Monday, January 17, 2022

The Soapbox: Suddenly Single

Dear Brandi, we owe you $100.–Ted & Sherry

Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.—Albert Einstein

The Tiffany shades I wore to Family Day at my son’s school were the very ones my optometrist suggested would be perfect for tennis.” Indeed, they are awesome and evoke feelings of Audrey Hepburn gone athlete; but, they are not without a few little snags, such as if it gets dark on me.

Because of learning this lesson the hard way, I now carry my regular sight specs in my purse—smart, or so I thought.

Today I was changing them out at a parent tailgate party when my dreams came true. A hot Latin man sat beside me and began to engage me in conversation. He was intuitive, eloquent, and had impeccable manners. The cherry on top was the precious shirt he wore that said grateful dad.” I thought— Lord, you have done exceedingly and abundantly more than I could have ever asked or imagined! To my chagrin, I put my real glasses on and realized it was one of my sons friends with a Grateful Dead shirt on. This grateful Mom had a real good time at Family Day!!!

Yes, I am now in the percentile of once-married people who are swimming around in the suddenly single data pool. It might feel somewhat different had I been single with a cat my entire life. Now, this just does not feel like normal, since I am still convinced that God made me to be a wife.

Unsettled at times, yet content in my own skin to be complete in the wholeness of Christ, I can unabashedly say the entire you complete me sentiment is mere movie fodder when it comes to intimate relationships.

I have found that far too many suddenly singles are frantically seeking wholeness through role replacement of the spouse they lost, either through death, divorce, or desertion. I have had a few suitors here and there try to insert me into someone’s “old shoes” that are simply empty shells of one who died or did not stay for reasons of which I am only privy to one side of a story. Not that I didn’t appreciate the flattery of being a viable candidate for the position, but no thanks, I’m running my own race over here for the time being.

“Is it another man?” Nope. It’s me. The rediscovery of a self I have yet to meet is my standard response, and verily, I have meant every word of it!

A man complained to a prospective lady friend: “Why do all the women want to be put upon a pedestal and equate this to being loved? It’s a lot of work!”

The woman responded, “Not to worry here, I am already a princess, not dependent upon any man for a pedestal. I am the daughter of the Most High King!” The man was baffled at whether this was good or bad.

Throw into the mix the new way of life in online dating, and being “ahem” forty something-ISH while playing by new rules of singleness. I recently wrote about the dynamics of filters, frauds, and faux flattery in my column Good Morning, Beautiful. The caveat emptor mentality of framing someone’s entire being in byte-sized increments sets up a potentially wicked game for the unsuspecting pure-hearted wanderer.

Netflix’s recent release of “Love Hard” illustrates how easily someone can be “catfished” into believing they are speaking with someone, only to find out that there was someone else there throughout the entire online relationship. Although the flick drew some hard reviews for rewarding the catfish (I won’t spoil it, but you can probably guess), I thought it was rather charming for several reasons. And let’s face it, if we are going to throw out Josh Lin for being a catfish, we have to back track all the way to “Pretty Woman’s” Cinder-Freakin’-Rella for pretending to be Edward-worthy, as well as Eliza Ascot Doolittle for pretending to be a Duchess. Nobody threw Henry Higgins under the bus for his part in those fairy tale deceptions!! The romantic in me will grant a little artistic license on this one.

The reason I can give “Love Hard” and Josh Lin the Catfish a hall pass is because this movie provides a challenge of falling in love with someone for what is inside their heart. All too often, it is the outer man that attracts the mate. But, if the Lord sees the heart, then why shouldn’t we?

This principle fits nicely with the fact that nobody in midlife is getting any prettier. Age comes on like a train just about the time we might like to depend upon our best profile pic. If this is any encouragement, the best approach is always to be who you are. In order to do that, you must KNOWwho you are in a party of one—a great goal for any one of us suddenly singles.

In the recent years, I started a ministry to singles with one condition. Nobody was allowed to hook up. And just to secure this oath, I made them all pledge that if they got married they would owe everyone in the group $100. We all had a good laugh about it, but before too long, it seemed like my phone went ding every day with all the $100 cash donations coming in. Everyone seemed to partner, and suddenly my singles were no more. Nobody could have been happier for my friends than I. Seeing them do the work to become the best version of themselves before partnering was a blessing to me then and now. I can’t deny being a little melancholy to see them graduate from the University of Singleness while I, on the other hand, was content to stay for a while longer.

That said, I still stand in the hope of what marriage is to society. I still believe the Lord gives us the desires of our hearts. He is for us, no matter our season of life. We want love, because to experience love is one of the most intense emotions known to man, greater even than death. If this is you, Suddenly Single, take heart while in your waiting place. Remain confident that He who began a good work in you is able to complete it. If I have learned anything at all from this experience, it would be to just continue running your race, ensuring your sight is properly in check. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and use the pieces of your broken life to build a ramp into a blessed future.

Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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