Content but not Complete – Part One

Content But Not Complete

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.

We need to learn to embrace the temporary as temporary, neither fretting at our current state nor stubbornly deciding it will never change.

Click to read the rest of the series…  Part Two >> Part Three >> Part Four

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conversations between sisters in Christ

  1. Anita N. L. says

    Thank you for the encouraging article! I see my situation right now as: The Lord knows what’s best for me… obviously He can better use me single now than if I were married. If marriage was/is the Lord’s best, He will bring it about in His good timing. Be therefore content, in whatsoever state. Amen! To Him be all the glory!

  2. Heather says

    I have an older-mother figure type in my life who recently gave me this key insight into the idea of marriage fixing things: “marriage never fixes anything; if anything, it brings out more in both husband and wife which they will need to work through.” In essence, marriage never made anyone’s life easier.
    I am only 21, but my girlish dreams ten years ago envisioned myself married by this age with a child or two on my lap. I cannot imagine how dramatically different my life would be if I was married now. After surrendering my life to God, He has used me in huge ways as I minister to the sisters-in-Christ who I live with, and the young women who attend my church. When anyone offers their life to God, He will use them in huge ways for His kingdom.
    When I started realizing how effectively God was using me as an unmarried woman, my focus became more on sharing the gospel and disciplining girls, than on getting married someday. Do I still have a desire to get married? Yes; but it is overshadowed by the desire I have to see more people accept Jesus Christ.
    This was a long and difficult process to get to this point in my life, but with God’s help it is possible. I am sure the wait is well worth it!

  3. Jaclynn says

    I still love this article and have since adopted that motto “Content but not complete”. I’ve found it keeps me in the right perspective, being called to be single for today, and yet still not complete.

  4. Ana says

    Wow!! Well said, thank you for what you have said and reminded us of! Oh how the Lord used you to bring comfort, peace and joy to my heart! Thank you so much!

  5. Samantha says

    Jeannie,
    Thank you ever so much for this!!
    I’m single with no future relationship in sight and I’m 21 1/2. I know exactly what you mean about the intense and growing desire to get married and have children ourselves…… I feel that way moreso every year!
    Sometimes it’s discouraging to think of being “30″ and still single. But if I remind myself that the Lord is in control of my life and He has the perfect plan for me…. I have a feeling of Peace and I know it’s from Him. I definitely want Him to orchestrate my life and not worry too much about the future. I know He has put this desire in me to have a family of my own and He’ll work it all out in His timing and in His Way.
    “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.”
    Amen!!! I couldn’t agree more!

  6. Anonymous says

    Awesome, Jeannie. You hit the main points that willhelp us single in our journey onward with the King. I really think singleness is a time to spiritually mature and draw closer to the Lord while we don’t have a spouse to worry about~

  7. Meriwether says

    I was once given a bit of very good advice. Instead of worrying about ‘finding’ a husband, getting married, being single, etc…Love God and others so much till there is no room for loneliness, bitterness, discontent, or doubt about your single state to creep in. There are so many people who need help(widows, orphans, the elderly, the lonely & sad) till we singles have enough to do without worrying about marriage. If marriage is His plan for you, it will come in His time, not yours. God blessed us with hearts that never run out of room in their love for others and hands to help the sick and needy. As the Bible says, “Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do it with all thy might.”

  8. Anonymous says

    Dear Jeannie,
    Your piece refreshed me so much! It’s one of those occasions where it seems to be just for me.
    You are so honest, and so ‘right on’!
    Thankyou a thousand times,
    JT

  9. April says

    I think this subject is ignored far too often. I’m looking forward to what you will write for us, Jeannie.

    (Lovely picture, by the way. :-))

  10. Rebecca says

    Thanks so much Jeannie. I’m one of those single ladies past the early 20s. All of my friends are married. Most of them have children. I’ve been learning a lot lately about being “called to be single.” At least I know that is what I am called to right now. I wish that I had come to that realization a lot sooner. I feel like I wasted the last few years waiting around… I’m so anxious to read the rest of what you have to say. Thanks for talking about this!!!!!

  11. Anonymous says

    Jeannie,

    Great article!! Thank you!! In the depths of my heart, I believe God is calling me to marriage– to serve a husband and children– but sometimes when I feel discouraged, I do what you said: stubbornly and frustratedly throw up my hands in fear, hurt, and confusion. Thanks for the reminder to embrace my singleness today, but to still hold hope that it is temporary. :-) Life’s such a balance sometimes, isn’t it? Balancing our attitudes without becoming lukewarm. ;-)

    Blessings,
    LM

  12. Katie says

    Wow Jeannie! I have read the article in Boundless before, and it totally changed my mind about singleness and marriage.
    I am so happy you are writing about this subject. So many women today take the “easy road” of claiming a life long calling to singleness, simply because they havent enough gumption to admit how deeply they do truly want marriage.
    Its time to break the myths that surround singleness, and open the door to serving Christ in whatever season of life you’re in with a grateful and content heart!
    I’d highly recommend any women (whether single or not) visit http://www.reviveourhearts.com. Its a radio ministry that focuses on womens issues, and the host Nancy Leigh Demoss is a single women herself. Her teachings have inspired me greatly (although I’m not single)!