“… I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith, to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
What is the “therewith” you find yourself in today?
An e-mail from a good friend of mine started like this: “Well, I am alone again, but don’t worry, I am happy.” Reading further, I discovered she had parted ways with husband No. 2. She ended the e-mail by saying being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. I thought about that phrase for a while and found I agree with it. I personally can be alone for hours or days and be completely at peace with it because I find things to do. Loving to read, I can grab a good book, sit out by the pool, eat when and what I want (or if I want), go where I want to go, and visit with whomever makes me happy. I catch up on long overdue correspondence, travel if I choose, shop if needed, or watch TV with the remote in my own hand.
Now before any of our good readers fear my husband and I have broken up our marriage or that I am trying to muscle in on “Dear Annie,” let me assure that all is well in the Henley household. I lived as a single woman with children for many years and did fine. I admit I learned a lot and I had to change my way of doing things, but not only did I survive, but I also thrived and found I was much stronger than I knew. I also had wonderful friends and family who were there to help should I need them.
During the years I lived alone, I discovered creativity I did not know I had, learned to work in a completely different environment, took on new challenges, and feel that in my quiet and private space, I had a real opportunity to grow. I believe I also learned to find contentment in and with myself. A lecturer I heard not long ago said that humans must first learn to love themselves before they can really learn to love others.
Now, of course, there are some funny sides to living alone, and I would be remiss if I did not mention some of them. With no one else in the house, you don’t have to dress if you don’t choose to do so. You can wear those gosh awful pajamas all day if it pleases you. If you want to get up at 3 in the morning and read or watch TV, you can without anyone worrying about you or trying to get you to come back to bed and get your rest. Did I mention cooking? You can or can’t, whichever you choose. So you like to eat ham out of the package, a chunk of cheese with crackers, or cookies in bed. Take out is good.
Ah, singing and dancing, even if you’re not very good at it. You can grab that spatula or spoon, pretend it’s a wired microphone, and sing to the rooftop. And control of the TV, CD player or radio — that’s a real winner! Cleaning becomes a matter of priorities. No one notices the dust or the piled up laundry other than you, or your mom when she comes over to visit. Having a bad hair day? Who cares? And if you’re a girl, the toilet seat is always down. Toothpaste tubes are your prerogative — cap on or off? Vacation about to come up? You choose where to go. There’s no one home to tell on you.
Even though these things are humorous to some extent, it does give single folks, men and women, something to think about during a time in your life when you might be feeling a bit blue or discouraged. Make the most of your single years. Travel where you’d most like to go. Continue your education. Take up a sport. Volunteer when opportunities present themselves. Get a pet you love. Perhaps try your hand at writing, photography or collecting.
You still need people with whom to share your life, and you will much more likely meet someone new and interesting if you are involved in your community. Be grateful for the good things in your life. If you’re healthy, thank God for that. If you have supportive family and close friends, make sure they know you are grateful for their love. Gratitude determines attitude in 99 percent of the instances that most affect our daily lives. The very worst thing one can do is panic and feel that every day must be spent in finding that right person with whom to share life. In so many cases, people have said when they stopped looking, God sent the right partner. Your “singledom” will not likely last a lifetime. The air of desperation is by far the worst signal you can emit to others.
Think of it instead as a time that God has allowed for you to get to know yourself.