Earlier this week, I wrote a letter to the Church with some thoughts about Singles and how the Church might better encourage the entire Body to love the God and love each other better.
And now I would like to address my Single Brothers and Sisters with some thoughts of how we might better love God and the Church in this sovereignly designated state we find ourselves in. I, probably like many of my single friends, didn’t think I would be in my mid-40’s (fill in your age here) without a spouse. Nor did I think there were possibly additional careless things that could be said be people trying to be encouraging. Maybe you can identify with this (very) partial list.
Have you found someone special yet? No, sorry. Still haven’t been found.
What’s wrong with the men? I’m not sure I am qualified to tackle that.
What’s wrong with you? Are you gay? No, but I do really like pizza?
Don’t you want to get married? Have kids? What are you waiting for? Um… to be found by a normal guy who likes pizza?
Well, at least you don’t have to clean up after a husband. I kind of like cleaning. It is a genetic trait.
Have you tried E-Harmony? Christian Mingle? Called Together? Tinder? So what your saying is that you don’t know any normal men my age that you are willing to risk introducing me to?
Come on! Maybe you will catch the bouquet this time! Yeah, no thanks. Someone told me the third time was a charm–it wasn’t. But if you want to give me flowers without making me check and block and jump for them, I would enjoy that!
Or my new favorite, upon meeting a new person: Question 1: What’s your name? Question 2: What does your husband do? I, however, love it when people ask, “Tell me about your family?” or “What do you like on your pizza?”
People. Again, I am not bitter. I can trust my God and His good plan for my life. I have learned so much in this journey to middle age without a spouse, and I probably (often) say uninformed things to others about their marriages//kids/homeschooling/weather systems/you name it. We have to listen to one another, and be able to be honest and kind in communicating, right?
Below are some means that the Lord has used to fixed my eyes on Him with regard to living a single life, but before I go any further, let me qualify the items below:
I do not focus on all of these things all of the time.
I don’t have it all together. Some days are really hard. For example, some days have required hard work to rejoice with those who rejoice over engagements, weddings, babies. Sometimes, the realization that I will never be somebody’s mom or grandmother hits me like a ton of bricks. But those days are tempered by the goodness of my God and His people in my life.
Some of the means of God’s work in my life are more pronounced at some times than other, but all of them point me back to Who and what really matters–loving God and loving people.
So how can we, as singles, make the most of our time? We do need to redeem the time because these days ARE evil and our God is worthy of our undivided attention. How do I as the single person respond to being single? Is devotion to the glory of God my chief end? How can I pursue a life of undivided devotion? How do I live in such a way that the Spirit’s work of moral and spiritual excellence—of God’s goodness—is actively flourishing in my life?
1. Memorize Scripture. I must find my identity as a child of God to be more precious than any other possible status. Memorizing the Words of God forces me to meditate on His character rather than of ruminating on my loneliness.
2. Chase Contentment. Contentment is a lifestyle of thankfulness for what you have. Discontentment is a lifestyle of disappointment for what you do not have. I use the word “chase” because this is not something that just happens–you don’t just trip over contentment. We must actively pursue gratitude and recognize the goodness of God in our lives.
3. Develop Boundaries. In the midst of loneliness and unmet desires, relationships–any relationships start to look good. Be careful where your eyes, your thoughts and your heart go. Time cultivates attraction. You get it.
4. Become accountable to your family and your church. You and I are meant to be a part of a community. I mustn’t be autonomous. I must invite their input and guidance.
5. Reject the World’s Encroachment. The culture tends to absorb your time and your money if there is every extra of either. Time become absorbed by shopping, TV, even exercise. Have enough money, especially in South Cal, is sometimes difficult for people with one income, but are there ways that you could use your money more carefully? How might you encourage the church with both your time and money?
6. Go against the odds. Getting married is not like a game of poker. I will trust the sovereignty of the Creator of the Universe that He will bring me a spouse if and when it is His will. I will trust that if He calls me to serve in the Outer Mongolia and if it is His will that I be married, that He is able to provide a spouse even at the ends of the earth.
7. Practice Hospitality. I will have people over to my home–strangers, new people at church, neighbors. Take meals to new moms. Don’t have much room? Walk somewhere together, or host a picnic in the park. Viv Thomas said, “In times of difficulty, over attention to ourselves gets in the way of engaging with God’s purpose for us.” Hospitality take our focus off ourselves.
8. Pursue families. Nancy Lee DeMoss says in her book Singled out for Him, “Nothing will rid us of unrealistic notions of marriage and parenting than in-depth involvement in real homes.” Serve them, love them, find ways to be involved. Babysit for date nights. Cook dinner. Disciple teens, take the children to serve along side you.
9. Resolve to Not be Slothful in Zeal, be fervent in Spirit, Serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11) Romans tells us to be boiling, passionate, focused on Christ. Take some risks for Jesus. Jonathan Edwards Resolution (6) gives the final admonition: Resolved: “To live with all my might while I live.”
Single or married: life is short, eternity is long, and Jesus more precious than anything else.