Friday, October 27, 2017

The One {Not} About Singleness

     I feel the pressing need to preface this post with a disclaimer: there is great irony in my writing it at all. Why? Because on principle, I'm against the "for-singles" (especially single girls) genre; so allow me to begin with a couple clarifications of what this post is not:

  • This post is not about "waiting for Prince Charming", because there is no place for a heaven-bound, Spirit-empowered, Christ-called girl to be twiddling her thumbs - literally or emotionally - waiting for "that special someone" to show up and give her life purpose. A special One already came and gave meaning. His name is Jesus, his purpose is the work of an evangelist and/or disciple-maker. These are not tasks to "bide your time"; this is your sacred calling.
  • This post is not about "how to serve God as a single girl" - for so many reasons. Anyone reading those kinds of articles has probably spent far more time in her life single than married, anyway, so these "encouragements" inevitably contain the underlying vibe of "until Prince Charming..." even if they explicitly state that you shouldn't have the mindset of a "waiting room." No. Wrong. God has a calling, a mission, for you as you. You, my dear, have been specially created with gifts, abilities, and understanding to accomplish great things. Single, married (rich, poor, young, old, guy, girl...) - it's irrelevant, so stop stereotyping your service options based on your title in society. Yes, I'm sure marriage is wonderful. I'm also sure it has challenges of which we have no concept. And I know it doesn't hold water in heaven. So stop putting yourself in a box and go do whatever in the world God has laid on your heart.
  • This post is not about "finding contentment as a single", because the last prepositional phrase is superfluous. If you struggle with contentment not being married, you'll probably struggle with it being married. You are probably currently struggling with it in more areas than mere marital status. Take a step back. Examine your life, your heart. In my experience, the "I just wish I was married" phrase can hide a whole lot more than discontentment. Laziness, bitterness, jealousy - these are only a few of the potential pitfalls that can be hiding under the surface of such a "longing". Why, then, should we be catered to or excused in them?

     So what is left in a "post to singles" if it's none of the above? Simply this: stop with the singleness already. Why box yourselves in, obsessively gorging on blog posts and podcasts and articles and books and motivational catchphrases and  promises of "God has someone for you" and lectures and testimonies all focused on one aspect of your life that is irrelevant in eternity? Why would you choose to be so defined by something so indifferent to your value as a Christian? Of course, as a girl, I know the answers from at least one perspective. For myself, this desire stems from a longing for someone to have my back, to always be there for me, to be committed to loving and challenging me. But will this be fulfilled in a marriage? Is my fictional husband never going to let me down? Always going to make me feel valuable? Always going to build me up, and point me in the right direction? In my head: absolutely! In reality: absolutely not.

     I forgot to add the last "not" in my list. This post is not about how evil it is to imagine or wish for marriage. It's not evil, but it is hardly beneficial, and rarely realistic. When we're tempted to discontentment with our societal state, we should call a hard stop and examine our hearts. What longing, desire, or need are we imagining will be filled by marriage? What has distracted us from our purpose, and how does God meet the need (or teach us through its lack) that we think should be filled by a boyfriend, a fiancee, a husband? Don't naively blame your struggles on singleness. Identify your deficiencies - perceived or real - and allow God to fill them. He made you; He knows how you can best be fulfilled. And He wants to fill your purpose, full to overflowing.

     Our culture is in a strange place of wanting each individual to be unique in his/her struggles and insights, while wanting to simultaneously relate to everyone else. We have communities (often virtual) for introverts, for writers, for Star Wars fans, for quilters, for gamers, for singles - you name it, it's out there. In them you find members operating off the presupposition that they "get" everyone, but they themselves  have some aspect no one else can "get". In the realm of unmarried, Christian girls, this results in a kajillion articles, written for and by them, on their unique "paths of singleness," along which they bandwagon together, unknowingly holding themselves back from potential as they center their identities around a label they have created and cultivated. 

     Can we stop? I don't want to walk through life as "Single Sarah" (although I admit the alliteration makes it tempting); I want to be known as "Sarah, daughter of the King, worker of His will." When talking to my married friends, I'm still occasionally [pleasantly] surprised to realize that we single and married girls do battle with the same challenges. Sure, they may be manifested differently, but my struggles would look different if I lived in a different state, a different country, or a different family, too. Location, physical or emotional, does not change my battles, but only a Christ-centered life can win them.

    So, to the singles out there: stop thinking of yourselves as singles. You are as you were created to be: glorious beings in the image of God, surrounded by opportunities to live to your fullest potential as you make His will your own, building up and being built up by the church, conquering your battles in the power of the Spirit, taking every thought captive.

   Let's go change the world.

Photo1 Credit: schabeadles. single?. 11 April 2010. Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo2 Credit: Roman, Luo. Alone. 31 May 2008. Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo3 Creditきうこ. Overflow. 15 May 2008. Flickr Creative Commons.

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