It’s a tricky thing: talking about singleness. You’ve got to make sure you write about it on the right day. If it’s a rough day you can yield to the temptation to believe that singleness is all pain and misery. If it’s a perfect day, you can forget that there are true trials ahead and behind and that God is gracious in the midst of them, not just when the sun is out.
I get nervous talking about singleness because I feel like I’m supposed to not even notice that I’m single because I’m so content in Jesus, right?
And I hate talking about it because too often it contributes to the enemy’s plan to get us to miss the blessings of singleness by wallowing in self-pity or jealousy or bitterness.
I believe that singleness affords blessings that marriage does not. (I also believe that marriage affords blessings that singleness does not). No one person can be entrusted with both the ministry of marriage and the ministry that’s possible through singleness. Every person reading this has been entrusted with one of these, but most of us make the mistake of seeing our lives through the lens of deficiency: what has been withheld from me? Instead of seeing our lives through the biblical lens: everything has been given. Even the withholding is actually a giving of something. By withholding children, God gives us additional time and flexibility for ministry. By withholding time and flexibility for ministry with motherhood, God gives us the joy of raising disciple’s right in our own home. By withholding marriage, God gives us the ministry of singleness.
In order to help me adjust my lens, I’m going to spend some time processing through what I see as the less obvious blessings of singleness. I believe the greatest blessings of singleness might be the blessings that come in the form of trial; the sufferings of singleness must be taken hold of so that I can exploit this season and not waste a drop of pain.
Suffering seems like a big word right now, sitting on my sweet couch in my sweet apartment. But I don’t know what other word to use. It is clear in the bible that our suffering is often God’s greatest gift to us. I think the ‘sufferings’ of singleness are some of the greatest blessings about it.
I want to be faithful with what I have been entrusted. I don’t want to waste it. I don’t want to waste any of my suffering. I don’t want to waste any of my singleness. Because singleness carries with it a daunting expiration date. I have a limited time when I will endure the pains and pleasures of singleness. There is a day coming when I will be with the One I was made for. Come Lord Jesus.
So, over the next few posts I’m going to walk through a couple of my own personal ‘singleness sufferings’ and how these have thus far been the greatest gifts of singleness.
One major disclaimer: I don’t think I have the corner on suffering. I don’t think singleness is all suffering. I don’t think singles suffer more than married folks or moms or anyone else. I just think there are unique trials in singleness and I just think the BEST parts of singleness are the hardest parts of singleness. This is true for you as well, reader. Whatever stage of life or circumstance you are in provides unique pain and if you are able to press into suffering as an opportunity to work out an eternal weight of glory then I believe you will see the joy of what has been entrusted to you.
Another disclaimer: for some reason, every time I mention something that’s hard about singleness everyone feels the need to assure me that marriage isn’t the solution. So, I guess people must assume that when people speak about a challenge in their stage of life they are seeking another stage of life to correct the pain. This is not the case. I believe there are unique sufferings in singleness, but this does not mean I believe marriage is the solution to these sufferings. I believe Jesus is the solution.
This is true of any sufferings. They are not designed to help us long for a different earthly circumstance. They are not designed to teach us to desire a different stage of life. Each stage of life affords different sufferings equipping us to long for Jesus in a unique way. Far too many of us (myself included) allow our singleness to tempt us to long for an earthly shadow instead of cultivating a longing for an eternal reality. This isn’t unique to singleness. In each moment of our day – in the huge tragedy or the momentary irritation – we are tempted to long for a shift in earth circumstance to save us, instead of learning to long for our savior from heaven.
May God forgive us – may He forgive me – for that. May the pain of singleness drive us not to long for marriage but to long for a reunion with our Creator.