I’m thirty-three years old, I’m single and I’m happy. In a society that I would argue doesn’t always know what to do with us single folk, I find myself having to explain, more often than one would imagine, this contentment that I possess. I tend to see myself as a leader in promoting contentment within singles, whether or not other people view me this way I’m not sure. But over the last few years I have come to wholeheartedly believe that just as marriage is a beautiful gift, so is singleness, and so one of my missions in life has become to encourage other singles to not only accept their gift but to view it as such. With this mission I also have a deep desire for married people to not look down on singles, but to view us as equals and for singles to reach out and embrace those married. In summary, my heart beats for human beings to find satisfaction right where we are and for us to embrace each other’s differences in an effort to create unity.
I thought 25 was the perfect age to get married. My mom got married at 25 and naturally I assumed I would too. I grew up like most little girls playing house with my dolls and Barbies, believing that one day my fiction would morph into reality. As a teenager, I would dream of that first love and first kiss. Romantic movies and songs only deepened my imagination and longing. To this day, I’m still moved by epic love stories. I love a good love story. I am a romantic and dreamer at heart. And the cherry on top of the cake was that I grew up with the best example of marriage any person could dream of right before my very eyes in my home. My parents who are the best of friends have been married for 34 years and that’s no small thing.
But God has had other plans for my life and while now I can sincerely say that I’m at peace with my single status (most days), that was not always the case. I can clearly remember one day in my early 20s going to a friend’s house and sitting in my car literally crying out to God asking him why had he not put someone in my life. It had been months of internal wrestling with my emotions and thoughts and that day in that car I just let God know how much my heart was aching.
I accepted Jesus into my life at age 6 or 7. I became a passionate follower of his in my teens and I was active in ministry in my university. I had been happy for most of those different life stages but somehow in my early adult years entitlement slowly began to creep into my heart. I didn’t realize my pride at first. I thought I “deserved” a boyfriend who would then become my husband. I told God that I had been “a good girl.” I had not done things with boys that I shouldn’t have. I spent time with God, I was growing and I was involved in ministry. And it seemed unfair to me that other girls who had gone too far with boys and had not always stayed on the straight and narrow path were not only having boyfriends, but were having these amazing romantic stories. I didn’t get it. And looking back I really didn’t get it. I was completely missing what grace is all about.
It’s sad when I think back to where my heart had led me. After a year or so of thinking this way, God showed me grace by revealing to me how sinful my heart had become and how much I was focusing on others and on what I thought I lacked instead of how blessed I was. My eyes were opened to the truth that God shows his favor in different ways to different people. In my life, he had demonstrated grace by protecting me from certain situations. That didn’t mean I was good. No one is good but God. In fact, had I been put in similar situations as others who I thought had made poor choices with the opposite gender, I too might have made those same mistakes. My sin of pride was just as wrong as any other sin. I don’t remember this revelation coming to me one particular night. It happened slowly. Over the years, especially in my later 20s my contentment as a single woman grew the more I noticed all the wonderful blessings that came with it.
Singleness is a cherished present to me. Now, my heart hurts when I see singles who view their status as a curse because that is false. I wish that simply by telling single men and women that they are valuable that they would believe it, but I know that it doesn’t work that easily. Contentment is a journey. Even for me, while most days I feel empowered to be single, all it can take is something small such as watching a romantic movie to trigger desires that I think are dormant. I can start to day dream about falling in love and how nice it would be to get married. That’s okay as long as I don’t stay there because if I do then satisfaction can start slipping out the window. My worth and my identity are not wrapped up in whether I’m single or married. My identity comes from the fact that I am a child of God who is enough and deeply loved.
I like to keep it real so I want to share some blessings and challenges of being a single person in this 21st century relationship obsessed world.
Some benefits to being single:
- We have more freedom. Since there is no husband or kids eyeing for our attention we can do whatever we want whenever we want. Now, if you are a Christian you know that your life belongs to God so hopefully you are going to consult him first.
- We have more time at our disposal. This availability includes more time to work, more time for ministry, more time to do chores, more time for leisure which includes traveling or even more time to read.
- We have more flexibility. We are not restricted by other people’s schedules so we can make plans however we see fit.
- We can decide how we are going to spend the money that has been entrusted to us without having to consult a spouse or budget for kids. Again, we should be going first to God with this whether we are single or married. But you understand my point here.
Some challenges to being single:
- It can get tiring to carry the load by ourselves. Sure, we have friends, family and of course God, but when you’re married you literally have someone else there with you to pick up the slack when you need it. For example, even though I love driving, once in a while I wish I could share the two-hour drive that I do to and from visiting my parents twice a month.
- It can be disheartening to live off on one income versus two. Now, I get that not every married couple has two incomes but I’m talking about the married couples who do. I’ve been in group settings where my married girlfriends will share how they use their income for groceries and savings while they live off of what their husbands make. It instantly makes me feel sad almost every time because here I am constantly counting pennies. They don’t say it in a bragging way. That’s their reality and many of them are generous people. In those moments I need to exercise gratitude to God for what he has blessed me with and not compare myself to them.
- Having people look down on us because we’re single. Single people can often feel excluded from things. Well-meaning married people can ask why we are single and want us to join online dating websites. I’m not against online dating, but I don’t want to be asked all the time if there is someone in my life. Am I not enough on my own?
- It can get lonely at times. When we’re sad it would be nice to have a shoulder to cry on or someone to make us tea at home.
Bridging the Gap
I have learned that just like married people can exclude singles from their lives so can single people choose to only stick with other single folk and that’s not right. God created humans to interact with each other despite our differences. He does not want us to form cliques, compare ourselves or have exclusive clubs. Think tower of Babel and how bad that turned out. Some of my best friends are married and I believe that the reason they invite me to their events and homes is because I enjoy spending time with them and their families. And I truly feel a rich person because of those relationships and the time that I spend with them.
Looking into the Future
I don’t know what my future holds. No one knows their future. Would I like to get married? Yes. But would I be okay if I don’t? With time the answer becomes easier. I believe I would. Because as my dear friend Elizabeth B once said to me, “I have bigger dreams than marriage.” That’s true for me too. I’m not trying to put down married people. Simply, marriage should never be the end goal for anyone. Marriage should never be that thing, which you think will complete you as a human. If it is, I’m sorry to tell you but I think you will be disappointed. And this truth comes from married couples that I know who have great marriages. Here’s some truth, people will let you down. God will not.
How about if instead we use whichever gift God has given us, whether our single or married status, to live lives that give God glory? What if we spend our energy trying to bless others and make an impact not only in this life but for eternity? What if we choose joy and gratitude and live lives that reflect those things. Oh, will we shine brightly for Jesus if we do! I want to be the very best single person I can be.
No matter what present God has given you during this time and no matter what your feelings are towards it, please believe me when I say that you are deeply loved. How will you use your gift?
If you would like to contact me please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.