I’ve been contemplating writing this post for quite some time. It makes me a little nervous to write about my relationship status (or lack thereof). It’s personal, and frankly my philosophy for sharing my being single has been on a need-to-know basis only. It’s for me to know, and you to find out. I think it keeps the mystery alive. However, in the spirit of obeying God, and living my life based upon faith, not fear, I’ve decided to write about my experience of singleness as a young woman in her 20s.
Let’s start back before my 20s, actually.
In high school I had a group of girlfriends who committed to not dating. Most high school relationships end, and they took a stance to remain single so that they could focus more upon God. I joined the bandwagon. I focused on developing friendships instead, and I’m glad I did.
In the beginning of my 20s, I carried on developing friendships as well. I began a very long process of applying to nursing schools. My focus was growing in my relationship with God, and studying nursing prerequisites including numerous hours of biology, chemistry, psychology, etc. I continued not to date because I didn’t find any young man worthy of giving up my free time. I felt enormously happy being fancy free. I developed an interest in travel, and given the opportunity, I packed my suitcase as quick as I could.
In my early-mid 20s, I began to watch my best girlfriends meet, date, become engaged, and eventually get married. I also attended many other church friends’, old roommates’, and family members’ weddings. I love a good love story, and it was so lovely to share in my friends’ joyous moments.
Now, in my upper 20s (actually, my last year of my 20s), I am the “single friend.” I am one of those rare few in their late 20s (or older) at my church who is not married. I attend weddings without a plus one. I travel to places by myself, sometimes quite far. I am the single girl among a group of married couples in the community group I attend. I don’t intend to make anyone feel awkward, but sometimes it happens.
My purpose in this post, I suppose, is not to gain pity. I’d say 99.5% of the time I am completely satisfied in my singleness. I have an anchored hope in Jesus (that’s for you Chara), and I’ve allowed Him to fill that need for a relationship. I’m not saying I don’t want to get married, because I do, but I am also realizing that God has a plan and purpose in my singleness. I am able to readily serve others, I can foster healthy relationships with friends, I am able to seek out opportunities that might be a lot more difficult to do if I were married or had kids. Whether or not God will fulfill this desire of my heart remains unknown, but in the meanwhile, I am seeking after Him, and I know that He is good. He is good if I do get married, and He is good if I don’t.
So, if you are reading this post and you are dating/engaged/married with a “single friend” in your friends circle, here is what I recommend you do:
- Encourage them. Pray for them. See James 5:16.
- Ask them what God has been teaching them. Share with them how God has been working in your life. Single friends can learn from their engaged and married friends, and vice versa.
- If you are getting together with other couples, and you are contemplating whether or not to invite your single friend, invite them. We are single, not contagious. Don’t avoid the single friend because of potential awkwardness in a group setting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve loved being the third wheel, or fifth wheel, or whatever wheel. My best friends and their husbands are particularly good at inviting me along to activities, and I rarely ever feel left out.
- If you’ve ever said this to your single friend: “I can’t believe you aren’t married, you’re such a great catch,” or “It’s just not the right timing for you,” or the ever-so-grating, “God’s just not finished with you yet,” please, for the love, stop. God doesn’t complete you when you get married. In fact, God continues to stretch you spiritually in marriage. According to my married friends, marriage amplifies all of your imperfections under a magnifying glass. The church needs to quit placing marriage on top of a pedestal, and fix our eyes upon Jesus instead.
- Lastly, try and remember what life was like as a single person. It’s exciting, it’s freeing, it’s terrifying, it gets lonely. It’s full of adventures, and it’s the perfect time to focus upon God and serving His people. Singleness is an opportunity, and you too were once in this stage of life.
If you are reading this post and you are single, here’s what I’ve been learning/working on:
- Seek out opportunities to serve your church & community. It’s really easy for singles to avoid getting plugged in. We are often known as floaters, going to and fro as we please. However, there is something to be said about plugging into one church, one community group/house church. No one church body is perfect- that’s why we have a merciful Savior. For the past 6, nearly 7, years, I have been plugged into a local church, Outward, and I can’t even describe the support and love I’ve received by this body of believers. We are all vital members of the church (single, married, divorced, widowed), who are all needed to plug in and serve others in the church as well as our community. See 1 Corinthians 12.
- Pray, pray, pray. Pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to you. Pray for your future marriage. Pray that God will use you mightily, even if you don’t get married. Pray for those who do not know Jesus. Pray for those who do know Jesus. Learn to pray about anything and everything. See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
- If you have the desire to be married one day, surround yourself with married couples at all stages in their relationships, particularly ones who are seeking after Jesus. Ask them to be transparent with you. Ask them the tough questions. Break bread with them. Babysit their kids. These will all aid in preparing you for future relationships, parenthood, etc. Singles are often put off by hanging out with married friends, but I highly recommend it. Be the third wheel, or the fifth wheel.
I’m sure there is more to be said, but I don’t want to lecture, I just wanted to share from my heart. So there you have my thoughts on being single.