It happened suddenly this past May, the moment I’d prayed for and sought after for quite some time: the moment I became okay with lifelong singleness.
Something inside me relaxed as I sat at a coffee shop, my mind not even on relationships but preoccupied with a menu over dinner with friends. And then suddenly, I felt content to be single — not only for another few months, or even years, but even until the day I die, if God chooses that for me.
“I don’t want to skip what God chooses to give me during singleness.”
More than ever before, the years stretching out before me don’t seem like a romance-less, spouse-less, and (okay, let’s face it) sex-less gray void. It was a beautiful moment that could come only from God, a moment of triumph over an idol that has long battled for the throne of my heart.
Whether it’s for a season or a lifetime, I’ve found that I don’t want to skip what God chooses to give me during singleness.
The more weddings I attend (which is several a year at this stage of life), the more the feeling sinks in that I may never be a bride. But the feeling isn’t altogether sad. Because I’m already dressed in white, you see. My friends’ immaculate dresses and the wedding day itself symbolize something mysterious and beautiful: the “robe of righteousness” God’s people already wear (Isaiah 61:10) and the “fine linen, bright and pure” we will put on at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:8).
I’m already pursued by someone who wove the very sinews of my being together. I’m already loved with a love that will outlast every other. I’m already known more intimately than I can fathom.
It’s so easy to read that last paragraph and think “so cliché,” especially since this is yet another Christian article about singleness.
Just be still. Do you realize what that paragraph means? You’re known just as you are (1 Corinthians 13:12). Even the inmost places of your heart — the darkest, the brightest, the most wounded, the most joyful, the most romantic — God knows and comprehends them to their depths. He cares for your unspoken and most intimate needs. There isn’t a thought you can speak before God knows it’s there (Psalm 139:4). Dwell on that. Do God’s presence and promises carry so little preciousness that we can scoff and declare them “cliché”?
So often, we spout inane phrases to single people like “God will bring you the right guy.” They reveal the heart so completely: I have to have a romantic relationship in my life at some point to be whole.
We might subtly think, I don’t have to have it now, God. Or even next month. But at some point, God, you’ve gotta bring someone for me to marry.
But he doesn’t. God does not have to bring us someone to marry. He simply is not obligated to do anything for us that is not for his glory and for our joy in him. And since we’re not all-knowing, we cannot claim to know what will give us the most long-term joy. We can make guesses, certainly. But the ultimate decision is up to our God, who has never ceased to provide exactly what his people need — from the garments of skin worn by Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21) to our own daily bread (Matthew 6:11).
“I am already loved with a love that will outlast every other.”
I’m not saying you won’t have difficult days where you yearn to be a husband or wife (I have those days too!), but I am saying that Jesus will meet you in those difficult times. He is gloriously gracious like that. The Spirit is willing and able to teach your heart many things, including contentment in singleness as long as God sees fit — and even if it’s lifelong.
Don’t get me wrong: seeking marriage is great. If you’re interested in a godly someone, use wisdom and discernment and be intentional about it. But don’t fret. You may marry that person, and you may not. Whatever happens, don’t let it overshadow what God has already done for you and the glorious place you are headed.
“That’s great,” you may say as you read this. “But how can I do that?” I don’t pretend to know the complete answer to that question, but here are three suggestions that have helped me.
1. Recognize that you can’t be content on your own.
Contentment is a work of God (Philippians 4:11–13). Pray to him for it. Lay your will and your heart down completely, and not in a way where you’re trying to be holy and spiritual so that you can get the “true prize” in your eyes. God can change your heart from that too; just ask. He is a Father who listens to his children.
2. Second, don’t surround yourself with romance.
I’m not saying avoid all your friends’ weddings — each is a time for rejoicing and celebrating God’s work in their lives! But don’t inundate yourself with romantic comedies and TV shows and books and other media that are constantly focused on romance. Doing this can easily irritate wounds and give a foothold for envy and comparison to wreak havoc on your emotions.
3. And third, enjoy singleness. Seriously.
If you’re not content in singleness, then you won’t be content in marriage. Spouses and significant others are not contentment charms; wedding vows are not magic incantations that produce lifelong fulfillment.
“If you’re not content in singleness, then you won’t be content in marriage.”
Give your time to ministering to friends and your community. Pursue your interests intently. Learn to manage your money. These activities do not have to be less fulfilling just because you are spouse-less! Believe it or not, if you do marry, there will be times when you yearn for singleness, and it isn’t likely to come again (at least not in the same way).
A Better Goal
So I come alongside you as a fellow single, encouraging you to join me in laying down the idol of romance. Let’s prepare now to better serve a future spouse or, if we never marry, to enjoy Jesus no matter married or not.
Marriage is great, but it isn’t ultimate. The honor of “ultimate” remains with our true romance: the God who creates, sustains, intervenes in, and pursues the hearts of his people from eternity to eternity (Psalm 90:1–2). Amen.