The "Gift of Singleness" is one that I never desired for my life.
God knows that if you would have told me that at 35, it'd be just me and Jesus, I would have intercepted that package in the mail. RETURN TO SENDER, BURN UPON ARRIVAL, leave it at TSA and yell BOMB! But God didn't fill me in on his perfect timing, He still hasn't informed me of when the husband-redeemer assigned to me will arrive.
In my teens I looked at wedding gowns and chose styles that would accent my curves well. In my early twenties, I did the same and resolved that 24 was D day, then 26, 28 didn't look so bad. Flirty 30, a mature bride. Then the years flew by. In truth, I had never been single, I was always in a relationship, always wed to the "dream life" that I built in my head.
The various players in my fantasies were long-term boyfriends, summer loves, spring hopefuls and so on. There were a couple of men that I loved really deeply. Those relationships cost me the sacrifice of love. They taught me selflessness at times. They taught me how to prioritize another over myself. I grew, I was stretched. I practiced loving, honest and fun communication. I practiced my cooking and cleaning skills. I was betrothed in spirit. Those deep soul-ties controlled my emotion and shaped the thoughts of my future.
I was stubbornly, "trying to make it work", time, after time, because being single, walking this earth alone, had been one of my greatest fears. I don't know where it began. The pressure to be coupled. I just know it has always been there. In my adulthood it became apparent that there wasn't a place in the church at large for those who didn't come in two's. Pulpit preaching celebrated marriage. There were no victories for those who walked alone. Single's ministry was really about hooking up the singles, or just occupying your time until Mr. Whoever showed up. My grandfather used to say "You don't want to be the last belle at the ball".
Well I waited and tried and flirted, and was kind, I was accommodating, I made room for foolishness. And in the end, God and my conscious stopped me from settling. God really, there are moments even now, when I just want the waiting to be over. Because celibacy is not a walk in the park, because people don't invite you to events, because women clutch their (non-attractive, unambitious, un-spiritual) husbands when I walk by, because people assume that if you are very attractive and single that you must be broken. I used to agree with that lie. It was the kind of lie that you won't even admit to yourself. But in his loving-kindness, one day God sent a preacher to talk about the curse of comparison. I searched my heart and found that I wasn't comparing myself to anyone- so I thought- another lie!
During that service the Holy Spirit whispered to me, "You think there's something wrong with you because you're not married, there's nothing wrong with you, I have purpose for you and you will be married when it's time." The assurance of love and acceptance freed me to know that God had heard me, my years of prayer, it caused me to hold my head higher that day. It made me stop shrinking down, boldly look people in the eye, and take up the space on the earth that God had ordained for me.
If you know me, you would never have imagined that I used to make room for other people's insecurities, in addition to my own. I would go out of my way not to have conversations AT ALL with married men. But that moment with God, the most loving force on earth validated me, in all of my power, with my beauty, intellect and abilities, as able to stand on my own. He showed me that I had purpose, independent of my marital status, that was planned before the foundation of the world. That the measure of the Holy Spirit in me was greater that ten thousand demons, if I just stood in his love; if I walked in my uniqueness.
That day, that moment, I loosened my grip a bit on Cinderella dreams. I was a belle. I was at the father's ball. We were in intimate relationship and I was NOT ALONE. It has been a journey, ebbs and flows, lonely days, sometimes nights. Yet the last couple of years have taught me so much.
A few months ago the Holy Spirit had me open the bible and read the book of Ruth again. What was illuminated to me was LEGACY. Boaz stepped in as a husband redeemer, but he had to be qualified to do so. He had to have the right DNA. One day, I will become Mrs. X and together we will have children. But Mr. X will have to be able to stand in the place of Jesus in my life. His role will be the kind of sacrificial love that requires sacrifice, to the point of laying down his priorities to see my destiny come to pass. Now there will never be another boo like Jesus. That's #BAE. But There is a man whose legacy is connected to mine. There is a man who has been designed by the father, with the right combination of strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies to help sharpen my own. Whose purpose and destiny is tied to mine, so that together, we can advance the Kingdom of God and have children, who will do the same.
I am untying a bow, this box has contents whose worth will last through generations, my children will carry this gift. Singleness for me is not so much about the joys of being single. I honestly don't relish in this "status." This pill has been hard to swallow. But I would drink my medicine again to know that I will one day change nations, because I waited for the one who held the right DNA. Together we will be more effective on this earth as WHOLE individualsliving out our identity individually. Purpose doesn't come in pairs. Life and death doesn't come in pairs.
The gift has been identity, purpose, strength and value that is not connected to anyone outside of the Trinity. I have had to learn how to have my own voice, stand as a business woman, be wise, compassionate, intelligent, witty, beautiful and comfortable in my own skin. I learned that I am valuable, more than the treasuries of this world, because Jesus died so that I could be free to be all that he created me to be. So instead of simply pining companionship, I have learned to be filled by His presence. I have begun to treat each day as an opportunity to express all that is locked up within.
Author at Zaharah Mckinney