Things for singles to remember
Here is a little list of things to remember, for the days when you feel your singleness is visible for all to see, and when you feel limited and a failure. This is a list to remind you of the facts, and that life is bigger than having someone’s hand to hold or having a wedding ring on your finger. This is also worth reading for couples.
It’s not that I always go round thinking about it, but sometimes it does hit me. For example, in family parties, or when I’m with friends who discuss wedding dresses and nappies, or when I can’t really give a satisfactory answer regarding what I’m thinking of doing in the future, or when I sit on my sofa eating ice cream, alone. It came to a head one day when I sat imagining a newspaper report from the year 2074. I imagined a photo of myself, wrinkles and all, in a flowery silk blouse with mayonnaise stains and a brooch. The headline was: ‘Ingebjørg (85), Norway’s oldest virgin, tells of her loneliness.’ On days like this it feels so real and all-consuming. I am single. Single, single, single.
There are lots of days I enjoy being single. I like the freedom. I like being able to make plans without checking with others. I like the opportunity to spend six evenings a week at church and youth work because I have the time and the energy. I like showing compassion for people around me. I like the place God takes and must have in my life. Most days everything is fine, or at least OK.
Here’s a short list to aid your memory. It’s for the days when you feel your singleness is visible for all to see, and when you feel limited and a failure. It’s for the days when you are high on spontaneity and the endless possibilities. It’s for the days when you are afraid. For the days you feel expectant. This is a list to remind you of the facts, and that life is bigger than having someone’s hand or having a wedding ring on your finger.
1. God can be trusted
This is so politically correct in a Christian sense that it’s beyond a cliché. But it is true. This may be the most important thing in this article. If I think that I need a man to keep me safe, then I make God small. Do I really think that God doesn’t know that I need close friends, prayer friendships, someone who keeps me accountable, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to experience great things with? He does know, and He can give it. He can give it directly, or through friends, family and the church. Or through a boyfriend. ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow,’ and ‘Fear not’ apply to me too, not just to my married friends. God knows what will happen to me today, He knows what (and who) will meet me in future. And because He is with me I know I will be safe.
2. You have a call today
As a Christian, life is about loving God and loving people, being kept in the faith and getting as many people as possible to heaven. All the rest are just (big) details. There aren’t any pockets in graveclothes, you can’t even take your wedding ring with you when you die (Matthew 22:30). Jesus managed to die and be resurrected without being married. (Well, He was God. Let’s rather think of Paul. He managed well as a single in ministry.) Right now, I have endless opportunities to use myself, my resources, my giftings, and my relationships to serve and point to Him. In fact, these aren’t just opportunities, I’m called to do these things. I have a responsibility to make good use of the time and freedom I have as a single. It’s not just about pursuing my own interests and needs, but about serving God and people.
3. Life doesn’t start at the altar
I have, and have had, so many dreams about the future. Reading aloud for the children, missionary life in a village in Africa, going skiing, having a welcoming home, family choir, regular devotions, honesty, openness and forgiveness. I think this can (and will) only happen when I’ve found the perfect man. Hollywood has taught me that when you find Mr Right, then everything turns out well. This isn’t true. It doesn’t happen automatically. It can happen before I get married. I can use my time on devotions right now. I can go to Africa. I can be honest and hospitable. The man I will perhaps marry in the future will get a lot of joy when he sees all I’ve done, practised, and become.
4. You’re allowed to want change
You are! It’s OK to be honest with yourself, with God and with others, and say ‘I would like not to be alone.’ We are created for relationship. Most people live as couples for a great part of their lives. It’s natural to have children. Society is built up around families. You’re allowed to want change, it’s not embarrassing. (See 1 Corinthians 7). A good rule of thumb is to talk more about this with God than with friends. Listen to a woman with experience. Evenings spent chatting and analysing text messages don’t give any guarantee that anything will happen. But a prayer to Him who has the overview is never a waste of time.
5. Perhaps the problem is not that you are single
It’s about me being afraid. Afraid of being lonely, of sitting alone. Afraid of being forgotten. And I’m also embarrassed. I haven’t managed that which others have. People look at me and think ‘I can’t understand why you’re single!’ and think they’re paying me a comforting compliment. Well, thanks very much for the goodwill, but what you’re actually saying is that there’s usually something wrong with people who are single. But that’s totally wrong.
6. You are just as valuable
It’s not your marital status that decides how good or likeable you are. You, I and others are equally highly loved and wanted in God’s eyes. On the days when I feel that I lack a boyfriend I mustn’t mess it up and think that there’s something wrong with me. I’m not the woman who, like a piece of clothing, was never chosen at sale time, and who’s now just a leftover, lying along with all the other sizes and colours that nobody wants. I’m not a freak just because I’m single. It’s just a part of life. I live as one who is loved, who is relevant, and who has a right to vote as much as anyone else.
7. All of this is as important for couples as it is for singles
Really. Read through this list once more. Think about what it says. It is actually God who will set the standard for your life and for what you should think about yourself. He is to be trusted. He is in control, and is interested in using you. He loves first, He loves most, and He loves best (Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 4:19). Everyone can practise taking this seriously. Don’t put conditions on what are acceptable gifts from God. Don’t trust in people more than in Him. Don’t label yourself or others, that just limits us all.