I am a huge fan of TV, NPR, and trivia. What that means is that I have an extensive knowledge of things that are fairly useless but come in handy at awkward social situations. The other day, I heard an interview with Tony Hale on NPR. Tony Hale is the actor known for playing Buster Bluth on the TV show Arrested Development. My 3 loves, TV, NPR & trivia, were colliding in 10 minutes of talk radio bliss! Although Tony Hale is known for his acting roles, many people are not aware that he is a professing Christian and an alumnus of Sigma Chi fraternity.
During the interview, Hale was asked about how his faith informs his career as an actor. He responded, “All I ever wanted was a sitcom…when I booked it I thought, ‘This doesn’t satisfy like I thought it would satisfy’…that was a faith lesson. If you’re not practicing contentment where you’re at, then you’re not going to be content when you get what you want.”
Many of us, when we’re single, get sick of seeing our friends in relationships or, as we get older, watching more and more friends get married and start families. We long to have the kind of love, companionship, and end to loneliness that we see others enjoying. It easy to get trapped in a cycle of isolation and loneliness when it seems like everyone around you is in a relationship. I empathize with you and know that God acknowledges your loneliness and wants to bring you comfort and peace.
But let me say something true and blunt. If someday you get married, I guarantee that you will have days when you wish you were single again or wonder if you married the wrong person. It’s so easy for us as humans to long for a better future or seemingly ideal past rather than seek contentment in our present situations. We get stuck in discontentment, unable to enjoy or even see God’s blessings in the present moment.
Savor the Season You’re In
Being married is a great blessing but it is so much harder than I thought it would be. When things really suck, I find myself looking at my single friends and longing for their freedom and autonomy. I conveniently forget the difficult things about being single and the wonderful things about being married! This causes me to unfairly glorify a past season in my life and actually miss out on blessings that God has for me in my present moment. This is not only hurtful to God but also hurtful to my husband and to my single friends. It minimizes the blessing God has given to me in my husband and it minimizes the difficulties of my friends who are single.
Scroll up and read Tony Hale’s comment again. Doesn’t it ring true for us? God desires for us to seek contentment in our present circumstances, to savor the season we are in. If we are continually longing for the past or fantasizing about the future, we can’t savor the present where God has us. When we overly dwell on and long for a future or past season in our lives, we do a disservice to God and a disservice to the people God has placed in our lives to care for and love. Looking back on my time in college, I was single for most of that time and, to be honest, my regret is not that I didn’t date more or have a couple more serious relationships before I got married. My regret is that I could have invested more time in my Pi Phi sisters and other friendships.
Practicing Gratitude and Contentment
Maybe you’ve read other blogs about singleness and dating and they’ve given you helpful hints on how to be content while single. I don’t have a list of bullet points or the top 10 ways to enjoy being single. What I’m urging you to do is to learn how to practice contentment and gratitude in your everyday life. There will be seasons in your life that will be awesome and seasons that will be horrible. God’s call, no matter the season, is the same: to be obedient to him and faithful to the opportunities he gives you.
Examen is simply an ancient church practice that helps us review our day. I’ve found that this has increased my intimacy with God and cultivated more contentment and gratitude in my life. At the end of your day, grab a journal or talk about these questions with God. I like to do this right before I go to bed.
- For what am I most grateful today? Where did God seem especially near or present? Offer thanks and praise to God for these moments
- For what am I least grateful today? Where was it hard for me to be aware of God? Where did I feel distant from him? Talk about these with God but don’t feel like you have to figure them out or analyze them, simply be honest with God about how you are feeling.
- Where did I receive the most love? Offer thanks and praise to God for these moments
- Where did I receive the least amount of love? Share these openly and honestly with God, not trying to analyze them or feel like you have to figure them out
- Where did I give the most love? Rest in the truth that God is pleased with your efforts
- Where did I lack love or withhold love? Share these openly with God. Confess your lack of love and ask for forgiveness.
End your time by talking with God about any lingering moments from your day. Rest in the knowledge that God is present with you and release the events of the day to God’s care. Ask God to help you start fresh for the next day.
My hope and prayer for you is that you cling to God’s presence in the midst of any season in your life. Whether single or married, may God show you how to be fulfilled in your relationship with him and to savor and take advantage of where he has you.