It seems like one of the best ways to get an instant response from other people is when they ask that question which is dreaded by singles everywhere, “so how’s love treating you?”
“Oh, right now God is teaching me some really cool things, and growing me closer to Him.”
“Huh? Oh, you mean you’re single.” They gasp, their eyes get twice their normal size, alarms go off, and they’re suddenly calling every single person of the opposite gender they know trying to find a date for this poor, lonely, lost soul.
Of course I exaggerate a bit. But in reality, probably not all that much.
It seems that the period of life that all of us go through, singleness, is the scourge of human beings everywhere, classified with the likes of cancer, heart disease, and yes, even the dreaded athletes foot.
There are specialists you can visit. There are support groups. There are websites, self-help books, and everyone “will pray for you.”
Movies, TV, music, books, magazines – everything says that it is not normal to be single, and that you need to do everything you can to be in a relationship. Society, it seems, has reclassified this period in life as something not just unuseful, but discouraging, depressing, pity-evoking, and downright embarrassing. Even the term itself becries brokenness. You are single. Therefore, you are not whole. You are broken. And we need to fix you as soon as possible to rid you of this horrid condition that has befallen you.
It has gotten to the point that five- and six-year-olds fear their singleness, even though they don’t really understand what exactly that means.
I would like to offer a different view on the matter, one that I feel I’m rather quite qualified to make having been single my entire life thus far, and have been subjected to my share of “interventions.” Singleness is not a disease. Rather it is an opportunity to grow closer to God, spending our time and effort getting to know Him and work for His Kingdom. It is a time unlike any other in life, during which we have freedoms unknown in the rest of our life’s calling. And yes, most of us are called to get married at some point. There are very few people who have the Biblical gift of singleness. But just because we are called to get married, doesn’t mean that it will happen right away, or even necessarily at all. What are we to do in the meantime?
We are to serve God. We are to grow closer to Him. It is during this time of our life that we don’t have the stress and strain of trying to support and raise a family, to please our spouse. Are we to prepare ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for that time? Definitely. But at the same time, we have the latitude to do things during this period we won’t ever have again. There is no “well, I’ll ask the wife to make sure we don’t have plans.” No “I think my husband going to be out of town that week.” And, no “I know that you’re having a rough time, but I’m sorry I can’t stop to talk about what’s going on, I promised my wife I’d be home by 6 tonight.” We have the unique opportunity to be called by God on a moment’s notice, and to actually be able to respond to that calling without the worry of how that will impact our family at home.
For a long time I bought the lie. Especially as all of my friends have either gotten married, or are in serious relationships. I felt very left out, very alone, very looked down on by those around me. I was acutely aware of my “condition.” Because I was single I was somehow inferior. And boy did the enemy love to play that card.
I’ve been talking with one of my friends about this very thing, and our discussion has been phenomenal. I have really been loving this period of singleness my life that God is guiding me through. Lately I’ve had some very sweet times in my walk with Christ. I’ve had unprecedented journaling time, study time, and prayer time, and God has shown me so many things about Himself, and about me as well. He’s been helping me understand how I think, how I work, how I act and react.
And the coolest thing is that this time is preparing me for that point when God decides that it is the right time to bring me together with that special girl. Without this time of being single, I would not become the man that God is turning me into. I would be cheating His Kingdom, cheating others that He has allowed me to get to know and interact with during this period of my life, and cheating myself out of the joys of knowing Him more fully.
So, the next time that you find out that a friend is single, don’t think of them as a lost, hurting puppy. Don’t treat them as a leper and worry that you might catch a case of “the singles.” Treat them for who they are – a child of God, created in His image, who is being shown something very, very cool about God during this time in their life and is getting to take this period to focus on Him.
And besides, even though I’m “single,” I’m not alone. Jesus promised that he will never leave me. Just because I don’t have a girl by my side right now doesn’t mean that I’m any less whole or useful to God.
For those who might also be in the same place in life that I am, Focus on the Family has a wonderful resource dedicated to Christian Singles, the Boundless webzine. You can find it at http://www.boundless.org.