Real life can happen now being single. Image shows a woman without a ring laughing to show her contentment right now.

Real Life Doesn’t Start With A Ring

RELATIONSHIPS | Ashley Hetherington | 10 mins

Hi, I’m single. No boyfriend, no fiance, no husband. It’s a small fact that used to spiral me into a perpetual pity party of jealousy and anxiety, but that was getting me nowhere. (Duh.) Then I realized, real life is happening now. No ring required.

Most of my best friends have boyfriends. In fact, this past weekend, they had a “couples dinner” where they all invited their SOs. I would have loved to go, but I was missing the one ticket into the dinner: a boyfriend. As I compared my evening with theirs, I wondered if I was missing out.

I needed a perspective shift. A big one. OK, maybe two big ones:

Shift #1: What gets to define me?

Honestly, some days being single is really, really hard. I genuinely want to be married someday, so it’s natural for there to be some disappointment. There are days where I look at myself and question why I’m not. Or I question God, asking why he hasn’t provided a soulmate. Or I download and delete Hinge in one sitting. It can be quite a rollercoaster.

As someone who’s been around church for a while, I’ve seen plenty of Christians who get just as down about singleness as anyone else. Like it’s a sexless, fun-less sentence to endure until God finally provides “the one.” But there’s a big flaw in that thinking. It implies that our lives are only good when we’re married, and the Bible actually says just the opposite.

Our lives are good when they’re defined by God—period. I’m not talking about toxic positivity or the cliche Christian narrative of “YOU SHOULD BE SATISFIED WITH JESUS!” Sure, there are lots of awesome experiences in life that bring incredible joy, and marriage is one of them. But when I investigated my jealousy and despair, I found that I felt like I wasn’t good enough until I was married, and that’s just a lie.

I was letting whether I was with someone define my worth—when if my faith is worth anything, I’d know that kind of thinking was nothing but a fast track to depression (and the opposite of what I say Jesus is to me.) I don’t want to just “get through” singleness like I’m perpetually waiting for the next chapter of my life to begin. I want to embrace this season for all it can offer—all the things I could experience, all the ways I could grow, and all I could learn.

I can either “make the most of it” in a forced optimism way and fill my calendar with stuff to make me feel better about myself, or I could actually feel better about myself because of who God made me to be (not what a guy thinks of me).

I want to lean into what God wants me, specifically, to do with this time. I want to see who He made me to be and FULLY live into it. I want to be free of any messed up thinking that tells me I will have “arrived” when I’m with someone.

Shift #2: Where do I want my focus to be?

From that healthy place, I want to be wise with my singleness, viewing it as a gift, not a curse. The Bible actually says we should be good stewards of all our resources so that God will give us more—and I believe the time and flexibility that comes with singleness are resources, and I have a responsibility to use them well. Not living each day improving myself to become someone’s spouse, but living life to the full right now the way Jesus promised life with Him provides.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus told a story about a landowner who gave money to three servants before he headed out on a trip. The first two servants invested and doubled the money. The landowner praised them and even gave them more. But the third servant merely buried his money, and the landowner was furious. The servant who didn’t “invest” the money (AKA use it wisely) was given no more money.

I don’t think God wants me to “bury” my season of singleness. I think He wants me to use this season to grow in my faith and deepen my character, not piddle away the time wishing I had a boyfriend.

Also, I want to be at peace with the fact that I don’t know how long or short my singleness journey might be. The Bible doesn’t say we’re guaranteed to get married, and even though that’s something I want for my life, I want to be content with God’s plans—whether or not that includes a boyfriend or marriage.

Instead of looking at everything I was missing out on by being single, what if I looked at everything I could gain? I wanted to use this season of singleness—whether it’s months, years, or a lifetime—fully, wisely, and make it great.

Though I’m guilty of sometimes believing my real life will start once I have a ring on my finger, I want to stop believing that I can’t live a meaningful life while I’m single.

Here are some ways I’m trying to walk with purpose in my season of singleness.

1. Chasing God-given dreams.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I wrote my first story in 1st grade, I had a dream of writing books. So I am taking the time to hustle after this dream. Not that you can’t chase dreams when you are with someone, but your attention is (and should be) somewhat divided. Instead of meeting bae at a coffee shop, you can grind on the next project, application, or blog.

2. Getting to know my Creator.

I have been a Christian for quite some time. But it’s not until my latest season of singleness (after a 3.5-year relationship) that I’ve been able to really get to KNOW God on a personal level. Now that I have more alone time, I am forced to focus on His presence. Instead of looking for my worth in what a boyfriend says about me, I can discover who God says I am. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be anyway. I’m working on developing more spiritual disciplines, like praying continually throughout my day and reading the Bible in the morning.

3. Growing into the best version of myself.

Before this single season, the gym was a distant memory, but now it’s part of my weekly routine. It’s been an adventure to hit goals and finally pick up a dumbbell. Additionally, I’ve taken the time to envision where I want to be in the future. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). The other day I journaled about who I wanted to be in 30 years. I asked myself if the decisions I am making each day are helping me grow into the woman of God I want to be or if they are taking me away from that vision.

4. Prioritizing serving.

With all this time on my hands, I’ve been looking for new ways to serve my church and community. I’m currently leading a weekly Zoom Bible study, and I’m signed up to serve as a greeter/cleaner as soon as my church’s doors are open for services again. Maybe your volunteering avenue is joining the worship team, serving the homeless at a local food bank, or providing relief efforts to disaster victims. Whatever you choose, the world needs you.

5. Investing in friendships.

Life-changing relationships don’t have to be romantic, which is why I’m investing in the friendships God has put in my life. When I’m feeling lonely, sometimes I want to stay behind the walls I’ve built up for myself, because I think it’s safer that way. But the thing that will get me out of my loneliness is reaching out to others and thinking of myself less.

6. Being bold.

Last summer, I took an internship in Nashville. I didn’t know a soul, and I was absolutely terrified to move. Despite the fear, I made the leap. And it was perhaps the best summer of my life. Looking back, there’s no way I would’ve gone if I’d had a boyfriend.

Maybe boldness for you looks like moving to a new city, or going skydiving, or starting a business. Whatever it is, get out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve always wanted to do. You and God can go on your own adventure, and see where it leads.

7. Healing.

In this season, I have been working through a lot of healing from my parent’s divorce last year. I am also letting go of any bitterness from past relationships. This looks like a whole lot of prayer, counseling, and reflection. Even though the healing process hasn’t been enjoyable, I want to walk into my next relationship without baggage.

If you’re not over the way your ex treated you, this is a time to practice radical forgiveness. If your parents’ divorce gives you commitment issues, work out those wounds with a counselor. The more you heal now, the better you’ll be able to root yourself in your worth as God’s child instead of being tempted to define your identity by your relationship status.

Being single can be terrible, or it can be a big adventure. It all comes down to how you view it and use it.

I really like the way Paul in the Bible talks about singleness. He says, “And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life” (1 Corinthians 7 MSG).

I hope one day God brings someone into the picture for me. But regardless of whether that happens, I’m running after what He has for me right now with purpose, joy, and gratitude. I’m not letting any season go to waste.


Written by

Ashley Hetherington

Author. Podcaster. Virtual Mentor. Googler. People Person. I love serving the world through writing and speaking encouraging, life-giving words to others.

Published on Apr 19, 2021
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Real Life Doesn’t Start With A Ring

  1. What stands out to you most about this article? Find the line that most grabs your attention or the thought that came to mind while reading, and think: why does that stand out? (Noticing what strikes us can be the beginning of hearing from God. Lean into it.)

  2. What’s your singleness morale right now? Which of the two “shifts” Ashley recommends might help?

  3. How purposeful does life feel to you right now? Which of Ashley’s ideas inspire you to tap into your purpose more?

  4. What might you need God to heal to make the most of life right now? Be as specific as you can. Then ask Him to do it.

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