“When we said you couldn’t get married until you’re 40, we were joking.”
That’s a quote from “The DTR Blog” (if you don’t follow her on Instagram, DO IT NOW) from when she asked people to share ridiculous things their family members said to them about their singleness over the holidays.
While I chuckled to myself as I read that quote, I also thought, “Wow, how must that have made that person feel?” I know that if it were me, I would have definitely felt a little hurt.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of people, especially family, making hurtful comments toward singles.
Often “jokingly” asking why they’re still single, what’s wrong with them, when they’re going to find someone, and maybe even questioning their sexuality.
But even when it’s said in jest, it can cut like a knife, especially when someone interjects their own feelings and opinions about your life without trying to understand the reality of your situation.
You may think:
“Don’t they know that I’m trying to find someone?”
“Don’t they know that it isn’t that easy?”
“Can’t they see there’s more going on in my life than just my relationship status?”
I have a few strong (but loving, of course) words for anyone who is hurtful towards singles (you don’t mess with my people), but that’s a blog for another day.
Today I want to encourage those of you who are on the receiving end of these words.
The ones who are hurt, and bearing the brunt of the world’s misunderstanding of singleness.
While there’s no easy answer to how best to handle these situations, and every relationship and family is different, there are four things I’d like to encourage you to keep in mind:
1. Their comments likely have nothing to do with you
There are many reasons (not excuses) why people are hurtful towards others, sometimes without even realizing it, and it often has nothing to actually do with you.
One being that people often choose to understand life from their perspective alone, without trying to put themselves in another’s shoes. When something doesn’t fit into their world view or how things “should” be, they react with negativity and judgement, instead of understanding and kindness.
Other times, people make negative comments because of their own insecurity, jealousy, or even intimidation about someone else’s life. Still in other cases, it could be because their own desires have gotten in the way of what’s really best for the other person.
Whatever the reason, I can almost guarantee that when someone is hurtful in this way, it has nothing to actually do with you. I know that doesn’t take the hurt away, but I hope that it helps remind you not to internalize their words. Their words are borne from something inside of them, not the reality of you.
2. Singleness is not actually a bad thing, despite what others may choose to believe
While it may not take away the sting entirely, it’s important to remember that singleness isn’t actually a bad thing, despite what the world may try to tell you, or how it feels at times (and trust me, I know it doesn’t always feel like a good thing).
In being single, you’ve chosen not to settle. Your singleness is protecting you as you make the wise and courageous choice to wait for the right person, not just any person. That’s a choice not everyone chooses to make, and it’s so admirable that you are.
Not only that, but in this time of singleness you’re learning how to be independent, to understand yourself more deeply, and taking advantage of opportunities you may not otherwise have been given if life had turned out differently.
Because of that, whether you realize it or not, this season of singleness has made you stronger and grown you more into who God wants you to be. Embrace that, declare it, and even if other people don’t recognize it, don’t let yourself forget it.
3. God is the one writing your story, and He hasn’t gotten it wrong
I think one of the most frustrating parts about this topic is that people who are making these comments, especially if they’re Christians, have clearly forgotten that God has different plans, GOOD plans, for everyone. And just because your life doesn’t fit into what they expected, it doesn’t mean that God has gotten the story wrong, or isn’t doing good in your life.
God is the one writing your story as you trust and follow Him, no one else, and there is intention and purpose for this season, even when others cannot see it. I pray that you’ll remember this even when others have forgotten, or choose not to believe it.
4. You have every right to explain your perspective, and how their comments make you feel
I realize this isn’t possible or even productive in every relationship, because sometimes you know that addressing a certain someone in your life will get you nowhere. And when that’s the case, I hope that you’ll remember the first three points instead, and pray that God would change their heart.
But when possible, I do think we have a responsibility as one of the first generations experiencing more “extended” singleness, to help people to understand it and the reality of today’s culture when it comes to dating and relationships. As I mentioned in number 1, people often only see life from their perspective and based on their experience, and the experiences our generation is having are wildly different from those of the generations before. It’s completely ok for you to explain the reality of your experience, and even more than that, It’s completely ok to let people know when what they say is hurtful.
I know that these four brief points won’t solve the problem or take away the pain of someone’s cruel or painful words, but I do hope that they help to remind you that God is in control of your life.
He hasn’t gotten your story wrong, and you are not less loved or worthy because it doesn’t look the way that someone else thinks that it should.
My hope and prayer for you is that God’s promises and what you know to be true about His plan for your life are the only words that reverberate in your ears today.
All the rest? It’s just noise.
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