As I sat among the circle of young women, I was struck by the talent, spiritual maturity, and servant-mindedness that marked their lives. And although they had different gifts, one thing they all had in common was that they were single.
As I have talked and prayed with many beautiful single women, I’ve come to admire them tremendously. For while most have a desire to marry, they are trusting and waiting on God, while wholeheartedly serving Him with the time and freedom their singleness allows.
I clearly remember my own single years. I really wanted to be married and my mother really wanted to plan a wedding. No pressure there. In an effort to meet someone I even joined a ski club, in spite of the fact that I had little (okay, no) interest in skiing. Surrounded by friends who were planning weddings and having babies, I struggled with self-pity and discontentment. Looking back, I now realize that an elementary understanding of the gospel kept me from seeing how I could uniquely glorify Christ as a single woman.
But God was beginning a new work in my heart. Over time, the Spirit began to convict me that getting married had become an all consuming desire and was a sin against the One who loved me, died for me, and had a good plan for my life. After a time of wrestling, I surrendered my will and prayed for grace to accept God’s will instead.
In the mystery of divine wisdom, less than a year later I met the man I would marry on a blind date. While I know many women who have surrendered their desire to marry and are still single, I’m more convinced than ever that God is good and withholds no good gift from those who love Him (Psalm 84:11). We just can’t always see His plan as good in the moment.
As I have immersed myself in gospel truths, I’ve learned that God lovingly chooses marriage for some and singleness for others. In His eyes, both are good because each offers a distinct way to point others to Him. Both contain blessings and both provide ample opportunities for sanctification!
In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul points out that singles are able to be undivided in their love and service to Christ, whereas the cares and concerns that marriage brings can make that more challenging. In his excellent book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller reminds us that our marital status is not the main thing we should be concerned about. Rather, we should consider how we can magnify the gospel through our marriage or singleness.
The gospel actually takes the pressure off of God’s people to get married in one sense. The church is where God’s family members gather to be discipled, enjoy fellowship, care, encouragement, and spiritual refreshment. As believers, we must recognize our responsibility to the body of Christ to nurture others, especially those who are alone or more vulnerable.
Whether we are married or single we can trust that, in His goodness, God will give us the very thing we would have asked for if we could see as He sees with an eternal perspective. Our response must be to accept with joy what He has assigned, even if that assignment is only for a season. Life can change quickly and a married woman might be a widow tomorrow, while a single woman could meet a godly man next week.
“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him; and to which God has called him” 1 Corinthians 7:17.
Marriage for the Glory of God
Marriage provides daily opportunities to die to selfishness as we humbly choose to submit to an imperfect man who may or may not lead in the way we would like to be led. While marriage provides wonderful blessings; within the first year or less, two sinners who said I do with stars in their eyes, now begin to expose weaknesses and habits that may have not been noticed before. The reality is that God designed marriage to make us holy, not simply to make us happy. But of course that message doesn’t sell in Hollywood.
Married women must guard against the danger of putting all their hopes and expectations in their husbands rather than Jesus Christ. I’ve seen many marriages struggle when the unrealistic expectations wives have brought into marriage leave husbands feeling inadequate and unable to please no matter what they do. The same woman who promised to submit to her husband often resorts to manipulation and taking control when the man she chose doesn’t do things the way she thinks he should. Christ alone can and meet all of our needs when we look to Him.
God designed marriage to give the world a picture of the relationship between Christ and His redeemed people. What a high calling this is! To bring glory to God through marriage is a privilege, yet it requires humility, mercy, grace, selflessness, and utter dependence upon God to love another person in this way. It means laying down our self-sufficient, independent, self-focused ways. And that’s a war that we wage every day.
Single for the Glory of God
Singleness, on the other hand, offers the opportunity to accept with joy a deferred hope, as we trust God with His plan for our lives. It’s a call to find our deepest delight in our relationship with Christ, our true Husband and Lord. In saying yes to God (and no to the temptation to compromise our faith simply to get married) we give the world another equally stunning view of the gospel.
John Piper says,
- “Singleness is a reminder that marriage is temporary and finally gives way to the relationship it was pointing to all along; Christ and the church-the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face-to-face.
- Singleness makes it clearer to the world that the family of God grows not biologically, but by regeneration through faith in Christ.
- Singles remind us that faithfulness to Christ defines the value of life; all other relationships get their final significance from this. No family relationship is ultimate; our relationship to Christ is.”
While all of this is true and glorious, sometimes my single friends have been made to feel that they aren’t really part of the church family until they get married. While most would never intentionally exclude others, we must guard against giving that impression by doing battle against busyness, selfishness, or making wrong assumptions. We all need each other! Here are a few myths that my single friends have helped me dispel, and truths that can help us love each other well.
Myth #1: Singles are not interested/too busy to spend time with married people and their families.
The truth is that most singles I know yearn to be invited into the homes of those who are striving to live for God’s glory, even in the midst of crying children, teens coming and going, or a dinner that’s flopped. Many singles find it helpful to see examples of godly marriages, (with all our imperfections) since many did not grow up in Christian homes. These single friends will bless you and your family as you get to know them over a simple supper or ice cream. And you will be a blessing to them as well.
Action Point: Invite a single (or two or three) to your home this month. Let them know that your home is always open to them; invite them to call you should they need help or encouragement; extend yourself in friendship.
Myth #2: Singles only want one thing-to get married.
The truth is that most singles I know are living full and vibrant lives, joyfully serving God’s kingdom purposes. While they believe that marriage is a good gift from God, and many do desire it for themselves one day; they are using the time, energy, and gifts that God gave them to build up and bless the local church.
Action Point: Find out what your single friend enjoys doing and invite him/her to teach you or join you in that activity. The possibilities are endless; hiking, biking, watching a high school football game together, going to a concert, or just staying home to play games. Share your own struggles with them, encourage and pray for one another. Let them know you are thankful for their friendship. (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Myth #3: Singles don’t want to be introduced to another single you know and respect.
The truth is that, while some singles might shy away from blind dates, that shouldn’t prevent us from inviting a single friend to meet our single nephew or friend who loves the Lord. If she/he is uncomfortable they will politely decline, but if someone hadn’t taken a chance on me, I would have never met the man I married!
Action Point: Are there two single people that you think might really hit it off? Pray, invite, and make it happen! If it doesn’t work, no harm done, but at least you made the effort.
Myth #4: Singles wouldn’t want to join your LIFE group (small group).
The truth is that many singles I know enjoy surrounding themselves with a diverse group of people both married and single. Too often, we assume singles just want to hang out with singles, but that is often not the case.
Action Point: Ask a single person who is not involved in a LIFE group to join yours. If your group doesn’t work for them, help them find another place to connect. You can also invite her to attend an event with you. Single women have told me that the place they often feel the most single is in the church, the very place they should feel most cared for.
God created all women to bring glory to Him, whether married or single. Each offer their own unique opportunities and challenges but when we receive with joy the assignment we’ve been given, we will point others to the gospel. And what greater calling is there than that?
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,
picture credit: http://www.abundantlyyou.org/page/7/