Sisters getting married, and other reflections


My younger sister Becca got married last weekend, and my even younger sister Sarah is getting married in 3 months, and my brother Jeremy has been married for 12 years, and I am single. Yes, this has led to some emotional moments for me, and yes, I sometimes wonder if I’m at all “marriage material.” Yes, I fear future holidays when all of my siblings are with their spouses and I’m potentially alone. Yes, comments that “It will happen when you least expect it!” and “You just need to give it to God” are largely unhelpful. Yes, I have thought about online dating. Yes, I have tried online dating. Yes, I quit online dating – because yikes.

Yes, I want and hope to be married. But right now, I’m not.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul, the Bible’s poster child for singleness, refers to singleness as a gift – and I always assumed that by “the gift of singleness” Paul was referring to a special ability, like being double-jointed or good at art. Like, congratulations! You have the gift of singleness: the cosmic capacity to be alone forever. Enjoy your life of loneliness and despair, because whether you like it or not, it’s what you were designed for.

I sure don’t feel like I was designed to be alone forever. Does anyone?

So it got my wheels turning. What if the “gift” that Paul talks about is not a special talent or competence, but an actual GIFT: a present. An offering. A package wrapped up by the gift giver and presented with a huge smile on his face, because he knew that it was good and that the recipient could love it.

Because I do love it. I love being single. This weekend I did so many things that bring me life: I made delicious soup and drank wine and went on a 9-mile walk and a 5-mile run, and I got a massage, and I went to a movie all by myself (which always feels so indulgent), and I took Toad to the park and cleaned the kitchen and did my laundry and stocked up on groceries and for nearly 48 hours, I barely said a word to anyone because that is what FILLS MY SOUL.

Singleness is not a consolation prize for those who aren’t good enough to be married, just like marriage is not a reward for being amazing, attractive, and accomplished.  Both are gifts in their own right. And the only way I’m giving up this good gift of singleness is if someday I’m presented with an opportunity to trade up for something even better.

Until then, I will revel in the luxury of spending however much money I see fit on pretty dresses for my siblings’ weddings, and welcoming new brothers-in-law to the family, and knowing that at the end of the day, it’s pretty good to be me – just me.



  1. Leslie B. on January 27, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    Wow. My singleness has hit me hard lately. There are times I’ve been so lonely it hurts. Then, other times are awesome because I go where I want and do what I want with out thinking of other people. I want to share my life with someone, and being a wife and mother is always something I thought I would be one day. I turn 33 in a couple of weeks – thankfully I have other single girlfriends or I’d wonder if something was wrong with me (ha!) and sometimes I still do. But, I don’t want to just settle for anyone…

  2. Beth on January 28, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    I think the Lord sees us as His gift in our season of singleness, too- He won’t just let us go to anyone- has to be just the right one. You’re right- I’m learning to celebrate the simple gifts of singleness- they are many if you really stop and think about it.

  3. Megan on January 28, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    Aww, this is beautiful!

  4. Christa on January 28, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    I wholeheartedly agree with this, especially “And the only way I’m giving up this good gift of singleness is if someday I’m presented with an opportunity to trade up for something even better.” All I can say is, amen.

  5. kimberly on January 28, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    it has taken me more than 10 years, but I am finally okay and happy with my singleness, and it is GOOD to know that I’m not alone. it’s so weird to think about how I pictured my life at 30, and how it is so different than I thought it would be. but…I have to believe that it is better.

  6. Lan | angry asian on January 28, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    i say this from the comfort of being in a relationship, but i can honestly say that God did not mean for us to be alone. He made Adam and then He gave him a companion in Eve. this is something that i carried with me for a very long time before i met my dw. i’m 35 years old and i am only now just getting married, i waited and waited and i am thankful i did.

  7. Angie N on January 28, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    So timely and helpful for me Annie, you have no idea. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder single doesn’t equal broken. And if I’m in the company of amazing women such as yourself in this “single girl club” then I’m flattered.

    Also, online dating? YIKES.

  8. Shanna on January 28, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    YES! Annie, right after I got married, I read Tim Keller’s book, “The Meaning of Marriage,” and now I tell everyone I meet that it is not only the best book I’ve ever read on marriage but also the best one on being single… all because of one part that hit me so strong: When you are [married, single, dating, not dating, working, not working…], it is because God loves you so much that He made you that way.

    As in, it really is, truly, seriously, good. I love the way you’re recognizing that and I am thankful for voices like yours that do it so well.

  9. Jules on January 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    This is phenomenal. I love you.
    And I would die of satisfaction to do/get all of those things done in one day. :)

  10. Emily on January 28, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    This may be my most favorite post you’ve ever written.

  11. Michael Rhyne on January 28, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Understanding what fills your soul is a spiritual gift, Annie, and one not easily understood. Thank you for this post! And who is lonelier…the person who lives alone but lives a fulfilled life, or the person who lives with another, yet is unfulfilled in that life? Heck, you wrote the song, girl: “I’d rather be alone than wish that I was.” Just trying to make you smile. There are those of us…too many…whose souls are pierced, so that no matter how hard we try, they cannot be filled. Tend to your soul, live a purpose-filled life, and let God’s path for you be revealed, one step at a time. Ouch…just stepped on my own toes.

  12. Emily from Seattle on January 28, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    I don’t think God leaves people single forever who have a genuine desire to be married. I’ve always thought of people who have the gift of singleness as those who like it, own it, and don’t have a particularly strong desire to be married. But that’s just me. :)

  13. Allison K. on January 28, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    “Singleness is not a consolation prize for those who aren’t good enough to be married, just like marriage is not a reward for being amazing, attractive, and accomplished.”

    Yes. Yes. Yes. You phrased that perfectly.

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  15. Alison H on January 29, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    This is so spot on! I’m the only one out of four siblings that isn’t married and I lost sight of the gift. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Alissa on January 29, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Your words and thoughts are wonderfuly lovely in truth, honesty, and fresh perspective. I wish these were the messages that raced across the internet. So many need to hear it.

  17. wreckless on January 30, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    I just adore you. And your heart.

  18. Stephanie on January 30, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    um, THIS. thank you. seriously, thank you.

  19. Joey on January 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM
  20. Amanda on January 30, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I love this so much that I’m tweeting it and you can’t stop me.

  21. debbie barnett on January 30, 2013 at 4:55 PM


    love you sister-friend.

    and I’m going to re-tweet Amanda and you can’t stop me either.

  22. Alexis on January 30, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Some sweet words of truth that I can so clearly remember feeling…working through…believing. I was 31 when I got married, way later than I have ever expected. I’m so thankful for my husband but I’m also so thankful for my single time when I was able to travel all over the world, hang out with friends whenever I wanted to and just figure out who I am all on my own. I’m passing this along. High five.

  23. HopefulLeigh on January 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Amen and amen and amen. Here’s to recognizing the gifts of this season and making the most of it.

    Also, in the course of researching my current project, I’ve read a lot on singleness. I don’t believe singleness/celibacy is a spiritual gift (it’s not listed when Paul discusses spiritual gifts either). It plays into this myth that if you’re single, you must have superhuman strength and self-control to resist temptation or you’re abnormal, etc. Instead, gift is an objective status: if you’re not married, you have the gift of singleness. If you’re married, you have the gift of marriage. Both statuses are good and to be treasured, as you’ve said above. We forget that everyone starts out as single and we don’t question if people are called to marriage. We need to be good stewards no matter what our marital status is.

  24. Rebecca on January 30, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Thanks for this. You are right on track with my heart too!

  25. julie on February 4, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    uhm, for you, it kinda is.

  26. Lauren M on February 5, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    I have never commented, but have read your blog for quite a while now and am convinced that we would be friends if we knew each other in real life! Ha!

    I just wanted to comment and say YES! I am right there with you. It gets hard to continually hear, “Why are you single? You’re such a great catch, you’re amazing, blah blah blah, etc.”

    Anyway, my view of singleness changed when I had the revelation that God is not a consolation prize. He’s not a “less than”, or “in place of” a husband. He is THE Husband. The One I was ultimately created for. So while I cling to the hope of marriage someday (hopefully soon!), I am determined to know Him as intimately as possible in my singleness. I don’t want to get to marriage and wish I had known Him better as a single person. And just so you know, I am 28. I’m not 21 year old that is crying over being single. :) I really do know what it means to wrestle with singleness. But I can honestly say that I know Him better and I know my identity so much deeper than I did before my perspective changed. It’s beautiful and messy and painful and joyful. It’s all those things. But I wouldn’t change it. And I am so much more settled in who I am because I have to continually go to Him to tell me. Because where else can I go? He is the only One who can speak life into existence. That’s the power of His words. I (and you) were created for His pleasure and He enjoys me, even in my crazy hormonal mess when I’m literally crying because I want a husband. That is amazing!

    All that to say, I’m cheering you on! Great post! :)


  27. ash on February 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    annie, this was amazing.
    so honored that you are my sister.
    love you.

  28. Kate Andre on February 25, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    The year I realized my marriage was over and I moved from Seattle back to Ohio in August, my brother got married in October (and I had already agreed to sing at the wedding before I knew I’d be the sister who was recently humiliated by her husband) and then my sister got married in March. I remember attempting to toast my sister the night before her wedding and realizing half way through said toast how painfully thin my veil of regret and jealous was for all to see. It was a hard season. At the time I felt so many things I wasn’t sure where to start sorting it out. When I look back on it now, I see the beauty in the sometimes smoldering ashes.

    Praying for you what I remember wanting myself… genuine joy and being in the moment with the ones who are your forever family.

    Love your writing. Catching up on lots of it this afternoon while the littles nap.

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