There is, in every shopping mall in America, at least one sign with a map. There is an arrow on the map that says "You are here." Congratulations. You are here, but there is no map. Instead of encountering a clearly defined area with brightly marked exit signs, you are probably encountering anxiety, uncertainty, and bad advice. In my experience, these are usually brought on by myths and misconceptions about being single again. Let's take a look at some of those myths.
Myth #1 -- Now that you are single again, the best thing you can do is jump right in and start dating again. Why start a new relationship when you are still hurting from the last one? You don't have to prove anything to anybody; not even yourself. If you are single again due to divorce, death of your spouse, or the breakup of a long-term dating relationship, you need time to heal and get well. Separation hurts and causes pain. Don't expect a new relationship to heal the hurts. Give yourself a year to grieve over the loss, and another year to build a new personal routine. Make new friends. Don't pursue romance.
Myth #2 -- You need to date in order to find a spouse. That is not true. Dating is not spousal selection. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend in their book Boundaries in Dating give seven positive reasons to date. None of them include picking a mate. All seven reasons, however, can help a person clarify why they should date. They also point out "negative tendencies" in dating, as cited in I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. I personally know couples who had never gone out on a one-on-one, hand-holding, kiss-goodnight, can-I-call-you-again date, but have been married for decades and are now grandparents. They were first friends, then good friends, then married to each other. My advice is to make friends. A friendship, if it is right, will develop into more on its own. You don't need to date to find a spouse.
Myth #3 -- You need to be married to be happy. Maybe happy doesn't apply to you. Maybe the terms "complete" or "whole" would be more suitable for you. Maybe there is yet another, more suitable term for you. I've had a great marriage and a difficult one. In neither one was I happy. Being married didn't make me happy. Certain circumstances, situations, and events within the marriages made me happy. But for every one of those, there is also a corresponding time of unhappiness. Marriage does not make people happy. Happy depends on circumstances. Marriage is not a circumstance, it is a condition. You are married; you don't do marriage. It makes two people one. That's all it does. That's all it's supposed to do.
Myth #4 -- I'm a second-class Christian because I'm single again. If you feel that way, or feel you've been treated that way, then you are believing a lie. You have a new situation to deal with. You are encountering new problems. You are having existing relationships redefined for you. But you are no less a child of the kingdom than if you were celebrating your diamond anniversary today. Maybe your spouse died and you are wondering what you did to deserve this. Maybe your spouse served you with the divorce papers. Maybe you were the one who filed for divorce. Maybe a person you dated for a long time found someone else, or checked out for another reason. You may be asking yourself something like, "What did I do to deserve this?" or "Why does God hate me?"
The first question accuses God of being unjust. But if He was just, based on what you have done, you would deserve much worse. I thank God daily that I don't get what I deserve, but I instead receive his blessings. Lamentations 3:22-23 is true every day.
The second questions accuses God of being unloving. Satan is the one who hates you, not God. It is because of Satan that separation exists in this world. God didn't design us to be separate or separated. God saw that a man alone is not a good thing, and a woman apart from the man she was uniquely designed to be with is also not good. Death, divorce, and rejection are not God's ideas. He doesn't hate you.
Myth #5 -- I am alone. Because God loves you, he created a family for you to be part of. He did this through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. You are part of God's family, a joint heir with Christ, made righteous in Christ, you are part of Christ's body, and you can approach the Throne of Grace boldly to seek help. You have been given the right to use Word of God, the Name of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. These things are yours regardless of your marital status. They are supposed to be used by you in whatever condition you find yourself.
Instead of holding on to useless myths about being single again, use the time you have now to learn how to use the resources God has given you. As you do that, you will heal, you will make new friends, you will develop a new routine, and you will find joy instead of mere happiness. You can shout at the top of your lungs, "I am here!" and tell people where "here" is.
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