I know the tradition of the bouquet toss is supposed to be for fun, but as All the Single Ladies blares loud, the idea of trying to best other single women in catching a bouquet, in hopes that some sort of bridal magic has rubbed off to grant me wanted-ness, chosen-ness, beloved-ness, just seemed to confirm what all the shame and insecurities were blaring in my head and heart: that being single means I am less chosen, less wanted, less loved.
The dictionary definition of shame is: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.
Guilt, though painful, is a good kind of shame, because God uses it to convict us of sin and lead us to repentance.
But often, the shame we feel is not this godly guilt. The shame that brings a tidal wave of insecurities to flood our hearts is not a conviction of sin, but condemnation of our worth.
I’m sure we all have them: those nagging doubts about our worth; those prickly questions about whether or not we’re good enough; those spiraling thoughts that maybe we don’t measure up.
There’s something wrong with you. You’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough…
We try to keep our head and heart above the drowning insecurities.
And you never will be…
This is shame’s tsunami lie, telling us that something from our past has damaged our worth, that something in our present that is diminishing our worth, that something in our future must be achieved to determine our worth.
We try to out-swim the pounding waves by proving ourselves worthy. Maybe we measure our worth by the numbers on the scale, hearts and thumbs-up on filtered photos, grades on a report card, promotions in a career, approval from friends and family, even how much we read the Bible and pray.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a good swimmer. It seems the more I try to prove my worth, the more worthless I feel.
For a long time, I believed my worth was found in my relationship status. And shame ate up that lie and twisted “single” to be synonymous with unwanted, alone, and unloveable.
Shame in singleness can sound like this:
All these insecurities, all these lies, all this shame, all come from misplacing our identity. They come from believing our worth and significance are found in something other than Jesus.
Defined by Love
What do you believe defines you? What do you believe gives you worth?
Genesis 1:26-27 says we are created in the image of God. Because of this, we all have worth that isn’t measured by the the achievements, accolades, or approval found in this world.
Rather, our worth is measured by the love of God; love that is eternal, unchanging, and infinite.
It is not your relationship status - or the numbers on the scale or the title of your job position or the esteem of others - that gives you worth, but the truth that you have been created in the image of God, by love and for love. You have been created to have relationship with Him, and to receive and reflect His love in relationships with others.
Because of sin, that image is marred. We fall short of God’s glory and are separated from relationship with Him, reflecting a love of self rather than God’s love.
In love, God created us for relationship, and in love, God sent His Son Jesus to restore that relationship.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus died on the cross for our sins, making a way for us to return to God; to say back to Him who demonstrated His love while we were still sinners: I love you too!
And not only to say it, but to live it in faith and obedience as we walk with Him.
When we trust in Jesus as our Savior and choose to follow Him as Lord, our identity becomes in Christ. Jesus shares His identity of Son with us. He shares His identity of righteous (right with God) with us. He shares His identity of holy (reflecting God’s character) with us.
We are now sons and daughters of God, made righteous and holy, the image restored as we live in relationship with Him and grow in Christ-likeness.
Our identity in Christ defines us by His love, and this redefines what it means to be single.
It redefines singleness from brokenness that needs to be fixed, a season that should be ended, a status that says we’re not good enough, to life that is abundant, not lacking anything; to life that is whole: holding joy, meaning, and beauty because we are wanted, chosen, and loved not by a ring on our finger, but by our Redeemer.