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Single But Whole

Author: Anne Nolan

Picture: Pixabay

Single But Whole

Whilst remaining single was not in Anne Nolan's plans, she learnt to embrace it and see God's hand at work in her life. 

I was 21 when I fell in love for the first time.

I had been out with guys before, but this was my first serious relationship. After some time together, we began to discuss marriage.

For reasons too complicated to go into here, and against both his will and mine, we had to part.

As the years passed, I met other men, had other relationships and assumed that one day I would meet “the one.”

It was in my mid to late thirties when that assumption began to look less assured. I owned my own home, had a very fulfilling teaching career, great friends and a lovely extended family. However, something was missing.

The culture I grew up in told me that either I should be married with children (which I longed for) or I would uncover a vocation to either the religious or single life.

I have never felt I had either of those vocations; but here I am now, aged 61, reflecting on what it means to be single, in a Church that rightly celebrates and defends marriage.

Opportunities and Attitudes

I thank God that, if I had to be a single woman, it is at this time in history and in this culture.

Opportunities and attitudes towards women in general- and single women in particular- are so much better than in former times. The image of the dried up old spinster has hopefully been consigned to history.

So how is the single life? There is no easy answer. Each single person’s experience will be different, just as every marriage is- I assume- unique.

I am conscious that my experience will be very different from those who have been married and are adjusting to being single again.

Of course, there are difficulties. Certain times of the year can be lonely, even though you are surrounded by loving family and friends.

I have learnt to ride these out and lift them up to the Lord. Major decisions are taken alone. Even though you can seek opinions and advice, the buck stops with you.

Going to major events without a partner can be very hard. My advice is this: bite the bullet and do it. It is usually better than you expect!

Positives and Negatives

Earlier I wrote something was missing. For me, this was – and is – children.

Not having had children remains a grief I carry, but it is not unbearable, and I have seen how tough parenting can be.

There are benefits in being single. As St Paul recognised, unmarried people do not have to please a spouse ( See 1 Corinthians 7:32-34)

There is a freedom that comes with independence.

This can be as trivial as having complete control over the T.V. remote (my flat is a football- free zone!)

More seriously, this can mean not having to compromise with unreasonable demands. I know married friends who have had to give up Christian events because their (non-Christian) husbands objected.

One Thing Remains

There is one thing that is essential to cope with life, whatever your marital status.

You must ask the Lord to show you who you are in Christ.

I have had various roles and occupations in my life, and they will all pass away.

One thing will never change and can never be taken from me: I am a child of the living God and He knows me by name (Isaiah 43:1). This is where my wholeness comes from.

I was asked to write this article after a single person, when asked about not having “another half”, replied that she felt whole.

I would echo this – dare I say – wholeheartedly.

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