“Why are you single?”
That’s normally how the conversation starts.
“But you’re a great person, why haven’t you found someone?” “I know someone who is single, would you go on a blind date?” “Are you putting yourself out there?” “Do you want to get married?” “I just want you to be happy.”
Those are usually the some of the questions and comments that follow.
No matter how long you’ve been single, you’ve probably been asked something along those lines in a setting that’s not the most ideal. Maybe you have a sarcastic response in the back of your mind just waiting to be used. Maybe you’ve decided that you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. Or maybe you’re reflecting on some of these questions for the first time and it’s hard to come up with an explanation as to why things are the way that they are.
While all of this is meant with good intentions, navigating singleness without God puts us in a place where we’re allowing the societal norms to dictate how we should feel about it.
On one end of the spectrum, pop culture will tell us that being single means you are free. You are free to do what you want, when you want, without having to worry about another person. Your time and money can be spent however you want.
The world will also tell you that you are strong and independent and you don’t need to rely on anyone.
Being in this mindset of doing whatever it is you please instills a subtle sense of pride that says, “I can do this on my own.” Pride tells me that because I am single, it’s okay to be selfish. Pride tells me that I can chase after my own dreams. Pride says that I am self sufficient and I don’t need to consult anyone else. Pride says to me that because I am single, I don’t need to be held accountable. Pride tells me that I am free to do whatever I want.
The way in which pride is woven into societal norms makes it easy to fall into the trap of self sufficiency even as a follower of Christ. King David noted in Psalms 10:4, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” It’s pride that makes us wicked because we are choosing to be the ruler of our own lives instead of acknowledging God as the Lord of our lives.
In our “freedom,” we make our own decisions and our own plans without consulting God. But scripture confirms for us that true freedom is found in Christ. In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes to the church, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” He also says in Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.”
True freedom in our singleness is found in Christ. He wants us to be free, he died for us to be free and it starts by surrendering our plans, our selfish desires, and our pride at the foot of the cross.
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At the other end of the spectrum, pop culture will tell us that being single means you are alone. If you look around you, it’s as though everyone else is talking to someone, getting into relationships, and getting married. Thoughts and feelings of being unwanted and unlovable begin to sink in and we find ourselves sitting in our shame.
Shame tells me that I need to be in a relationship in order to be complete. Shame says to me that my thoughts, my opinions, and my experiences as an adult are insignificant because I am not married. Shame tells me that because I am single, I need to think about how I’m going to put myself out there.
Shame says that I need to look for a relationship because I won’t be happy unless I’m with someone.
Shame will say again and again that I need to be in a relationship to be loved.
It’s so easy to buy into the lies that cultivate shame. We see love and relationships play out for those in our personal lives and our media and social media platforms are saturated with content about love. But scripture confirms for us that God is love. 1 John 4: 8-10 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
In our singleness and in the depths of our loneliness, God demonstrated to us that we are wanted and we are loved by him.
Paul says to us in 1 Corinthians 7:7 that singleness is a gift. Sometimes it can be a gift that’s hard to receive and embrace. But as we navigate this season, we can choose to surrender our relationship status to the authority of God. For it is in our singleness that God invites us to draw closer to Him, to know Him, to know His word, and to know His voice.
While it may look different for each person, we can choose to glorify him in the decisions we make and the things that we do. It’s in this season that we can make the conscious decision to wake up early and to get into God’s word at the very start of our day. It’s being more aware of his presence in our day to day lives. It’s learning how to be honest with God in prayer about the things we fear. It’s exploring our spiritual gifts and the things we are passionate about by serving our local communities. It’s seeking spiritual accountability from those who have already gone before us.
The gift that is given to us is the gift of honoring God and walking with him knowing that he loves us, he refines us, and he prepares us for what he calls us to.