While in college, Lisa had her life’s path figured out--graduate, bag a job, tie the knot, and have kids. Two kids.
Then, six years after her graduation, she held an enviable job in a Fortune 500 company, drove a posh car, and lived in a dreamy house. All her ducks were in a neat row, except that she hadn't met a suitor. Although an envy among her peers, Lisa loathed her life as a single lady. She spent every waking moment wallowing in self-pity and wondering why God seemed to have forgotten her.
Here's the thing: both society and the church depict marriage as a critical rite of passage. Our children grow up with the notion that marriage and starting a family is the ultimate blessing in life, a fundamental path to fulfillment. When one is deemed to have passed the “marriageable age,” family and friends start prodding. “Are you perhaps being too choosy?” “Haven't you met anyone decent yet?” There seems to be no room for singles to thrive. Consequently, many single people feel trapped, hoping for a suitor to come to their rescue. The overarching desire to get married and “crossover to the other side” can easily morph into an unhealthy obsession that zaps out their zest for life.
Which begs the question, Does God have a purpose for singles? Can singles still get a kick out of life? Here are four important reminders to help singles thrive.
Although society frowns upon singlehood, God, the author of life, holds an entirely different view. He designed singlehood as a gift. A beautiful gift to bring delight. A gift is meant to be opened and enjoyed rather than ignored or diminished.
“ I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” (1 Corinthians 7:7).
Paul was having a ball in his singlehood that he wished that everyone was like him. He relished the opportunity to serve God with undivided attention. He then swiftly acknowledged that each of us has our own gift from God.
This means that just as marriage is a gift, singlehood is also a full-fledged gift from God. And talking of gifts, we know that God only gives good gifts. His blessings enrich us, and he adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). Besides, you can rest assured that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17). We can accept and embrace God’s good gifts enthusiastically with open hands, seizing the life given to us!
Jesus detailed the futility of worrying about our lives, noting that none of us can add even a single hour to our span of life (Mathew 6:27). Admittedly, it's not easy to give up worry and embrace trust in God. However, worrying does nothing to help the situation. Zilch. In fact, it only grieves God. But you know what can help? Praying and trusting God to fulfill His purposes for us. Besides, let's face it, life is laced with a myriad of challenges. While one person is trusting God for a spouse, another is trusting God for healing, and yet another for a child.
Paul had learned the secret of maneuvering whichever turmoil he found himself falling into: contentment. He knew what it was to be brought low and to abound. He faced both plenty and hunger. But yet, he had learned to be content in whichever situation he was in. As a single person, aim to ditch worry and embrace trust in God through contentment. Remember that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
Paul could clearly not help himself, going on and on about the perks of being single. He was consumed by the zeal to serve God and viewed his singlehood as an added advantage.
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7: 32-33).
Have you heard married folk reminisce over the “good old days?” Days when they engaged in adventure and took risks or times they could immerse themselves in church activities and service to God? No doubt marriage is a huge blessing but it comes with oodles of responsibilities, especially when couples have kids. Paul could not have traveled so far in his missionary journeys or had the time for writing the many letters that form our scriptures if he were caring for the needs of a family. His freedom allowed him opportunities to serve that others did not have.
Singlehood is therefore a good time to go full throttle in our service to God. But don't get me wrong, this does not mean that married couples are exempt from serving God. Far from it! The scriptures urge us not to be slothful in zeal but to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11). Singles, however, have fewer hurdles to leap over in their quest to serve. They can have greater freedom to take a mission trip or engage in a service opportunity. Celebrate the freedom you have and the doors of service God is opening for you.
As a married woman, one of the things that give me sheer pleasure is connecting up with my girlfriends. I relish connecting up with my girls for coffee or lunch, chatting, and letting out belly laughs with reckless abandon. In such moments, I subconsciously put aside my mommy and wife roles and simply revel in the moment with beloved peers. The happy-go-lucky girl in me comes out to play and it's pure bliss if I have to say so myself.
Being single should not sign anyone up for loneliness. You can still forge beautiful and meaningful friendships with others and establish a connected community of support. Our faith communities are places where we can build deep and meaningful relationships to support us through life’s ups and downs. Friendship is a precious gift that should be carefully nurtured. The scriptures urge us to encourage and build up each other and the perfect place to do that is in friendship. According to Mayo Clinic, friendships offer remarkable benefits.
God has blessings in store for each of our lives and he has a wonderful plan for singles, just as he has for those who are married. Besides Paul, the bible records many other single people who served God heartily. The likes of Jeremiah, Mary, and Martha of Bethany, John the Baptist, Dorcas, and Anna. Jesus Himself was single. This goes to show that singlehood is not a second-rate life. Singleness is a blessing that should be savored. Jesus came that we might have an abundant life (John 10:10). God wants you to get a kick out of your life and delight in the blessings that have been chosen for you.
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Deb Koster