On Saturdays, I’d like to focus on singles in this blog, since many who are single feel they are leading “workaround” lives. (I was a single parent for 18 years; I get that.) I’ll be sharing content here from SingleMatters, a blog I write with Marie Shepherd, and also sharing insights from other relevant sources and writers. A variation of the post that follows originally appeared on SingleMatters last April.
Have you ever participated in a “Fun Run”? Maybe it was only a few miles, to raise money for a worthy cause. There was no real pressure and you really didn’t give a moment’s thought to actually winning your age bracket.
But there you were, jostling with the other runners at the start, feeling all healthy and honorable, and you found yourself sizing up the people around you.
“I can beat her, she doesn’t look like she trained very hard.”
“He doesn’t seem very athletic; I’ll leave him before the first mile.”
“Look at her laughing and talking; she thinks she’s at a party!”
“Is he hungover? Done!”
A friend of mine likes to run the Shamrock Shuffle, a popular Chicago 8K. Last spring, halfway through the course, he was feeling pretty good about his pace. That’s when he noticed another runner going around him with a hand-lettered sign on her back, “You’ve just been passed by a pregnant chick.”
He stepped up his pace and was wheezing by the time he finished . . . still well behind her.
Maybe you’re not a runner, but chances are you’ve still compared yourself to others. And like my friend above, it probably hasn’t served you well.
We all do it. It’s how we figure out where we fit and what we’re worth. We compare our career, our financial situation, our vacations, even how often we pray. If you’re single, you may have compared yourself to your married friends – and other singles – and privately charted your “progress” against theirs.
It’s exhausting because it’s an un-winnable game. There is always someone better or “farther along” than us, no matter what we’re doing, where we are, or what our relationship status might be. We are never enough.
Don Miller, in his book Searching for God Knows What, refers to the “Lifeboat Theory”, the idea that if a group of people were trapped in a lifeboat and someone had to be thrown over, all pretense of equality would disappear. Everyone would try to justify their own value at the expense of others in order to survive.
He explains that this is because the relationship between God and mankind was fractured by sin and now we seek love and affirmation from each other rather than God. Yet God remains the only one who can be the source of our true worth.
What if we could get our minds around the fact that no matter where we are on the human comparison spectrum, we are treasured and thought about 24/7 by the God of the universe?
It can be hard to believe this when we’re discouraged and down on ourselves. And even when we’re feeling on top of the world, we can easily overlook God’s role in allowing us to be there.
Perhaps these steps will help make this deep Biblical truth about God’s love real for you:
Ask God to show you how loved you are by Him. This may be challenging, depending on how you previously experienced being loved. Start to tell Him everything. If you’re new to this and find it difficult, imagine Him sitting next to you and just talk, silently or out loud, as you are comfortable.
In the Old Testament, King David poured out his heart to God. He held nothing back. As a result, the Psalms are among the most beautiful examples we have of someone relating personally and genuinely to God.
Remember that your value comes not from who you are but from whose you are. That’s one reason singleness can be so hard. We all want to be special to someone, to be another’s top priority. And being single can be lonely.
Take comfort that you are already Someone’s top priority. You are unconditionally loved by God and He would have arranged for your redemption through Jesus Christ if you had been the only human being on the planet.
When you find yourself obsessing about your shortcomings, stop and consciously remind yourself that it is your relationship with God that defines you, not our culture, the media, nor other people’s opinions.
Pick a timeless truth of Scripture to claim as your own. A favorite of many is Psalm 139:13-14: “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Search the Bible for a verse that resonates with you personally.
When you fall into insecurities or comparison games, repeat your verse until you believe it.
What works for you when it comes to avoiding the comparison trap? If you’re single, what encouragement can you offer other singles about this? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment.
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- I learned a new word - November 30, 2016
- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016