God's Truth in Singleness
.Singleness. Just seeing the word can cut deep for those of us whose season it describes. If you’re like I once was, you may have hesitated and skipped the article at first, out of slight embarrassment or shame. It’s not the most comfortable title to accept for oneself. No matter how true it may be. A year ago, I don’t know that I’d ever check out at Barnes and Noble with a book or devotional with some variation of the word “single” on the front cover. Not necessarily just because of how I felt about it. But because I knew how the person behind the counter would react (at least, how they’d react in my imagination). Uncomfortable, pitying. Emotions nobody likes to be on the receiving end of. No matter how culture frames the world’s view of singleness, most of us believers know that the Bible illustrates singleness as a gift. It illustrates singleness, maybe even as an advantage, for a disciple. Paul is particularly well-known for speaking about singleness, specifically what he wrote in his letter to the church in Corinth:
I would like you to be free from concern...An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NIV)
Now, Paul isn’t saying that a married person can’t serve the Lord or isn’t a valuable disciple. But rather that they don’t have the time or the headspace to serve the Lord in the same capacity as a single person. Because a married woman's primary earthly ministry should be devoted to their spouse. As single women, we should interpret this to mean that we have been given the time and the freedom to serve the Lord in a way that is special and valuable to His Kingdom. No matter how short or long this season should last.
As human beings, however, knowing God’s Truth and living as though we believe His Truth can sometimes be difficult to reconcile. How do we accept the Lord’s view of singleness? How do we begin to live as though we wholeheartedly believe it? Personally, there have been multiple distractions and unhealthy habits I’ve had to overcome (and am still overcoming) in order to embrace the season that the Lord has gifted me. These have been the most impactful:
This sounds silly, but I can’t be the only one who indulges my longings. Imagining what my life will be like in one year, two years. Picturing my beautiful engagement ring, touring wedding venues, a tropical honeymoon destination, holding my firstborn in a trendy nursery. Tricking my heart to experience a shadow of the emotion these experiences will bring. Then, painfully tearing the shadow away when I’m brought back to reality. Imagination can make life as God has willed seem less inviting. Daydreaming seems harmless, but it only hurts our hearts and distracts from the blessings in the right now. When I catch myself imagining my future life and self, I have to consciously stop the fantasy in its tracks. And then shift my focus to something else, or start praying. If the Lord commands us to only worry and wonder about the day at hand, certainly He doesn’t want us living a future life that we don’t know will ever come to pass.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
Do not set timelines on your life and how you want it to play out.
Again, as a type-A planner, I cannot be the only one who does this. Most often, I find myself counting backward from the time I think I should start having kids (that is a big desire of my heart). I want to at least start having kids by the time I'm 30. So, I should be pregnant with my first one at 29. And I want to be married at least a year before having kids. This means I need to get married at 28. And I want to be engaged for at least six months first. I want to date at least a year before that, maybe longer...so, basically I need to meet my husband yesterday. Any sane person can see that this line of thinking would drive someone into a state of perpetual anxiety. (I can confirm that it definitely does.) I’ve learned the hard way that all the planning in the world will not make this “plan” come to fruition. God’s plan will play out exactly as He has willed it to, regardless of what we think we want. James hits this nail on the head when he says:
Now listen, you who say,"Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that,” - James 4:13-15 (NIV)
Surrender to His plan.
Pray that He would help you to abandon your timeline and submit to His. Be faithful in asking Him to reveal His plan to you!
Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established. - Proverbs 16:3
Get rid of any social media outlets that cause negative feelings about your singleness.
Back in May, I read “Should You Delete That Wedding Pinterest Board?” by Ms. Alisha Johnson here on Tirzah, and it seriously challenged me. Like, I clicked away feeling almost offended at the suggestion that I was using my wedding Pinterest board to feed my desire for a gift that wasn’t at hand and may never come. However, the Lord revealed to me that my flash of offense was my sinful flesh fighting against the Truth that He was trying to speak to me through Alisha’s article. Later that day, I went onto Pinterest and hesitated for about half an hour before deleting both my wedding board and my engagement board. (But I have such beautiful rings pinned! These table settings are perfect! I can’t give them up!) Do I miss them now? Honestly, no - because there’s no ring on my finger, and I have no reason to think about any of that stuff during this season of my life. They were just breeding discontentment in a season where God calls me to be content and trust His plans.
Make a list of the things you can do now as a single woman that you likely won’t be able to do if you become a wife or a mother.
Thank the Lord when you do them. As I sit at my corner table in a Starbucks typing this, I am thanking Him that I can wake up on a Saturday morning, breeze out the door and spend a few hours sipping coffee and exercising a God-given passion without a second thought. When I’m baking a new recipe and realize I’m missing an ingredient, I can take a quick 10-minute trip to Target rather than a forty-minute production of car-seat buckles and tantrum distractions. When I spontaneously drive over to my parents’ house for an afternoon visit, I’m thankful for how often I get to spend quality time with them. If I were to ask some of my married or mama friends how often they are able to enjoy these things, they’d probably have to think for a minute trying to recall the last time they did. Or just look at me like I’m crazy for thinking they can ever do these things. When we consider the freedom we have as singles, it is easier to feel thankful for the current season.
...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18