After reading Lindsay’s latest blog “36 and Single … What If I’m the Problem?” I came away with a solid conclusion: Actually, I probably am the problem. My response to my singleness has started to shift lately. I am, as the saying goes, taking the bull by the horns.
If you’re single, older than 30 and you don’t want to be single anymore, well, I’d call that a problem. Or, in the very least, it’s a challenge. And I’ve learned when I encounter a problem the best way to solve it is to start with what I can control. In the case of singleness, the only thing I have control of is myself. As much as I’d like to conjure up a single, Jesus-loving Dr. Spencer Reid (shout-out to my “Criminal Minds” fans), that’s probably not a realistic option.
Plus, if I’m really honest with myself, I can see one common denominator throughout all my years of singleness: me. When I take stock of those years, I see someone who did the best she could, but, honestly, maybe I could do better now. I know there are things in my life that could be keeping me from marriage.
What’s kept me from chasing my hopes of a future family with more intensity? Fear. Specifically, fear of two things: fear of failure and fear of looking desperate. What if I try really, really hard, but I still end up single? I’ll feel so stupid! And, what if people make fun of me for going to speed dating or going out with that guy or for (insert thing here)? What if I look desperate?
A few years ago when I was looking to change jobs none of those fears applied. I was unhappy with the position I had, and I clearly remember thinking, If I end up back at this same job this fall, I will know that’s God’s will for me. But I want to make sure I’ve explored all my options and exhausted all my resources looking for something new — that way I’ll be secure in returning to this current job for another six months or a year. This, as it turns out, was a solid plan for my life. So why was that thought pattern beneficial in searching for a new job but not in searching for a spouse?
At 37 I’ve decided I’m done with fear (well, at least in this area of life). God has placed the desire for marriage on my heart — I’m sure of that. Without idolizing marriage I’m going to do everything in my power to try and find the guy and build the relationship. So what exactly does that look like? Well, there are a few basic principles that can guide us:
- Pray and trust. Obviously I can want and work toward marriage, but without the guidance and counsel of God, that effort is worthless. So I’m praying for myself, for a husband, and for my single girl and guy friends. I’m also trusting God. Trusting Him that even if I go on dates with 50 guys and don’t find my future husband, He is still faithful, and He can still use those experiences for his glory and for my growth.
- Get a team together. I’m lucky enough to have a large community of single men and women in their late 20s through mid -40s in my city. Four friends and I are working our way through “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping.” We’re checking on each other’s progress in dating, encouraging and providing feedback and praying for each other. If you don’t have that community nearby — get creative. Skype with some folks. Enlist a married friend or two. Just don’t go it alone.
- Get out there. My plan is to jump on a couple of dating websites and actually (and I know this is radical) go on some dates. While most of these men won’t be perfect matches, I’m going to get out there. To paraphrase Henry Cloud, unless I’m looking to marry the FedEx guy (who happens to be a woman), I need to meet more men. And then I’ll talk about what it’s like meeting these guys with my team — share my reactions, insecurities, and fears (and maybe the good stuff too). If I have to, I’ll call in the big guns — a woman I’ve talked to several times who acts as my dating coach, and, if needed, I’ll even loop in a therapist I’ve gone to in the past. The point is: I’m going to put myself out there, it’s probably going to hurt, and I’m going to keep trying.
- Face the facts. While I’ve done a good bit of personal work so far, there’s probably more I need to do. I could be too intense on first dates, so maybe I need to gather feedback from some folks and make some adjustments. Maybe there are great parts of me men never get to experience because insecurities or coping mechanisms stop them from surfacing; I want to make sure a man I might be interested in gets to experience the best of me — the unique way that God designed me — so I’ll keep working until I’m offering an honest picture of myself.
- Let yourself off the hook. Finally, I’m not going to beat myself up. This stuff can be really hard. It can dig up past hurts, parental problems or insecurity issues. So when that hits, I’ll turn to God and my team and get the love, grace and truth I need to keep going. Because I will keep going. And I think you should too.
Single friends, know I’m praying for you. And know you might have some hard work ahead of you. But, also know it’s worth it. Whether a future spouse reaps the benefits in the next six months or six years, or those benefits extend to friends and family, it’s worth it. And what have you got to lose? A few evenings or afternoons and maybe some cash, but I’m thinking that’s not too big a sacrifice in order to pursue what you want and feel called to.
Mary Kate Dick is over six feet of graphic design prowess living and working in Denver, CO. She’s spent time in both the advertising industry and teaching high school and currently works at a small creative shop helping make clients’ dreams come true. She spends her time attempting to DIY all the things, working on her house, painting, writing, and socializing. She loves helping others on their growth journeys, listening to NPR, and sitting on her porch in the evenings, and she thinks anything with the word ‘euro’ in front of it is automatically cooler.