The odd thing is that I have several godly, Christian friends like me who are also “unattached” and just desiring to serve the Lord only to be met with this kind of thinking in the church.
Now don’t get me wrong, this blogpost is definitely NOT a cry for someone to help me find a husband, nor is it an attempt to downplay marriage. It is my heart’s desire to encourage a young (or not so young) single woman in this position in life with the truths of what God wants for us as singles.
At the same time, I want to encourage those of you who are married to embrace the single adults in your church and encourage them to find a place to serve NOW. Marriage is not a prerequisite for serving the Lord. In fact, there are scores of single people throughout Christian history whom the Lord chose to use in a mighty way! I think it is time that the church rejects the cultural “norms” of where we are supposed to be in each stage of life, and instead embrace the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2) for every individual.
Allow me first to speak to you, single ladies!
Let me say right up front that being single is not a bad thing. It does not make you less of a person or some kind of second-rate citizen on any front! You and I both know people who are married and have loads of problems and burdens that you and I don’t face. Marriage is not the answer to your problems either. Getting married won’t make you happier, less lonely, and more content in life if you haven’t found joy, companionship, and contentment in Christ first!
So, how do you answer those questions and comments made about your marital status or lack thereof? Those can be some awkward conversations, especially if you wear your feelings on your sleeve. When I am asked these kinds of questions, I usually have to fight back my instinct to brush it off in humor or to be defensive or irritated. What I have found is that the best way to answer is, to be honest, factual, and biblical in my responses.
Some people have never considered that God has a plan for you and me RIGHT NOW at whatever age we are—a plan that today doesn’t include a husband and children. God doesn’t need to wait for us to get married in order to use us in His perfect plan for our lives. If you have not come to that foundational realization yet personally, let me encourage you to spend time in God’s Word seeking His face about His will for you. Unfortunately, there are no flashing signs about when and where and how your life will play out, but there are some promises and truths you can hold on to. Meditate on passages like Romans 12:1-2, Isaiah 26:3-4; Psalm 37:3-7; and Psalm 84:11 just to name a few. Let God minister to your heart as only He can do. He has a plan for you if you will only seek Him and submit to His will for you TODAY!
How do we handle the comments of people who believe that being single is just a “holding pattern” for our lives? Their questions indicate that we are in some kind of long queue that has at the end of it a “happily ever after” story.
It would be nice if that were true, but those are fairy tales…not real life! Honestly, this is a hard topic to tackle. For some, the period of waiting for marriage is just that, a time to wait. But for others “the waiting” may be the calling God has for you or for me. The Bible has a lot to say about waiting on the Lord, but the Lord never speaks of waiting as being a bad thing. There are always lessons to be learned in the waiting—one of which might be that you need to submit to God’s perfect plan even if that means you never get married. In those conversations, I have often reminded people that every day of life we are all waiting for something.
The list could go on. We must trust the Lord especially in times of waiting and believe that the Lord has our best interests at heart. If we sit in today’s stage of life pining away for tomorrow’s stage, we will miss the blessing and opportunities of service that lie before us TODAY while we wait!
As singles, we must seek to serve the Lord today while we have the opportunity to do so. If we as singles find our “completeness” in Christ (Colossians 2:10), we have the opportunity to show through our lives that Jesus is sufficient to satisfy all our needs! Did you grasp the truth of that verse? God wants us to find complete joy and happiness without a husband or anything else that would take HIS place. That will be the calling for some of us because being complete in Christ is the way our lives will best glorify God.
However, singleness should not be a burden we bear, nor should it be a badge of doing something incredibly difficult to handle life all our own. Singleness handled God’s way, is a blessing, a gift, and a privilege. Knowing that Christ is sufficient for my EVERY need in my singleness is a wonderful blessing and a door of opportunity to share the all-sufficiency of my God with others. That mentality and attitude takes the focus off you and me and puts it on our all-sufficient Savior!
I’m sure there is more that could be said here, but may I encourage you to first read and meditate on God’s Word in order to grasp these necessary truths for yourself, and then to read a book that has been a great help to me in my blessing of singleness--Fine China Is for Single Women Too by Lydia Brownback. May the radiance of your gift of singleness shine the light of Christ to someone today!
Now, I would like to address those of you readers who are married.
I hope you have stuck with me thus far! Seeing that Paul places these gifts on an equal plain, may I suggest a few ways that you can help embrace and even encourage the singles in your church who are struggling to find a place to serve?
First, don’t make a person’s marital status the prerequisite for serving. I don’t think people would ever say it that way out loud, but sometimes that is how it is portrayed. Encourage the single folks in your church to be a part in every way they can. One Bible study leader I had encouraged us single gals to work together to provide a meal for someone in the church who needed it. Single ladies can cook too, but we are not often asked to help with these types of ministries. Maybe you could find a single lady to accompany you to visit an elderly person in your church. There are really all kinds of ways in which you can get singles involved in your church. There is a place for them to serve!
Second, remember that everyone is in a stage of waiting for something. Try not to make it seem as though the single folks are some kind of oddity because they are not married. At the same time, don’t be afraid to converse with singles about where they are in life. Many of us are very content and happy where God has placed us. Find creative ways to include them in the adult church activities.
Third, don’t offer to play matchmaker for them every time a nice-looking gentleman happens to come to church. There is enough of that pressure from the world to fit the “norm” of what they think we should be. The church should be a safe space away from that. We are at church to worship and serve, not to find a life’s mate! That is the Lord’s job to bring people together for marriage. Let Him lead in these areas. His plan is always better than ours!
Fourth, realize that you are allowed to be friends with single folks. Friendships in the church should not be relegated to our age level or marital status. Some of my best friends are nowhere near my “stage” in life, but they have been honest and open with the struggles they face as I have been with my own struggles. This is what single people need in a friendship. We all know real life is not as it seems with everything being rosy and perfectly posed through an Instagram filter. Married, single, divorced, widowed—we all need friends that will speak truth to us and will sharpen us in our walk with the Lord.
Finally, remember that just because the singles in your church aren’t married or don’t have children doesn’t mean they don’t have any life experience or spiritual insights to offer. Imagine what our New Testament would be without the insights of the single men that the Holy Spirit chose to use as human authors. Think about the ministries of your church—what would happen if the single folks stopped serving? The body of Christ is made up of all different parts. ALL are important and ALL are necessary for the unity of the body regardless of their marital status. Seek to edify those single adults in your church who are faithfully serving the Lord and see what you can do to encourage others to join in!
“So, do you even want to get married?”
My answer—If the Lord directs me that the best way for me to serve and glorify Him with my life is to be married then yes, absolutely, I do. But for today, serving as a single missionary in a foreign country thousands of miles from any of my blood relatives, I can truly say that I love being single.
I know that being single for now allows me to serve the Lord and others in ways I could not do if I were married. Don’t get me wrong—I would love for there to be someone to kill the spiders in my house, hang the ceiling fan in my office, or check the fluids in my car and air in my tires. But I've found the Lord ALWAYS provides either the strength I need to complete those tasks, or He sends someone along to minister to me showing me yet again how much He loves me and that He is ALL I need.
May you be encouraged today in whatever “stage” of life you find yourself in to rejoice in that place knowing that you are best equipped to serve Him TODAY right where you are! Paul called this something he learned in Philippians 4:11b – “…I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
How are you doing on learning contentment in your place in life today?
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