I can still remember a conversation I had when I was 19. I was interning at a church in Ireland and walking to work with another one of the interns. As we talked we spoke about the plans that we had for our life. The desires we had and the way that we though things would turn out. And one of the things I was certain of at 19 was that by at least 25 I would be happily married.
But that hasn’t been the case. Next week I turn 28, and the only girl I talk to every day is my dog.
This has lead to a lot of people in the church asking a question that I have for a long time hated, “Do you have the gift of singleness?” Honestly, most of the time I hear that question I can hear Jack Black in the film Nacho Libre talking about his life as a priest. “I get to lay in a bed alone, all of my life…it’s fantastic.”
If you are not familiar with the film, this is a very sarcastic comment.
And honestly, it can often feel that way. And I honestly know very few single people inside the church who are mid-20’s plus who wouldn’t say the same thing sarcastically. Singleness is hard, and it’s often made harder when the church puts marriage on a pedestal as the next step for people who are really pursuing Jesus and living their life the ‘right way’. It’s hard when people desire to one have a family and see things revolve around families. It’s hard when you desire to one day be married and be asked why you aren’t.
For me these things often plagued me with a lot of questions and doubts. “Am I just not good enough?” “Am I not lovable?” “Is there something wrong with me?”
Because let’s be honest, the ‘gift of singleness’ feels a lot like getting socks on Christmas morning. And to make it worse, when it’s something that’s prayed about more and more with no answer but ‘wait’, or maybe ‘no’, it makes it all the harder.
But through these past two years, or really through these last few months soothing has begun to change in my heart. I have no less of a desire to one day be married, to one day be a father and have a family, but the Holy Spirit has been doing something. Something that I never asked Him to do, because it was something that I didn’t know I needed.
I had gotten so close to being married, that I had felt like it was what I needed most. I couldn’t feel as loved in my singleness as I was in a relationship. I felt like I was just alone, and thus lonely because I didn’t have someone with me.
But over the past few months I have been taught that in this season Christ has been teaching me that what I really need is Him. The Bible is clear that marriage is a good gift, and I’m sure if I ever get there I’ll learn a lot through it. But it’s not an ultimate thing. I have been that what I need most isn’t another person. But Christ. For only Christ can make me whole, and if I try to put someone in the place of God I’ll eventually crush us both under the weight that only God can bear.
So for those of you who are single and desire to one day not be, don’t give up on praying about it. But don’t let it be all you pray about, and don’t let it be the thing you pray about most. Take it to Jesus, and trust Him with it. And take it to Him each time the desire come, or the loneliness sets in. But allow this season to be one that teaches you to continually be in prayer. As you go about your day, pray. Little prayers through the day that keep your heart focused on Christ.
Use this season to give to the church. Though most single adults don’t have as much time as people think we do, we have an ability to not need to be at home by 5 each night. So use this time to give to the church. And use it to deepen your relationship with Christ. Don’t wait until you’re in a relationship to begin the spiritual disciplines that you want to one day have.
And most of all, use the feelings of loneliness that come with being a single adult to drive you into community. Through this season I have been able to see the true value of the brothers that have become mine when I was adopted into the family of God. Pursue those relationships; pursue them with honesty and transparency. Be known in this season. For though you may be single, if you are part of the church, God has given you a family so that you may not be alone.
It’s still hard. But don’t waste it. For some reason, God has seen that being single in this season will bring us the most joy and bring Him the most glory. No matter how often I think that the opposite could be true.
Yesterday I was talking to someone, “Do you think you have the gift of singleness?”
“I hope I won’t have it forever. But I have it today. And I’ll probably have it tomorrow too.”