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No Regrets: I am 32. I am single.

No Regrets in the WaitingI'm a decade out of college and still unmarried. Here are the lessons I've learned.
I am 32. I am single.
These are tough sentences to say. Perhaps because they do not stand on their own. They are imbued with a host of other sentences that may not be said, but are surely thought.

I am unwanted.
I am undesirable.
I am unloved.
We think these things even when, as Christians, we know that they are not true.
Turning 30 was easy. Finally feeling like an adult, I bought a house, I lived on my own, I had a big job. Although single, I wasn't worried about it. Thirty-one mostly was consumed with work-stress and learning to not place my identity in my job. And then I hit the roadblock of 32.
For my 30-something single friends and I, there is a strong sense of running out of time, or worse, falling behind. As a high-achieving woman, I have always been ahead of my peer group, always looking for the next gold ring. But in one of the most important realms of life, I have felt like a failure. Your friends marry and have kids — by 32, some even are on their third kid. There is no catching up.
Thirty-two is the year when you start thinking that maybe it's not ever going to happen. You wonder if, in fact, the opportunity has already passed you by. Maybe you should have married Joe or Bob after all or "that nice boy down the street," as your mother suggested. You start going over every old relationship, wondering if that was "the one" that you missed.
I have often looked at older single people and thought, Sure, they're preaching the faith, but how do they really feel? Do they look back and think, Maybe I was too picky? Do they regret the choices that they made? If they could go back and do it over, would they do it differently and marry that person who wasn't perfect but maybe was good enough?
I cannot speak for all people. But I am now one decade out of college and still unmarried. And from this perspective, I can tell you the lessons I have learned and the regrets I do not have.
1. I do not regret the ones I left for godly reasons.
I have always been a person who wanted to take advantage of every opportunity, to live without regrets. As you get older, people will tell you that you're being too picky. And in the dark of the nights, you will start to think that maybe they are right.
Let me reassure you: You are not being too picky when you left for godly reasons, and you absolutely won't regret it later.
I dated several guys who were quasi-Christian — Christian in name but who had no other evidence of commitment to Christ in their lives. I learned this through dating them, and it ultimately ended the relationships. Could they have become on-fire for Jesus through a lifelong relationship with me? Sure. But the greater likelihood is that they would have pulled me away from faith, as there is always something "better" to do instead of a small group, always a reason to sleep in instead of going to church.
Out of my small friend circle, the difference between those who go to church and those who do not is almost completely dependent on the spouse, even for those who started off as strong, dedicated Christians in the college years. If it will mean a fight or resentment from the non-practicing spouse, my friends choose not to go.
Marriage is the most important relationship that you will have in your life, and your spouse's opinions, interests and hobbies will influence yours. You do not want to tie yourself to someone who will not increase your faith.
2. I do not regret time spent well.
Of course, the caveat here is that it is time spent well, not time that just passed in a blur of TV and other mindless entertainment. I have spent my single years getting an advanced education, building a fantastic career of service to the disadvantaged, volunteering, investing in friendships, participating in small groups and other church activities, and traveling. These are all things that have not only made me a better member of society, but also will make me a better wife and mother when that day comes.
I also appreciate that I have used the time to grow closer to God. One of my best friends — also single — and I have used our time for prayer nights and weekend retreats. While these things are also possible when one is married with children, the reality is that others are depending on you, and you cannot just skip off for a weekend with a friend. Paul's words are true that when you are married, your cares are for your spouse, but when you are single, you can be fully devoted to the Lord. I am grateful for the time that I have used to become a better follower of Jesus.
In this period of waiting, all you can feel is the passing time, and you want it to be over. Do not be so quick. Enjoy it. Savor it. Use it well. And you will be grateful for it later.
3. I do not regret gaining independence.
For many women, at least, this is the source of greatest fear in being single: having to do things on one's own.
To be honest, I did have a moment of self-pity when I was buying my house: "I shouldn't have to do this alone. A guy would know more what to do." And I again had a moment when I had to do the house repairs that followed: "This is a guy's job. I shouldn't have to do this." And again when I bought my car: "This salesman is trying to rip me off. He wouldn't do that if a guy were with me."
I am a smart and strong woman. Yet there is still a sense that certain things are for guys only.
Having come through to the other side, I can tell you that my sense of pride in achieving what I have is tremendous. I pay all my own bills. I mow my own yard. I put out the trash every week. I keep my car's oil regularly changed. I also keep my house clean and put food on the table.
One day, I hope to share the burdens with a mate. But not only do I have greater self-respect, I will be even more appreciative of and for my future husband, because I know what it feels like to do it all on my own.
4. I do not regret solitude.
This may be both genders' greatest fear in singleness: being alone.
In our society, people do all that they can to avoid solitude. We constantly need other people and entertainment, or at least the background noise to drown out the silence. To many, being alone equals loneliness.
While I do have moments of loneliness, I can tell you that solitude is one of the greatest blessings I have gained from being single. In the solitude that comes with singleness, I have learned who I am. Not who I am in relation to or in contrast to another person, but who I myself am, as an individual. At 32, I know what I like and don't like. I know how I want to spend my time.
In my solitude, I have been forced to go to God with my troubles, rather than relying on another person to try to solve them for me. God is my Savior, my Fixer, my Advisor. God is the One who provides my emotional support. My friends and family are there, but in the late hours of the night, it is God who comforts me. And I would never change that.
I am 32. I am single.
And I am a stronger person and better Christian for it.
If I could go back to my 22-year-old self and tell her one thing about being single, I would say, "Don't compromise. Don't change to a lesser standard. Focus on the relationship that you have with God, and do not worry about the one relationship that you do not have."

You won't regret it.
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