Dear Megan, how did the years of your singleness prepare you for your marriage?

This is such a great question because while I was single for a very long time, I didn't talk about that in this space much at all. Just little tidbits here and there. My single years were a mix of really fun adventures and extremely difficult loneliness. I struggled with depression in my early 20s, and I struggled with knowing and feeling I was loved and valued. That my presence even mattered.

My single status wasn't all-consuming, but it was definitely difficult at times. A friend and I once told each other that at some point during the day -- every day -- whether it was vague or in-your-face, we were reminded of our singleness as if it were a bad/sad thing.

Listen, I know a lot of well-meaning Christians are going to say really hurtful things to you when you’re single. And as hard as it is to brush it off, that’s what you have to do. People truly mean well, but to be honest, the Church doesn’t always do a good job of taking care of singles. For some reason, they just haven’t figured it out yet (at least not in my experience.)  I attended a "singles group" a few times but couldn't stand it because the leaders thought instead of doing a Bible study, we should just talk about blog posts regarding singleness -- as if I was not already aware enough of my singleness. (Feel free to print this post off for your next meeting. JUST KIDDING.) I needed Jesus, I didn't need to sit around with ten other people I barely knew and mope about my relationship status.

One of the worst and most cliche things people said to me during my single years was:

“Well, you know when you’re perfectly content being single, that’s when God will bring you a husband.”

Seriously? When I’ve reached a perfect zen-like feeling regarding my singleness, then God will reward me with a spouse? I don’t think so. That's not how Jesus works. If it was, I should have been doing more yoga.😜 

I didn't start dating my husband until I was twenty-eight, and I got married at thirty. So while I'm only six months into marriage (and will be learning about it for the rest of my life) I spent all of my 20s as a single woman, so I've had a lot of years of being alone and learning from it, and I don't want to forget what that was like -- the good and the hard. While my years of being single were a mix of happiness and heartache, they also gave me something that I didn't always see as a gift: time

I had time to deepen friendships.
Thankfully I was able to see and appreciate this one while I was single, and I was incredibly grateful for it. Jesus gave me time to strengthen friendships with my best friends. Time to lead a Bible study and in turn gain three of my dearest friends.

Some of these deepened friendships were with married couples who loved me so well and invited me into their lives and to their dinner tables, and even sometimes on weekend dates to the movies. They never made me feel bad for being single or feel like an awkward third wheel. To them it was "hang out time with Megs" and I know it was a sacrifice to give up time for me, and I'll never be able to explain to them how deeply that impacted me during a season that was so hard.

These friendships are so important even when you are married because your spouse cannot be everything to you. You still need your friends and your community. You need your girlfriends who can understand the emotional side of life in ways your husband might not always be able to. And that's okay.

I had time to grow in my walk with the Lord.
Jesus and I had a lot of honest heart to hearts during this long season (and we still do.) But it was during these years that Jesus became really REAL to me. My relationship with Him deepened and changed. I got to a place where I wasn't scared to tell Jesus what I really thought, and I was brave enough to ask Him for really big things. I read Beautiful Outlaw a few years ago, and it completely affirmed all the things about Jesus' character and personality that I already connected with. I felt like I had permission to be mad at Him and to let Him know about it (He already knew, obvi) but I think it's good for us to get it out there. To yell and scream and cry and let Him hold us. I also felt like I had permission to laugh with Him and to ask for big things and to celebrate with Him.

This helped prepare me for marriage because I was able to grow in my own journey with Jesus. To know who Jesus and I were together before I added someone else into the mix. Your spouse cannot be where you go for all of your spiritual support -- yes, you should grow spiritually together, but they need their own relationship with Jesus just as much as you do. Your relationship with Jesus still comes first in your marriage, and in turn, that helps you grow and your marriage grow.

I had time to begin figuring out who I was.
My years of singleness gave me so much time to begin figuring out what I liked, what my preferences were, what I believed, and what I wanted out of life. I say "begin" because this is a lifelong process -- we change throughout the course of our lives, and the way we think about certain things can morph a little, and our ideas of what we wanted out of life can change as we learn and grow and see what is actually God's best for us.

After far too many years passed, I finally started going to counseling (and I still do!) I had so many issues rise to the surface that I needed help with -- I really needed advice from an objective party -- and it has made ALL the difference in my life. If you haven't taken advantage of this time to seek out a mentor or a counselor, I 100% recommend that you do. You might not be as broken as meπŸ˜‰, but I promise it'll do your heart and your future a world of good. And your future spouse will be grateful that you took the time to take care of yourself. I promise.

While I’m on my soapbox about this, let me give you married folk some advice regarding your interaction with singles based on my own personal experience. Don’t make them feel less-than or incomplete. Don’t say inconsiderate things that point out the “I’M SINGLE” sign they already feel is tattooed on their forehead. Tell them encouraging things, challenge them, ask them questions, but don’t make it about their relationship status. We’re all just imperfect human beings walking through life, dealing with our own issues, celebrating our own victories, figuring out who we are, regardless of being married or not. So ask them about them. 

And brave heart, if you're single and you're reading this, I hope you know you are so very significant. I hope you laugh and live big. I hope you and Jesus get to know each other deeply. I hope you go on great adventures. I pray you have best friends who love you and invite you into their lives and homes. I don't know what Jesus has planned for you. I don't know how long this season will last. I don't know if you will get married. But I do know you are a valuable human being, a beautiful beating heart, an important piece of the puzzle, someone with a song to sing, and your presence matters more than you will ever know. And I am grateful to be walking toward Home with you.