It seems the older we get, the more frequently we get asked this question by friends and family alike, “– so is there anyone special in your life?”
Now, we all know where this question is headed. For some of us, this question gives us butterflies and we bubble over with anticipation of a soon-to-be relationship, or happily share all the wonderful things our steady relationship consists of. But for some of us, we are used to shrugging off this question, and are reminded that yes – we are still single. It’s basically a conversation killer. Nobody wants to talk about the single status – unless it’s about to be changed.
Most people will experience the reality of singleness at one time or another in their lives. For some people, this season is longer than others. In some cases, it may be lifelong. I am not going to write about whether God has marriage in mind specifically for your life or not. What I want to speak about is what you are doing with your singleness…are you making it count?
What About the Fairy-tale?
Many people dream about getting married from a young age. This is magnified by media, which portrays happy people as those who are dating, and that fulfilment and significance are only found when someone else finds that in you. From Disney fairy-tales, to Jane Austen, to the latest Netflix show, everybody is telling us that life only begins when we find that “special someone”.
Love is a beautiful thing, but two things are missing in this photoshopped picture.
Nobody highlights the fact that relationships are hard work. Speak to any married person and they will tell you that their marriage does not consist mostly of candlelit dinners and picnics, and that building a good relationship isn’t always easy. Or take a look at the high divorce rates, before you think that married people have it all together.
Nobody reminds us that singleness is incredible valuable; nobody speaks about the great opportunity singleness is. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7:32, Paul says:
“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.” And in verses 34-35, “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”
Paul speaks about the freedom that single people have to serve Christ. And that is a double blessing, because it gives incomparable purpose to a person’s life, as well as serves to develop the character necessary in the case of a future lasting marriage.
I think we need to start taking the pressure off each other to be invested in a relationship before we are invested in serving Christ. Because it’s only when we dig deep into the well of Christ’s love that we will be able to come close to loving someone unconditionally. It’s only when we are secure in His love that we will be able to love freely, instead of holding a person to unfair expectations. So many Christians look to a relationship to meet needs that are already met in Christ. The truth is that if you are discontent in your singleness, you will be discontent in a relationship too. A change of status does not change your heart.
Singleness can be taken advantage of or it can be easily wasted. If we spend all our time on ourselves, it will be wasted. If we live in discontentment due to our status and isolate ourselves, it will be wasted. If we are waiting for a partner until we start to ‘live life’, it will be wasted. But if we recognize and take the opportunities that God has given us, and are wise with how we spend our time, we won’t waste it. If we are careful about how the media influences our mindset, and instead see singleness through God’s eyes, we won’t waste it. If we seek to serve and love others, we won’t waste it. If we embrace God’s promises, we won’t waste it.
Because contentment is a fight against human nature, we need to fight with the promises of God.
He says that:
“He is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want” (Ps. 23:1).
He says that He will:
“meet all my needs according to His riches in glory” (Phil. 4:18).
He says that:
“those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Ps. 34:10).
He says that:
“He is always with me and will hold me by my right hand” (Ps. 73:23).
In the words of Charles Spurgeon:
“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God.”
Are you using your current relationship to glorify God in the greatest way possible? Are you letting singleness (or your relationship) define your life and your contentment?
The secret to all of this is found in Him who gives us strength. God calls us to the impossible, made possible through His Son. Paul says,
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. …I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:11-13).