I’m 24 years old, and I don’t interact with a lot of single people.

Shocking, right?

Out of the twenty girls in my college social circle, only four of us are still single. The crazy thing is, this isn’t crazy. We never have to plan to spend time together because we’re guaranteed plenty of time together at engagement parties, bachelorette parties, and bridal showers. Like clockwork, another one of us falls from the ranks approximately every three months, and we start the process all over again.

Because I’m a Christian from the South, whose friends are pretty much all married, I started to form this idea that if you weren’t married by a certain age, there was something wrong with you.

I would meet an older woman and look down to see her left hand unadorned, bare and exposed to inform me of her marital status. I’m embarrassed to admit my first thought, but what safer place than the Internet to admit all your horrible secrets, right?

My first thought, What’s wrong with you?

These older single women were bursting forth with personality and ambition. They bubbled with excitement, and their kindness could not go unnoticed. When they walked in the room, there was an energy about them. I admired them from a distance. Because they were so amazing, I often heard how confused people were that these wonderful women were still single. In turn, their singleness perplexed me as well.

Singleness, it seemed, was something to avoid.

Because singleness was synonymous with loneliness or at the worst, it meant you were damaged goods.

You see, a lot of these people followed the rules. They went to a good school and did the right things. They love Jesus, and they dated wonderful people. Many of them got married. Some of them came close. But as they shared bits and pieces of their stories I started to realize something:

A + B doesn’t always equal C. Sometimes it equals D for Divorce.

Or S for Single. Following the rules doesn’t guarantee we bypass pain. In fact, we can play our cards right and still end up alone. We can muscle through and chase as hard as our weary bodies will carry us. But sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with life not going according to plan. In fact, that’s what life is: a series of fortunate events that ruin your unfortunate plan. These people were no more broken than I am. They were no more fearful than I am because of where they’ve been.

I don’t know what was wrong with them. After hearing their stories, I found no flaws. But I do know one thing- they all loved Jesus robustly and confidently.

So maybe I’m just writing to myself here. Or maybe there’s a nervous girl in her college dorm looking for a ring by the spring. But I do wish that someone would’ve told me then what I know now.

If we keep looking at marriage, we can’t look at each other.

Sometimes I think it’s so easy to get caught up looking at our future bridesmaids that we miss the girls sitting around our living room right now. We look ahead at our dream house with monogrammed pillows that we forget about our roommates down the hall who are dying to connect. It’s easy to focus on planning bachelorette parties and miss gathering the people you love right here and right now.

If we’re looking at marriage to save us, then we’ll miss a Savior who already did.

We want to be known and loved. Because we’re human, it’s easy to chase after marriage to fulfill those desires. Marriage is tangible and in the south, it’s all around us. If we’re looking first and foremost at marriage, we can’t necessarily focus on Christ.

So to the single southern girls out there- don’t miss out on your community or Christ in favor of marriage. Whether you’re single now or forever more, you have everything you need within you for robust and full relationships.