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UP CLOSE: Living Single– One Brief, Pure, Shining Moment

Julie R. returned to teaching after taking a hiatus to earn an M.A. in Popular Culture. She teaches high school English and Composition, and Media Studies classes somewhere in middle America. When she isn’t at school, she’s teaching piano lessons, baking, watching movies, or hanging with her family. She blogs when she can at Welcome Back Kotter.

I’m having one of those moments.

A rare, fleeting moment of peace and understanding that I really am okay.

It snuck up on me, to be honest, especially since I thought for sure I would have something profound and groundbreaking to say about my experiences as a single and childless woman in a predominantly married and child-filled church. I could paint the picture of the woman-scorned-by-many-an-RM-yet-remains-faithful. I could give advice on any of the following:

How I cope with loneliness (best answer: be a friend, actual answer: watch TV)

How I cope with bitterness (best answer: pray, actual answer: list the things I’m able to do, unsaddled by a spouse or children)

How I cope with insensitive comments at church (best answer: smile and nod, actual answer: rant to my sisters)

How I cope with a shrinking dating pool that more and more resembles Table Number Nine from the film “The Wedding Singer” (best answer: have faith, actual answer: endure random occasional set-ups, and rejections via phone, text, Facebook, etc…)

How I cope with not being a mother (best AND actual answer: teach, love my nieces and nephews)

But no anecdotes, snappy or sappy, are springing to mind. My mind is void of epiphanies to share, unless you consider this an epiphany: for the first time that I can recall, I’m not thinking of myself as a single person; I can’t focus on what I lack. I can only think of what I am, what I do, what I have.

Moments like these haven’t come easily to me, and they don’t usually last too long. But when they do, I feel empowered. These brief moments remind me that my career is valuable—and valued–and not just something to do until I get married. I focus on how much I love being an aunt, and remember how my nieces and nephews clamor for my attention when I’m around.

But more important, I glimpse how I hope Heavenly Father sees me: not as a “single person in a married church,” but as a daughter working hard at life, trying to fix her mistakes and find joy in the life she’s leading. Because single or married, isn’t that all Heavenly Father wants from his daughters? In these moments of clarity, I am equal to my married, mothering sisters and friends.

The loneliness, the bitterness, the insensitivity, the childless-ness, the lack of dates—all of it is just part of my life experience. Just like my sisters are shaped by the trials in their marriages and in raising their children. The endgame is identical: purification, sanctification. My process is different, not inferior.

Recording a moment like this gives me the opportunity to re-read and remember it when I am feeling lonely, when I am feeling “less-than.”

But in this moment, I am a daughter of God, pure and simple.

24 thoughts on “UP CLOSE: Living Single– One Brief, Pure, Shining Moment”

  1. Thank you for this post. I will be thinking about this for a long time to help find my moments of clarity and eternal perspective.

  2. You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, dear Daughter of God, and recording it will make the times when Satan tries to sell you otherwise easier to overcome!

    God bless!

  3. Nice post. I am single and can definitely relate to all of the things you could give advice on (well, except that I see being an aunt completely different from being a mother. Certainly, some people serve as surrogate mothers to children who are not their own, but they are totally different in my mind, one does not take the place of the other). But your thoughts on being defined as a daughter of God, making her way through life, rather than a single person in a married church (read: deficient somehow) really resonate with me. It's a constant battle in our Mormon culture to step of the framework of the Mormon mentality and see ourselves simply as daughters of God. Good reminder.

  4. Thank you for educating me and at the same time reaching out to remind that we are all sisters. I loved this:
    "The endgame is identical: purification, sanctification. My process is different, not inferior."

  5. This is wonderful! I thought about submitting something for this series, but I didn't because I don't feel like I have much to say on the topic of being single, but you said exactly what I feel. (Except for the niece/nephew part. I don't have any.) It was liberating when I discovered/decided that I was ok even in my single state, and that I was going to live my life as it is instead of sitting in a holding pattern waiting for something that may never happen.

  6. Beautiful. I never did find that peace as a single sister. I wish I had, it would have saved a lot of heartache. Then again, I never had Segullah as a single sister to give me such profound help as this post. I learn so much about life here. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Dude. You rock. And when you mentioned experiencing that rare "I'm alright" feeling, I totally related as a married mother.

    I think, that if you were to weigh all the insecurities, doubts and fears about not being good enough, they would add up to be pretty equal for women in every different circumstance. The feeling of "being good enough" and that peace and empowerment that is often so elusive, is common to us all. I'm so glad you are in a place where you are seeing who you are clearly. Because seriously, you rock. And the places and needs you fill right now can only be filled by who you are and where you are. God knows what is up, of that I am constantly reminded. Thanks for all you contribute to the world. Sorry if that sounds cheesy and/or condescending. I can't think of another way to say it though because the sentiment is so genuine.

  8. What I loved:
    "Moments like these haven’t come easily to me, and they don’t usually last too long. But when they do, I feel empowered."
    I, too, find myself having these thoughts, and am grateful for them when they come.
    May you feel the power. And may you feel it MORE OFTEN and may it linger…

  9. I'm sending the link to this post to a few of my favorite besties who i know will be inspired by your words. thank you for sharing your journey. it inspired me, too! ♥

  10. Thanks for all your kind comments!

    Sarah–I didn't mean to imply that I consider myself a mother to my nieces and nephews. I agree that those are two completely different roles. That's a good point for me to remember when I revisit this and revise. Thanks!

    Keri–holding pattern is EXACTLY how I felt for many years.

    Kirsty, I heart you. 🙂

  11. "but as a daughter working hard at life"…

    I'm going to type that one up and put it someplace where I can see it regularly.

    Married or single, we all need to be working hard at life and not getting caught up in the things that might suck at the moment.

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