I often hear people who are single complain about how lonely they feel and say marriage would fix their feelings of loneliness. I understand because it's actually quite common for single people to go through feelings of loneliness and it's easy to blame feelings of loneliness on being single. Over the years I've also observed a trend of people going from one dating relationship to another just because they don't want to be "alone" while believing it is better to date somebody, anybody, even if that means getting involved in a bad or unhealthy relationship or caught up in a situation where morals and convictions are compromised. I don't know much but what I do know is that if getting involved in a relationship with somebody causes me to compromise my moral and ethical convictions then that person is not the person for me. However, if that person encourages and inspires me towards my moral and ethical convictions they're a keeper. I also know that if I think marriage is the cure for my feelings of loneliness I set that marriage up for failure and if I get married to show "how much God has brought healing into my life" and "how mature I am" then not only am I not mature enough yet but I'd be getting married for all the wrong reasons.
So if being single is not the cause of our loneliness ... what is?
We haven't yet realized the gift of solitude. Learning the art of solitude vs being alone is a lot easier for the introvert than it is for the extrovert but here's a challenge for all of you who are extroverts. I mean, many introverts compromise on some of our boundaries when we make the choice to go out and socialize when we would really just like to go home and read a book. Yet the extrovert will rarely spend time in solitude. For some of us the idea of going out to see a movie alone or hanging out at a coffee shop with a book instead of with a good friend seems torturous. The idea here is to learn how to enjoy the simple things in life while in solitude. I think, for some, this would be a hard transition to make but not impossible. So I have a couple of challenges and if you're just crazy enough perhaps you'll take me up on this challenge.
Can't remember the last time you were single?
If you can't remember the last time you were single and you know the person you are dating is not right for you then maybe it's a good time to set a year apart to be single. Yes, you heard right. I challenge you to be single for a period of one year. The challenge is not just to be single for that one year but to dedicate that year for personal growth while learning the art of solitude. What do I mean by the art of solitude? Find a good book to read, commit to reading one chapter of that book each day. That isn't too difficult when most books these days a chapter is like 4 pages. Find places to go like your favorite coffee shop or the beach or your favorite chair at home and read that chapter. Being in solitude doesn't mean that you have to remove yourself from civilization and it doesn't even have to mean ignoring the people around you either. It doesn't have to be reading a book. You can just as well set out to go watch a movie by yourself. I know, what a concept it is to spend a night out at the movie theatre by yourself.
Tired if being alone?
The greatest challenge to experiencing joy in life is learning to be content in whatever season we find ourselves in. Learning to be content in a season of singleness can be difficult but not impossible. I'm not talking about the lowering of expectations or withdrawing from community altogether and becoming like a hermit but chances are if you are tired of being alone you kinda do feel like a hermit. Set out to do one activity one day a week. Take a book with you and go to your favorite coffee shop and strike up a conversation with the stranger siting close by or set out to go watch a movie at the movie theatre by yourself. Find an activity you enjoy and allow all your senses to take in the environment around you. Find a group of people and socialize. A good mix of both men and women would be best. If you have the finances get yourself a pet like a dog. Dogs can be a good companion to have and when you don't have anybody at home greeting you when you walk in after a difficult day at work you can bet your dog will come running.