When your life is tightly entwined with the lives of others, you adjust who you are to meet their needs and expectations. For example, spouses make small, daily adjustments so that they don’t push their partners’ buttons. Parents postpone their desires in order to tend to those of their children. When not taken to an extreme, this is a good thing.
The past couple years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about to what extent we should bend who we are to make our relationships with others work. While I still have a lot of unanswered questions about the outer limits of sacrifice, I’ve learned to embrace the ways that relationships can refine us and transform us into better versions of ourselves. But now my life circumstances have changed, and because I want to continue a process of transformation, now I’m wondering: how do I change who I am for myself?
I don’t think that single people are necessarily prone to stagnation. If we continue to seek out new experiences, new goals, new paths of knowledge, we will grow and progress. But I do think one hazard of singleness is that it can become quite easy to shield ourselves from the direct daily service to others that naturally takes place when we are in a committed partnership, living with a family, etc. (at least, I know this is true for me).
Right now, although I’m finding that I need a lot of alone time for reflection, I’m realizing that I don’t want to lose the perfecting grace of intimacy. But I must be honest: I have lost that for the time being. In the meantime, the best temporary solution I’ve come up with is to try and turn myself over to God, serve where I can, and spend some time thinking about “who do I want to be?” and figuring out ways to be that kind of person for myself and for the people who are in my life. Any other ideas?
- 14 September 2008