Do memories from the past ever randomly resurface? The other day, while I was washing the dishes, an encounter came to my mind. When I left home for college, nearly 10 years ago, the last thing that my pastor told me was “I have a man picked out for you. He’s not ready yet, but by the time you get back he will be.” I left his office in shock, unsure how to respond to such a comment.
I had to laugh at that memory because I never moved back to my hometown after college. I sure hope that man my pastor had selected hasn’t been holding onto hope for marrying me.
When I got over the humor of that moment, I thought back to who I was when I left my hometown all those years ago. I was not in a good place. I was numb emotionally, as prideful as humanly possible, and harboring bitterness and hatred within my heart. Even though I looked good on the outside, I didn’t know how to deeply connect with others. I didn’t realize how angry and hurt I was, having put on the mask of religion.
Despite my pastor’s good intentions, he didn’t know me well enough to know that I had no desire to be married (honestly, I still don’t). He also didn’t know the deep sin and shame lurking in my heart; he was unaware of my deep need for God’s healing touch.
I am single for a purpose.
The timing of this trip down memory lane makes it even more humorous to me. Earlier that day, while I was praying, reading my Bible, and meditating on the book The Cost of Discipleship I actually asked God to keep me single forever. While reading about the apostle Paul’s life and the immense faith of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I was struck by how easily distracted I am. I can spend my time chasing other things—other loves—that are less worthy of my time than God. My ambitions and desires can easily distract me from God, I don’t want to add another human into the mix.
Eventually, I do believe that I will get married and it will be yet another opportunity to glorify God and serve others, it will just look different. It will teach me selflessness in a way that I have never had to know. I’m sure marriage will stretch the limits of my capacity for love and patience. And that will be great when the time comes, but that’s not the season I am in.
Why do we assume that everyone is supposed to get married? And that they should marry before 30?
It breaks my heart that so many people see their singleness as a punishment or proof that something’s wrong with them. Instead of the church being a safe place for single people to seek God and serve others, it has become a “holy” meat market. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that people are able to meet each other in church. I think it’s a shame that many singles are taught they have to be married to matter.
What if we celebrated singleness instead of treating it as an issue to be “fixed”? What might happen if precious people made in the image of God knew they were infinitely worthy because of Christ, not because of their relationship status?
Imagine what God could do through a group of people who use their singleness to serve.
To my single friends, no matter your age, I encourage you to run hard after God in this season. Use your time to love God and serve others. He has blessed you with this season (even if it’s painful) and I pray that you are able to see it as the gift that it is. If you are single, it’s not there’s something wrong with you. You’re not cursed and you’re not a problem—God loves you more than you can possibly imagine. I pray that God provides you strategic and Spirit-led opportunities to serve others with your singleness. More than anything else, seek his face and allow him to speak to you.
Married friends, I am so grateful for you. I encourage you to run hard after God with all of your might. He loves you more than you can fathom and he has blessed you with this season. I hope you use your married season to serve others. I pray you see this moment as a gift. Above all else, I pray that you would seek God’s face and allow him to speak to you.
Singleness, whether by choice or circumstance, can be an incredible gift. We can use our time to serve God and others with how we live. Let’s celebrate singleness, honor those who are single, and link arms together as we strive after God!