Defined

It’s a Monday morning, a holiday, and I am hit with the realization that everyone in my family is currently with their significant others. Here I am, though, with my textbooks and Bible and worship music and the rain falling outside the open door.

You know the moment? The one where you could sink into comparison, into staring at the green grass on the other side of the fence?

And for the first time in so long, I realize something I’ve always known but have a hard time acknowledging:

I am so far from being alone. The chairs may be empty across the table from me, my companions books instead –

but I am wholly complete. I am wholly me. I do not need another to define me –

for I am already defined.

I’ll tell you the days singleness is hard, and I’ll tell you the days it’s wonderful. But no matter the day, if it’s a hard or good one – that truth doesn’t change. I am wholly complete. I am already defined. A daughter of the King.

Do you take the time to notice how He meets you? In the sound of falling rain, in the absence of another? Do you notice how the Psalms meet your longings and you joys, and that life can hold them both? I want you to know you are allowed to long for a relationship – but do not let that longing define you.

Because you are already defined.

You are defined by the One who made you. You are defined by the way you laugh, and the things that make you crumple to the ground in sadness. You are defined by the way your smile reaches your eyes, and the way your hands hold another. You are defined by the way babies wrapped in your arms make your heart sing. You are defined by your kindness, your strength, your gentleness.

Those things make you, you. Not an empty chair. Not the quietness of a room. Not the questions from a family member, asking if you’ve brought someone home – and your answer should never be a no,

it should be a yes.

You’ve brought you.¬†

And that, sweet friend, will always be enough.

letter series vol. 2: what you’re made for.

You sit across the table from me, newspaper in front of you and your too-sweet tea set to the side. You hand your words across the table to me, opening your mouth to speak.

“I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life,” you say. The words are an offering, a prayer maybe, or more keenly an explanation – of your heart and your dreams and maybe what keeps you up at night.

You are doing the thing that I do – playing with the pen in front of you, doodling. I have a hard time letting my hands be free in front of me. I need to hold onto something, the empty cup, the ring on my finger. I don’t know why, if it’s an anxious heart or my inability to be fully, truly open in front of another. But you’re doing it too, and I watch as your pen glides across the newspaper, the way you make bolder each line of each letter.

I don’t know what to say to you, really. In some ways your words feel like a slap across the face; that if you are alone, partner-less, spouse-less you are less than. Incomplete.

I don’t really know who told you that. I don’t know if it was the emptiness of a house, if it was the marriage invitations sent to you in the mail, or a careless word by a sympathetic friend. Who knows. But what I know it that you aren’t. You aren’t alone, and you aren’t less than with the absence of the ring on your finger. If it takes this far younger, twenty-five year old single girl to tell you this: your worth isn’t found in your relationship status.

I know it’s hard some days, and some days moreso than others. Some days loneliness rings louder than you expect it to. But the thing is, you weren’t created to find your better half or the elusive soulmate. That’s just an exciting, small part of life. But there’s a bigger part, one the world probably hasn’t told you about, so I am going to.

You were created to love Jesus and love others.

That’s it. That’s all. In one sentence, that’s what this life is about. And it breaks my heart when you – and I – put our relationship status as the be all and end all. The motivator behind decisions. The push to disregard God’s words. The reason behind our value.

That’s what I would say to you, if I could. I would write it in between your doodles, slip it in between the complaints about the sweet tea they made you. I would tell you that you are more than that, because God is so much bigger and grander than we can imagine. He deserves our companionship and our loneliness. He wants all of it.

And I know that I’m just twenty-five, and I’m at the other side of this life. So much life ahead of me, I know. Life will change and it will pull the curtain back to reveal mountains and valleys. I might be ‘alone’ for the rest of my life, and maybe I won’t be. People might keep telling me that I need to find my one, or keep inquiring if there’s something a little strange about me because of his absence in my life.

But the thing is, I know who I am. And more importantly – I know Who’s I am. And that’s enough. And I pray someday it is for you, too.

All my love,

a.

Haphazardly Unfinished

I feel inclined to write you a letter, my friend.

Sometimes the day finds you in your little apartment, alone. You make supper for yourself, you clean the dishes. Make tea, watch some TV. And life feels a little strange, alone. And it’s quiet and a little dark with just a few small windows letting the daylight in.

And so you climb the stairs and you get outside on the deck, and there’s two Adirondack chairs. Both of them are facing inwards, to each other. And you climb into one, setting your books on one arm and your mug of cherry tea on the other. You can’t help but focus on the two chairs.

It’s been a long day, and maybe you’re just emotional, but you keep thinking of alone-ness. Lack of a partner. Absence of another.

Oh, how loneliness can be painted so eloquently with words.

But in reality, it’s anything but.

And in the emptiness of the chair across from you, some dangerous thoughts sit down. One I would call Unworthiness. I don’t even need to tell you what he says to you, because you know. You could make a list a mile long of your faults.

Another one I call Lacking. He whispers to you, as if you are incomplete. Missing your other half. Haphazardly unfinished.

But my friend:

You are not haphazardly unfinished.

You are not lacking. You are not incomplete. You are not unworthy.

The world will always try to sell you two chairs. A pair. That one without the other isn’t whole. And most people will believe it. They’ll keep staring at the empty chair, willing someone to fill it. Willing that it be whole, a pair, filled.

And I’m not here to tell you the words you’ve already heard, the ones that make you wince at the insensitivity. The ones that say, “Oh, there’s beauty in singleness!” or “singleness is such a high, blessed calling!” There are plenty of self-help books for that.

I just want to tell you what I hope for you: please don’t find your identity in the chair across from you. Whether it’s empty, or if it’s filled. Or who fills it.

It’s hard, I know. If it were easy I wouldn’t be writing you this letter.

But I believe in you. There’s a pretty wonderful person sitting in your chair. And you aren’t lacking. You aren’t unworthy because there is an empty chair in front of you.

You. Are. You. Fully and wholly complete because of the One who made you. Fully worthy, containing BOTH halves. Your other half isn’t wandering the world somewhere, you know.

It’s here. It’s a part of you. It doesn’t require a search party because it’s here. YOU are here.

Yours,

A.