Four years ago I lived in a religious community. (Think Sister Act!) The religious community really was a community. The sisters typically ate meals together. They tried to have recreational time together daily which could include going on walks together, rollerblading, playing musical instruments and singing, playing board games, and playing sports. I was there for almost three years but left before making any official commitment.
So why do I bring this up? I’m still single, but I don’t live in a more official community (religious or married). And I have struggled at times with feelings of loneliness, dissatisfaction, and as if my life hasn’t started yet or is less complete. Sometimes I just want to hurry up and get married already. However, I also want to get married for the right reasons and to the right person and not just for the sake of getting married.
As I read somewhere recently, marriage is about mutual self-giving, not just a relationship to address our own insecurities. Marriage is great, but in the meantime as a single person, I can still live a meaningful life. My security–my sense of self worth–needs to be found in God’s perfect love for me, not in my imperfect future spouse.
If you are single, here are some ways you can still give of yourself and experience community as a single person.
I recently started helping out with a youth program and co-lead one of the groups for female teens. These small groups not only provide the teens with community but me as well. I’ve discovered there is a lot that I can learn from them as well as ways I can give of myself, such as sharing knowledge learned from my own life experiences, trying to be a loving presence, providing a listening ear, and offering unconditional love.
That’s just one example. You could do everything from helping out at a soup kitchen to becoming a volunteer firefighter to mentoring a child through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.
2. Sports or Activities.
I used to play ultimate frisbee with a co-ed group of young adults. This was a great way to have fun while also being together with others and at times having good conversations, such as during breaks or if going out to eat afterwards. Interacting with the opposite sex could also provide opportunities for growth in friendships…and maybe eventually something more!
3. Fellowship Groups.
I belong to a couple of faith-based Women’s Groups. There is so much we can learn from one another that can help us to grow, but also remind us that we are not alone in our struggles. It is also encouraging to see that, although we are different, we have much in common and wisdom gained from a particular situation or struggle by one person may end up helping other people. It’s also a good way to grow in vulnerability. I also used to attend a home-based community where different families would get together for music, prayer, discussion, and food. This provided more of a family feel for me at times and allowed me to witness amazing families and get a better idea of how I’d like to raise a family someday.
If you have ever suffered from a serious addiction, you could find a fellowship group that helps you to stay on the path of healing and experience the support of people who know your struggles. For instance, a lot of people find great support in places like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery.
Worshipping God with other people, as well as getting involved in other ministries at church, provide opportunities to give of oneself, as well as to be a part of both a larger and smaller community.
I don’t see my co-workers that often since I drive around to people’s homes to work as an occupational therapist with the older population but I do have meetings and phone calls with my co-workers to ask advice or discuss a patient. There are also opportunities to give and receive love in some of the homes I’ve visited. Instead of thinking about our work as just a job to clock in and out of, what if we thought of it as a way to help others?
6. Spending Time with Family & Friends.
Getting together with friends or relatives for a movie, a meal, reunions, vacations, parties, or getting together just to enjoy each other’s company and talk can provide opportunities for intimacy, to be known and loved, as well as to share oneself and be a gift to the other.
So, if you’re single like me, it’s okay. We all feel lonely at times, even people in marriage. (Married friends have told me this!) You are not alone with how you feel and you do not have to be alone. There is still good that can be done and love that can be found in the single life. Yes, I need to honor that longing for marriage and family that I have, but in the meantime, my sense of security needs to be found in my relationship with God & His perfect love for me, not hopping into a relationship that may not be best for me. We are all made to love and to be loved and are made for community–and we can find ways to make this happen now outside of marriage.