Make Friends with Your Singleness: A Lesson in Grace from the GE Ideas Monster
I’ve been haunted by the General Electric “Ideas Monster” since I first saw him (her?) in a commercial a few months ago. If you haven’t seen this commercial and you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here. (You really need to see it before you read the rest of the blog.)
The commercial has stuck with me so powerfully, I can’t seem to shake it. Today I started wondering why. So I watched the commercial back again on YouTube. And cried. Again.
“Ideas are scary, messy, and fragile…but under the proper care, they become something beautiful…”
The Ideas Monster represents everything uncertain, and risky, and unknown about ideas. And he (for the sake of the blog, I’m going to refer to it as a “he”) is made fun of, misunderstood, left out in the cold, and seems to sort of wander the earth alone. Until, that is, General Electric takes him in and cares for him and embraces him for exactly who he is. Welcomes him to be himself. And guess what? He flourishes. He turns from a thing of great pity to a thing of great beauty.
Scary. Messy. Fragile. Uncertain. Risky. Unknown.
Any of these adjectives sound familiar to you? Because they sound awfully familiar to me. Being made fun of? Misunderstood? Left out in the cold to wander the earth alone?
Ringing a bell for anyone yet?
Just today, I received a tweet from some nameless, faceless citizen of the interwebs that said:
“Have you ever put some protracted thought into something being wrong with you? Maybe that’s why your (Mandy’s note: He spelled “you’re” wrong) single?”
His tweet is just the latest in the long line of jeers I’ve heard over the past five years since I started leading this charge for living a happy, spiritually-grounded, empowered single life called “The Single Woman.”
“Something must be wrong with you.”
“I bet she’s really FAT! Or ugly! Or a man!”
“Aren’t you ever going to find a man?!”
Likely some of the same jeers and taunts and cruel, hurtful comments many of you have received at some point during your single walk. If not in word, then in looks of pity and patronizing pats on the head and subtle putdowns from not-so-well-meaning co-workers and Facebook friends and even family members. And if not from them, then from yourself. The broken record of questions and self-doubts and criticisms that plays nonstop in your mind. “Why AM I still single?” “What’s wrong with me?” “AM I too fat? Too old? Too ugly?”
My beautiful, precious, worthy fellow single sisters: I’m afraid we’ve been treating our singleness like the GE Ideas Monster. We’ve denied it and run from it and been ashamed of it and afraid of it and even hated it. But what if…what might happen if…we embraced our singleness? Made peace with it? Made FRIENDS with it?
I can’t explain away your singleness with a nice little cliché any more than I can explain away my own. I simply don’t know why you’re still single. Or why I’m still single. But what I DO know is that you are special regardless. Not because of your singleness OR in spite of it. You are entirely unique and divinely made and created to do something amazing on this planet…and guess what? You happen to be single. And that’s OKAY. Actually, it’s more than okay. It’s brave. It’s bold. It requires a courage that un-single men and women simply don’t possess. (This is not saying married people are not courageous. They are. In ways that happen to differ from our own unique brand of courage.) It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you’re cursed, or you’re unworthy, or too old or too ugly or too flawed or neurotic or fat or successful or unsuccessful or confident or insecure or (fill in the blank) to find love. It just simply IS! There’s no great big mystery here. The only mystery is why we’re treating our singleness like a disease or a character flaw or like the GE Ideas Monster. Why we’re beating ourselves up for it and hanging our heads in shame and acting like we’ve done something wrong because we happen to be unattached.
It’s time to bring our singleness in from the cold. It’s time to forgive ourselves, and it, and God…for an infraction we and it and He never committed. It’s time to start standing confidently in our singleness without apologizing for it. It is a part of who we are in this season…and that is okay. Our singleness has served us well. It has made us strong and independent and confident and bold and unflinching in our unwillingness to settle. It has protected us from the wrong men and forced us to take risks and taught us the value of loving our own company. It has given us the space and grace to become exactly who we are. It is a part of us…a beautiful part of us…and it’s time to embrace that. And it doesn’t mean we’re signing up for a life in the nunnery or waving the white flag and telling God we give up on ever being married just because we are embracing NOT being married. It simply means we’re making friends with this character in our story; this very special, protective, unique character in our story who will faithfully stand by us until we no longer need her. This free-spirited, messy, fragile, scary but sacred single version of us. You’ll look back on her fondly someday, you know…remembering how she carried you through some of the most uncertain years of your life.
So let’s make friends with our singleness. Take away the power of those who would want us to feel like she is something to be ashamed of. Let’s welcome her to be exactly who she is. Allow her to flourish under the spotlight of love and grace and acceptance.
And watch her transform into a thing of great beauty.