by Hannah Booth, Resonate Pullman
Most of my life is lived between a pendulum of sinful extremes. God acts like gravity, pulling me towards the center while I propel myself back and forth in a frenzy. My experience in singleness is no exception.
One side of the pendulum is a state of self-pity. This side has me endlessly desiring something that I don’t have. I believe that if I only had “my person,” all my insecurities would be calmed and I would feel totally validated. The truth is that I am simultaneously known and loved by a Creator who chose me in a way no human ever could. Psalm 139 tells us, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God loves us perfectly because He alone can love without sin. He chooses to love us even while knowing just how sinful we truly are (Romans 5:8). This is what I am deeply searching for that no human can give.
On the other side of the pendulum is a state of stubborn independence. Here you can usually find me making generalized statements about how all men are terrible. I believe the lie that I was created to be autonomous. The truth is that I am entirely dependent on a God who did not save me so I could be the hero of my own story, but that I might live to glorify the one who is: Jesus. The only redemption and justification I have is in Christ. Once we are in Christ, God also calls us live in community. In James 5:16, God tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” If I insist on being completely independent, not only am I disobeying God, but I’m also cutting myself off from the gift of community.
It is in between these sinful extremes that God calls me to live. There I am simultaneously convinced of my identity apart from a romantic relationship, and willing to have my singleness intersected by God’s movement in my life. Along the way, God has taught me a few things about what singleness is and is not.
Singleness is not:
A time of waiting for the “real stuff.” We can get so caught up in waiting for the right season to start the real ministry, the real mission, the real depth, the real hospitality that will come once we’ve arrived. Waiting to reach an ideal season (graduation, marriage, having kids, having an empty nest, retiring, etc.) is a scheme of the Devil to keep us isolated from our true purpose.
Punishment until you are good enough to “earn” a relationship. Looking back, I’m very thankful for some of the times that God has answered my prayers with “no.” God saying “no” does not mean He is punishing us. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We may not understand what God is doing, or like how he is doing it, but we can always rely on the truth that it is for our ultimate good.
A time to become more Christ-like. Single people problems that aren’t resolved will become married people problems. Getting into a relationship will not suddenly fix that self-doubt that has plagued you for years nor remove the weight of your sexual sin from your past. God alone will redeem those things. If we enter into a relationship carrying years of sin we haven’t dealt with and expect that person to fix us, we elevate that person to God’s role in our lives. So take the opportunity to dig deep and openly confess those things that cut so close to the heart in singleness.
A gift of time and capacity. The reality is that in a period of singleness without spouses or kids, we have more discretionary time. Without the emotional, logistical, and even financial commitments of a romantic relationship, we have so much more margin. We have more time to be missional and increased emotional capacity to invest in others. Maximize it.
A time to go! When better to go on mission wherever and however you feel the Lord calling than when you have the most freedom you will ever have in your life? Go with wisdom and not for a cool Instagram timeline. Go with the input of trusted community.
A time to cultivate contentment. Contentment in singleness starts with a daily choice. I am honestly not okay thought of being single for the rest of my life, but that’s not what God is asking of me. God simply asks me to be content today. So today I will choose to be content, and the day after, and so on until God changes my situation or takes me to be with Him. I am content because the Lord of the universe has commanded me to be single in this season and that is sufficient. Our relationship status has very little to do with us and everything to do with how the Lord plans to give us deep joy in using us for his kingdom. If the God of the universe calls me to be in a relationship, I will do so gladly. If He calls me to be single, I will do so gladly.
The middle equilibrium of the pendulum between self-pity and independence is an unshakeable confidence, not in who I am alone but who God is. I can remain single and joyful because of what He says about me: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
So let us declare those praises and share the Gospel in all we do, in every season, regardless of our circumstances. “Therefore now go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).