In the nearly two years I have lived alone, I have learned to live with Mary. While I knew my decision to wed at the age of 20 meant missing out on being single, I never understood until now the spiritual and practical value of being single.
Let me first be clear that living alone was not about sowing wild oats. It was about healing and self-discovery. And what I discovered is that I never had a chance to define myself in relationship to God alone. Saved at 18, married at 20, a mom at 21, I really only knew who I was in relationship to other people. First my parents, then Joe, then my daughter, and second daughter, and only son, and third daughter, and fourth daughter, and fifth daughter, and sixth daughter, and seventh daughter who died. What a blessing to have a life filled with so many people to love! And yet, what a challenge to love me while striving to love them.
This break has quieted me long enough to receive God’s love without the burden of meeting the needs of others. So yes, my priority was to try my hand at putting myself first. It was very satisfying.
For me, the top five things about being alone are:
Not having to talk to anyone in the morning and when I get home from work.
Always using a small cart at the grocery store and walking out with one bag.
Coming and going like I want to.
Eating whatever I want without having to feed someone else.
Spending all of my money on myself.
Having married so early, I had never experienced this before, and it was like discovering the beauty of Joshua Tree National Forest.
Seriously. It was new territory. A fascinating landscape. Like nothing I had ever seen.
And I loved so much of it, this vast landscape that is self-companionship.
I loved it because it enabled me to see the ways I had neglected myself in order to raise a family. Every mother does this to varying degrees. Because I had never lived alone, I didn’t even know what I was missing. I didn’t really know everything I needed to thrive as an individual. And I didn’t know how to distinguish between self-care and selfishness. To be on the safe side, I nearly always put the needs of others first. My life did not align with Christ’s command to love others as we love ourselves.
The spiritual and practical value of being alone was growing to appreciate and center my own desires and to know God cared about them deeply.
That’s right. God loves Mary. All by herself.
Not Mary the wife, mother, worker, and friend. Those are titles and roles. They are not me.
I’m getting ready for this season and it brings me to tears. I have cherished and poured everything I have into my Boy. My experience has been different but I still have to go back and find that ol Girl. Funny I will be visiting this area with my new Love, so I see the new adventure on the arisen. It’s a blessing to be a blessing to others and honor God and yourself as well.
You have done well and can launch your son with confidence! Enjoy this new season.
Good luck during this special season of your life. Having an adult child is a gift in new ways.
Mary, I applaud you for doing this. I had been single for a long time, and even though I found times when it was really too quiet, I appreciated having to rely on me to get things done. I have become very independent, and since getting married last June, it has been a challenge to compromise and give up some of that independence. If this helps you feel better about yourself and your relationship with God, then I’m all for it!
Thanks Barbara. I think we all have some version of this journey. I see the hand of God in mine for sure. 🙂
This is beautiful, and I also recognize it as courageous: so many people, many of them, women, become so entrenched in living their lives in ways that deprive them of truly getting to know themselves, and fear that others will judge them as “not a good wife or mother” if they make a change when they can. I believe many woman fear being judged over making a choice to try some voluntary ‘alone time,’ which really isn’t alone at all, if it helps you feel the presence of and communicate with God more.