Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. (1 Corinthians 7:8)
If you’re single and in your twenties, you have certainly experienced this: Loaded statements from relatives, barely veiled queries from parents, blatant references to the lack of grandchildren and the inevitable set-ups by so-called friends.
It is no wonder that we singles struggle to maintain a sense of joy and empowerment in our singleness, when everyone around us seems to be praying against it as if it were some rare and terminal form of cancer. God does inscribe His truth in the world around us, but inappropriate metaphors can be dangerous to our spiritual well-being. Paul refers to his singleness as a gift and an opportunity to focus on pleasing the Lord.
A gift. Not a disease.
An opportunity. Not a failure.
As a goal-oriented control freak and obsessive planner, I already struggle with my singleness without outside pressure. This is one area of my life that I absolutely cannot control or plan. Not only does marriage rely on God and His perfect will and pleasure, but it also involves a whole other person with all of his/her desires, hopes and plans. Coming to a place where I daily surrender to God my desires and plans for marriage was and still is difficult, but it is vitally important if I want to live abundantly and be useful to God and His kingdom. I can trust that He has a plan to give me a hope and a future, while recognizing the unique opportunities for ministry that He has given me “now” as a single woman of God.
Not all of us are called to a life of singleness (like Paul), but our singleness, even for a season, is a gift. It is a time when we can focus on God, to learn about Him, serve Him and grow into the people of God He desires us to be. “Free from concern,” he invites us to live out our role as the bride of Christ—seeking only to please and rely on him.
We may not be able to control the people around us, or change society’s attitudes about singleness, but we can ask God to change our hearts and our attitudes. We can take hold of our singleness and take joy in it as a precious gift from our heavenly Father—one that enables us to focus and draw closer to Him. Failure to do this can lead to faithlessness in the form of self-pity and the dreaded “settling” for less than God’s intended best for our lives. We need to be prepared and willing, like Abraham’s servant, to wait for the person who will water our camels—the person whom God will send to come alongside us in serving and glorifying Him.
So for those of you “suffering” from the “disease” of singleness because you have “failed” to “achieve” marriage, invite God to change your heart and allow you to receive and walk in the gift of singleness. Than you can be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.
Dear God, thank you for the gift you have given me. I don’t want to take advantage of it.