“Let’s face it: singleness is not an inherently inferior state of affairs…. But I want to be married. I pray to that end every day. I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date… because God is so good to me.”—Paige Brown
You may wonder why I choose to write about singleness when I am preparing to marry my best friend in a few short months. This blog post has been stirring around in me for some time and I was not sure if it was going to blossom into anything to share with you. While there is so much more to be said on singleness, a few of my thought seeds have taken shape. My goal is that these thoughts are a fragrant encouragement to you. In a culture of confusion on the meaning of singleness and marriage, may you have courage to fight the good fight of cherishing Jesus above all else!
As Jon and I have been preparing for marriage, we started reading together a number of books. There is one that I wish I had read while I was single. The quote at the beginning of this post was taken from Tim and Kathy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage. Tim Keller says, “We should be neither overly elated by getting married nor overly disappointed by not being so–because Christ is the only spouse that can truly fulfill us and God’s family the only family that will truly embrace and satisfy us.”
I remember vividly a time during my early college experience when I seriously wondered if God was calling me to singleness. I began to pray about it and processed the possibility in many journal pages. God revealed some interesting things about my understanding of Biblical singleness. A subconscious part of me had bought this idea that the truly devout person was granted the gift of ‘holy singleness.’ In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul talks about the gift of singleness. If you look closely, he also talks about the gift of marriage. Giving up marriage for a life of single pursuit of God is not more holy than choosing to be married. And the gift of singleness does not shield me from desire to be married. “…But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” 1 Corinthians 7:7
There were some other strange ideas I had also believed. Perhaps you have heard and believed these as well?
“When you stop looking (for that marriage partner), that is when God will bring him/her to you.”
“Before you marry someone wonderful, you must become someone wonderful.”
And one I heard often,
“You’re too picky!”
At one point, I was trying so hard not to worship marriage that I began to fear it. I was afraid of saying yes to the wrong man and missing the right man. And then my emotions would swing me in the opposite direction and I would practically obsess about who I was going to marry. I would see ‘signs’ everywhere pointing to some kind of heavenly confirmation. In the midst of my confusion, God began to speak to my heart and rewrite some of the code for how I interpret singleness and marriage. I began to see my desire for marriage as a seal of God’s design. I began to believe that singleness (hand in hand with my desire for marriage) was a truly a gift from God and I did not want to waste it. Rather than count down my days until I could finally be a married woman, I began to pray that God would help me enjoy every day of singleness, even if this was for the rest of my life. I began to pray that God would help me to not waste my singleness. I would never trade the days and years I spent learning to cherish Jesus as a single woman. The value of my friendships (above all with Jesus) cultivated in the freedom of singleness is something that can’t be measured.
Is it easy for me to talk about how sweet singleness is now that I am getting married?
I haven’t forgotten some very lonely nights and countless moments of ‘wondering.’ I have had to battle lust as a single adult in an oversexed culture. I have felt the judgment of the married friend and I have been the third and even fifth wheel, repeatedly. I have helped two younger siblings marry (by God’s grace without bitterness) and I have felt the rejection of unrequited love. It is IN those very lonely nights and those inner battles with bitterness that Jesus met me with love and friendship.
Don’t be afraid of singleness. Be afraid that you might miss the treasures God has for you in it.
“Demote marriage and family in your heart, put God first, and begin to enjoy the goodness of single life.” –Timothy Keller
What is the sweetness of singleness? I believe it is the same sweetness I find as an engaged woman and hope to enjoy as a married woman. Jesus is the sweetest treasure. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7-8b