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.
Mandy thank you so much for all the lessons. They have truly touched me in ways that I have never thought possible and made me realise that there’s still a lot to work on. May The Good Lord continue to bless you.
Wow, so empowering! This just brought tears to my eyes because what you said is exactly true. There’s nothing wrong with being single and embracing the single life. I am currently single (after getting out of a 6 year relationship 2 years ago) and I can’t express how much I have enjoyed and am continuing to enjoy this journey of being single. I have done so much & learned so much about myself (and am continuing to) within these two years that I would have never been able to do had I been in a relationship. Thank you, I needed to read this and am glad that I came across your blog! 🙂
WOW AND THANK YOU.
I love it!
Thank you for this…I will use it as a reminder everytime I find myself questioning my single status.
You are truly such a blessing to us single women.
P.S. Maybe you are still single because this is the work God wanted you to do for a bit 🙂
Thank you. Great analogy and great conclusion.
Thank you so much for this!!! 🙂
Thank you xxx
Amazing! You’re (correct way to spell it : ) ) always right on with the words you write..so thought provoking and exactly what I am feeling..You help me, and I am confident many others, be content with where I am in my life..I have felt shame for being single but since following you I am learning to embrace it….Thank you Mandy!
I love how you weaved that into a beautiful message for us single women. Great commercial…sad but the ending was such a great reminder of the beauty that is within each one of us. Thank you!
Beautifully said, wonderfully shared and lovingly received. As a recycled single ( 25+ years) God has been. Showing me how truly blessed I am… I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a Lord who doesn’t make mistakes! I thank God everytime you share from your singleness it helps me to learn and grow as well!
Thank you so much for sharing this; it’s exactly what I needed to hear today. I am continually blessed & encouraged by your tweets and blogs, so thank you!
After a divorce and a failed relatioship I always thought something was wrong with me … I was looking for this other person as if I never mattered … It took a lot of pain for me too realise I’m worth it and nothing wrong with being single I jst need to make the best of it and jsT be happy … So I love myself
I’m so thankful I found your blog. I’ve been trying to hard to focus on God, study the Word, and really take control of my life. Then negative thoughts enter my mind. The other day, I discovered that #SHeReadsTruth is starting an Esther study, and the Esther 4:6 says, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
This verse always reminds me that God does have a purpose, all we have to do is follow Him and find it. <3
Wow, Beks, thank you for this. Very, very (VERY) encouraging. God bless you! Terri
Wow wonderfully written. Gives me a new outlook on my singleness. I do get those looks or asked why am I still single it drives my crazy. Once I was told you don’t want to become an “Old Maid” do you and boy did that make me feel so low.
Oh! And how do you like the one: “You need to ‘put yourself out there'”?! What am I…a side of beef??? A car??? (Can I be one of those cute, older Volkswagon Beetles?). ( : Man, this goes so contrary to the event of Isaac and Rebekah: how Rebekah was just doing her own thing (assumedly as God would have her do) and GOD orchestrated her being paired up with Isaac! I hope I am not offending anyone by this post: I just really resent when I am told this (especially since I tend not to be an overly “out there”/very-active-social-life type of person!). Blessings to all. Terri
Timely word. Thank you! I needed this!
I have been following your writing for the past little while, and was unsure if I should ever comment as I’m only newly single, and I was married.
Me and my ex-husband separated six months ago. I am 30 years old, and have been with this man since I was 25. In my 20s, I had a list of things I ‘should’ and ‘needed’ to get done…grad school, big city, man and marriage, check! With the man thing specifically, if I could get one who was good on paper, it would show the world I was ok…that I wasn’t that fat, or crazy or unlovable…
Well I quickly married a man who I was fundamentally incompatible with- but great on paper! Looks, job, etc…I was miserable, and now I’m single, and not actively prowling for men for the first time in a decade…instead, I am learning to be quiet and comfortable in my own skin, with social adventures and moments of solitude.
I wish I could go back and give 25 year old Alana some advice that you’ve listed. For her to learn from the chaos that she was, and to embrace being single, not ashamed…Do you think it’s possible to move forward from the lessons I learned…? To forgive myself for rushing a marriage just to have it, and to not worry about being alone…to embrace being me, single, 30, with fabulous friends and family, a great career, and a warm and safe place to live…do us separated/divorced women deserve the same ‘single woman’ happiness and compassion that never married individuals should attempt? I guess my shame of being separated, of failing at marriage, may be similar to that of individual who is shamed she never married…?
…and it’s scary! whatever the answer, your writings have helped me so much this past few months. I’m seeing the benefits and not holding out for anything to participate in the rest of my life. I’m a strong, successful, loving woman, in almost everything I do. Your work has helped me in the one area I’ve struggled with- defining my overall success by my male interest and relationship status. Thank you so much for being a brave powerhouse of a woman in writing about this topic, you’re helping so many…
btw, I read your twitter re-tweet that the jerk posted, way to handle a yucky situation with grace.
Sending you so much love and blessings! xo
Thank you a lot me Mandy infact I needed the courage to hang on there. Thank you!!!
Mandy, I found you on a whim and I can honestly say you have changed my life in the past month. After reading just a few of your articles and quotes (I am addicted to your quotes!) you made me realize so much. I quickly “got rid” of the bad energy in my life – men that were using me and not bringing anything to the table. I allowed it to happen, but so proud of myself for ending the toxic situations. It’s definitely a journey, but I am finally embracing it. Thank you for being you and helping us beautiful and unique ladies realize we need to live in the moment and to feel blessed that we are single. 🙂 I just purchased your I’ve never been to Vegas book after reading your first and can’t wait to curl up and learn and laugh from it. And thanks for the GE Commercial. I cried like a baby too! I just wanted that furry little creature to crawl into bed with me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being you and helping us through this unknown journey.
Married people do not understand single people problems. Thank you for speaking boldly, truthfully and honestly in the name of singleness. The comment I always get “I can’t believe you are still single!” I think they mean it as a compliment but it only fuels my inner voice of “why am I still single?” I’ve made peace with it but I have to surrender my desires on a regular basis.
…..i love this statement even more…”It has given us the space and grace to become exactly who we are…”…yes..singleness,whether we see it or not..it has given us..in fact it is God’s way to help us find our selves..we all know how we only tend to think about those we love when we are in a relationship..!when we are in love..we tend just to have thoughts for two,which is not bad but well,singleness is an opportunity to know you..as who you really are..this means your flaws,strengths plus just a bonus time for just you..!..MAY God bless you sis mandy!…this is such a awakening call to all ov us
You are so right Miriam
Thank you so much for this. I am always asking myself why I am still single and why I am alone, and why I am in my eyes unsuccessful. I know that this is all in my head, but sometimes it gets difficult and the voices in my head, my own voice, can get the best of me. I appreciate you blog and what you are doing to help all of us. Thank you.
Thank you for the wonderful reminder (again) to embrace our singleness. I have struggled for years by focusing on the negative aspects of being single, but thanks in part to reading your books, I am starting to look at all of the positive things being single has to offer. You have also helped remind me not to settle for less than what/who God has planned for me. I look forward to your next book and reading more posts on here!
As a widow and someone who was in a committed relationship until the past couple of years, singleness is new and different. I find your site so encouraging because I embracing this season and want to be the person I intended to be, single or coupled, I want to be the best version of me I can be! You seem to know exact what I need to hear to encourage me I am on the right track!
Your posts (and books!) are always amazing. Im always so inspired after reading them. It’s crazy to find so many other people feeling exactly the way that I feel! It’s such a good feeling, Thanks :)!!
Thank you for this post. I can completely resonate with this post. I met someone at work and I really thought he was interested in me because of the hints/things he said. But this week, he became distant and he suddenly disappeared. When I tried to make contact, he was distant and aloof. And once again, I started to question if there was something wrong with me. Was I too old? (I’m in my mid, late 30s), not pretty enough, not good enough, not funny enough not-anything enough? Was I too too desperate? Did i give off some “desperate” crazy woman vibes that scared him away? I don’t know. I just lay in bed and the thoughts just drove me crazy.
I also once wrote in to mention that I am a neutral non-believer in religion/God. But you once advised me to just pray, and try and see if God will answer or show some sign to me, to show that he does exist in my life. I’ve been trying, and doing it for the last 2 months. Quietly and alone. There have been signs to show that He is around me, and after so long, I do feel that maybe, I’m not alone as I thought I was.
I’m still confused and scared and lonely but I just hope that… things to happen for a reason..
it has taken my most of my adult life to understand the differrnce between being religious and being spiritual. i believe in god, very strongly, it is a presence that has always been there. go to a library or bookstore and look through books until one, or some, resonate with you. you will be led to what you need. namaste
As I was reading your message Penny I felt like God wanted you to know how much He loves you and cares for you. Psalm 139:14 says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”! I know from experience God has protected me from being with the wrong person. When you focus in on what God says about you in the Bible you will never doubt about who you are and how valuable you are! It’s better to be safe in the arms of Jesus than with someone who wrongfully mistreats you! Look at it as a blessing! “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of you heart.” Psalm 37:4
i read a qoute by you in a StumbleUpon list. it was about nonconforming. that has been me, my whole life; except when i allowed my, now ex, husband’s insecurities to dictate how i should look, act, respond in conversations, etc. I AM ME with or without a “significant other” and i will not settle again, with men, friends or coworkers. i’m glad i found you.
I just stumbled across your blog, and I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this today. I will turn 40 the end of this year, have never been married (never even been engaged), and am physically unable to have children of my own. Life is so different than where I thought it would be at this age. The mother of the last guy I dated seriously questioned whether I was a lesbian because of my single status and so many of my married friends will make comments about single men in their 40’s and what must be wrong with them to be alone still at that age. I remind them I am still single and I like to think there isn’t anything wrong with me, before their faces get red and they get flustered. I try to remain positive, but when I see people who are less ______ (fill in the blank) than me, I wonder what I have done wrong to be the single one even though I like to think I have a lot going for me. It is so hard to be proud when so many try to make us feel ashamed of where we happen to be in our lives. Thank you for the reminder that we are right where we are meant to be, and we should be proud and confident of never settling.
Thanks so much Amy: I needed to read what YOU wrote! And once again it made me consider that if we had special “glasses” to see the world more clearly – we would “see” that single folks are bombarded every day by “messages” (and not just from embarrassed individuals!) that “tell” people who are single that there is something wrong (would probably need several pages to make an actual list!): the movies that are out there, the books, “love” songs, our wrong perceptions (what Mandy referred to under “Dash of Sass” about seeing “best time” snapshots on Facebook) of marriage/relationships and their purpose, and so on. I am sorry to say that even the church can give the wrong message to single people through commission or omission: “commission” meaning always focusing on and mentioning families, children, etc…or the infamous “the single people can babysit for the married people so they can go on a date night” (gag…sorry…oh, and of course we have soooooo much free time to do that…sorry for the bite there!)…”omission” meaning somehow neglecting to talk about the deeper significance of being single from the pulpit or other places and by doing so, making being single seem like “second rate.” The rabbit hole runs very deep into which we as single people can sometimes sink: I’m afraid we would need to change many of the world’s (and the church’s) messages in order to get a much clearer and more joyful perspective. BUT maybe just being aware of that can lead to some freedom and joy in knowing that being single is not what many of those silly messages communicate (darn those messages!). Blessings! Terri ( :
I’m so happy I found this blog, a friend actually recommended it and I have become so obsessed with it! I never thought I would see myself replying to any blog I ever read, but the truth is that it’s nice to know that the blogs that you’re writing are reaching out to women like me.
I am single but I haven’t been single all my life I was actually married for 13 years. These few years that have been single I have accomplished so much and sometimes I do wonder will I ever find love and why haven’t I already? Is there is something wrong with me? But the truth of the matter is that we are on God’s timing not ours and only he knows when it’s the right time for me to find love again.
Amen. Thank you for this. 🙂
well said Mandy .we just need to be FREE to be who G-d intented for us to be .I am reminded of the scripture : Matthew 6:33 BUT “FIRST” SEEK “ME ” AND “MY” KINGDOM AND ALL THESE “THINGS” WILL BE ADDED TO YOU .we need to just be, and let G-d handle the rest .stop struggling ,stop waiting ,wanting .listning to the voices that tell us “something” is wrong .something is wrong .its the world. G-d NEVER intened for us to walk thru life alone ,he didnt or he wouldnt have created TWO ppl .not ONE .the world is such a different place now than it was even 10 yeas ago .we just gotta keep our eyes on HIM and not worry about how ,when ,where ,who .just BREATH 🙂
Hey. You mentioned that God never intended for us to walk through life alone. So true!!! Something I’m learning as an older single woman is that God realizes the need for intimacy (which of course is what a man and woman united represents), and sometimes I have to just let him fill that need for earthly love (“not walking alone”) through other sources (and NOT see them as “secondary” or “inferior” to being with a man): a friend reaching out, a hug from someone, or even seeing a beautiful view or a cute animal! I’m finding it’s about surrendering to Him and letting Him meet “the need,” but of course having to realize that ultimately, only He can supernaturally, permanently, and perfectly fill those empty places (and He does, as long as we don’t try on our own to fill them with something unintended by Him…which is HARD sometimes!!!!!!). We are not alone – and I think many of us can testify that it is more lonely being with someone who is not right for us (and having to keep bumping up against that sense of “mismatch” and resulting disappointment) than being single and NOT having to deal with that. Still hard, but that’s when we need to allow that love to come from whatever the “right” sources are. Blessings!
You have never been wrong in making readers, especially those single ladies out there including myself, feel much better about the situation and our life in general. I thank you enough for every word you put in there.
It is 4:00 a.m. and I have been focusing too much on a comment a co-worker made to me. I wished her a happy birthday and she replied via text message and a thank you wishing ma a belated happy birthday and one last hurtful remark, “You Need a Man” . As I sat there looking at that message, hurt, wondering why she thought I needed to hear that. As she just found someone a yr ago and seems to complain about him on a daily basis. Yes, I do get lonely on occasion, but peace of mind is a powerful thing! I’d rather be alone than in a miserable relationship and having a man just for the sake of having one (been there, done that) I have learned that I have to like and enjoy my own company before I can enjoy someone else. With all that said, I am so glad I read this article. Maybe its time people start realizing that single women can flourish and are beautiful! God has good things in store for us snd as I tokd my co-worker, oh, but I do have man
That’s the problem! So often the reason that folks get into relationships these days (me too!) is so that they can “have a man” – and then when “that man” does not satisfy their desires, then the complaints come in! Sounds miserable to me too! Relationships are breaking up all over the place because suddenly that man, or woman, that the other “has” isn’t so great anymore because he/she is not meeting the other’s desires or expectations (isn’t there a saying something about wanting what you don’t have, but then once you have it…something like that?). That’s why the whole concept of God presenting someone to another — for HIS purposes — is so lovely and “in order”. I’ve spent much of my life wanting to “have” a man (believing that I “need” a man in order to be valuable), only to find things to complain about too – a gnawing discontent probably even worse than that which can creep into singlehood (because it was not the right person, the right timing, and/or for the right reasons). I am now trying to let God make that decision and to deal with all the thoughts and desires about that. It’s hard (at times), but participating in this type of sharing really helps to encourage. ( : Thanks Mandy and all! Terri
Yes! All of this! Thanks Mandy for speaking to the heart of us all. I hope you have a blessed day!
Thank you for sharing this! Since i’ve been feeling kinda down from a break up…It really lifted up my spirits! Thanks 🙂
I am single and I stand tall. I learned how to respond when people ask me “why am I single?” I always tell them “Well, why aren’t you?” or “By single you mean, why am I not plural?” and it almost always startle them. Thus making them leave or at least back down because I don’t see it as a problem so why do they? Answer their question with another question.
oh the only thing missing on this blog is a “like” button. this piece has really touched me. Thank you Mandy. Much love to you
Dearest Mandy, how about renaming and claiming yourself as “The Blessed Woman”? Instead of single woman. There is so much power in our words. Just a thought since single is not where you plan to stay, God willing. I love your work and am thankful for you. You are truly BLESSED! *************
[…] make friends with your singleness by the single woman (sometimes i forget…) […]
You know, I think that sometimes we see singleness as a “curse” or “something wrong with us” because we are attached to the idea of the “perfect partner”. We believe that a relationship will give us what we always wanted: love, admiration, companionship, playfulness, etc. We believe a relationship will also save us from what we dread: loneliness, isolation, ostracism, low self-esteem, etc. But the truth is that we are who we are regardless of who is in our lives. Being single or being in a relationship are just two different ways of Being. One is not better or worse that the other. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, their challenges and their rewards. When I was single, I did what I pleased. Went out with my friends when I wanted, where we wanted. I decorated my house to please myself. I dated all the guys I wanted…and I grew in a way that I needed at the time. Now that I am in a relationship, I have to negotiate where we eat, travel, do on weekends…and even though I am very happy in my relationship, I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse than being single…it is just different.
Many marriages that you see take a lot of work and far too many are not happy. And if we dug deeper into their relationships, most of the single people wouldn’t trade what they have for it. Being single is a time of great growth, creativity, exploring, meeting people…and more than anything, full of possibilities. Stop focusing on feeling bad or caring what others think. No relationship will magically fix your life and protect you from everything you fear. Maybe the focus should be on having fun, growing, exploring and expanding your world, and then, someone who is as complete as you will want to share it. Out of passion and desire, not out of need.
..God bless you Mandy!!!…you are more than a blessing that you think you are
Thanks and you’re truly a blessing!
I missed this blogs when it was originally posted. Ironically, about a month later, I couldn’t have come across this at a better time. Love it. Thank you.
Hi Mandy! This was a great, unique post. I felt so bad for the idea guy, and know I’ve been there myself… and partly still am. The part you mentioned forgiving God for my singleness really hit home. I didn’t even know I was blaming Him. Thank you for continuing to be a light, and awesome single lady!
In the first place, I’ll admit that I’m a man . I know your ministry is intended for women, but I need your advice and encouragement as much as any woman does . I tried making friends with the single life once, and it stabbed me in the back ! My singleness has kept me from getting everything I really want and it’s punished me for not giving my love and support to a romantic partner . I really, seriously, want to have a girlfriend and get married, and thanks to my singleness, I’ve had to be branded “Mr . Single Forever” who doesn’t want a woman in his life ! I want a woman in my life more than anything, the last thing I want is a husband or a boyfriend, and thanks to my singleness, I’ve had to be branded a homosexual ! My singleness has NOT served me well . I would’ve been much stronger, much more confident, and much bolder if I had gotten married when I wanted to . I’d be a much better person if I’d been married for the past twenty — five years . I’ve had to spend a few Thanksgivings and Christmases at my local soup kitchen, and that doesn’t put you on the “I Have To Marry This Person” list . I hate the word “independent” . I need people to know how much I want to get married, and an independent person wants to be single forever . I’ll admit to being “unflinching in my unwillingness to settle”, but that dates from when I was fifteen . I didn’t need a lifetime of being single to get to that point . I wish I could have laid my singleness and the single version of myself to rest years ago ! I don’t have what it takes to be single . The single life is cruel . I’m being wasted on the single life .
I don’t know what to say to Michael. Doesn’t anybody have a word of encouragement for him?
I completly agree. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing!