by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

For the first time in American history, there are more singles than married folks. Yep, heard it on the morning news the other day! Of course, another statistic reported that most of these single folks still live in pairs; they’re just not too quick to officially tie the knot. Interviews with many single women indicated they do still hope and plan to marry someday.

Although marriage may not be uppermost in the minds of all single folks, it does still hold true that singles are looking for love — a companion, a partner, a date. This is a topic that I can’t approach without thinking about my mother.

My mother has buried two husbands and one ex-husband, and at 80 years old, is currently married to a very dear man. After each marriage, she declared to me, “I’ll never marry again.” Indeed, as far as I could tell, she never looked for a man and didn’t appear to want one. Yet men seem to be irresistibly drawn to her, like bees to honey. Perhaps my mother has some helpful advice for those looking for love.

Let me introduce you. She’s a Georgia peach, as some would say, born and raised in and around Atlanta. She may be among the last true Southern belles, but I hope not. She has a welcoming smile, engaging embrace, friendly tone of voice and thoughtful gestures. She has honeysuckle-sweet charm and a mischievous spirit that covers up (at least to the eyes of men) her smart and savvy ability to get what she wants and when she wants it.

She’s always been brutally honest with every man she has met. She had one true love that would come first in her life, and she made this perfectly clear the first time she met a new man. Her relationship with God would have top priority, and nothing would ever interfere with what God wanted her to do.

There’s a verse in Psalms that expresses the depth of her love for her Lord. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.” (Psalms 42:1) Over the years, she has learned all too well that God’s love is a lasting love, a love she can count on. She knows God never takes His love away or disappoints, nor does His love die or have conditions. So, she has spent her entire life longing and endeavoring to know God better and cherishing His eternal love for her.

It was the first time she found herself without a husband that the Bible assured her, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name. … ” (Isaiah 54:5) I think she believed these words and never again thought she needed a man to be her husband. Whether or not God thought she needed a companion throughout her life or thought the men in her life needed her, I’m not sure. That God meets our every need, there is no doubt. Only for very brief moments in her lifetime has my mother been without a husband.

She’s always been able to appreciate the goodness in everyone and, by the way, she’s convinced that there truly is good in every person. My mother would tell you that God created us good, that the first chapter in Genesis confirms this. In fact, the chapter concludes, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) My mother has yet to not find goodness in someone. Perhaps the men in her life were attracted to her recognition and appreciation of their goodness.

After a few years of looking for love in wrong places and faces, I decided to try “appreciating goodness” myself and see if this point of view could bring more good into my own experience — and love life. This was the year before I met the man who would become my husband of soon-to-be 26 years. A previous long relationship was so disappointing that I didn’t want to experience that type of heartbreak again. So, the year I met my husband, I decided to focus on completing my college degree and appreciating goodness everywhere and in everyone, including all the men I was meeting, being friends with and dating.

This viewpoint not only changed how I saw others, it changed my view of myself and consequently my actions toward others, too. You might say I started living by my Southern belle upbringing, which really is another way of saying living by the “golden rule” — treating others as well as you would have them treat you.

Who would have thought I would meet my husband in line at an amusement park ride? Each summer I took my niece to Six Flags over Texas to celebrate her birthday. My date had to work at the last minute and couldn’t go with us, so my niece and I set off for the park without him. As it turns out, my soon-to-be husband’s date couldn’t go to the park with him that day. We met in line and began a conversation. The rest is history. The old adage “Love comes when you least expect it” was true for us. But I believe with all my heart that meeting my darling husband was God’s plan for us both.

So you’re looking for love? My mother’s life-example teaches we can trust our loving Father to meet and provide for our every need. Being the loving children of God that we are means we spread good will, consideration and graciousness to all we meet. Before you and I know it, we will be like my steel magnolia mother with her captivating charm and impeccable manners. We’ll experience love because we’re giving it and living it — extravagantly.