By Vickie D.
I have been divorced now for a number of years and I have experienced both the positives and negatives of both married and single life. Married couples may look to singles and wish they had the freedom from all the responsibilities and hard times involved in marriage and singles may look to married couples and wish they had the closeness of a relationship that supports and comforts them as they traverse this hard road we call life. As they say, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.
Social media may add to the discontent. Most of the time, we get glimpses of the lives of others, forgetting that social media is not a true depiction of the totality of life. How many times have you seen a post that says, “Had another argument with my husband;” or “I don’t know how we are going to financially meet our bills this month;” or “My child just got in trouble with the law;” or “I have cheated on my diet for the past 2 weeks.”
Many social events in our society are based on the participation of couples. I hated the dances where the “couples only” dances leave singles at their tables trying not to notice that many others had found that elusive match. Dating websites can also contribute to the discontent. Many dating websites are so infiltrated with scammers that a single person seriously looking for a relationship must be on guard at all times. As singles look at photos of their potential match, a fixation on physical beauty becomes too important.
What about the couples who like to stand up in church and announce how many years they have been married while the congregation claps for them? When this happens, divorced singles may feel like second-class citizens, even when their divorce is justified. My goal is not to criticize those who are proud of their long marriages. I respect couples highly who make a commitment and stick with it through thick and thin. How I wish I could have achieved that type of longevity in my marriage. I try to remind myself that like social media, I cannot determine the quality of each relationship.
I am sharing some thoughts and conclusions that I wish other singles had shared with me when I was married.
I was so busy with work, raising kids, maintaining a home, family, and church, I forgot to reach out to the singles during the holidays or think about what they might be feeling. I never realized that what I portrayed as a successful woman who could handle it all may have brought anguish to those who were struggling. Behind closed doors, I could not handle it all and eventually my failings showed up publicly with my divorce. I never thought I would be divorced, but here I am. At these broken times in life, God is with us either through the kindness of other Christians and within ourselves as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
I have some questions to ask myself based on what I have learned. Why should I ever allow myself to feel like a second-class citizen? We are all sinful creatures yet God has promised to forgive us when we confess our sins through prayer. Why would I even allow social media, a social event, or the bragging of others to make me feel like I had somehow failed? I am a child of God and the Spirit of God lives in me to help guide my paths. Why would I not be happy for those who want to share the joy of an achievement? I am to love unconditionally as Christ loved and seek to encourage others as Barnabas did. Why would I even think about judging the intentions of others? Only God in Christ will judge and I must forgive others as God forgave me. Why do I put up this wall that says I have everything under control? I need to let my vulnerability show so it can help others. Even Christ showed his vulnerable side when he asked his Father to take the cup of death from him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I am reminded of Paul who said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” (Philippians 4:11). Paul was the guy who persecuted and killed many Christians before he became one of the greatest apostles of all time. Paul claimed himself to be the greatest of sinners, yet he became key in offering God’s grace to Gentiles as well as his Jewish brothers. His sufferings for Christ included being beaten, stoned, thrown in jail, physical infirmities, cold, hunger, lack of sleep, being criticized, abandonment, and almost dying several times. Yet, Paul walked thousands of miles to spread the Gospel and was able to write about being content in every situation. So, what excuse do I have to not be content? There is no excuse. Thank you, Christ, for your sacrifice on the cross by taking on the sins of the world so we could be righteous before God. I will work to be content with my current situation as I seek your Spirit to guide me in the days ahead. I will strive to remember my blessings and the opportunities to love as Christ loved. I will rejoice in my singleness and use it for good while being attune to new people or opportunities God may put in my path.