I never dreamt I’d be single this long. In fact, I was engaged with the intention of being married by the tender age of 22.
Now I’m 30.
I’ve had a good run at the single life. I’ve discovered there is really more to life than having a relationship (who would have thought?). I wouldn’t trade the sleepovers (yes at 30 we still have sleep overs), late nights out with friends, and spur of the moment road trips for anything. There is a certain freedom that comes with being unattached from the added responsibilities of marriage and (especially) kids. Couples tend to crave that type of independence once they say, “I do”. Yet and still, it hasn’t been until recently that I realized there are still a lot of false beliefs I have about myself which have prevented me from living my life to the fullest. Apparently the college degrees, full social calendar and church leadership roles have not helped me to see that I’m a pretty awesome person ALL BY MYSELF.
The first commandment is fairly clear-cut: love God above everyone else. But I’m finding that the second commandment can’t be taken at face value. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. That means first, we must love ourselves. I’ve always wondered at that.
What does it really mean to love yourself and how can you tell if you do?
From what I’m learning, part of loving yourself means understanding your value as an individual. This value is not dependent on having the right car, a certain job or even a spouse. It is an intrinsic value you hold simply because you belong to God and He made you. Understanding your value gives you a respect for yourself that others will recognize and concede to. You will have a desire to offer yourself the best treatment possible in any circumstance because you know that you are precious and worth it. If you don’t know your worth, how can you expect someone else to?
For a period of time as an adolescent, I was told the exact opposite. I was told that I had no value because of my physical appearance. I didn’t wear the right clothes and I didn’t fit in with my peers. I was different. For that reason, I received the message that I was not valuable. Even as an adult, these lies stayed with me, subconsciously reverberating self-debasing thoughts in my mind, creating a belief system rooted in deception. Many of us unknowingly walk around in this deception as singles. We secretly believe we need that other person to come into our lives and validate us. We may not admit it out loud or even to ourselves, but it’s in our hearts. It’s been in mine.
So now, after 8 years of singleness, I’m finally peeling back the layers and admitting that I have desired marriage to be a source of validation of my identity. Thankfully, in that confession I am receiving freedom. There are certain passions I have that have nothing to do with my relationship status and that cause me immeasurable joy in life. God put those passions in my heart to do just that…bring me joy. As I pursue Him and indulge in those passions, I am slowly but surely replacing those false beliefs with truths.
One day I hope to have my desire for marriage satisfied, but today is not that day. Today I’m called to learn to love myself. Perhaps when I get that down, I’ll be able to love my spouse just as well.