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Here, Have a Bagel!

Every year, the season from Christmas through Valentine’s Day is prime time for proposals and engagements. The Christmas season of my sophomore year of college, 14 of my Facebook friends got engaged. FOURTEEN. I was 19, and it seemed like every guy I had ever known was either a total shmuck or was so wonderful someone else had already snatched him up.

I felt conspicuously single after a season of making poor dating decisions in high school, and thought I was doomed to eternal loneliness. This was all compounded by the "ring by spring" culture of my small Christian university. (For those of you unfamiliar with "ring by spring" it's the idea that every girl's goal is to have a ring on her finger by spring of her senior year.) I felt like I would be single forever, and it would be the worst thing to ever happen to me.

"All the good guys are taken," I lamented to my mom, teary-eyed and frustrated. "There are no more good guys left in the world. Guys who love Jesus and want to take me on dates and meet my family and get along with my friends...Those guys don't exist anymore."

And you know what she said to me?

"Here, have a bagel." And she handed me my favorite cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera. (If you've never had Panera’s cinnamon crunch bagels, DO IT. They're exceptional.)

We laughed at the silliness of responding to my dating lament with breakfast food. But you know what? Looking back, I realize that my mom didn't hand me a bagel that because she thought I was dramatic or that I should eat my feelings. She handed me a bagel because she had a greater perspective than I did.

First of all, she knew that not all the "good guys" were taken. There are plenty of wonderful people in the world who are worthy of dating and even marrying.

More importantly, she knew that being single was not and would not be the worst thing to ever happen to me.

And she was right. I had a beautiful season of singleness. I was a Resident Assistant in the freshman girls' dorm and my three co-workers became my very best friends. We had "family dinners"; and took day trips to Austin just to shop and eat good food. I learned to enjoy my own company. I realized that if I was single forever, I would enjoy it. I learned to love myself and enjoy my girlfriends. I went on trips across the state to see my favorite musicians. I stayed out too late with my friends, discussing the wonders and horrors of the world over burgers and milkshakes. And it was beautiful.

I didn't know that I had already met the man who would become my husband and the daddy of my precious daughter. He loves Jesus and he takes me on dates. He adores my family and he gets along wonderfully with my friends. We are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary today!

But before I loved him, I loved myself.

I’ve heard couples say, “I need you! I love you!” But I don't find that to be a compliment. Telling someone you need to be with them means you don't have a choice. I didn't need to marry Bryan. I chose to. I want to be with him, but I don't depend on him to create my joy or fill my cup. I am fulfilled by pursuing my passions and caring for myself. I love myself well, so I can love and be loved by my husband.

If you are sitting amidst a sea of engagements or in a blizzard of couples, feeling conspicuously single, remember to enjoy your singleness. Learn to love your own company. Take yourself on dates. Do your make up because it makes you feel good. Read your favorite book again (and again). Take dogs for a walk at the Humane Society. Write. Create. Volunteer. Journal. Start a small business. Learn to play an instrument. Become the person you want to fall in love with, and then fall in love with yourself.

And do not despair. The good ones still exist. There are still people worth loving and dating and marrying. Be patient. When you love yourself, others will love you too.

So, my sweet ones, have a bagel.

With love,

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