My posts are not addressing martial counseling---for one thing is certain---I am for sure NO expert on marriage! My posts are intended to address the state of being single--without a partner--alone-whatever the reason. I wrote in my book the fact was I had always been in community until my marriage ended. I was never alone until six years ago. The new experience of that reality of life had a steep learning curve--and I am still learning daily. As I have thought this over, I questioned if I had been successful in the transition. I laughed to myself and declared, "WELL, I'm still here and still putting one foot in front of the other!"
There are pros and cons to being single as with each and every season of life. Being single can encourage narcissism. There is no one else to consider and we begin to focus on what will make us happy--what do I prefer--where would I like to be. Decisions as simple as what to eat and when to go to bed all depend upon my personal whims. Narcissism is a slippery slope and unless we are intentional in placing ourselves in positions of service, we begin to become navel gazers. Having places I volunteer has helped with maintaining balance in my life. The commitments to these children is a non-negotiable. I will be there at the appointed time and place-unless physically unable. My grandchildren are an opportunity to serve. The perks of these simple weekly acts of service are sweet smiles and hugs which remind me of the why. Simple acts of kindness, helping my friends and neighbors, random words of encouragement, a listening ear--all remind me why God placed us here on this earth---for His Good Pleasure and to bless us as we serve as His hands and feet. It occasionally takes me out of my comfort zone--such as serving with others I do not know. The blessing has always erased the temporary discomfort.
I have struggled with walking into places alone where I knew not one single soul. It is no problem to walk into the Library alone-after all it is not the place to go for social interaction. I often go to the movie alone, there seems to be many who do the same. I do not mind traveling alone--for there are always people on public transit who are alone. I go to all the usual places where a person alone is not out of the ordinary. It takes all the courage I can muster to walk into a room full of strangers and chance no one being willing to sustain a conversation with me. I no longer go to restaurants alone. I am never so hungry as to sit in the midst of a room full of chatting diners and eat alone. The loneliest place I have been is church on Sunday morning. The one place I should feel most accepted and sought out is where I feel myself most invisible. At times it seems church has gone from a community of believers to a Sunday morning performance. Not unlike a movie or play, we go in for our entertainment and perhaps encouragement and bolt out the door when the curtain falls. The mega churches are doing a fair to poor job of encouraging and instilling community in my book. I was recently told a story of a new attender sitting in Sunday School for six weeks before anyone spoke to her and then it was, "I guess we should get your name and address to put on the roll since you keep coming back." A sad indictment on the church, but we are talking about being single--NOT the church.
SO--what are the pro's--what is good about being single? I have found my voice since I began soloing. When I do not want to do something, I have found the word, "NO"---"Thank you, but NO!" Recently while volunteering at the shelter, one of the staff asked me was I coming to the banquet. In a nice, but firm voice, I told her, "No, I have reached my lifetime limit on banquets." She laughed and applauded my honesty. I am interested in tutoring those homeless children, NOT in attending an evening of speeches. I have finally found the courage and quit worrying about whose feelings I might hurt to say, "No," when I really do not have any desire to do whatever is being offered. It has stopped the days of dread I suffered when I was unable to turn anyone down. Frankly those I did not want to offend, probably were never offended by a turn down. They just needed a head count.
As a single, I have been forced to grow--expand--learn. There is no longer anyone to share big and small decisions with. SO the buck stops here and I have made every decision on my own for six years. Learning to seek wise counsel and at times, learning from my mistakes, my independence and self sufficiency has grown by leaps and bounds. I no longer agonize over each and every decision, but instead approach them with the surety that even if I go wrong--it usually can be fixed. My first year on Medicare found me agonizing for weeks over what policy to purchase. I made an OK-decision that first year--but when the next enrollment period came around--I was ready after finally finding a wise medicare counselor. My decisions are based upon study, exploration and wise counsel. I have learned to do the best I can and move forward. My self esteem has grown as I have reaped successes with major decisions.
When one is becoming a pilot, you must study the manuals, and lean on other experienced pilots to learn how to fly. The first solo run must be terrifying, but unless you are willing to get behind the wheel alone-you will never experience that exhilaration. Until the pilot is willing to stop clinging to the ground and asking for help, he will never know the joy of flying solo.
ENOUGH for today, I will close with two very important lessons I have gleamed as a single.
I really like me. I would be friends with me. I don't hit the mark all the time, but I am really trying to do what is right. I do not ever hesitate to laugh at myself and find humor in most of my shenanigans. In a nutshell--I am at least fair to middling when it comes to humanity!
The most important lesson--I am NEVER alone---HE is faithfully by my side.
Tomorrow---Valentine's Day as a Single.
"Be strong. Be brave. Be fearless. You are never alone