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September 23, 2021

Transparency In The Single Life


To share some honesty,

I struggle with presenting the subject of singleness without having a little bitterness and frustration slip through. Truthfully, I am sad and disappointed that I am still single long after the time I had hoped to be married. But similar to the truth of Shrek, I have layers, and even in the disappointment, there is joy. Over the next two months I will be attending graduate school, coach for Girls on the Run, train for a half marathon, visit friends in a few different states, serve at church and decide the level I want my social life to be. And if I was in a relationship, I would have to sacrifice a few of those activities; activities that I love and find joy and purpose in.

In my opinion, this is the life:balance reality that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7. Although I would be happy to be concerned about the affairs of my significant other the way I am about my friends and family, right now, I can focus on what the Lord has placed before me and the opportunities He provides me to love Him with my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I need you to understand that being single is not a punishment from God.

Repeat that sentence to yourself until it is true. Being single is not a punishment! It also doesn’t mean you’re failing in life. There seems to be this silent, unspoken feeling that if you’re single, you’re dropping the ball, or God needs you to make a few growth goals. Also, quick reminder, a spouse isn’t the prize. Don’t believe the lie that we haven’t met our spouse because there is something God wants us to get right and/or learn still. First, not to be a bummer, but we will never be at the ultimate person God created us to be. (Thanks sin!) Second, and I am acknowledging I myself am guilty of forgetting this from time to time. It's so important to remind ourselves that finding a spouse has never been the goal anyway. Finding God is. While this may seem obvious, how often can we say with complete honesty that that is the truth in our hearts?

No matter where I am at in life, I press on, single or married, “to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 3:16) With certainty I know that where I am at spiritually is because I have been blessed with extra years to focus on me. When God speaks to me, challenges me, corrects me, and comforts me, I know what His voice sounds like. Not only have I grown deep in my relationship with God, but I've also committed to tithing and generosity.

This past year I found myself constantly praising the Lord for everything in my life. Many sermons include the reminder to turn to God, not just in the difficult moments but in the blessing as well. As I listened to those sermons, I was reminded of those impromptu moments where I was praising the Lord for each blessing. In writing this blog, I have been forced to look back over my journey with the Lord, and I've realized how much work He has done through me and in me. In my low moments I bemoan being single, but in all reality, where I am at now in my walk with the Lord, as well as in relationships with family and friends, is better than I ever imagined.

There must be shift in how we see ourselves in our singleness and see others in their singleness.

And while singleness is not a curse, it also doesn't disqualify us from being called by God. The greatest comfort I have is looking at who the Lord calls; there is no "one-size-fits-all." God has called the life-long bachelors, the parents of countless kids, the widows, the married, the single, the youth, those without children; there is nothing that qualifies a person and there is nothing that disqualifies a person. Being single doesn’t disqualify me or anyone from doing world changing things for God, and being married with children doesn’t limit what you will be called to do either. So live with boldness, step out of the boat, take chances, embrace opportunity and be open to everything the Lord calls you to do. It’s not 1) get married, and then 2) move forward in God’s call. It’s move forward and be expectant for all the amazing opportunities God will provide.

On top of all of this, I have built strong, emotionally supportive friendships that I know will be with me for life. During my spiritual, emotional, mental and physical struggles that the Lord has asked me to walk through, He has also provided me with an incredible support system. There seems to be a tendency to depend on a significant other to help you get through all the struggles in life, but let’s be honest, that’s a bit unfair. No one person (besides Jesus) can be everything we need at all times. No matter what the future holds, I have learned in this season to have healthy boundaries and expectations in all future relationships, thanks to the friends God has brought into my life. A spouse/significant other is not meant to be the end all, be all. Even David had his mighty men-BFFs and I am confident he relied on them for support in areas his wife/wives couldn’t help him through. I have an amazing group of mighty friends that have walked into the flames with me, that I know will continue to.

So, here are my suggestions.

Go see a movie at the theater by yourself. Go to a restaurant and have a meal by yourself. Go on a trip by yourself. Spending 6 to 12 hours traveling somewhere alone is surprisingly peaceful. Yeah, it sounds intimidating, but very quickly you’ll realize how enjoyable it all is.

Other benefits of being the sole decision maker is donating to organizations that I support without discussion. There is also the freedom to volunteer to causes I am passionate about. As an avid runner, I have the time and freedom to volunteer with Girls on the Run, an organization that works to help build confidence and strength through running with girls in 3rd through 8th grade. What causes are you passionate about that you can spend time volunteering with instead of going on bad dates? Also, you meet like-minded people that are passionate about the same things as you. Bonus!

Within the Bible there are a lot of single people that we can look to as our example, but I keep finding myself returning to Martha and her interactions with Jesus.

I don’t know if she was married or not, but the honesty, vulnerability, and transparency she has with Jesus in the two interactions we can read about fascinates me. The first time we meet her in the Bible, she is frustrated that Mary isn’t helping her. How many times in the Bible can you remember someone speak so bluntly to Jesus? And for that matter, how many of those people receive a graceful, patient, loving correction from Jesus that doesn’t have a rebuke? It’s the second time we read about Martha where she really holds nothing back. She is sad, mourning, hurt, distraught, and she approaches Jesus and says with such strong belief, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 I know even now God will give You whatever You ask.” (John 11:21-22) And from the loss and heartbreak I have experienced in my life, I feel the brokenness Martha is expressing. More telling is that Jesus’ response is, again, not a rebuke. And from this, I see how we can approach Jesus in the difficult moments in life. Yes, there is so much to joy and opportunity for those of us that are still waiting for the Lord to bring someone in our lives. Similar to every stage of life, there are difficult, painful, and lonely days, and it’s okay to be blunt with God on those days.

At the end of the day, being single is the exact opposite of a punishment from God; it’s a blessing. In the book "Single, Dating, Engaged, Married," by Ben Stuart, he puts it like this: "God has given you singleness to secure an undistracted devotion to the Lord." And in the timeline of my life, those negative feelings occur far less than the “loving exactly what life is” moments. There are countless stories that I can share of caring and connecting with God’s people, or serving through different volunteer opportunities within and outside of the church, not to mention the random adventures and experiences God has blessed me with during my three plus decades of being single. A lot of it is having a spirit of Isaiah, that when opportunity presents itself, respond with, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8b) Don’t be afraid to go it alone and see who the Lord puts in your path.

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