A few years ago, I took a dating detox. A purposeful time away from pursuing relationships.
I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t a flowery year. I didn’t walk around wearing a #SingleLife t-shirt, and I may or may not have downloaded, then deleted, dating apps more times than I’d care to admit.
But it was a necessary time.
Like most millennials, my world is filled with dating – who’s dating whom, who broke up with whom, who found love on Snapchat/Tinder/Match.com/Farmer’s Only (okay, I’ve never met someone who actually uses that site) this week. Bombarded, is probably the right word.
And in a world like this, it’s so tempting to settle for anything just to have something. And, to, be honest, I was tired of doing that. I was so tired of having to convince myself why certain relationships were close enough to perfect.
And so, one night, I decided I was done. Cold turkey. A dating detox.
I wanted to take some time to see what God was saying to me that didn’t come through another person. To see if I was even called to date in this stage of my life. To see if there were more things I could learn alone than in a relationship.
And boy, did I learn. A few highlights:
Singleness is a gift – don’t waste it.
You can waste your singleness really easily. You can make it all about you, complain about it, sit at home, watch Netflix, or spend every second trying to figure out how to not be single.
Or, you can see the gift it is and not waste it. Your singleness frees up time and energy to pour into other people in unique ways that you never can when you’re in a relationship. Volunteer, become a small group leader for teenagers, invest in your single and married friends, give your parent friends a night off… Whatever you do, don’t waste this time.
Singleness is a calling – don’t ignore it.
Not everyone is intended to date. Or marry. I’ve met more than one person who honestly feels called to be single, which I never understood until this season.
There are times in our lives when we are called to be single in order to do the brave or time-consuming work that God is calling us towards. If you feel called to be single – for a season or for life – embrace it. I learned so much in this season that I couldn’t have learned if I would have ignored God’s calling in this area. I grew in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. I identified growth areas that I would have ignored if I hadn’t been paying attention. And I was able to do ministry in a different way than my dating and married friends, simply because I had more time and emotional space.
If this is a season for your singleness, don’t be afraid: trust the love and security of your known God over your unknown fears.
Singleness is a opportunity – don’t disparage it.
To the church and those who have been called to marriage: love the single people in your life well. Jesus and Paul were both single, so to set up marriage as the pinnacle of the Christian existence is a common way to burn out the single people in your church and in your life.
To the single people: celebrate your singleness and the unique opportunities it allows you. Take this time to identify your attitudes towards singleness and make them healthy. Embrace this season – even if it’s reluctant white-knuckling – and see what God offers here, too.
If you’re single, I pray that this time, for you, is a season of growth and encouragement. And I pray that if it doesn’t always feel that way, that your community can come around you and love you well. From one millennial to another, let’s do dating better: starting with our single selves.