I have been pondering the relationship between singleness and widowhood (or widower-hood) for about a year and a half, maybe more. Several friends have lost spouses and been willing to share bits of their post-marriage life with me. My grandma has way less experience with singleness than I have, but entered it when my grandpa died over a year ago. In some ways these people can mentor me. They can look on single life with the wisdom of more years than I have. In other ways I get to encourage them, with the perspective of someone who's had plenty of time to think about the consequences of singleness. I can point them to finding their identity in Christ rather than in their relationships. I can share with them that I know relationships with every other single person suddenly got more complicated. I can pray for them as they seek God for what to do with their new-found time. I can pray for them as they wait on God for remarriage (if that is what He is leading them to do), just as I pray for my single friends waiting for God to bring them their husbands or wives.
One way or another, there is more commonality between widows and single people than between those who are married and single people. We always-been-single people have less acute grief, but, if we desire marriage, still have a sort of long-term sadness over the years we have been alone.
A year ago, teacher and author RC Sproul, Jr. lost his wife to cancer. He's been blogging on and off about the experience since then. Today he said this: "The wait that I have has now multiplied, because I am without her. This past year has been not just the hardest, but the slowest of my life. I wake earlier than I wish, and lie awake at night while wanting to sleep. The things I once looked forward to no longer appeal. Isn’t half the blessing of a blessing having someone with whom to share it?" And as I read that I thought that he was well expressing something that I'm coming to understand. Maybe he noticed it because it was a change from what he was used to, and I have not noticed it so clearly because I just gradually came into experiencing life this way.
But life and waiting seem expanded because the waiting itself keeps me awake, distracts me. Time is going slowly for me - but too fast when I look backwards. I'm grateful my days are full. Grateful that most of the time waiting doesn't distract me completely from living. I'm grateful even for the earlier mornings or the later nights when I am praying about the loneliness and the waiting.
I don't think that it is wrong to notice that some activities aren't as appealing when you're single. It isn't necessarily discontent - though it could be, and it is worth guarding against!
This is the life that God has given me. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us be honest about what it is and isn't. Let us present to God the desires of our hearts. Let us not grow weary in doing good. Let us embrace waiting, and fully grieve things that are truly sad. Let us celebrate the things that are true blessings!
Two of my bestest friends got engaged this month. The two friends who honored me by allowing me to be a bridesmaid in their weddings have each come to Colorado to visit recently. These circumstances are giving me opportunity to rejoice in the blessing RC Sproul, Jr. talks about: the double blessing of sharing a blessing with someone else. I'm the voice of "awww!" when a husband holds a door open; when a fiance chooses something that her beloved prefers even though it isn't her favorite; of celebrating the good plan of God in bringing people together and building love and unity between them. I'm laughing and giggling and sharing with them my perspective of the value marriage has. I know marriage is hard work, but it is a privilege. It is a work of faith in a trustworthy God. It is rewarding. It is mysterious and amazing!
This practice, of encouraging my almost-married and newly-wed (relatively) friends, may be rubbing off. It may be hard for me to stop noticing love and forgiveness and cooperation and complementing gifts and servant-heartedness and fruitfulness - and pointing them out: amongst longer-married people, and between friends, and in the Church. I'm excited! God is revealing to me more and more that He desires His people, His image, to be recognized in our love for one another! I pray for it and seek it and delight in it!
To God be all glory.