Everyone has that friend- the one who’s never been in a relationship for more than six months but hasn’t been single for more than two weeks since the seventh grade. Every break up is earth shattering but easily recovered from, and with every new relationship you and your other friends get together and talk about how much this girl just needs some time to get to know herself.
She’s taken up smoking, bow-hunting, whiskey tasting, become a theater snob and a hardcore groupie, and she clearly doesn’t know what she likes apart from liking being in a relationship.
And you’ve thought (a little smugly) to yourself, “At least I know who I am.” Mostly to make yourself feel better about your comparably pathetic dating life.
At least, that’s me. Maybe I shouldn’t project onto you. But I have prided myself on how very much time I have had for “getting to know myself” while secretly pining away for crushes over the years, trying all sorts of different things to catch their eyes.
I’ve started strange conversations with terrible openings in order to try to get a guy interested. I’ve bought clothes, shoes, hair products, and makeup and spent hours of my life applying them all. My hair has been at least 10 different colors and many more styles over the years and I even chose which campus ministry to be a part of in college based on a guy I was interested in (but I will go to the grave with which one of you that was, boys).
In other words, as long as I have been putting myself out there for guys, even while single, I haven’t been taking advantage of all of this “time to get to know myself” that I’m supposed to be enjoying.
I’ve been living abroad this past year. I know very few men, even fewer my own age, even fewer who I can communicate with fluently. For the first month or two it was weird- should I even bother showering? There are no guys I’m trying to impress. Or should I be dressed to the nines everywhere I go, never knowing who might turn out to be Mr. Right?
After the initial yo-yoing back and forth on hygiene and makeup, I started to learn what I felt most comfortable and attractive in, what I was confident walking down the street in without feeling like a fake or a slob. I learned what styles I thought I looked best in and could still do my work in. I learned what I liked to talk about and what I liked to spend my free time doing and how to balance all of that well. I’m considering going blonde because it might be fun to do something different and because if it’s terrible, I’m still not trying to impress anyone.
I’ve finally taken the time to get to know myself.
As an added bonus in getting to know myself, I’ve gotten to know and understand the God whose image I am created in better as well. I have better understood His creativity by allowing myself to practice my own. I have better understood how to love myself for who I am and in doing so have experienced so much more of God’s love for me and acceptance of me and I can even sometimes catch a glimpse of what he sees when He looks at me through the grace and mercy already won for me on the cross.
I don’t usually write for single women. I usually don’t even really want to affiliate myself with single women, because I’m afraid of looking needy or jealous or pathetic. But I am a single woman, and that’s not needy or jealous or pathetic, it’s where I am, where God has me for now. And so I’m writing to you beautiful, unique, image-bearing women: Take some time to get to know yourself. I don’t care if you’re recently out of a long relationship or you’ve never been in a relationship: I promise there is more to know.
St. Augustine prayed, “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.” May our prayer be as his. Amen.
I’m linking up with Velvet Ashes today talking about singleness and life abroad. Check out the other brave women contributing here.