The word that has one definition but carries many different meanings depending on the experience of each person. Shame, happiness, relief, pride, pain…. No matter what your experience is, for those living it, it touches a deep place inside our hearts.
To be perfectly frank, when I started this blog this is the one topic I said I would never write about (God has a good sense of humor). I don’t know why I’ve always rejected the idea of writing about it. Perhaps because it means writing from the vulnerable position I’m currently in, or I’m just a little weary of all of the attention focused on “finding the one” or “dealing with singleness” rather than embracing this season of life as a gift from God, not a trial or an epidemic that needs to be cured.
Your season of singleness is a gracious gift from God, not a punishment.
The apostle Paul really believed in the value of singleness as we can see in his letter to the Corinthian Church.
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 7:33-34
While Paul was encouraging singleness, the main message of this verse is devotion. Undivided devotion. In our singleness we are empowered with more time and less distraction to devote ourselves solely to the Lord, probably more than any other time of our life. It doesn’t mean when we do eventually marry that our devotion to the Lord stops, but we have an opportunity in our singleness to press in deep and develop a lifestyle of fellowship with God on a whole new level of intimacy. It’s like when you are with someone you are romantically interested in, all you want is to be alone with that person and get to know them better. It’s amazing how when all of your attention and affection is on one person; intimacy, trust and a feeling of closeness develops quickly. God desires that same intention and devotion from us.
I believe if we poured out the same effort in our relationship with the Lord as we do in a physical relationships, we would feel much more satisfied as a result because we are doing what we’re truly made to do.
This time of our lives is a beautiful and intimate gift, and should be treasured and held sacred in our hearts.
Single doesn’t mean empty or alone.
Elizabeth Elliot in her work The Paths of Loneliness wrote:
One of the surprises in store for most brides and grooms is that they are still lonely…. Marriage teaches us that even the most intimate human companionship cannot satisfy the deepest places of the heart. Our hearts are lonely till they rest in Him who made us for Himself.
Instead of focusing on what we feel we don’t have, we need to start setting our minds on what we do have in Christ. If we are truly in the market for love, we will find it in Him. The reality is a relationship will not fill the loneliness in our hearts, those places are far too large to be satisfied by anything the world could offer us. They were designed to be touched by Him and Him alone. You were made to be loved right here and right now. He alone can satisfy the longing of your dear heart.
There is no shame in being single.
I’ll be honest, I never have felt ashamed of my relationship status before the Lord. However before those around me, absolutely. Those comments of “I can’t believe you’re still single” or “maybe your just supposed to marry later” and any other attempts to console me used to really shake me up and question my confidence in the Lord. I went into those conversations feeling fine, but left feeling like something was wrong with me. I started to get really defensive about my singleness and wanted to prove I was indeed fine- just as I was. Though the intentions of those who spoke those words into me were pure, I allowed those conversations to plant seeds of insecurity and doubt. Then one day that all changed at a conference in Orange County, I was getting ready to defend myself after revealing to another married woman that I was indeed single. But her face immediately lit up and before I could say a word she said “Wow! What a remarkable and beautiful time in your life to freely pursue the calling God has entrusted to you.” That moment changed my perspective and helped me work through the shame that had been deposited through those lies. It was never an issue of me not being beautiful, talented or good enough, but everything to do with the purposes God had for my life in that moment- and it’s the very same for you.
If you’re single, I just want to encourage you with those same words…
What a remarkable and beautiful time in your life to freely pursue the unique and amazing calling God has entrusted to you alone! What a gift this season of singleness is that God has blessed you with to get to know His heart so well and become a beacon of light and love to those around you. What a privilege it is that you are empowered with this time to devote yourself solely to the Lord! You are loved and chosen by Him and were created for such a time as this. Enjoy this time, treasure it close in your heart. It won’t be forever, treat it as the gift that it is. God has good things in store for you because that’s just His nature.
You are ever so loved!