It was suggested to me to write about the single life – about being ‘single and blessed’ – a beautiful phrase coined by an FDZ Sister. But I kept shifting my attention away from this subject every time it came to my mind because, truth be told, I felt uncomfortable and doubtful that anyone would be interested in reading it. However over time, this topic has been persistently whispering in my ear the loudest: “write about being single and blessed, single and blessed, single and blessed…” like a cheeky little angel haunting me and poking me in the back.
Why have I been so reluctant? Well, firstly, to me it feels too personal to write about being single – especially the type of person who has always been single since birth, never married, and no longer within a certain age bracket. I feel that the world can judge such people as defective in some way, ‘left on the shelf’, or immature – forever the child like Peter Pan. Secondly, for the most part, I haven’t thought about being blessed in my singleness very much at all. I have felt wonderful freedom, for sure, but not especially blessed over anyone else.
So why did I decide to give in to that angel and write this post? Because there may just be a chance that someone else out there like me – maybe you or someone you know – needs to read these words right now. Someone who is possibly thinking that God has forgotten them, or who feels abandoned or unwanted in this world. You, especially, must know that you are not alone, flawed, or wasted in this life, just because you are single. This twin share world needs people like us, and we have a place in it. Even if we may ‘still’ be unmarried, or not planning outings with a special other, God wanted us to be here too. He is our Special Other and our existence was lovingly intended by Him. We have a reason for living, breathing, and having our being.
I think another significant motivation for me to write was when, a few Sundays ago at church, a visiting priest spoke about where, when, and how can we experience and encounter the Holy Spirit in our lives, and suggested that we do this in the ordinary experience of our humanity. In his homily he spoke about the various vocations including married couples and the religious life. I thought that he would stop there. But when he also mentioned “single people, with your widely-embracing love and care”, I almost fell off my chair. I found that I was shocked and smiling despite myself. He did not say singles awaiting marriage, or single widows, single youth, or any other qualification, but acknowledged single people – not singleness as a temporary affliction or passage of life – but single people with “your widely-embracing love and care”. Like we mattered and had a purpose in the world, and were not just ladies and lads in waiting. Hearing his words felt like a weight falling off my shoulders, and the tension I didn’t realise I was holding, disappeared.
On several occasions over the years I have felt sadness, or been taken for granted, or in situations where I had to explain why I (the unmarried, childless one) was asking for flexible work, or thinking it was my fault for not being good enough when people I really trusted and liked rejected me. On that Sunday morning however, that priest’s words helped me to feel more acknowledged and included as a single person in the world and especially in the church, a place and community that matters the most to me.
While it can definitely feel lonely, as a single person I am not alone (and there is a difference between those words), as I have more time to serve and fully participate in the life of the church and in my choir, to indulge in my passion for music and expressing God’s love to others through sung prayer. I also feel a special kinship with the lives of the saints and learn how they spent their time in prayer, contemplation, and service. I share in the life of the ‘Hidden Jesus’ – a beautiful reference to Our Lord in the Eucharist as often expressed by Saint Francisco Marto of Fatima. I feel a closer connection to so many people around the world who are often overlooked, forgotten, or excluded by society. I am free to make many choices than would perhaps be made by others. While I did not intentionally choose to have a single vocation as such, it seems to have chosen me, and my attitude is to accept things as they are and move on with it. I am also open to whatever God has in mind for the future.
I also feel that non-singles can learn a lot from us – in appreciating the gifts that we have to offer, in giving of our time, a listening ear, our perspectives on life, and willingness to expand our net of friendship with many people.
So if you do not feel especially blessed in your singleness, know that there is One who understands you, who sent His Son, who was single all his life, to be at your side now and into the future. Put your mind on Christ and speak honestly with Him about your thoughts and sufferings, your fears, joyful moments, and hopes. Be present to Him in your life and imagine Him beside you always.
Remember, you are not just single, you are single and…
the apple of His eye,
desperately wanted by Him,
and yes, truly, single and blessed.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”(Psalm 73:25)