I don’t like talking about my singleness.
Part of the reason? It’s a vulnerable topic for me. I never wanted prolonged singleness. Though I’m still young, I feel a strange sense of desperation related to my interrupted plans for my young adult life. I fully expected to graduate college with my Bachelor’s in one hand and an engagement ring on the other. That hasn’t happened, and four and a half years later, nothing’s changed in my romantic prospects. And at times, I still struggle with that reality.
My reason, then, for writing this is because God has taught me some valuable lessons about my singleness over the past year or so, and I feel compelled to share them. I know that this is a shared struggle for many of my fellow Christian single women, so if I can be an encouragement to them (and the single guys, too) through my words, I want to be, even if that means confronting my own awkwardness about writing vulnerable thoughts on my own struggles as a single woman.
However, even if you are not single, this post is still for you. If you’re married, my hope is that my perspective can also encourage you in your own spiritual walk with Christ, or at the very least, give you greater insight on how to best encourage your single friends who may be struggling. And if you’re single but genuinely at peace and enjoying that reason, I hope you’re able to gain the same things from this reflection.
Tying the topic of singleness into my annual Thanksgiving reflection might come across as cheesy or forced, but for me, it is a natural fit. One of the overarching helps for me in this struggle has been focusing on the aspects of my life that I’m grateful for. When the discontentment of my life circumstances starts to mount, I’m prompted to remember the words of Paul: “for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11), a verse surrounded by encouragements to give thanks to God in the face of anxiety and the promise that He supplies for our every need. When I lift up praises of gratitude to the Lord, I am met by “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7), even if (and when!) my circumstances remain the same. Practicing thankfulness for my singleness has helped me take my eyes off my own self-pity and desperation and turn to Christ, who is sufficient for me.
So, let’s practice, shall we?
I am grateful for my singleness because this season has provided me with opportunities that I would have sacrificed for marriage and family. I’ve gone to graduate school (twice now), I’ve had amazing job opportunities where I’ve been able to be a light to others and be sanctified in the process, and I’m now teaching in a college classroom, which allows me to use my God-given gifts in a beautiful, exciting way. And I wouldn’t have discovered the joy and challenge of any of those things had my timeline for marriage and family gone my way. Whether I teach college forever or become a stay-at-home mom in the future, or some mix of the two I haven’t even considered, I am grateful for these experiences and what I’ve learned from them. Singleness has opened up doors I would’ve closed had I been married, and I am grateful for that. Not that every one of those opportunities was easy (in fact, most of them weren’t!), but I can’t imagine my life without them.
I’m grateful for the family and friends I do have in my life. While I don’t have “my own family,” AKA a husband or kids, I’m blessed to have a fantastic family. I have a great relationship with my parents and my brother. I have friends in my local community who brighten my day. Heck, I even have friends all over the country, and though we don’t get to talk much, they still have impacted my life for the better, and any reconnection we have feels like picking up right where we left off. Truthfully, I have to remind myself of this truth often, the fact that I have a solid, dedicated Christian community surrounding me, because I struggle with feelings of deep isolation. A combination of the impact of moving around a lot as a kid, my introverted nature, and working in an environment that pushes ideology opposite of many of my own beliefs works against me, causing me to be very sensitive to feelings of loneliness. Sometimes I feel cut off from community. To be even more honest, sometimes my struggle with singleness gets roped into these feelings as well, as when I see other friends getting married or having first kids, I feel a sense of longing, a sense that I’m missing out and not able to relate to them anymore, that I’m getting left behind. Getting caught up in that whirlpool only makes my sense of isolation keener. AND YET—my feelings are NOT the truth. The truth is I am not alone. Not only is Christ with me, but He has blessed me with my global community, with my church community, with my family. I even have plenty of other fellow single ladies in my life who encourage me and with whom I can lock arms with against the lies that our singleness makes us less-than or unlovable or that we’re doomed to be alone. It’s a true gift to have Christian community and loving family in my life, as they keep me grounded when I do start to slip into a mindset of loneliness and isolation. I am grateful for my community.
I’m grateful for how a prolonged season of singleness has provided me with extra time to grow and become more assured of who Christ has made me to be in Him. Since I have a tendency to idolize the ideal of marriage and motherhood, I see the Lord’s mercy in this. If I had married young, I likely would’ve emphasized my identity as a wife and mom over my identity in Christ. A longer period of singleness has stripped away some of my own idolatry of marriage, or at the very least has made me more self-aware of it, and has prompted me to turn to Christ and come to a clearer understanding of what it means to find my identity solely in Him. Through His work on my heart over the past couple years, I’ve grown in humility, selflessness, focus on the Kingdom of God, and my prayer life, all by the work of the Holy Spirit in me. I certainly have plenty of room to keep growing, but Jesus has certainly shaped me into a person more aligned with Him. If I am ever called into marriage, I will step into it a much spiritually healthier wife than I would’ve been four years ago. I am grateful for the ways my singleness removed a lot of distraction and idolatry from my life that would’ve prevented or limited my sanctification in these aspects of my life.
Finally, and most importantly, I’m grateful for how singleness leads me to recognize Christ’s sufficiency in a real and tangible way. As I just said, marriage is an idol of mine, and being single stripped me of that idol and turned my gaze to Christ again. It’s reminded me that my happiness and fulfillment does not come through having a spouse or kids, but comes solely through Him and Him alone. It’s easy for me to forget this some days, but it is a near-constant reflection on my mind. When I feel most alone, I remember He is always here, with me. When I feel most discouraged, I remember that I will one day have a wedding when Christ the Bridegroom returns and makes all things new. When I feel most discontent with my circumstances, I remember all of the undeserved blessings I’ve written about in this very post that He has given me on earth. How can I respond to that except with gratitude and thanksgiving?
I know in the pattern of my life, God’s plans have always worked out for the best. Why it’s so hard to trust Him with singleness and marriage, I’m not entirely sure. But I hope by surrendering my pain to Him and lifting up thanksgiving for this season of singleness, I can cling more firmly to the truth that Christ is sufficient, that I can focus on how He’s calling me to use my gifts, my time, and my friendships for His glory, and, above all, that I can trust Him with my hopes and dreams for my life on this earth. Thank you, Jesus.
I’d love to hear from you – whether you’re married or single, what are some of the things you’re grateful for in this season of your life? How has God been shaping you? What has He done in your life? Let’s join in praising Him together!