Being Single Requires Selflessness

Monday, August 17, 2015

I hear a lot about how marriage requires us to be selfless. And it does! I'm sure. I mean, I wouldn't know personally, but everyone really seems to talk about it.

I think being single requires selflessness, too. Maybe it's a different type of selflessness, but it's definitely there.

As a single twenty-something, I'm constantly bombarded by the suggestion to give of myself during my "single years" when I "have a chance" or "am free to give" or whatever mushy (albeit sometimes true) quote you'd like to substitute. I'm challenged to avoid Netflix and leave my little clean apartment and cat and go out and visit my parents, or attend an event, or drop a letter in the mail. For people who aren't standing right in front of me.

As a single twenty-something, I give of myself in seemingly normal ways that require much inner strength. I attend weddings. I help my friends plan them. I've grown a lot a lot in this area, where I used to cry at weddings in mourning instead of glistening with happy tears. I tended to show shock that I was losing another friend instead of joy that another one of my friends had found her vocation. While I know intellectually that other people finding their vocations doesn't set me any farther behind in the journey of my own, emotionally I struggle with it. And it requires selflessness to give and give and give of myself and to exude joy during those weekends, and especially in the following weeks, I fight (mostly not very well) to be joyful as I see my friends grow in a new relationship, as I see my life lacking in the friendship that I had. It takes selflessness to find the balance of asking about others' lives without being completely nosy and wanting the details that should be saved for their spouses. It takes selflessness for me to maintain friendships just to maintain them, and not because I need friends desperately.

When I was in high school, my employer asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I acknowledged that I was going to college, but admitted that I just wanted to stay at home with kids. It takes selflessness for me to view dating as helping someone else get to heaven, instead of a way to fulfill my deep desires and longing.

It takes selflessness to be generous with God. When I don't have a team or students or a spouse or child that depend on me, it's easy to depend on myself and ignore my joyful duties of being a Christian. When no one relies on me, it's hard to ask God what He wants of me. It's hard to live the Christian life without a partner to support me. It takes selfishness to ask God to form me. Because I want to ask Him to form me so I can find my vocation NOW. But I should really ask Him to form me so I can be more like Him and serve Him now. It's a fight to find the goodness in doing things for the sake of doing them, and not using them as a means to an end. My singleness is not an obstacle course I need to fight through to reach the prize of my vocation.

But it often feels that way.

And right now, that's okay. It's a huge area of growth. Which means it is a huge area for me to invite in Jesus. It's a huge area of grace. Because in weakness His grace abounds. This is the area of sanctification for me right now.

Single ladies, what do you think? How do you fight the temptation to be selfish? How do you decide between self-care (saying no) and giving of yourself?

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