! I thoroughly enjoyed this phase of singleness; being able to engage in activities without having the responsibilities of a husband or children to restrict me; having the freedom to jump on a plane and travel to wherever in the world I wanted to go (mostly visiting my sisters and friends in the States and England). I was open to relationships at this stage, but (as I found out later) some of my male friends were intimidated by my responses to them in the Studious Stage, so they never made a move. I was single by consequence.

Sulky Stage

I didn’t have a problem when my friends who were my age or older got married – I was genuinely happy for them and fully supported in whatever way I could, helping with decorations, wedding planning, the works. When it started to get difficult was when the younger ones started getting married. That is when I started to question if anything was wrong with me. If I was as nice as people said I was, why did no one want to spend the rest of their life with me? There were guys who approached, but I didn’t feel the connection although some of them were nice. And the ones I did like were not available. I was single by circumstance.

Sold out Stage

It took heartbreak at the end of a relationship for me to recognise that ultimately, what really matters is my relationship with God. For me, being at the center of His will for my life is of more value than my marital status. My priority right now is serving God and bringing pleasure to Him with my life. If I get married along the way, great! But that is not my focus. Of course there are times when I wish I had that ‘special someone’ in my life, but in the meantime, God has surrounded me with amazing family and friends who provide the social, emotional and physical support in my time of need. I am single and content.

[For more inspiring stories from some amazing people on their own journeys of Singleness, click here]

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Love (along with dating and of course mating eek) is a complicated beast, even more so when you are a Christian trying to forge a life(style) for one in a world that feels like it’s mostly built for twos. 

Navigating rights and wrongs can be enough to derail any fledgling flirtation and the pressure us singletons put on ourselves to ‘get things right’ can be so overwhelming at times because when really is the right time to message after a date, how soon is too soon to let things go far enough without going too far and at what point do you reveal that you may have slightly oversold on your saintly qualities.

This post isn’t for everyone in fact it may seem a bit risqué and perhaps a little too honest but it’s a very real look at singleness and I guess if anything is more for fellow singles who I hope will look at things a little differently if they make it all the way through my ramblings.

I wish I could say that being single was easy but there are moments when it can be outright overwhelming which is why I thought I would take a step away from ‘what I want my married friends to know’ and head towards ‘what I think all (struggling) singles should know.

1.      It’s not terminal. i.e. being single (particularly over the age of thirty) will not kill you.  Life happens and the faster you stop seeing your singleness as a meantime, limbo or waiting room the faster you can start living and exploring and embracing and enjoying.

2.     Everyone’s process differs. In a moment of annoyance and frustration one Saturday morning (after a particularly bad date) I decided to free myself of the numerous singleness focused self-help books I had accumulated.  There were 21.  Twenty One!  Though I believe there were some nuggets of wisdom in each, not one of them completely resonated with where I was at or what I had been through.  Own your process and get to know yourself it’s the most worthwhile investment you will ever make.

3.     Honestly assess why you want someone in your life.  If the words ‘age’ or ‘everyone else’ fall into the equation, chances are maybe this is something that needs to be relooked at. Relationships essentially involve a level of mutual seed sowing – don’t sow those babies where you know they won’t grow or be nurtured.

4.     Never underestimate the power of a lonely moment. Even the most rock solid of convictions can be compromised in the quest to find, create or sustain a connection.  Mechanisms such as whatsapp, snap chat and mxit provide a false sense of security and a distorted basis for interaction – many people have shared sobering moments of regret after nights spent over exposing themselves (take from that what you will) to virtual strangers and it comes from a need an innate need we all share to feel wanted and attractive and desirable.

5.     Know your boundaries and why you have them.  One of the most incredible conversations I have had of late revolved around how acknowledged, shared and respected core values form the basis for successful and thriving relationships. There is so much truth in this because it’s the root of who we are and where we are headed.

6.     Have a sense of humour. Be able to laugh at yourself and those dates that don’t go quite as planned.  Try to take something from each interaction even if it’s just a great meal or confirmation of what you are(n’t) looking for in a love interest.

7.     Go with your gut and trust your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right chances are it isn’t.

8.     Live in the moment. Embrace and celebrate love.  I spent a large portion of my twenties so wrapped up in meeting Mr Right that I missed out on the opportunity to really embrace the joyful happenings in the lives of those around me.

9.     Get out of your head, get out of their head.  Be present!  Nine times out of ten what we think the other person is thinking isn’t what they’re thinking at all.  That’s a lot of thinking to be doing in the first place.

10.   Have a predefined idea of what you want in a potential partner. A handy way of doing this is having negotiables, non-negotiables and items (potentially) for future discussion.

11.    You are entitled to a private life. For many singletons divulging details of their romantic and intimate on-goings can often feel like a good way to feel included when among those who are attached.  While its second nature to want to conduct a post-date autopsy it can lead to cloudy judgement stemming from mixed suggestions on what should come next, heightened pressure for things to go as planned and open the door to becoming the butt of jokes and jibes particularly if you like to add a little humour when regaling your friends with the story of how your dreamboat tried to convince you that stealing exotic plants from a local nursery and selling them for a profit would be a great idea if you wouldn’t mind helping him load them up (yes that really happened).

12.   Be real.  You will not meet the right person for you by misrepresenting yourself it’s too much hard work, makes for a shaky foundation and probably means you’re attracting individuals who aren’t being entirely honest either (eek).

13.   God provides, take comfort in that.  Look around you and come to the realisation that what you lack in partner is made up by the people you surround yourself with.  No matter what my need whether it’s a date for a wedding (who loves to dance and makes me laugh until my tummy aches), help changing a tyre, a listening ear and some male perspective or a lesson in setting up my latest gadget there is always always an answer to my call for help.

[To read another story of Singleness from my friend Alexa, click here]

[For more great stories told from the perspective of a single person, click here]

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