36 and single.
Why do I feel like I have to explain that?
And why, if I mention that I’m doing anything that may change that classification (saying yes to a blind date, signing up for online dating, etc…), do I seem to receive hurried platitudes and assurances from people that “God has a plan for you” and “the right person will come along at the proper time.” And usually accompanied by a light pat on the arm of what? Sympathy?
What have I said or done that causes you to feel like I don’t believe God has a plan for me? And why does it feel that most people believe that singleness is a state that one must fix, like I’m broken or incomplete?
Yes, it’s true. I’m 36 and marriage hasn’t entered the equation yet. Most days I don’t give my singleness a second thought. I feel incredibly and richly full as a single person. God fills my cup as long as I hold it up for him to pour into.
Apparently that’s pretty counter-cultural and most people I run into either clearly or subtly speak as if that couldn’t possibly be so. I don’t blame those outside the Church for believing that lie. They certainly don’t have the hope and promises of Jesus to cling to. But come on Church, what’s your excuse? In fact, I typically feel the most pressure to find “the one” who will apparently “complete me” from you!
Oh I beg you, please read 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul clearly pleads for more people to consider remaining single. Paul was a single dude and found that he was complete in his singleness. Why? Because Jesus is enough and he exists for us in the state of singleness (never married, divorced, separated, widowed) and the state of marriage.
You whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:3b-4, NIV)
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19 (NLT)
I once had a wise mentor say to me, “God is, that suffices.” Oh what a wonderful reassurance to hold, no matter the state or condition of my life!
Let’s not turn marriage into an idol. It is a gift for this age and this age only. Marriage will not exist in the New Heaven and the New Earth. It is an experience for this age that envisions the final consummation of Christ and His bride the Church. May its presence on earth serve to point us to the Gospel story where we are reminded of a Savior who laid down everything to win back His bride.
But wait, the single person's story, reflects the Gospel message as well. In this age we are living in, between Jesus’ ascension and His future return, the Church (the Bride) is waiting for her Groom (Jesus). The Kingdom of Heaven is here in part and yet still to be fully revealed, along with the glory of the Bridegroom. My yearning for my someday husband and my fast of abstinence, should point me and others to the truth that the best is still yet to come. We should all be longing and fasting for that glorious day.
Understanding how I feel and how I move about in my singleness, is…well, complex. That’s probably true for everyone. Every single unmarried person has a unique story and approaches their unmarried status differently. I’d encourage all in the church, single or married, to read more about singleness, to have deeper conversations with their single friends and practice spurring one another to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Just don't treat them as if they need to be fixed.
If are you looking for a place to start, here are some wonderful articles about singleness that I’d encourage anyone to read:
Should I Be Content with My Singleness?
by Betsy Childs Howard
Letter to a Friend Engaged to a Nonbeliever
by Sean Nolan
Dear Church: Words from A Single Friend
by Bethany Horvath
My Dream Singleness: An Anthem for Unmarried Women
by Leanna Branner