As one of the few remaining “single and unattached” writers on this site, I’d like to ask some of you (especially those in a similar state) a question: How do you feel about singleness? More importantly, how do you feel about marriage? If you are getting a little older, you may also be getting a little discouraged. Perhaps you’ve experienced a broken dream or relationship. Probably many of your friends are married and having children. We single girls can get caught in the middle. On one hand, we have the intense (and growing!) desire to get married and have children ourselves, but nothing is happening. On the other hand, we’re constantly told to relinquish those desires and embrace the gift of singleness. We try so hard to let go, to turn away from our deep desires, and yet they remain. We think, “Surely there are other aspects to life” – but marriage remains our focal point and the setting of our most intense struggles.
What is wrong? Why the endless struggle? I believe part of the problem stems from our attitude about marriage. Although nearly all of us long for a husband, few of us dare to admit how much. Within our Christian-homeschooling-courtship subculture, honestly expressing the depth of that desire has become somewhat taboo. Instead, singleness has been elevated and marriage regulated to dreams of “someday,” even for those of us in our mid to late twenties. And we single girls have done our part, insisting that we’re capable of being perfectly content and fulfilled right where we are (this may be in part a defense mechanism). “If God wants me to stay here in Dad’s home, and serve my family for the rest of my life, that’s fine with me!” we say glibly – then wonder why that wedding invitation gave us such a pang.
I’d like to offer an alternative to the way we’ve been looking at the whole issue of marriage and singleness, at least from a single’s perspective. Let me say right up front that this radical idea did not originate with me. I’ve run across bits and pieces of it in many diverse places, woven like threads of light through books and articles. What I hope to do in this series of articles is to pull those threads together into a banner of hope for all my struggling single sisters.
Called To Be Single
I’ve heard many girls say, “Well, maybe I’m just called to be single.” When no boyfriend is appearing on the scene (especially once you pass the early twenties), it’s tempting to say that! I’ll admit I’ve said it more than a few times myself. But I think we need to examine that phrase a little more closely – after all, “called” is a word with a lot of meaning to a Christian.
So what do we mean by “called to be single”? When you say that lightly to a girlfriend, are you saying the following? “I believe God has a special calling on my life. I am prepared to live a life of celibacy, never experiencing the emotional and physical intimacy of marriage, never having children, and serving God in an unusual way.” As Boundless writer Alex Chediak has pointed out, that kind of calling is fairly rare. God does not call many of His children to that kind of service. If that is your calling, He will give you assurance of that and the grace you need to fulfill it. But for the vast majority of us, that’s simply not what He’s asking for. Often when He doesn’t move as fast as we think He should, we don’t have the patience for Him to guide us to His will. Instead, we throw up our hands and say, “Fine! I guess I’ll just be single!” – perhaps in doing so, turning aside (even temporarily) from the pursuit of our true calling.
But I’m not married today. So today I am called to be single. Today my responsibility is to glorify God through my willing acceptance of my singleness. We need to learn to embrace the temporary as temporary, neither fretting at our current state nor stubbornly deciding it will never change. Because it probably will change, putting us in the place God designed for women from our creation – by a man’s side.