Singleness, all of a sudden, after divorce or a death is an emotional rollercoaster. It is also a time to ask "What's next?' No matter how grim and lonely life looks, new opportunities come in time.
When I became single 14 years ago, my counsellor told me to "move on." Actually she said it more than once. It was in reply , pretty much, to anything I had to say about regrets, confusion, sadness, and identity issues. Move on. OK. Those two words were they key to getting over the pain. "What's next" instead of "what was" and "if only".
Recently, a friend of mine was expressing the pain of losing a spouse. It had been two years and loneliness was a constant intruder. I remember how it felt wanting to go to community events, and to the movies, and things that I had always done before as part of a couple. I felt odd when I would go places by myself. Maybe even worse is living alone. It could be so easy want to hole up, or want todrop off the face of the earth.
The truth was that I wasn't ever by myself. When I was home, I always knew God was there. My home was always open to friends and neighbors. When I was out in crowds, I was with everyone....one part of a mass of people, be it at work, or play. I remember going to church and not knowing whether to sit with the college kids, or the couples, or the children. I felt different. I just started looking for a single seat in the middle of a bunch of people and went from there. That's how I developed a church family. It is also how I have developed other groups of friends. Friendships take time and they cannot be pushed. Many of my closest friends are couples and I find comfort in that. Because I am single, I am more eclectic in the types of people I hang around. I enjoy people....creative people, different people....diversity. There is an awesome world to discover out there, and a place in it. There is purpose.
Over the years, I have found myself choosing to go places alone because I can go my own pace, talk to anyone, go quickly, or linger. There is a rhythm to life. I must be who I am and allow others the same luxury. People talk to me if I am open. I also notice that in recent years, there are more and more singles and often those who go most places without spouses. Good or bad, that's just what is becoming the norm.
Living life relationally, in whatever state I have been in, has been a daunting, but rewarding growth journey. It is a long haul. At least it feels like it. It is hard to wait. I have had to learn not to push anything.
Move on? Yes, but thoughtfully and slowly, and in constant awareness of God, yourself and all those you rub shoulders with.