So. You’re Christian. You’re single.
There’s ups and downs that go with that territory, and if you’re like me, you might find yourself going through these five “stages” of singleness (probably bouncing between them with the shifts of the wind!):
Marriage? Bah! Marriage forces you to get along with a radically different person for the rest of your life, mirroring the love of Christ for His church in your self-sacrificial service to one another.
Who needs that work?
This is the mood where you think spouses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Every story on the planet includes a romantic subplot (if it’s not a straight-up romance story), every song on the radio (no matter what station) is talking about pairing up, and every person you know is “involved,” about to be “involved,” or trying to be “involved”…but that doesn’t mean you should take it seriously.
In fact, when you consider all the problems that come with fitting another person’s dreams, needs, and personality into your life, what’s the point? No arguing about “my checkbook, your checkbook” when there’s only one of you.
As for sex, it sounds kinda…messy. And it can’t possibly live up to the hype, no matter what they tell you. Why worry about it? If Jesus died a virgin, so can I!
After all, Paul said:
I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.
…But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. (1 Cor. 7: 7-8, 28)
See? Worldly troubles. Let’s hear it for the stoics and ascetics! Totes easier to serve God without “entanglements.”
As for kids, they’re super expensive, whiny, selfish, and eat up large chunks of your life with their needs. It’s way easier to focus on your job, hobbies, and the ministries God has called you to without those buggers chewing on your ankles.
And it’s not like you need kids to support you in your old age…that’s what the government’s for! (Ah, I crack me up. Realistically, the church should be in that business.)
I can’t believe I’m still single.
There’s got to be something wrong with the universe.
More common, perhaps, than “Denial” is “Anger.”
WHY IS EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD PAIRED UP?
And I mean everybody!
All your friends are either married or “involved” – all of them. The bubbly one, the sweet one – even the shy one, the angsty one, and the weird one.
Rail at the heavens…weep into your pillow…gnash your teeth at all the pictures on Facebook of their babies and demand to know what makes you different.
Why are you still lonely?!
(Tell me you’re the same as me!)
The “Christian” response to this stage is the response to any anger:
Verses about how God knows best, how He gets to do whatever He wants, how “I know the plans I have for you” –
Yeah! Plans to dump me in exile in Baby-less-lon for seventy years until I’d be going down the aisle with a walker! “Who gives this bride away?” “That’d be the manager of my nursing home, dude.”
Those people trying to comfort you mean well, but they should probably just tell you to read Job (yes, all of it).
Not only does God say at the end, “I’m supervising the wild goats giving birth — you really think you can do my job better?” but it also contains lots of: “GAAAAH my life is horrible it’s all ending why didn’t you let me die in my mother’s womb!” kind of stuff, which you might want to adapt for your own use.
I’m so lonely right now I’m ripe pickings for any abusive stalker who comes along.
But I can change him once we’re married.
At some point, you’ll try to re-strategize your life.
What’s not attracting a member of the opposite sex? Would a different shirt work better? Maybe a different haircut? Perhaps jewelry?
Maybe I’m not meeting any guys ’cause I’m not in the right places. A healthy, Jesus-centered church is a great place to meet the right kind of guy…but there are moments when I feel like grabbing the first likely-looking bachelor and tucking him under my arm.
What’s the worst that could happen?
(To which Steve Taylor replies:
On a quest for her Mr. Right, she said “I do” where the lonely give in;
…Nothing’s sadder than the words, “It might have been.” (The Bouquet)
A lady at the bank thought my brother might be right for her daughter, until she found out he was a few years younger than the daughter. Desperate times, y’know, but maybe picking up random HVAC techs isn’t the best way to build a life…
Anyone else argue with God?
My parents both went through experiences where they had to consider going through life single, and accept that God would be enough for them in that case.
Once they arrived there spiritually, God allowed them to marry each other.
Ahem…anyone else sometimes feel like saying, “Okay, Master, You will be enough for me. Can I please get married now?”
Whether you’re ready to accept it or not, just take for granted there are things worse than this stage you’re in.
So, if you’re not sure your personal morality is rock-solid enough to pull you through this stage, there’s a few very simple things you can do:
1) Read your Bible more. Read it ’til your eyes glaze over, then read it ’til your insides feel shredded.
2) Surround yourself with good, trustworthy people who love you: parents, siblings, coworkers, church friends, other friends…people who have the same moral standards you do, and love you sincerely.
Then give them full permission to smack you in the face if you’re acting stupid. You’ll thank them once the stage passes…and it will pass.
I’m never getting a spouse. My life is over. I might as well shrivel up now.
Maybe I should have saved the “crying into the pillow” for this part.
After all, when you read something like Jeremiah 16: 1-4:
The word of the LORD came to me:
“You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bore them and the fathers who fathered them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.
…it just takes something out of you.
Nobody wants their spouse and children to be murdered by invaders or wasted by famine and disease —
But at least they have spouses and children, y’know what I’m saying?!
Anyway…as you stare down the long years of emptiness, living like a goof-off failure in your parents’ house until they die, and then creaking into old age with no one to love you or take care of you or visit you in the nursing home…something deep inside your soul dies. Sometimes quietly, sometimes emitting a soul-shredding wail that splits the void with horror.
Am I just projecting?
Do something. Find an outreach at your church and get involved. Volunteer with kids’ Sunday school. Find out what’s happening at your local library, then join a knitting group, a writers’ group, a computer class, a local choir…
Get a dog and take it for long, long walks. Start a garden. Teach yourself a handicraft (like knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, wood-working, painting, sewing) and make items to donate (to a hospital, nursing home, homeless shelter, orphanage, etc.).
Don’t just sit there and feel sorry for yourself, because that’ll make you more sorry, which will make you more sorry…
Just as there is a revolving door of “states” when handling your singleness, there are different levels of acceptance.
The simplest is the momentary acceptance:
“I still believe trolling the bar scene is a poor way to land a Prophet, Priest, Protector, and Provider, so I accept that waiting on God is still the best choice.”
This is an extremely valuable mode of Acceptance, because it empowers you to stick to your principles within a high-pressure moment.
You might change your mind (or forget about Accepting) later on, but if you’re out of the Temptation Area, at least your honor and sanity is safe.
Then there’s a harder-core version of Acceptance —
One that looks beyond balancing the foundational principles of your morality vs. the need to hold a baby (big or little).
This higher level of Acceptance focuses on the unchanging nature of God, reminds yourself that He’s got a bigger plan in store, and that “patiently waiting” is part of that plan right now.
It also has the annoying habit of reminding you: “Hey, taking short-cuts lands you with Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 16), Bilhah and Zilpah (Gen. 30), Moab and Ben-ammi (Gen. 19).”
This is where you say, “Let’s go with God’s plan rather than my second-best short-cut.” (Refer again to Bouquet.)
(But the idea in the back of your head is still that He’s planning for you to get married…just not yet.)
There’s theoretically another level.
In fact, it’s more than theoretical: I know someone who claims to have achieved it.
This is True Acceptance.
It’s where you finally submit your own small will to God’s, say (with a smile) that He will be enough for you – through all the cold nights and all the long, feeble years – and that His glory is the only thing that matters to you.
If His plan is to give you a spouse later, then fine.
If His plan is for you to die a virgin – faithful, childless, focused solely on Him, and trusting Him to provide companionship, ministry, and daily bread every year, year after year – then…fine.
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. (1 Cor. 7:17)
This would be peace.
It requires Full Submission, the Peace of the Holy Spirit, and Being Completely in Love With Jesus.
What State Is Your Singleness In?
Are you denying that singles are missing out on anything meaningful? Blaming everyone else for your misery – but especially all the other girls/guys who snapped up the good guys/girls before you got there?
Are you trying to find a “middle road” where the horrible ache in your gut gets solved now – even if it takes trading in some suitor-requirements? Maybe you’ve given up on the whole idea, and are just brooding on spending your final days like a Baby Boomer who never bothered to procreate?
Or…Or have you found peace? Has Jesus worked in your life to bring perfect satisfaction with and submission to His plan for you – whatever it is?
If so – PLEASE TELL US HOW YOU DID IT!
(Which is sort of contradictory, because if it’s a work of Jesus then there’s nothing you could do to “achieve” it.)
Either way, please share your experiences…and let us know we’re not alone. This is a process, and no matter where you are, we’re here for each other.
She currently lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
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