Celebrating Your Singleness

February 14, 2022

Within the body of Christ, we generally tend to talk about singleness only in the context of dating. We talk about what to look for when you date and how to navigate the transition, but we never actually talk about, or even dare to celebrate the season itself. 

Dating is the bridge to marriage. Before we ever get to the bridge, we need to remember that there is a vast open landscape of opportunity for us to discover and explore.

So today, on the day of ‘love’, I want to take a moment to share a bit about singleness. Because, it looks different for many of us. Even though we are in the same waters, we don’t man the same boat. We experience it differently. What if your season of singleness is taking longer than the people around you? How do you wait, but also pursue… Pray, but also let go… Trust, but not make it an idol?

It can feel a little tricky to navigate and though I most certainly don’t have all the answers, I have experienced a myriad of very high highs and very low lows within my singleness. I have also had a taste of the dating life and seen what can happen when you don’t navigate that healthily.

So, today I don’t offer you solutions or even profound insights necessarily. I just want to share with you my heart and some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past 12 years of navigating this season of my life.

Where you are now is first prize

It doesn’t always feel like that, does it? At least not for me. I have often felt like where I am is a consolation prize or some kind of certificate for participation, not really trophy-worthy.

I’ve come to realise that, if I can honestly say that I have been following and trusting God to design the roadmap of my life, if I’ve been seeking His heart about where to go and what to do and being obedient to that, then where I am right now, in this current season of my life, is FIRST PRIZE. Anything else would be second prize. And that remains, whether you have been walking in obedience to the Lord for the last 5 days, or 5 years.

If you are single, then being married right now would be second prize. Married and you don’t have kids? Then kids would be second prize right now. If you have kids, then not having kids would be second prize. That may change in the future, and it probably will. But for this moment, where you are right now – THIS, is God’s best for you. 

God hasn’t lost track of you

God is completely aware of where you are. Think about it. He is looking at you, at this exact moment. He sees every detail, every aspect of your story. He’s not shocked nor surprised by anything that has happened up until this point. And neither will He be shocked by anything that happens beyond this point. Seriously. He is aware of you.

I’ve always said to people, that I’ll panic when God panics, and I’m pretty sure He’s not panicking. I mean, it takes me a try or two sometimes, but I get there. I can honestly tell you that even though I’ve been in a season of singleness for as long as I have, I am not panicked. He knows where I am. He hasn’t lost track of me and He hasn’t forgotten about me.

I find that I only feel hard done by, when I take my eyes off Jesus. It’s only when I buy into the notion that there is a specific formula or recipe of how life is ‘supposed’ to go that I become discontent with where I am.

The “timeline” is man-made

I’m sure you know the “timeline”. It kind of goes like this at the moment: be married before you’re 25, kids before you’re 30, buy a home by 35 etc. There are these invisible schedules that we all know about, but refuse to talk about and in turn it creates an unseen pressure we all feel. 

I have felt it my whole life, and to make matters worse, I have never fitted into it… ever. 

You are supposed to know what you’re doing with your life at age 18. Enroll in varsity and get your degree, or at least sign up for that internship etc. I didn’t. I got a job, because I honestly didn’t know what to do with my life. Already one step behind. You are also supposed to be married by 25. Often times to your varsity sweetheart. Well, when I went to study, I was the ‘old lady’ in the class at 23. I was most certainly not going to meet my husband there. You are supposed to have kids before you’re 30, or at least your early thirties.

Well, here is me, on the way to 33, no husband and no kids. I honestly prayed and asked God to please just not make me go into my thirties still single. This was a legitimate desire of my heart. And well, spoiler alert… here we are. 

And you know what – I am okay. Nothing bad happened. It is only when people look at me a certain way, or say things like “ag shame” when they hear of my singleness that has made me wonder if there isn’t something fundamentally wrong with me.

Losing context

The only thing that happened to me when my life started to veer off the timeline, is that some of the people around me honestly just struggled to understand my life sometimes. They just don’t have any context for it.

And how can I expect them to have? They have never been where I am. If someone has never been 32 and single, living on their own and providing for themselves, then how can they possibly understand?

Here’s the thing, when someone doesn’t understand you or the struggles or your life, just remember that they don’t know, because they DON’T KNOW! Our life experiences become our library of reference, and if you’ve never needed to write a chapter on a certain experience you can’t possibly have a frame of reference.

That’s why I honestly believe that as a single person, or a married person… it is so important to make sure your circle doesn’t just consist of people in the same life season as you. Please make sure you listen to preachers, pastors, podcasts and read books about topics that you have no reference for.

I personally, listen to podcasts on parenting and marriage quite often. Yes, I have a desire to experience those seasons for myself, but it also helps to give me understanding for people who are in a different season than me. I hope that the things I learn I’ll be able to apply in my own kids lives one day, but for now, I am still a person of influence and I have people around me with little people. If I’m going to be an influence, I want to influence them well.

Don’t build your house on the sand

The idea that our lives should look a certain way with regards to this so-called “timeline” is not built on a Biblical model.

If God cared about our man-made timelines, don’t you think that He would’ve given Abraham and Sarah a baby before they reached their 90’s? Or maybe He would’ve called Moses when He was 25, instead of 80?

Our ideas are modelled around culture, and culture is constantly changing. Let’s not forget that just a few decades ago it was completely acceptable to get married at 16. Building your life on a man-made timeline is building your life on sand.

I just don’t think God thinks the way we think, and if we are going to model our thoughts and perspectives around anyone, it should probably be Him… right?

You are called for a purpose, NOW!

We often think of our single season of life as a passive one. We are often told by wonderful and well-meaning Christians to wait and pray and pray and wait. I’m not sure what it is like when you’re the guy, but you probably have a bit more pressure because traditionally, the pursuit is up to you. As one of the ladies, I can definitely testify to the powerless feeling of being told to simply, wait. 

Now, please don’t get me wrong. This is wonderful advice, but there is a bit more to it.

Marriage doesn’t qualify you

I may be single, but I am called now. We have purpose… right now! I often hear people say the following: “I can’t wait to be married… because then I can… (fill in the blank)”.

Marriage wasn’t the qualifier of anyone who has done something amazing in the Bible. 

I understand that there are certain life experiences that honestly, would be so much different if you experienced them with a spouse instead of a friend or a family member. But if God has called you to do something, if there is a prophetic word over your life and God didn’t add the detail of “when you are married”, then why are you?

Why can’t He use you? Did God make marriage a prerequisite to any of His disciples? Paul, writer of the majority of the New Testament, was a single man and went as far as to say that he wishes everyone would be single, like him (1 Corinthians 7). Even we, as single people, skim over these verses sometimes because it breaks the idyllic view we have of marriage.

You have a unique gift

I mean come on, we all do it. We all imagine married life as bliss. And yes, I truly believe that it is an amazing and wonderful blessing from the Lord. I grew up in a home with parents who modeled and continue to model marriage as a beautiful partnership, and there are times where I wish I had that partnership in my life. How nice would it be if I had someone who could quickly put supper on while I finish up my work? I have often wished that there was someone to just process my day with, to deal with the plumber or to take the car for its service. 

With that being said, I have also learned that I have a beautiful gift and purpose in this season that I won’t have in any other season of my life. That gift will look different for all of us, but for me, it has looked like walking with people in ways I wouldn’t be able to if I had a significant other as well. 

Over the past few years, I’ve had people very close to my heart suffer immense losses. I could literally check out of my life, and immerse myself in theirs. I could be present in a way that I probably wouldn’t be able to be if I was married. Even if I could still pack a bag and move in with someone while they process their grief, my heart would still have a divided focus. 

There is purpose in this season and we need to milk it for all its worth. Do what you can NOW. This isn’t just a waiting-around-for-my-husband/wife season. It’s a, how-can-I-let-the-Kingdom-come season.

Marriage won’t solve your problems

It kind of feels like it though doesn’t it? I think especially when you get older. I had a conversation with one of my married friends a while ago. She asked what I’m looking for in a guy and what I’m trusting God for. I answered jokingly: “the only thing I need him to have is a job.” She laughed, with a little bit of concern, then I explained to her what my financial situation was like in that season. Because on a very practical level, having a husband during that time, would take my home from being a one income home, to a two income home, and that would have most definitely taken the pressure off of me.

The thing is though, whatever issue you may have that you think marriage will solve, will probably be amplified instead. My one income household problem won’t be solved by marriage, because that is not the real problem. The real issue is my poverty mentality and the fact that I struggle to trust God as my Provider. Now I’m looking to an external solution instead of dealing with my heart.

I listened to a podcast on marriage a few years ago and I’ll never forget what the couple said. They said that single people idolize marriage because they seem to forget that the point of that covenant relationship is to refine you to become more like Jesus. And as a result, marriage will often force you to have to deal with yourself because all of your stuff is coming out a lot more often. And the person holding you accountable is living with you, so really have no choice but to process.

God wants you to be whole

When we are in this season of singleness, it’s so important to deal with our hearts. What are you looking for marriage to solve? Even things like loneliness are things we can deal with before we get married. When we are so focused on marriage as the end goal, we forget to embrace the journey along the way. And if we are so focused on just sitting and waiting, we’re missing out on the journey all together. 

In this season it may feel like there are some places, even in the church, where you won’t fit in. But listen, you will always have a place of belonging with the Father. And to think that if I fit in church, all the holes in my heart will be fixed, is a whole other thing to deal with.

God’s heart is for you to be whole. Right now. Where you are in this season. Yes, there are certain things that you’ll only be able to tackle once there is someone in your life and those things actually start to come to light. But let’s not amplify those things by leaving a bunch of other stuff lying around too. Things that we could have dealt with.

Trust and pray, but know when to lay it down

Another one of the biggest bits of advice that I’ve heard and received, is to pray for my spouse, to pray for my marriage etc. This is such good advice, and it is absolutely necessary. The prayers you pray now will water the seeds of the tree you intend to sit under one day.

We talk about the praying part all the time. But what do you do when it starts to hurt to pray for something? What do you do when you’re saying all the nice, ‘surrendered’ words, but your heart aches at the sound of them?

I want to say this to you, and I don’t think it’s said enough… there are going to be seasons in our singleness, where we are going to have to put that prayer down, and step away.

If your heart’s greatest desire is to be married, to be a wife or a husband, to be a mother or a father, then you should 100% pray into that. You need to stand in faith and know that it’s not an inherently bad desire. Not at all. I mean, we know it, we are all told this all the time.

But, I also need you to know that if you have been in this season for a while, the prayer that can often bring you life and get you all excited about your dreams, can also start to make your heart sick. Because you look around you and oh look, another person is getting married. There’s another engagement. Another one at the altar and you know for a fact they never sowed any prayer into their marriage. It’s hard.

And it’s hard because you are literally doing exactly what you’re supposed to. You are desiring the right things, you are sowing the right seeds. You are doing everything you are supposed to be doing. It is hard to understand the feeling of: “no one picked me, and the ones I wish wouldn’t pick me, picked me”, if you haven’t been there yourself.

The highs and the lows

Can we just pause here for a second and acknowledge these moments? As singles, we don’t always talk about the lows. The moment you scroll through Facebook and you see another person get all the things you’ve been dreaming of. What about when you visit your married friends and all they talk about is how annoying their husband’s snoring is and how he left the socks on the floor again and all you want some days is tangible evidence of another person living in your space with you. There are days where you wouldn’t mind dirty socks at all. 

I mean, one of the things that never gets spoken about is the difficulty of letting go of the little dreams. What if it was your greatest desire to be a young parent? Then on your 27th birthday you realise that there is no way that you could ever have that dream again? Gosh, I honestly just hoped to not have to worry about grey hair on my wedding day. But alas, here we are with chemically managed hair and the dream is gone forever.

Shake off the shame

There’s this shame attached to our longing to be with someone. We seem to have this preconceived idea that you’re supposed to just be strong and independent all the time and never have a moment. Gosh, I’m totally a strong independent woman, purely because I’ve had no other choice than to grow into one, but that’s not the full picture.

I had a proud independent moment about 2 years ago when I went down to where my car was parked and I saw I had a flat tire. Now, in a case like this, I would normally phone my dad, but they had just gone away on holiday the day before. I just decided, no… it’s me. This is the life I live and I am well able to do this. So I got on YouTube and at 11 at night I was on the floor changing a wheel. It took me about an hour, but I got there. And now I know if it happened again, I won’t feel as helpless as I did the first time. We learn and we grow. You bet I instagrammed that moment!

But with the crowning moments of independence and strength, there has also been moments of despair and loneliness. Gosh, Level 5 isolation during 2020! I can’t tell you how incredibly difficult that time was. I genuinely sympathized with my married friends who said that they were getting annoyed with their spouses. But honestly, all I could think about was that the silence I was in was so deafening I would do anything for some company. Even if it was annoying company. You get to know a lot about yourself when you’re the only one around.

To make matters worse, I cut my hand on the third day (of what would be 5 weeks) and ended up damaging some serious things internally. I couldn’t move my hand or use it in any way for most of that time. Nothing makes you feel as alone as being helpless. I struggled to get dressed, I couldn’t do dishes, simple things like cutting a roll was an almost impossible task. I was in the thick of it and honestly, I cried when Cyril extended level 5 from 3 weeks to 5 weeks. You didn’t get to see those moments on Instagram.

Real talk

We need to pray and trust. But we also need to give it to God.

I want to share something that has over the last few years given me much perspective. It hurt immensely the first time I realised it, but as the years have gone on, I actually take much comfort in the reality:

I was never promised a spouse.

Yes, I went there. I was never guaranteed or promised. Nowhere in the Bible does it say so and yet there are times where we talk about it and pray about it as if we’re entitled to it.

In all honestly, God doesn’t ‘owe’ us anything. Was the cross not enough? If that was all He ever did we would still owe Him everything. Yes, desiring a husband or a wife is a beautiful and Godly desire. 100%. It’s not something to wish away or to repent of. But the notion that simply having a desire means that you’ll get it by default is not necessarily true. See, I believe that if a principle is true, it should apply to more than one scenario. We would never say to someone struggling to have children that by simply desiring it, they are guaranteed to have it. We know better than that. It’s too fragile of a journey to make statements like that. We can desire many things, but when did we ever know what was best for us.

If I’ve learned anything in the last year of my life, it’s that we need to live in a way where we can lay things on the altar, and still be okay no matter what happens. When you look at the story of Abraham and Isaac: Abraham didn’t know there was a ram in the bush when God asked him to go sacrifice Isaac on the mountain. He was still super prepared to lay down the thing he desired most. 

We read that story with the end in mind, because we learned about it in Sunday school. Abraham didn’t know how his story was going to end. He went up that mountain, ready to do what needed to be done. Why? Because he was obedient. Because Abraham probably got the whole principle that this boy was a gift from God and if anyone could ask for a gift back, esp if that gift messes with the condition of our heart, it’s God.

God is our portion, He is the one that fulfills us. He is all we need. Everything else is extra. Everything else is a blessing and bonus. It’s not owed to us.

He is worthy of it ALL

Last year, the Lord took me through a process laying a lot of things down on the altar. Relationships, friendships, goals and dreams. I had very specific ideas in my mind of how I thought these things should be resolved. I knew where I wanted the ram in the bush to be. Surely it’s not like God to ask me to lay the things I really want down? To give them up? I really felt God prompt me to let go. And it was incredibly hard.

During that season, the song, “worthy of it all” started to come up everywhere. I would listen to it on repeat again and again, almost every night and just cry. When we sang it in church, I cried. It broke my heart in a way that was complete healing.

Have you listened to the words recently?

You are worthy of it all.
For from you are all things
And to you are all things
You deserve the glory.
Day and night, night and day let incense arise.

It all belongs to God. He gives everything, and everything goes right back to Him. It’s really lovely to just sing along to a song, but when the words start to pierce your heart and you realise that you don’t actually want to give Him “all things”, these lyrics can break your heart.

With some of the things I laid on the altar, there turned out to be a ram in the bush and I got to hold on to those things. And with a few other things – the fire came and it went up in smoke. I had to let it go. But the thing I walked away with is this: He is worthy. He is enough. He is all that I need. And as hard as it was to lay those things down, I walked away freer and more full.

For incense to arise, something needs to burn.

Please hear my heart – I’m not saying any of this to discourage you or to kill your hope and dreams. I remind myself of these things to re-calibrate my heart. To keep my gaze on what is eternal and not build my life on what is temporary. Marriage, as beautiful and incredible as it is, is temporary. At some point we will all need to call it quits here and reconvene again in Heaven. 

Cultivate self-awareness

Friends, it’s a tricky road to walk. And if I can leave you with one super practical thing that has helped me immensely on this journey, it’s this: cultivate self-awareness. Do heart-checks often. Where am I at? Where are those emotions coming from? What is setting off the reactions inside of me?

You as a single person, more than any married person, need to be able to self-check. Learn when it’s time to go chat to a friend about something, when it’s time to get out of your own space. Learn when it’s time to switch off the external and go to the inner room. All these things take time, but helps us learn when to pick things up and when to put them down… and for how long.

Remember

  • We may be single, but THIS, right now is first prize. So congratulations on winning at life at this very moment! If you feel like the time is now to ask that person out for coffee and get going on moving out of this season, also well done! Stick to where the Lord is leading you and you will always be living in “first prize”
  • Forget about the timelines – God doesn’t care and neither should you. 
  • Do the things that you can, NOW. Not just the superficial things, but the purposeful, Kingdom things. We are not sitting back and relaxing, we are in pursuit of the Kingdom coming, always! Embrace the way it looks in this season, because it’ll be completely different when your season changes.
  • Marriage isn’t a solution to ANY of our problems. It’s a blessing from the Lord. He is our only source and solution.
  • And remember to live with an eternal perspective. Everything is temporary, live your life on the altar, remembering that He is worthy.

So, let me know, are you currently single? How are you navigating this season? And if not, what are some nuggets of wisdom you wish you received in that season? Share in the comments below 🙂

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