I should be used to it by now, I know. But every time I go to a new place, meet new folks, I'm always a little ill-prepared for the sorts of questions that women typically ask one another.
"How many children do you have?" (None. Unless you count the cute one with fur. He turns four this month.)
"What does your husband do?" (This would be much easier to answer, I assume, if I were married. Which I'm not.) I've actually said -once- "I'm not sure." But I don't think the "asker" got my feeble attempt at humor.
Then once these two awkward hurdles of social exchange are cleared, and I imagine I've escaped the getting-to-know-you-gauntlet relatively unscathed: "You mean you've never been married?" (This one is True or False, right? True. Final answer.)
Usually that's the last question in this particular line of inquiry, but occasionally, I'll get a fourth: "Really? Why not?"
When I was younger, I was prone to say with a smile, "I just haven't found a dress I like." A little later I employed "I haven't found anyone I want to ask." But then I realized a lot of women do ask or demand or set deadlines (!), and what I thought of as an absurdity might have actually been their experience. So I stopped that.
Now I just say that God hasn't seen fit yet to give me away. The question begs a longer answer, but really, this one is the essence of any further explanation I might give. My heart belongs to Him. It's His to give, and so far, if anyone's asked Him for it, He hasn't seen fit to say yes.
Do I have "the gift of singleness?" Every time I hear this phrase I think of a good friend (single well into his 40's) who likened it to the gift that no one wants--like a bad Christmas sweater or a pair of itchy pajamas. But actually, I do. Today. Because today I am single, and this day--all of it--is a gift from God. I don't know what gifts tomorrow will bring. But yes, today He's given me the "gift of singleness." And I hope to use it well.
I've never married. I've never had children. I'm not sure why. But if you asked me what part of my life so far I would have traded for the mystery behind "door number two" I'd have to say none of it. Because my Father's been very, very good to me in every season and every circumstance. And if you asked if I have any regrets, if there was "one I let slip away," I'd say I don't think so. (Although once I might have hesitated.)
I wrote a book about singleness because I was asked to, not because I wanted to. Good things came from it, but I never wanted to be just a "singles" author or a "singles" teacher, or "that girl who never married." My singleness is a present-tense fact of my life, just like the fact that I'm green eyed and Scotch-Irish, that I'm 5'7" and brown-haired, that I live in the city but dream of the country, that I love baseball and dogs and Scrabble and can't whistle or tan, and can make myself at home in five minutes with just about any book that's printed in English. It's only one fact about me. But it's not the one that defines me, any more than any of these others do.
Here's what defines me: I'm His. And I'll be His forever, no matter who else I might belong to in the meantime. That identity suits me. It fits. It's a role I'll spend a lifetime growing into. Until then, I am His to keep, and His to give away.