Today after Mass I stopped to get a bagel and coffee, and the man making my bagel looked up in the middle of the process, paused, and said, “You have really great hair.”
Talk about making my morning! As I left, I had the desire to write an open letter to every high school girl who hates her hair. I was there. I would yell – and probably cry – about my huge, coarse, frizzy hair that never did what I wanted it to do.
And now look. I just had to wait fifteen years, and wah-la!
What seemed to be the end of the world wasn’t. It just takes a little perspective. (Something that teenagers tend to lack. no offense.)
On the topic of perspective, I wanted to share some thoughts on the day we celebrate today: Satisfied to be Single Day. Yes, a completely made-up holiday to anticipate another completely made-up holiday, Valentine’s Day. (All props to St. Valentine, but while he’d love for you to celebrate his feast day, he could care less about diamonds and chocolates.)
A good friend in college told me about Satisfied to be Single Day, and I distinctly remember celebrating it with her. We went shopping at a huge mall, ate Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and then went to Mass and a Holy Hour with my sister (who, at the time, was also still single). It was a really fun day.
Over the years, it’s harder and harder to find friends to celebrate the day with me. And it’s not just because many of my friends are now married. It’s because there’s the idea that to be “satisfied” with something, it must be what you planned and wanted. Now, granted, much of that is due to the nature of the creation of the “holiday,” I’m sure, which was probably invented by bitter people sick of the hype around Valentine’s day and who want to try to pretend they could care less.
But that’s not why I celebrate it. (Although Valentine’s Day does make me want to gag.)
To be satisfied with something does not mean you chose it, you never want things to change, or that you are perfectly happy with it every minute of the day. I’ll be the first to say that being single can be very, very lonely. It comes with lots of headaches and heartaches, from the profound to the mundane. It comes with having to listen to the complaints and problems of your married friends, when you really just want to shake them and say, “Don’t you understand what you have!?” And it comes with a lot of questions and uncertainty.
But I’m still satisfied. Why? Because, for one reason or another, this is where I am. This is the road I think God has placed in front of me. Frankly, and I don’t mean to sound cocky, but if I didn’t want to be single right now, I wouldn’t have to be. But I have come to discover that love is much bigger than your marital status.
So yes, I am going to celebrate Satisfied to be Single Day. Not out of bitterness, not out of jealousy, and not out of hatred for marriage. But because I’m grateful for the abundance of blessings and gifts God has given me, and I want to thank Him by using those to His glory. The man with three talents didn’t get angry that he wasn’t given five. He went out and used the three he had been given. The man with five wasn’t angry that he was given different talents than the man with three. Everyone is given gifts, and to sit around and bemoan we weren’t given different ones is a slap in the face to the Giver.
I used to dream of white dresses and numbers of bridesmaids. Not anymore. Not because I’ve necessarily given up that dream, but because I have found so many other dreams in the process. Why waste my time reading bridal magazines when I can write a Bible study, experience a new craft brewery with friends, or play trivia and eat guacamole?
I have to admit, much of this sanity and perspective came from a woman who has become a very dear friend. (I would link to her blog, but she’s so busy living life her latest post is a review of a vacuum cleaner from several years ago.) She taught me – not with words, but with actions – how full one’s life can be, even – gasp – if you aren’t married. She is a wonderful teacher, one of the most diligent workers I’ve ever met, and a constant inspiration to me. When we’re together, which is sadly not as often as we both wish, we don’t spend our time talking about boys or lamenting the struggles of our lives. We talk about movies and books and theology. We cook and we laugh and we shop and we eat good food and we love life together. She has taught me – probably without even realizing it – that life is very, very good, and that even though in many ways our field is still a man’s world, there is something very satisfying and life-giving in what we do.
It’s not easy to be satisfied with where we are in life, but everyone can find a reason not to be satisfied. Stay-at-home moms can forget that they dreamed their college days away thinking about babies. Busy professionals can forget that they thought that next promotion would make them happy. Rather than always looking at what we don’t have, why don’t we spend some time today being satisfied for what we’ve been given?
Sometimes happiness is all about perspective.