When Vincent and Kim asked me to give a talk on the topic ‘Lies Single People Need To Stop Believing ’, my immediate response wasn’t a whole hearted yes. Why? It was something that hit me very close to home. Plus, how could I do justice to a topic that meant something deeply personal and thus different to so many people?
Perhaps you are wondering why it is that I was approached to speak on this topic. I was in a relationship for 4 and a half years. After much deliberation I made a decision that I never thought I would make. I decided to dedicate a year to belong to God alone and remain single. The thought of not being in a relationship, while seeing all my other friends find love or seal their love in marriage, was challenging, and yet I knew that this time was necessary. I knew that I needed to find out who I was, as me, apart from another whom I spent most of my adulthood being in relationship with.
Through this experience I have learnt many lessons, some of which were the lies that I was confronted with about being single. But before I get to this, I want to touch on what it means to be single.
We have all heard many words that attempt to enlighten the path of a single person. It is your time to be selfish and do the things you want, they say. Find yourself. Use it to build your friendships. Prove to the world that you are self sufficient, and can carve out the path of your own destiny. However, we know deep inside that these are not sufficient answers to our hearts when we face those deep feelings of loneliness. Uncertainty. Impatience. Restlessness.
In this article I would like to address what it means to be single, as a Christian. In particular, that being single is not a time of asking God to send us a spouse, but rather to prepare oneself to be a spouse.
As I consider the various lies that can confront us, I would like you to keep in mind two things:
Often we are so preoccupied with the lies themselves that we forget the intrinsic goodness we must strive for, that has been distorted. The theologian Peter Kreeft in his book ‘Practical Theology’ said that evil is always a parasite that can only exist in something good. We have to see the truth at the root of those lies, and bring that goodness to fruition.
In rejection of the lies we have to also remember that this is not simply an an act of compromise, finding a comfortable median that only leaves us feeling blasé. It is rather, saying no to a greater yes. Only in this will we truly realize, that for freedom we have been set free (Galatians 5:10).
Don’t laugh. We have heard this one, again and again, in different manifestations. What is it that they have that I don’t? Why can’t they see me? Am I not attractive enough? Or are we just too good for other people and they can’t appreciate our awesomeness?
The truth is, we live in the world as relational beings. As long as we live here, we cannot escape the fact that we will always rely on others to help us grow into the best version of ourselves. But so often we do not put relationships and affirmation by others in its proper place.
This does not mean that we completely reject the opinions of others; it simply means that we need a personal relationship with God in order that we see ourselves in His light, made in His image. As Christians we are called to be in the world, but not of it. In St Paul’s words, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). We have been given a very real way to find this source of renewal in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist and Confession. It is in the Eucharist and in adoration that we can spend time in the presence of God, and are transformed by Him. Through our Examination of Conscience as well as bringing our struggles and fears to Confession, we open the doors to our hearts to reveal our deepest hopes, dreams, fears and uncertainties. In this we discover who we are in the light and friendship of Christ.
It is good to be alone and to find who you are apart from others, in God. As mentioned before, this means bringing our whole being, our hopes and aspirations, to Christ’s light – learning about who God created us to be: a unique reflection of His image, that no other can convey but me.
But this does not mean that we become self centered, and completely separate ourselves from others thinking that we can exist as an ‘island’. Being made in God’s image also means that we are created as relational beings – remembering that God Himself, as the image of love, is a trinity. We need an ‘other’ to participate in love; to draw us out of ourselves, as a sign to remind us of the reality that we are not self sufficient.
Here we can draw on the words of 1 John 4:11, “that no man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” In this way we are called to make a gift of ourselves, and through this we are also responding to God’s gifts to us with thanksgiving. In prayer, and in learning more about what we love and how we feel more alive, we can give of our time, friendship, gifts and talents to others while growing to be more of the person God has created us to be.
It is good that we are aware not just of our strengths, but also the areas of our weaknesses that we need to grow in. However, the lie here, is in thinking that we have to be ‘completely’ ready. The hard truth is; we will never be perfect. Sometimes we are afraid to be loved because we are scared of what will happen when another person sees our true selves, who we really are flaws and all. We forget that as human beings, we will always love, and others will love us, in an imperfect way.
Once we ground our identities and find our safety in God, no matter how people see us, we can begin to become more freely ourselves, even in our vulnerability and imperfections. We can echo the words of the psalmist in Psalm 62:8 when he exclaims, “Trust him at all times O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
As single people we are not called to wait for a relationship in order to grow; this process begins with the family and friends who love you, and know you the best. Being single is a great time to grow as a person through our friendships, in other words, a wide range of people rather than the one person. As CS Lewis says in his book ‘The Four Loves’, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.”
In the video titled ‘What Does God Want Me To Do?’ Fr Mike Schmitz reminds us that we can only respond to what God is calling us to do. We all have a calling – not just to become like Christ, but in doing so, we hope to experience Love in its fullness; to see Him face to face in Heaven.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” We can look to these famous words of CS Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ to remember that being single is a reminder of this reality. In our loneliness, we experience the original solitude in being set apart for God.
In Genesis 2, God calls Adam to name the creatures of the earth. In this he is set apart from the animals in his consciousness, and thus finds himself alone in creation. But he is also made for communion with another, which he finds with Eve. This communion, while good in itself, in turn signifies the future union we are called to with Christ. Original solitude and unity is signified in the sign of marriage, and prefigured in this earthly life in consecrated celibacy.
We can forget that both of these ultimately lead to the same goal and reality. We are all called to live in anticipation of this reality, this is our universal calling. The single person, as such, is called to holiness – dedicating each day anew to God, and opening our hearts to His transformation, so that we can grow closer to being with God for eternity. As Jesus reminds at the end of Matthew 6 where he exhorts the people not to worry or be anxious about how we are to live: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well (Matthew 6:33).”
So often when we finally a path enfolding in front of us, we demand know every detail of what this will entail. In other words, is this safe? Will I find security in this decision? Surely this security lies in me being in control of every aspect to do with this?
In the midst of this urge to have control, we forget that trust entails a surrender to an other outside of ourselves. We would not have a need to trust God if we could be self sufficient. This is not to say that having a concrete idea is wrong or impossible, but we have to acknowledge that there will always be an element of uncertainty in our lives. And it is in these specific moments we are called to trust in God’s plan for us. It is in these moments that we can pray with our hearts the words of Psalm 15:11 – “You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness forever.”
Learning about ourselves in Christ’s light and trusting in Him also means that we learn to discern God’s voice in our lives. God probably won’t hit you with a thunderbolt of infused knowledge, however we can step back and see the tapestry He has woven in our lives so far. As such, we can trust that in our uncertainty, the things that we can be certain of is a) our ultimate calling and b) the truths of all our previous valid experiences. Which leads me to my final lie…
You’ve tried my best – in a relationship, in pursuing what you thought was a call to religious life. But you’ve only been proven wrong, you have failed, only exposed your insecurities. You may be saying, “Kamila… It’s nice that you talk about following your heart, loving as God loves, but the reality is, I doubt about the legitimacy of my hopes and dreams.”
It seems like you will always be disappointed, that your desires will always be tainted in some way or another. But, in the wise advice of Dietrich von Hildebrand in ‘Transformation in Christ’, we must remember the importance of holding on to the truths of all our previous valid experiences. Often when something doesn’t work out, we tend to either completely dismiss it as something we just have to move on from, or pick it apart and doubt that anything good would ever come out of it. We doubt the goodness of that experience and what it taught us about ourselves. We often forget that God can work, even through our limitations and weaknesses. In the words of St Paul, “we know that to them that love God all things work together unto good: to such as, according to his purpose, are called to
be saints (Romans 8:28)”
We must humbly accept our faults and failings, but not let them discourage us or hide the very real truths about what we have learnt of ourselves in our lives so far, and who God is preparing us to be.
In deconstructing these ‘Lies That Single People Need to Stop Believing In’, I wanted to explore this in a specifically Christian context, within the themes of Identity and our State of Life. Why bring all that God stuff into this? Is it purely a safety net, a thing to hold onto in vain as we try to make sense of the messiness and mystery of our lives?
It may seem abstract, perhaps too academic, to draw on ideas of our ultimate being and goal; especially because they seem like things beyond that can be hard to relate to in the here and now of our personal experiences. But It is only when we can see the world in the light of Christ that we will find the fulfilment of our deepest hopes and aspirations. To paraphrase Dr Conor Sweeney: Until we can see our lives in the context of what it means to be a Christian set apart from the world, we will always be trying to find meaning, without The Ultimate Meaning.
Kamila studied architecture, and now works in interior design and administration for her family business. She is a foodie, loves reading and writing, and enjoys doing cultural things like visiting art galleries and commentating on artworks out loud with her companions.
Once in a while, she likes to also indulge in her slight obsession with baby goats and slow lorises.