Monday, March 29, 2010

On Singlehood

Preface: Some people don't like long blogs. I'm not one of those people.

I feel like it’s pretty common for the single Christian to spend much of their time thinking about their singleness. I guess that unless the single Christian feels called to chastity, as Paul did, then it’s hard to not constantly being looking out for “the one”. I know that seems to be the case for me at least.

It’s pretty easy to feel like the odd one out, or the incomplete one in a group of married couples. I mean, we really are the odd ones out. This whole thought has been a hard one for me to think about. I think when we are involved in ministry, and especially one where the bulk of your friends are married, it is extremely easy to feel like you aren’t as good as you could be.

I know a lot of times, for me at least, it seems like there must be something wrong, whether it be physically or spiritually, because we haven’t been given what seems to be one of the greatest gifts and blessings of marriage. I think a lot of times, as single Christians we focus on how alone we are and how well, not alone, everyone else seems to be. I feel like a lot of the time we just think about how much better life would be if we had that other person that would complete us, how we think that we would be so much happier if we found that missing half. After all, God did say, “It is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18).” I guess that it seems like it is good for man to have his helper, to have his mate. But then I think about how selfish a lot of our intentions are when it comes to being single and desiring to be married. I think about how we want to be married so we can have our needs met. I think about how we want to be married so we don’t have to be lonely, so we don’t have to be the odd one out, so we don’t have to feel incomplete … and none of that is really the point of marriage. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Now, granted, I don’t really have any experience to base my thoughts on, but I feel I can make such claims because I have been surrounded by amazing couples. The past few years I have been able to witness what godly marriages look like, and they don’t look selfish. I’ve learned a lot about what marriage is to look like, because I can look at the marriages around me and see how they are learning what marriage looks like. Marriage is not about having your needs met, it’s about serving them to have their needs met. That’s the whole basis of the latter half of Ephesians 5, right? It’s about wives who submit to their husbands as to the Lord and how husbands who love their wife as Christ loves the church. It’s all about service. You are one. If you hurt your spouse, you hurt yourself. If you love your spouse, you love yourself. It’s about serving, not about being served. I think that we forget about that way too often.

I think that a while back I heard someone quoting a pastor. I don’t recall the pastors name or even the quote completely, so I’ll paraphrase what I do remember. He said something along the lines of “I serve the Lord better because I have my wife.” That really struck me. As I said, I feel a lot of us single people want to get married so we have our needs met, so we don’t feel so alone, but that’s not what marriage is. Sure, marriage is about serving the other, but why? Is the service done to ultimately make us happy or does it go deeper than that? Ultimately marriage should enable better service to the Lord. To work as a team in better way than if you were alone. You have to ask yourself, can I serve the Lord better in my ministry if I am married, or can I be a better servant in my singleness?

That’s where I found myself today. I feel like whenever I feel alone, insecure, or “the odd one out” I have a tendency to draw upon scriptures that have promise and hope in them. I often head to Psalm 84:11

“No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly”

or even more recently Matthew 7:7-8 & 7:11

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks it will be opened… If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give gooD things to those who ask him?”

That is where I picked up today. As I was reading that passage in Matthew 7 I was thinking about it in a pretty literal sense. Normally I don’t but there was a door right next to me. I found myself holding my hand up to the door ready to knock, ready to ask and ready to seek for that “other half of me.” As I held my hand out to the door I found myself questioning all of my intentions (which this blog happens to be a result of). I found myself thinking “if I am ready to knock, then I better know what I’m knocking for.” I started questioning my motives. I found myself pretty convicted in why I would be asking for a relationship at this point in my life. I guess just wanted to ask for someone in my life so I wouldn’t feel like the odd one out, incomplete or inadequate. I mean, I’m content with where I am. I am learning so much by the people around me, and I am serving the Lord well because I don’t have the worries or responsibilities that come with a marriage, but I still am by myself… or at least that’s what I’m constantly thinking to myself. I’ve asked. I’ve even asked with good intentions. I’ve kept my eyes open and granted I haven’t literally knocked on doors, but I have been waiting. So as I sat at my desk with my hand up to the door, ready to knock and wait for the door opened, I found in my heart that I couldn’t knock. Not with the motives that seem to have solidified within my mind. I couldn’t ask for something when I knew that the intentions were not with a heart of service, but rather requested upon a heart of self-service. It’s a hard thing to swallow. I lowered my hand convicted and went back to reading.

Is there a happy ending to this story? Absolutely. Sure, the love of my life didn’t open the door to sweep me off my feet, but who says that has to be the happy ending? Today may not even be the end. Granted, today could be my last day, but today I remembered something that is really easy to forget. Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I’m broken or less capable of ministry. It doesn’t mean that I’m inadequate or less important than anyone else. Being single isn’t a sentence to be marooned on an island all alone. It’s okay to be single. It may even be better to be alone. I mean, look at the life a Paul. He was all for being single. He understood how much the single person can serve others in the body. Marriage isn’t a measure of spiritual growth. I forget that. Being single isn’t a sentence to dying alone. I forget that too. Being single doesn’t mean that we are less important on unequal. I also forget that. Paul got that and a lot of times the single people in the church aren’t looked at in that light. I feel like a lot of the time we are looked at like something has to be wrong with us if we aren’t married. There is always so much pressure from the people in the church to be married and a lot of the time there’s not much we can do but wait and serve.

So I guess for now I just wait. I’ll be okay with waiting. I’ll knock when I’m ready. I’ll ask when I’m ready. And with God willing and the right timing, it will be my turn to serve in a different way.

It’s not the end of the world to be single. It’s not a matter of being less important or less loved by people or even God.

I can remember a time in my life when a bunch of my friends where getting engaged, getting married or were already married. I remember talking to one of my friends and saying that I felt like I wasn’t important enough to God and that he didn’t want to give me what he was giving everyone else. I remember telling her that God must not think I’m good enough. She responded in a way that I will never forget. She said, “Elisha, what makes you think that you could ever be good enough?” As hard as that pill was to swallow, I really needed her to rain on my pity parade in that way. What would ever make me think I was good enough? I’m just a sinner. I could never be good enough to win God’s favor. I could never be good enough on my own to have the right to tell God he should be giving me what I want. It’s not like I could work to win blessings from God. They are blessings because we don’t deserve them. They are blessings because we couldn’t earn them. So, I often have to draw back to that and remember that it’s not about me. It’s not about working to earn God’s favor. It’s about Him and His glory. It’s about working to make Him known. He is faithful, so I just have to trust that his plan is better for me than my own. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow that pill, but ultimately, it’s the pill we need to swallow to realize we can’t do it ourselves.

That’s all I have for now. In closing, you may be single, but you are not alone. You may feel broken, but you are whole in Christ. You may feel unequal, but in Christ we are just as important and most of all we are just as loved.



Karlina said...

Elisha thanks for this was super i want to thank you for opening yourself up and sharing this...

Garren and Jayne said...

Loved it. I have so been here and now am so not. :) But I look back and remember having lonely times. Now though I see it differently, having been married almost 11 years and having had kiddo's for almost 8. Don't miss understand me at all. I love being married and having kid's but it is a lot of work. When I see singles eager to be married I want to say, enjoy being single, look at it this way. God will give you the desires of your heart if you seek after Him. Let's just say that you don't meet that perfect guy till your 30 (I know you want to punch me right now) you will most likely live till around 70, so that is 40 years of being married! 10 years of being single is a drop in the bucket compared to that.
Enjoy your short amount of time being single. :)
Marriage is a lot of work, kid's add more and yet it is wonderful in so many ways but I definitly enjoy just me time. I even love to go out to eat by myself, taking a book I want to read and just can't seem to squeeze it in. Yep, total nerd for books. Able to sit and eat in peace, not cutting someone elses food, or reminding the kiddo's to keep voices down and stay in their seats. No half finished conversations interupted by, "Mom, Mom, Mom...." Me stopping and saying, "you are inturupting, put your hand on my leg and I'll talk to you when I am done talking. pause "Oh I can't remember what I was saying. What did you want to say?"
Anyway, all that to say. Work on your relationship with God. Seek Him out daily, spend time being the spouse you would want to be married to. Getting as close as you can to God. One day it won't just be you and Him it will be you and Him and you helping your Man be the best Man he can be.
I think you are awesome. I can't imagine you getting married cause I like you so much the way you are.
Have a beautiful day! Actually Year!!