Between my mid-twenties to early thirties, I wanted to be married. Today, I am married to my best friend. We will have been married fifteen years this June! She is a gift.
But let me take you back to when I was unmarried. In fact, after recently doing a message series on marriage, I heard from quite a few unmarrieds about where their place was in all of it.
So it got me thinking.
What would I say to my unmarried self and my place in it all? Even during those years I didn’t care to be married?
If I could go back and have a cup of coffee with the unmarried Jarrod, here is what I’d tell me:
1. Go on more blind dates.
Kudos to you, Jarrod. You’ve gone on a few blind dates. You’ve been open to the idea all along. Good for you.
So they didn’t go so well. For either of you most of the time. So what? Don’t stop now. If anything, these could be friends who lead to other friends in your life.
But watch out. This is a tricky one. The feeling of sole friendship must be mutual between you and her. Which leads to the second thing you need to know:
2. Be careful with hearts.
You have girls in your life right now that are dear friends. But pay attention, Jarrod. There are a couple of relationships that have crossed the line from friendship into something deeper. And you know it.
You need to define those relationships. Those feelings of sole friendship are not mutual. You’ve gotten burned here before too so you know what that hurt feels like.
3. Serve with abandon.
You’re serving your church and doing some mission trips here and there. Good for you.
But go next level. Make serving your lifestyle!
Mentor some young men, visit nursing homes and hospitals, serve the homeless, live in the inner-city, and invest in the community. Get creative!
Don’t be afraid to give your phone number away for others to call on you day or night if needed.
Ruthlessly serve and be available while you have the freedom to do so.
4. Travel the world.
What are you waiting on, dude?
Stop worrying about saving and investing all your extra income (as meager as it is).
Life’s too short. You don’t know it yet, but your unmarried life and all its freedoms and opportunities are about to shift.
Why not just pick up and go to Italy for a spell; or Hawaii, Spain, Germany, Israel…? Yes, yes, yes, you can do this when you’re married too. But it won’t be so easy.
And once you’re married you’re going to have a kid in fourteen months. Then another. And then you’ll adopt two daughters. Those will be your “Italies”.
So book the ticket now, and go!
5. Build deeper friendships.
Stop putting the blame on how you’re a painful introvert.
Look at yourself. You go the movies alone, coffeeshops alone, zoos alone, museums alone…. Who does that all the time?
Come on, man. Don’t be a fool.
You spend 95% of your time alone. There are friends who are reaching out to go have some fun. You keep turning them down. They’re going to stop calling. Don’t you see how this makes you lonely, and sad?
Make some friends! Go places with them! Force yourself to do it. You won’t be sorry.
6. Pay the tab.
Why are you not surprising friends, family, and strangers by paying for their meals out?
Okay, I agree that you have very little to work with, especially while you’re in seminary. But not all the time!
Listen, you’re way too focused on you, and your financial future—always thinking about saving, and worrying about the “what-ifs” of your life.
Your money is not about you. Put others before you. Pony up and bless people!
7. Hang out with married couples.
Don’t think because you’re single you should only attend and involve yourself in opportunities geared for unmarried folk. You’ll find a lot of desperate people there—well, kind of like you!
Don’t avoid time with married couples fearful that it will stoke the flames of loneliness and pity that you’re not married.
No-sir. You need to spend a lot of time with them. Ask them questions. Watch them interact. In the likelihood you’ll marry, this is a great education.
8. Give more away.
Okay, I’m really going to challenge you, Jarrod. Don’t just settle for paying the tab for friends and family. Go a little bit crazy.
Give more resources away to your local church, to charity, to needs of specific families, and needs within your community. Don’t pick a percentage to give away. Pick a percentage to live off of, and give all the rest away.
9. Enjoy your life.
Stop pouting, already! Stop wondering and dreading the possibility that you may never marry. You’re wasting your time, opportunities, possibilities, and especially your joy in doing so.
Embrace your place in life and in the world. Don’t be self-absorbed. Enjoy the present, smile at the future, and go have some fun.
What’s that you ask? Yes, you can still do all the above if you’re married. But not to the tremendous levels you can right now while you’re single.
You can’t see it right now, but Jarrod, being single is a terrific opportunity to live your life and give your life in ways that won’t be as available to you once you’re married (and especially when you have kids).
So embrace your unmarried life and go for broke!
And by the way, take your future wife to Italy.
Whether married our unmarried, what else would you add?
Which of the above hits home? Which can you begin applying today?
BEFORE YOU GO:
Have you subscribed to my blog on my homepage? Coming later this month will be a free giveaway of “10 Ways to Support a Loved One with Mental Illness.”
It’s a giveaway dear to my heart as I speak from personal experience.