Singleness in the Church
Thinking through these past few years of my life, one thing that has always been in my shadow is singleness. In nine short months, I became the only single person in my family.
My sister got married on July 29. My brother met his wife on September 15 and got married seven months later on April 7 (I don’t recommend that to the faint of heart).
Those short few months were a whirlwind, filled with joy, family, friends, and oh, so much love! But once all the suits were returned, the flowers died, and everyone returned to the routine of life, you’re left to examine your own relationship status.
Coming to Terms With Singleness
Coming to terms with my 23 years of singleness has been a difficult thing to settle into. I’ve always been encouraged by family, friends, and culture that dating is a good thing, but I’ve rarely been encouraged to find myself within my singleness.
When grandma always asks at family gatherings, “So, is there anyone special in your life yet?”
And year after year, I reply, “Not yet.”
I almost feel guilt raise up in my body, like I have to defend my singleness. Admitting your continual singleness can be met with apathy or pity. However, typically when you reply the opposite for this question, you are received with joy and excitement.
When was the switched turned on in our heads that we must have a spouse, two kids, and a dog by the time we’re 25?
To those who are not single, encouraging someone in their singleness is more than just a pat on the shoulder or a generic “attaboy.” Sometimes, it’s a seemingly long walk as we navigate the emotions and desires we all have. Let me add: Those desires are not a bad thing; they are designed by God.
I personally got to a point in my life where I (tried to) shut any and all intimate desires off (by intimate, I don’t just mean physical). I emotionally made myself unavailable to anyone who truly wanted to get to know me.
That’s not healthy, either. We are made for those intimate connections of being fully known and fully loved. We need those around us to walk with us in whatever stage of life we’re in, not just to cheer us on until we get to the next checkpoint.
Understanding the Benefits of Being Single
Being single as a Christian can be a beautiful thing: We are able to devote ourselves to Christ in a way that a spouse cannot (Ephesians 5:22-23). When we are bound in the covenant of a marriage relationship, we (as we should) now have another in our lives, who is still falling after Christ but taking up a significant portion of our affection.
Not having any other distractions from things of this world can give us a focus on Christ, which I have learned is so sweet and valuable. Singleness is not something you want to let run over you. It’s a season that you will probably look back on in 50 years and be thankful for the time you had alone with Christ. For the time that you had, not searching for “the one,” but being with the I Am.
Recently, I’ve been going through a season of self-discovery. God has been using this time to pull me into His grace, showing me areas of my life where I have closed off and failed to put my value in Him alone. God desires us to want Him more than any Pinterest-esque wedding you’ve had planned in your head.
So, I encourage you, don’t spend your life waiting until the big day to deem yourself complete or finally whole. Live that out in every aspect of your life right now because you are (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Combating Loneliness as a Single
Paul also refers to singleness as a gift (1 Corinthians 7:7). However, let’s not ignore the reality that being single can feel lonely, especially during the holiday season when all your friends are getting engaged, sending out couples’ Christmas cards, and spending time with their significant other.
I want you to know: God doesn’t dismiss the lonely. He will never look down on you when you’re hurting, pat you on the head, and say, “Just wait.”
He desires a more intimate relationship with you than that. He wants to walk with you through this season. He wants to carry those feelings for you. Learn to seek out God as being the first thing to satisfy you. This requires constant tending to the relationship you have with Him, putting your wants, needs, and desires in His hands before another person’s because you know He will never let you down.
Entrusting your heart to God, who has plans for you that far exceed anything we could imagine (Jeremiah 29:11), is the best way to thrive within your singleness. But we can’t walk this walk by ourselves.
Like I mentioned before, I tried that. I wanted to not have to depend on others because they can potentially hurt me, which was a sad view to have. I was so fearful of being hurt that I would rather sit in my loneliness than let myself be known.
We need others to encourage, love, and guide us. Leaning into community around you can be a vital and healthy part of singleness. God’s design for us to be in community is beautiful, and whatever season of life you are in, I pray you’re able to find God and community in the middle of it.