Sunday, January 29, 2017

Being single is not a curse

Ah yes, this must be one of those posts.

One of those crazy posts where some deluded married person preaches to you, the single, about the blessed joy of singleness. They spend 1,500 to 2,500 words laying out their case, as if they could convince you that this awkward, immensely trying season has oh so many advantages.  It's as if they have forgotten their own pre-marriage purgatory--as if they have forgotten the heartache, the insecurity, and the flat-out painful, unfulfilled desire of not having someone special in your life. Instead, they preach that this season can be such a time of focus for you. Focus towards your education. Focus towards finding yourself. Focus towards getting your wild oats sown and out of the way. Focus towards ministry if you are being addressed by a Christian. You have unparalleled opportunities! they say. You have the time and freedom to devote yourself to something grand!

Yes, this is one of those posts. Only this author is single. I'm in your same boat. I'm in pre-marriage purgatory right there with you, but I believe this season really can be a time of great joy. I would even argue that it should be!

(Jaws drop)

No, I am not a eunuch; I'll be clear there. I constantly find myself thinking about who that special somebody will be whom I marry, Lord willing. My dad, in one of his many counseling sessions to me as a love struck bull calf, has declared conclusively that I don't have the gift of singleness and the sooner I can get myself established and married, the better. I couldn't agree with him more.

So, how then, can this season of unfulfilled longing possibly be good? We need to have a complete paradigm shift in our thinking, I believe, before this thought is even possible, and this shift has to start with our perception of where our satisfaction is found. I would argue that our dreams of satisfaction as singles is skewed. We think our lives will become so abundantly perfect when we find Mr. Right or Miss Amazing and marry. We'll ride off into a beautiful sunset together, lost in happily ever after and heady romantic love. We can't believe how married people tell us that after the honeymoon, marriage gets really hard sometimes. We can barely fathom how it could ever be hard or unfulfilling. But it can be. It will be.

 In short, marriage is so hard, it won't satisfy you.

It's time to wake up from the day dreams, guys, and I am preaching this to myself as much as anyone. There is only one marriage that will ever satisfy, and that is our marriage to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as His bride, the Church. No earthly relationship can or will satisfy like this one.

Don't get me wrong, there is a season of sweet oblivion and joy that comes with pursuing a relationship. It's called infatuation, and I have experienced it. It is intoxicating. But it won't ultimately satisfy. In fact, if you lose yourself to it, God in His grace will gently wrestle it from you. We are called as Christians to be passionate first and foremost for Christ. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, not intoxicated by wine (Ephesians 5:18-20)--or romantic passion, I would add in comparison. If you are finding more satisfaction in that you are (or aren't) loved by a fellow earthling rather than in the fact that the God of the Universe calls you His dearly beloved, you are in for a heartbreaking let down. You need to return to your first love, Christ, before it is too late. (Rev. 2:4-5)

God's word really is true. I struggle so much with this passage, but it is true:

7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. ... 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife-- 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
[1Co 7:7-8, 32-35 NIV]
The only reason this verse makes sense is if it really is true that lasting satisfaction is found only in devotion to Christ. And it is true! I have found in my own life that the best, most abundant times in my life are when Christ is my driving focus. Singleness becomes less of a curse, and more of a blessing as I pursue Him! Naturally, being unattached does give you more focus towards whatever you decide to pursue, and if that something is first and foremost the Lord, the blessings in your life are only multiplied!
 As a result, I can be content. I hope my stay in pre-marriage purgatory is short lived, but for now, I am honestly hoping to remain single as I pursue several career opportunities I believe the Lord has called me to serve Him through. (Journalism for one! woo hooo!) This season of my life will be incredibly busy as I start college, and I need to start down this path with an extra degree of focus. So, being single right now may not be what I would have planned if it were up to me, but I can thank God for the temporary blessing of it!

 It's not a curse, guys, honest. May all of us use this season of singleness to the fullest for God's glory!