I remember being in 6th grade and watching some cheesy family movie where the princess fell in love with some peasant shlub and they lived happily ever after. I remember the film stirring up longings within me for that same kind of whimsical romance. I wanted a beautiful and innocent mademoiselle to fall helplessly into my arms after I had heroically come to her rescue, whatever form that took.
Over the years, Hollywood continued to program my desires. I remember movies (tacky as they were) like Fever Pitch, Serendipity, and literally hundreds more which taught me that all my problems would be solved once I met the right girl, fell head over heels in love, hit a rough patch where we didn’t talk for a minute, then came rushing back together to live indefinitely in a state of heavenly bliss.
Yes, once that happened I would be good.
So I eagerly waited. I knew in the depths of my being that one glorious day, God would orchestrate a meet cute, and I only wondered when and where. Would she walk in the door of a coffee shop with an adorable lost expression on her face, or would she happen to sit next to me on the airplane? The options were endless.
But the troubles this presented me were manifold.
For starters, the romance film industry programmed me to believe there is one perfect woman out there for me, and all I have to do is meet her. According to the criterion plot line, we have everything in common and enjoy the same hobbies. (Of course, there are the cute discrepancies which cause cute little arguments, but those can be overlooked.)
But there are no perfect women. And I am as far from a perfect man as you can get before you start getting into the “Murderous Dictator & Collegiate Rapist” categories.
I also failed to account for insecurities arising, both in myself and in others. I overlooked more base factors such as farts, B.O., and faint moustache hairs. I didn’t think about how the timing is usually bad, and she’s going home for the summer. I didn’t think about arguments and disagreements, and how my anger can boil over.
All that is to say, my ideas of marriage, and life in general, were programmed into me by the media. The media did not simply influence my thinking about these things; it literally reprogrammed me.
I’m going to repeat that once more just to be clear: The things we allow into our minds rearrange our desires, and even create new ones that were not there before.
I’ve been reading a book lately called You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith, and it is reshaping the way I think. It is mind-boggling. Buy it. Smith explores our desires, and what shapes them, and I have been able to identify certain desires in my life that have been programmed into me, with an idyllic image of marriage being at the top of the list.
Marriage became something I looked forward to, to the degree that I couldn’t be happy until there was a woman in my life.
And apparently, I was not the only one to buy into this. Look at the number of people on Tinder, eHarmony and the like. The dating industry rakes in over $1.4 billion a year. A lot of us seem to feel lonely and think a relationship (even a one-night relationship) will fill in the gaps.
There is no place in the Bible that points to marriage as the source of our satisfaction and fulfillment, yet we Christians are terribly guilty of elevating marriage to a source of satisfaction.
A friend once told me, “If you’re not happy as a single person, you won’t be happy as a married person.” Marriage was not invented as a means of solving all your personal issues. If anything, it will likely bring to light more issues that lie dormant beneath the surface.
Marriage is a reflection of the gospel; of God’s relationship to His people. It is a covenant. It is living in a perpetual state of forgiveness. It is not a happily-ever-after utopia where all your problems are vanquished.
Recently, however, I decided that I don’t want to wait until marriage. . .(long pause). . .to be happy.
I can enjoy the friends I have right now rather than wish I had someone more than a friend. I can buy a house by myself. I can pursue hobbies like painting, dancing or snake charming on my own. (Insert cheesy inspirational line about how doing the things you love will lead you to ‘The One’ you’re supposed to be with. Then stop and think about how even that sentiment reflects how deeply you have been programmed to see marriage as the ultimate destination.)
I’m attempting to undo years of programming and enjoy the present moment, single as I am. I go on runs and stop to talk to people. I bike really fast and simply enjoy the adrenaline rush, rather than trying to impress anyone. I got off social media so as to not stalk countless women to determine if they are The One (My friend runs it all for me now, for those of you who were wondering).
More so, I am working on enjoying God, and my times of quietness with Him. My prayers are no longer a begging-session of me complaining about my celibacy (I’ve reduced that to about 50% of my prayers now), But I can zoom out and focus on others. What does the world need? Who does God’s heart hurt for?
Since deciding not to wait until marriage, life is more enjoyable. It’s almost like experiencing freedom from a big weight that always loomed overhead. The pressure is off. And if it happens, it will happen in God’s time, so I can relax.
I hope the rest of you single people experience this same degree of freedom.
Don’t look to romance to fill the voids within you.
Don’t wait till marriage.
I bet you thought this was about sex, didn’t you? Sickos.
Reblogged this on whenshespeaks and commented:
Wow… I totally agree. This is why I’m limiting my time on Pinterest, stopped watching complete romance movies, along with many other things! I was honestly going to write a blog about this, but this guys sums it up…
Wow! It’s like you crawled into my brain and extracted every thought I have on the subject of finding happiness and inner peace as a single person. I’ve spent most of the last 23 years single. After a failed marriage I spent 10 years single, and putting my life and the pursuit of happiness on hold, till I found “the one” because I thought everything would be more fulfilling once he waltzed into my life. After failed marriage number two ended two short, miserable years later, I finally had the very same ah-ha moment as you and have begun to reprogram my brain, live my dreams, go on trips, save for a home etc…, all on my own & with a new baby in tow. Living my dreams now, focusing on my relationship with my main man, Jesus Christ, and providing a sweet life full of memories for my children.
That’s all fine but kill the need for sex then or make friend’s with benifits fine. I am happy single but this whole waiting thing sucks I need sex more than marriage but since married sex is the only way you are to have sex well then marry me or kill my need my need for it. sicko I am I guess
Your phrasing makes it heavy, but I actually get where you are coming from. I think that in one respect the Bible totally supports getting marriage to have sex in a safe way, however that culture divorce was not a rampant thing, so once they got married (even if for sex) they stuck with it no matter what. However, our current culture does not support that. Our current culture demands that we meet a plethora of requirements in order to stay married, and therefore getting married for sex is not enough to maintain fidelity.
My best advice is search for a deeper satisfaction while you wait. I find that my sexual desires increase when I experience more of basic problems such as boredom or loneliness. If I have healthy platonic friendships with both sexes I tend to feel less hormonal. When I am busy learning, working, giving, and discovering things, my mind has less time to even ponder it. I am not saying distract yourself from it at all costs; I’m saying that if your life is otherwise full and fulfilling the intensity of the the longing might lessen. Helpful?
I hate to say it, but sex is not a need. It is something you desire/lust after. Getting married and having sex does not stop this lust either. This lust comes from a place of selfishness. Real sex, making love, comes from a place of giving. You open yourself up to someone who opens themselves up at the same time.
I would suggest that you have trained your mind (not that it wasn’t easy) to lust. You can also train it to not lust , but think of other things.
Thank you for sharing your story. I have enjoyed my life and i now have,6 beautiful children.My oldest is 19,second 13,third 11,fourth twins 5,lastly my 4,year old. Yes a lot of kids😊our mighty God knows,what i can handle. I’m 40,years old and a single mom. Trust me,i get bored and tired of talking to my friends and my children. One day,you’ll need a husband. I always wanted to be married,but obviously the father of all my children,didn’t feel the same. That will come to pass. So now i focus on my children and God and yes,i wait for my day in marriage. I’m not lonely?My kids keep me busy and my daily jobs. But lonely to be with someone to be with,me everyday.To listen,to learn,yes here it is! To get upset. But you know,it will be worth it because,i am willing to learn and go through all of it again. Except i know this time? He will not break my heart. How do,i know this? I have repented of my sins and,i have asked our mighty God,to show me please,who my husband is to be.He has shown me,now i am waiting.Our Heavenly Father knows best. He knows. Trust in the Lord,For His will be done.
Thanks for this article, Ethan. I really resonate with your movie references. It’s so hard to watch movies and shows and then not ponder if the next trip to a coffee house, the next plane ride (I have one of those coming up), or the next grocery store outing will be the scene for a “meet cute.” Alas, none of these have come to fruition. On the one hand, it makes being single exciting, daydreaming about when/how I’ll meet Mr. Right. On the other hand, that “meet cute” may never happen, so if that is my focus, it can make otherwise great moments disappointing when they don’t have romantic endings. I have friends who are married who envy my free time and the liberties that come with singleness. It’s good to be reminded that being single is a blessing of its own; it isn’t J.V. compared to marriage, and it isn’t necessarily a precursor to marriage. Whether singleness is a season of life or a way of life, it is good to embrace it wholeheartedly. I admire that you are not waiting to live out your life or your passions. Blessings.
My mom sent this to me, and I loved every word! I wrote an article very similar to this on my blog in July about why I am still single and how the idea of a happy, healthy, content single person is not a total unicorn! This exists, and it is attainable! The reality of a nice, young, Christian single person is not a problem that needs to be fixed. Singleness is a state where we can still thrive immensely! It was great to get a male’s perspective on this topic. You are a great writer! Thanks for sharing your wise & profound thoughts!
All I can say is wow!!!
Reblogged this on 0300ours and commented:
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I really need to here that thanks
This was amazing! Thank you so much 🙂
Ugh, I really, really needed to read this today. Like, sometimes I just want an excuse to give up and be with a man already just so that I won’t be lonely anymore. So that I won’t have to keep remembering that out of every other 20-something person, I seem to be the only one that’s single. But this, I really needed to read this.
Before I met my husband, I was always waiting. Always looking at people, wondering if someone nearby was The One and I just hadn’t met them yet. I wish I had adopted this mindset then. Great article.
Had someone convinced me of this in my early twenties, I could’ve avoided a lot of bad decisions and poor relationship choices. But I have to say, someone who is completely happy being single is really, really attractive. So that’s what I’m trying to do now, probably five years later than I should’ve. Great article, thanks for sharing!
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In my case there is a pressure from family, church, friends and society. It is a common thing in the place where I live. But why?
The moment we decide to live with God is a turning point. We are a new creation, we are free from shame and judgement. The only thing that important is life with God.
We can be complete in Christ alone.
So let’s embrace this time/life of singleness.
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I agree 🙂
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haha! love it!
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