Part 2 in ‘Letters in a Pandemic’ series
A Letter for the One who is Single During a Pandemic
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I see you.
In times when schedules are full and the sun is shining and exciting trips are on the horizon, it’s a lot easier to be content with the partnerless life. But then. Then gatherings are cancelled and travel is set aside and suddenly it’s a whole a lot harder to mean it when you say, “Really, I’m fine!” You stare at your phone. You replay conversations. You assess your personality and draw unhelpful and even harmful conclusions. Sound familiar?
I think it’s fine not to feel fine right now. It’s fine to be sad, to wish you had a go-to to go to when things get frightening. Thinking “What if?” or “Have I crossed their mind?” or “I should’ve said that differently because then this wouldn’t be happening…” or “Am I being selfish about my loneliness when so many terrible things are going on in the world?” are all normal things to be thinking right now. Jealously, resentment, regret, shame—they close in, not keeping that respectful six feet of distance, but creeping and seeping in and filling the cracks and gaps that these times of pressure all-too-easily expose. Perhaps you’ve felt these sensations, these emotions, these unpleasant feelings taking up space in your heart and mind, or maybe you haven’t. But I write this letter today to let you know that you sure are not alone if you have.
So. What to do with these heavy feelings? Don’t pretend they don’t exist. Don’t let them own you, but don’t stuff them away. Find a counselor who has video sessions. Call a pastor. Tell a friend. Write it in your journal. It’s okay to feel lonely, but your loneliness does not have to be shouldered by you alone.
It’s also a hard but important thing to recognize that no person can or will ever be able to come along and “complete” you, not in a pandemic and not any other time either. Putting that kind of pressure on a person will not just create cracks and widen gaps, but break them and you in a way that can leave a lot of damage.
So in a time like this, single friends, we have the chance to go a different way. We can lean into the relationships we do have. We can write letters to our grandparents, send emails to our elementary school teachers. Let’s pick up the phone and call our moms or dads or cousins. Let’s ask parents with kids how we can help from a distance. Let’s read and write and pray on our knees each morning and night, dance while making dinner, learn how to make croissants. In this pandemic and each day that follows it, let’s be honest with God and learn what his truth is about us, about love, about everything that’s happening in our hearts and minds and bodies today and tomorrow and whatever days we’ve got left.