I know what it's like to celebrate someone's wedding when you're still single.
I know what it's like to see Valentine's Day come and go without so much as one little note or card.
I know what it's like to take a walk alone in the fading sunset and wish for someone to hold your hand.
I know what it's like to see your high school friend having their third baby already, and you haven't had a date in a year.
I know what it's like. It sucks. The loneliness is overwhelming at times, and you begin to wonder, "Is it worth it?" Is it worth the waiting, the soul-searching, the seemingly blind trust that God will eventually bring someone along who will match you in your pursuit of life and godliness?
In all the waiting, impatience grows in the lonely heart, and with questions swirling around regarding the value of such waiting, a crucial component of contentedness begins to fade....
. . .a thankful heart.
I can hear the question now. "Hold on just one minute, Leah, how can I be thankful for what I don't have? Did you forget that I'm missing something?"
Ask any person in the world, though - even the richest of the rich - if they desire anything more than they already have, and they will quickly give you a list. Life here on earth provides precious little compared to the immeasurable joys of heaven, of which we understand very little.
We are all missing something of which we desire. Discontent can grow very quickly in our reflective moments if we do not cling to the cure. Thankfulness fills our minds and hearts with the blessings God richly provides for us.
Jesus encountered the contrast of thankfulness vs. ignorance when He healed the ten lepers:
It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" Taking a good look at them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus' feet, so grateful. He couldn't thank him enoughand he was a Samaritan. Jesus said, "Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?" Then he said to him, "Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you." (Luke 17:11-19 The Message)
Imagine, living your life separate from others, unable to see friends and family, fearing the disease which will more than likely kill you. Now you encounter a person, who, with one word, completely heals you, setting you free from a lifetime of sorrow. Of course you're excited. Of course you can't wait to share the news with others. But would you forget to say "Thanks" to the one who brought deliverance?
Sadly, I believe many of us do forget to give thanks. Especially in privileged countries, where we take for granted the blessings of checking our email and sipping a hot drink in a coffee shop, we neglect the value of contentedness.
I look at the pile of dishes backed up in my sink, and I forget to be thankful for a well-stocked fridge. I look at the unfolded laundry in my hamper, and I forget to be thankful for more than one pair of jeans. I look at the heating bill with more than a little sticker shock, and I forget to be thankful for the roof over my head and the blessing of having heat in winter. I look at the price of gasoline, and I forget to be thankful for my car. Etc., etc.
God gives so many blessings. Even singleness is a gift. Yes, I will dare to say it out loud.
From the standpoint of planning a wedding in four months, I can certainly point to the value of having plenty of free time and the freedom to do whatever you want while you're single. Having been in that spot for many years, however, I realize this is little comfort. In fact, having freedom is no comfort at all when you desire, well, to share your time and energy with someone else. (And really, I'll be honest....it's quite a bit of fun to have someone with whom to share your life.)
So I'll stick with the more simplistic reason - singleness is a gift because God designates the times and seasons of our lives, and He designed a plan for you in your singleness.
I know you want to know the plan's details, inside and out. I know you want to be content when your emotions are screaming in their loneliness. I know you want to speed up the process, skip the lessons, and jump ahead to the part where the swelling romantic music leads to a sloppy wet kiss.
Back up a little, and take a look at your blessings. Can you be thankful for the friendships you have with other women? Can you be thankful for the practical acquiring of household management techniques? Can you be thankful for the knowledge of how to provide for yourself in this unstable economy?
Can you be thankful for salvation? For hope? For joy? For peace?
At least two Psalms spend time reflecting on the need to thank the Lord. Read Psalm 107 and Psalm 136, and take note of how many times the psalmist repeats the phrases. In addition, thankfulness is mentioned in Psalms 6, 18, 26, 30, 35, 50, 69, 75, 79, 92, 95, 97, 100, 105, 106, 116, 118, 119, 122, 140, and 147!
Now take the time to write your own prayer of thankfulness. As the writers of Veggie Tales' Madame Blueberry point out, "a thankful heart is a happy heart." If you're struggling with sadness, loneliness, or depression, this is (most definitely) the cure.
On the internet one day I found this amazing picture of a happy girl - leaping up and down with excitement on an old upholstered chair in a garbage dump.
Could I be happy in such a place? Could you?
And yet she is. Happy, thankful, content. For her, the moment is priceless.
She'd be overjoyed to have the leftovers I ate the restaurant the other night. She'd be thrilled to have a new dress, let alone a clean one. She'd be grateful for a chance to play on the beach, to ride on a city bus, to smell sweet perfume.
Regardless, she finds her joy in the poorest of conditions.
I know you're missing something - you desire someone to walk with you on this journey of life. I know the heartache and the loneliness and the feeling that no one else seems to understand. I do. And it's coming - your moment will someday arrive, and this present sorrow will fade.
For now, though, you can thank God for the blessings He provides. I know you can.
Leah writes in her spare time....whenever it's available. She and her husband Ryan live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse, writing and playing the violin on the side. She also enjoys cooking, baking, walking, and reading blogs on the internet.