(Part 1 of 2)
As some people know, I am in a loving relationship with a woman whom I adore, with a very bright future. I’m also 35 years old, and according to the IRS I’m still considered ‘single’. So maybe this is a great time to write from a pretty unique perspective, as I have been both incredibly happy with the single life I have lived, and yet very excited with the life of relationship that I’m currently enjoying and building upon.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I have come a long way in these 35 years of life, with many experiences, stories, and lessons to share (good and bad). However, there is one thing that always bugged me growing up, and even into adulthood. Maybe it’s a societal or cultural unspoken message, but I grew up with this notion that being single was somehow a fault, an abnormality, or a deficiency (and somehow even worse to be a single pastor at that).
Friends (and random blog reader), I’m here to tell you today: it can be great to be single! Hopefully this post will help give faith to those who consider themselves as single, garner respect from those who pity those without a romantic partner, and maybe shed some insight and even new perspective on what a single life can be in today’s world.
Being single or being in a relationship in and of themselves is not a good or bad thing; it’s a status. From the beginning of time humans have lived within community and partnerships. I’m not here to criticize the institution of marriage (I hope to get married one day), and I’m not here to advocate one way or another on how one identifies his or her relationship status. This article is not a critique, but simply an affirmation of living as a single adult. I realize that in many instances married individuals may experience many of these same gifts and experiences; however, being single provides an opportunity to experience these things that are unique and life-giving in a most wonderful way. So here are a few reasons, in no particular order, why we should appreciate living as single adults.
Financial Independence. I’m just now beginning to feel comfortable with my financial status. Over the years I have learned to save, spend responsibly, and invest in a financial future that will lead towards a hopefully secure future. What a great time to get out of debt!
Career Goals. For some this is a lifetime goal, but I’m very fortunate to say that I work in a field that I’m passionate about, in a job that I enjoy. Being single has allowed me to interview and take jobs I would otherwise not consider due to location, salary, etc.
Travel Near and Far. Over the years I have made it a goal to have some sort of ‘big trip’ planned each year. I have visited with people and places that others only have seen on TV or in movies. It’s cheaper, logistically easier, and you get to go where YOU want to go!
Daily Habits. When one lives by themselves it forces him or her to learn how to cook, clean, and get through the day as an adult; some call this ‘adulting’. Whatever you call it, learning how to live as a human who can take care of him or herself is a great achievement.
Meeting Great People. Being single allows you to meet and hang out with people you may otherwise never encounter. Whether through your travels or the random trip to the market, you are able to strike up conversations with whomever you please, and learn from all sorts from great people.
Community. Single people don’t have the luxury of sitting back when it comes to relationships of all types, so community becomes so much more proactive for daily living. Within this search some of the most loving relationships are forged with people from all different walks of life.
Spiritual Identity. This is closely tied to some of the others, but being single provides space for the spiritual journey that others do not have, or do not take. Reading books, worshipping with different communities, or even having more time for prayer is great.
Health and Exercise. I am feeling healthier and in better shape each and every year! One of the first things I preach in life are priorities; make the time to do things that are important to you. I can think of nothing more fun and important than leading a healthy lifestyle.
Education. There are several studies out now that suggest many people are getting married later in life partly because of educational aspirations. I found my time as a single adult going through college and grad school to be a time of so much growth and fun.
Personal Hobbies. Not true for all people, but I find being single has allowed me some time and space to pursue interests that I may never otherwise have the opportunity for. Take a class? Learn an instrument? Start a new sport? All great possibilities await.
A Better Understanding of Self. This may be the most important one. Over the years I have been able to focus on ME. I realize this may seem selfish…because it is. It’s so important for mature adults to understand where they end and the rest of the world begins.
*A Special Note for Single Pastors. I know it can be TOUGH and lonely at times being a single pastor. The church doesn’t treat single pastors the same. People expect single pastors to spend more time at work. Single pastors are interviewed differently, get paid differently, even get invited to different social gatherings. On the flip side, I find being single and a pastor to allow for some great opportunities that others may not have. After all (yes, I’m going to say it here), there were some pretty awesome single people who were religious leaders! I appreciate the unique conversations I have with people that may otherwise not speak up. I enjoy the odd visits, road trips, and adventures that I am able to say yes to. I enjoy continuing education, vacation days, and Sabbath days that truly are nourishing. I will also say this: seminary taught me to not be friends with my congregants. I don’t believe this to be healthy, especially when you are single. Enjoy the relationships that God provides for you, whether they are with people who may never walk inside your church, or church members who want to enjoy a dinner with you. Whatever your current status, attitude, or relationship aspiration, know I’m with you!
Okay, I’ll leave it here, and feel free to comment or add suggestions. Again, I’m not trying to speak ill of the married or partnered life; this is more of a celebration of living as a single adult than anything else. If you are single, know that you have someone that is here to process, commiserate, and celebrate with you! Instead of society acting like being single is something to be pitied, I hope this post helps us to begin to celebrate singleness and the wonderful lessons, experiences, and relationships that come from it.