The Hurt and Healing of being “Single & Saved”

 

back view of african woman drinking tea


(This is a mid-sized read…settle in for a few minutes 🙂  )

So, I read an article about singlehood being hard. As I settled in to read what the author had to say, I agreed with her to a point. Yes, singlehood can be hard. It isn’t necessarily “is” but it can be hard. She then went into explaining how hurtful existing in a life of “non-existent” physical touch can be. I think she really wanted to get into the fact she missed/yearned for the physical touch that comes from a man and the way it feels within a romantic relationship (is that church enough? ok good!) but it went “left” quick and that’s when I got up and got myself together for church.

It left me to ask myself if singlehood was hard especially if you’re in the”Single & Saved” camp (how’s that for a double shot?). Want my answer? Yes, and at times it hurts. But, there is a healing. Let’s talk about the hurt first.

Experiencing life changing situations like job loss, and the death of loved ones…single
I will never forget how it felt to get a brown envelope on one of the coldest days of the year. I called my parents. I called my pastors and then I went home. Alone. My Christmas tree was lit and gave “some” light to a very dark situation. The next day, I woke up alone. I was teary eyed didn’t know where my next dollar was coming from, I wrapped myself in the warm comforter then prayed and cried. I knew the presence of the Lord was with me, but when you wake up and can’t melt into the arms of an understanding husband can be the most sobering feeling one can experience. Sobering to know that you are about to enter into an emotionally trying situation by yourself. Sobering to know that you have to suit up for war the moment your feet hit the carpet. Sobering to know you’re going to have to find a way to process your emotions without someone standing by your side. Sobering to know that there is no warm hug, touch or cuddle of reassurance.

I also remember when I laid my father to rest. I shouldered that experience on my own. My mother stepped in to share the load but I didn’t want her health to become unstable while trying to handle the illness and eventual loss of her husband of 42 years. I have two very good friends that walked me through the “in’s and out’s” of paperwork and just letting me vent when it became too much to silently bear. Every time I came home from the hospitals, the nursing home and the doctors, I was alone. No one was waiting at home to hold and allow me to cry until my eyes ran dry. I had to “man up” and learn to compartmentalize the pain that a daughter feels after losing her first example of a man. When it was all over and the planes left the airports and the phone calls stopped, I was alone and very much single. No warm hug to greet me. Nothing. I couldn’t cry too long. After all, I’m “Single & Saved”,  and I should know where my “help” is. In times like this, the “Single & Saved” are expected to “press in” and “press through”. Quietly. Very quietly.

When your career kicks you in the butt..single
I’ve had my share of wins and losses over the years. The losses hurt when I came home second guessing my worth and talent because of a comment I either overheard or directed at me. The losses hurt when I lay awake at night wondering if the meeting I conducted earlier was “on point”. The losses hurt when I wake up to face another day with my game face on and behave like I’m made of “Teflon” in the midsts of these losses alone. There is no one physically rooting me on in the mornings. No one to make me a “champion’s breakfast”. Nope. It’s me. I’m facing the world solo. No whining, no tears, no hug before I open that door. As for the wins, I can come home and call my inner circle of friends and my older sister (but you can only keep people on the phone for so long though…). In my wins, I am throwing confetti single. No hug, No nothing.

(Side note: there’s always a pint of Talenti Roman Raspberry to help with the celebration)

When your social circle shrinks because everyone starts pairing off..while you’re…single
I didn’t understand why the Lord lead me to a season of disconnection from a group of women I held near and dear to me. I guess he saw what was coming on the horizon. One by one all the girls in my circle got engaged, married and moved into their new lives. Everything that was no longer was. No hard feelings though. I love ’em all. But I guess God wanted to make sure I was far away enough from the changes so I wouldn’t get hurt…by the changes. Soon I was navigating the waters of living “Single & Saved” by myself. Entertainment routines changed and I had to “stick and move” with a new group of ladies that were single, until one by one, their statused changed from single to “dating” to “in a relationship”. I know what’s coming next. I’m prepared. I even stocked up on hugs from my male associates. Yeah!

When you have to brave events built for the married and dating…single
Long live the company Christmas party. In one season of my life, I was actually dating a wonderful young man during the holidays. Let me tell you, it was wonderful. Being able to joke around and catch your boyfriend up on the office drama and him being able to match names to faces is awesome. It’s like having a partner in crime during the most awkward event in your professional career. Fast forward to now. I sit at tables with co-workers and spouses alone. Awkward. Really awkward. Ever did the cupid shuffle/wobble/electric slide by yourself? Eventually, I warmed up and became the life of the party until it was time to leave. One by one the couples left, got into their vehicles and went to their “afterparty” while I got to go home alone. On the drive, I would calculate the time it will take to remove my makeup and outfit in the hopes that my single bestie was still awake to hear about the evenings’ shenanigans via phone. Ever walked into an empty home after a bangin’ Christmas party? Let’s not even go there.

When your health becomes a challenge….while you’re single
I had a health issue a while back which required surgery. Anything that requires surgery means you need someone to drop you off at the hospital and pick you up when it’s over. Someone to be there with you when you’re recovering with the assistance of taking powerful painkillers. Someone to get soup and crackers when the morphine that’s still in your system brings everything you attempted to eat up to the surface. Someone to just……..be there. When my friends and family went back to their lives, I was at home single and under a blanket.

When you’ve done everything the articles tell you to do…and you’re still…well…single
There is a demographic that is willing pay their hard earned money to listen how they can escape being single. I’m no longer sowing seeds into that ministry but let me tell you how un-authentic some of these “Find A Man” books are. I’m to the point where I will no longer fatten someone else’s wallet/purse to tell me how they “made it over into the promised land of marriage” and what’s preventing me from getting there. Nope. Not gonna do it.

I remember being told by associates that I am not trying hard enough or that I should give cyber dating a try. For the record, I tried and it was horrific. I left cyber dating right where it found it: in cyberspace.

I did everything those “living your best single life now” type of articles said to do. I’ve travelled (still travel), slept in past 9am (makes me queasy), went where I wanted when I wanted, (did you see the gas prices lately?), took cake making classes (put on about ten pounds then hired a trainer to take it off), read tons of books (my home library is on fleek), became an author and wrote a book (that is inspiring many many people), started a fitness journey ( I love the kaleidoscope of colorful workout pants) and a host of other things to keep me “busy”. After all, Boaz might find me right? Wrong. Never the less, when I travel, no one is waiting for me at the airport, no one to read passages of some of the Jamaican history books I’ve been indulging in, and no one there to make me a recovery shake and rub my sore muscles when I come home from a circuit training beat down. No high fives, no smacks on the bottom. I come home single.

…there seems to be an overwhelmingly large amount of single women who desire to marry (vs not enough men who feel the same way) and the body of Christ is still figuring out how to “handle” and even counsel the hurt and disappointment found in this demographic.

When you have to stand on everything your pastor/singles ministry/women of God/well-meaning sisters and brothers in the faith tell you…single
I prayed. Made my list. Fasted. Removed things from my list. Got specific. Didn’t get specific. Went to the altar. Left the altar. Repented. Fasted. Went back to the altar. Listened to married couples. Listened to divorced women and men. Removed barriers. Put back the barriers. Asked God to be my husband. Acted like a “wifely” single. Acted content. Acted angry. Now, repeat all of that in THAT order. I was (emphasis on was) doing this in cycles. Being “single & saved” left me bewildered. Dazed even. I got the classic lines of “encouragement” from my brothers and sisters: “Wait on the Lord”, “He’ll come when you stop thinking about marriage”, “Remove your expectations”, “We’ll you know Jesus was single”, “Paul said it is better to be single than married”, and the clincher: “Everybody isn’t getting married” (it stings a bit extra when a married brother/sister in Christ says this). I have an added bonus “Did you ask God if it was in His will?”.

I won’t get mad at the corporate church. I just think there seems to be an overwhelmingly large amount of single women who desire to marry (vs not enough men who feel the same way) and the body of Christ is still figuring out how to “handle” and even counsel the hurt and disappointment found in this demographic. I won’t even get mad at the overly attractive married brothers and strikingly beautiful sisters in the faith who never had issues getting dates or experiencing intimacy all of their lives trying to  give singles advice. They mean well right?  But, what’s the logic in telling a single woman to take a “man fast/man break/man vacation” if she hasn’t been on a decent date or out for coffee with a man in years?  Where’s the “Balm in Gilead” for that?

I got into this vicious cycle of “clearly I’m doing something wrong”, and maybe I’m “too” saved (I didn’t even know being too saved existed). I thought about dippin’ out on God like the prodigal son just to see if the odds would be in my favour (I did that once, wasn’t pretty). I even second-guessed the path God had me on (hurt will make you delirious and do stupid things). It got to a point where I got tired and resigned to the fact that being “single & saved” and the hurt that comes from it is like rocket science. I was either going to let it destroy my faith trying to figure it out, or just simply move on with my life. I decided to move on. I decided to find something to hold onto when the hurt comes up. Mustard seeds, grains of sand or just the air of faith when things (i.e. the hurt) got too heavy for my single to handle shoulders. I dug my heels further into the faith that God can eclipse an unmet desire. I wanted to live and I wanted the hurt to stop.  Realizing that “waiting in the pews” wasn’t working for me did NOT mean I was going to abandon my Christ walk (like many other women in the faith were doing). It just meant I had to do something different.

…I got tired of being sick and tired. I left the “hurt” circus and never looked back.

I simply could not take another ride on the merciless lazy-susan of thoughts of not being enough, then reading yet another article on being single written by the churched and un-churched, listening to a preacher (not a pastor) run down a list of scriptures on why the Lord wants me to remain single, perusing a book written by an Instagram/Youtube celebrity, and paying someone $150 bucks to berate me and a host of other “Single & Saved” women in a hotel conference room for not being pretty or desirable enough to marry and what I need to do to change my situation. I got tired of being sick and tired. I left the “hurt” circus and never looked back. But before I could even “live”, I needed a healing. I needed to find a way to turn this hurt into power.

I used the hurt to lead me into His presence
I discovered an inner strength that God birthed in me specifically for tough times. In those quiet moments when that single hurt would show up, I ran into my hiding place of honest prayer and worship. The kind of prayer and worship that goes beyond the surface stuff. After all, this “Single & Saved” journey is bigger than me and I needed an even bigger God to help me through it.

….un checked hurt turns into bitterness.

The hurt made me trust Him even more
I’ve trusted God’s will for small things, but relentlessly putting the hurt of singlehood on His shoulders was the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I will never forget the day I decided to stop looking over my shoulder to see if marriage was hiding behind me or even playing peek-a-boo as I continued with my life. In bible study, we were tasked with going to God about a prayer he did not answer. It took me a week to start the assignment because of the hurt I felt. The hurt from being single over a stretch of time during the most trying situations of my life. The hurt from the prayers not being answered. The hurt that took root in my heart and morphed into bitterness (..did you catch that??) Let me repeat that: un-checked hurt turns into bitterness. When I opened my mouth to talk to my pastor about the assignment, the tears came and I had a very ugly cry. Without getting overly specific, it was in that cry I learned that I simply had to trust God and let go of the hurt that comes from being single. This was something that the books, articles, Instagram/Youtube experts and preachers fail to address.

The hurt lead me to love myself even more
When you’re in the midst of cycles of singlehood hurt, loving yourself can be a chore. Singlehood has a funny way to making you believe there is something wrong with you, when there really isn’t.  After giving that burden of hurt to God including the lack of human touch us in the  “Single & Saved” camp experience, there was a new Tracey that possessed a physical and inner beauty I never saw before. I realized no one could be “me”. I owned my journey and no one could take that away. When I realized that in the end of those situations I was still standing, I appreciated and began to love the person looking back at me.

The hurt pushed me to live the life I’ve been missing out on
I wanted to start living and stop existing (for real this time). I wanted to live without the albatross of being hurt around my neck, without being reminded every holiday season, every birthday and every rainy night that I was still single. I could not force God to send a husband the way Amazon would send my packages. That meant God would have to make a man “marriage ready” with two day free shipping. The last time I checked, the majority of the brothers in and out of Christ aren’t quite making marriage a priority the way the sisters are. So while the men are trying to figure out who they are and what they want, I’m gonna live my life. I never experienced such clarity about where I want to go, what I want to do and the options I have. That might not be good enough for those who are still hoping for a husband, but for a person who lived under the hurt of singlehood for a few years, this is freedom!

In closing…
Women admitted their hurt in one huge exhale since the release of the article. The “Single & Saved” broke their silence and admitted, yeah it’s slightly harder for us because we are expected to shoulder everything we go through “with a bible scripture and a smile”. I think this is the first step into the healing we need. Hopefully, the conversation and counseling methods will change in the body of Christ for those who are still single and still waiting. What we got going on here is heavy and it’s real!

I could focus on the hardness of being single, but that would require me to go back to a place where I felt bound and couldn’t appreciate what was in front of me. I could focus on being hurt, but it seems every other week, someone on my Facebook is passing away who happens to be in my age group.  The realness of someone passing away pales in comparison to not having a husband around to zip up the back of my dress. I could focus on the lack of attention and affection from the opposite sex, but that would drive me into the same mistakes I did earlier in my Christ walk. Next thing you know there will be another article and movement about that. Wait, there already was (“No More Sheets” on line one).

I can’t say that the hurt won’t re-surface (the holidays are coming, oh joy), I can’t say facing another trial-while-single will be easy, I can’t say some well meaning associates/friends won’t have any more comments and suggestions on how to depart from the land of singlehood and I can’t say there won’t be any more “Wait on the Lord” sermons at church. All I can leave you with is this: you have the choice to give that hurt over to God completely by releasing it (when I say release, I mean resigning to the fact that your singlehood situation is simply too big for you to handle on your own) or live in it and allow it to make you bitter.

I pray we all release the singlehood hurt for the sake of our hearts, mind, soul, body, spirit and most of all our faith. There is freedom to be found. There is freedom to be had.

Amen and amen.

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