SINGLENESS is a topic that usually does not get addressed well, if at all.
as much as it is something that is a struggle for both men and women i think that the biological clock aspect that women [who are wanting to get married and have children] face does tend to make it a more serious struggle for them earlier on in life than with men.
and often the church has been more a part of the problem than the solution, or at least ‘well-meaning people’ within the church:
there was a time when particularly within the catholic church the focus was on singleness as the way to have reached it – nuns and monks and the gift of celibacy were the way to go and being single meant you were seen as more spiritual and closer to God and there were bible passaged that could be used to ‘back this up’.
then the protestant church swung the pendulum completely the other way and being married and then being married with children [must be biological children!] was the way to have arrived and so this unspoken goal of life seemed to be what was put on the pedestal and held higher than anything else.
i believe, as with most things, that both extremes are problematic and now that i have had three years of marriage [and having had a good run of 35 years of largely singleness] i believe that i can speak with some measure of authority to both of them.
neither being single nor being married is ‘the better way’ – Paul, in his letter to the church in Phillipi [and us by extension] says this, specifically speaking into the aspect of financial well-being, but i believe it carries over into every area of life: ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ [Philippians 4.12-13]
contentment is the key – be where you are and enjoy where you are at – if you are single then embrace your singleness and make the most of it in every way possible – and if/when you get married then live that to the full. don’t sit in the place of one desperately wishing that you were in the other. BUT, that doesn’t mean tha if you are single and do want to be married that you should not keep on gently presenting that desire before God:
‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ [Philippians 4.4-7]
as much as God already knows your heart and your desires, it is by presenting them to Him that you invite relationship, that you invite Him in to minister to aspects of loneliness or rejection or bruised dreams or hopes that may be in you.
i LOVED my singleness and when i look back i don’t desire that i had gotten married ten years earlier and missed out on all the opportunities and possibilities of adventure that happened because it was just me. and so i really learnt [for the most part, i had my bad days... weeks... months...] to just really make the most of the situation i found myself in… but at the same time i really believed that i had too much love for one person and so i wanted to be married [especially around singles table time at weddings] and i took that to God regularly and sometimes with gentle request and other times more with ‘C’mon God, don’t you like me or what?’ less graceful questioning, but for the most part, the overall was a sense of let me be content where i am while i am here and keep my prayers, requests and longings before God.
i got to a place where i had largely resigned myself to the fact that i was going to be single for life [and somewhat largely, with much intermittent sighing, okay with that] and then the beautiful Val came along and the rest is history… or presentcy or something.
one of the hardest things in my life, especially since i got married, is seeing a bunch of really incredible friends of mine who are around my age [which is approaching old] and who are desiring to be married, but yet are still single, because i get it. to a large extent i really do. [which is possibly why a huge part of my 51 minute wedding speech was focusing on single people] it doesn’t feel right or fair and you get to a point when it doesn’t feel hopeful any more. people who view marriage as the end point make you feel stupid and sad and unfulfilled and your friends who are dating and getting married and having kids [again, if this is what you wanted] make it really hard to be around them sometimes [often through no fault of their own]. and the thing is a bunch of them are incredible amazing people who, it feels like to me, deserve to find their life partner a lot more than other people [if there is such a thing]. so i will keep praying, and hoping, and trying to be as encouraging as i can to them and challenging them to live singleness well while it is a reality. but don’t stop laying that desire before God if you are wanting something more.
and to anyone who EVER says to a single woman, “let Jesus be your boyfriend”, you honestly deserve a punch on the nose.
there are some brave people who are going to be sharing their stories in this regard and i honour you for doing so:
to read the story of my good friend Sammi Taylor
to read the story of my friend and housemate Sueihn Lee
to read the story of Kate Hurley aka ‘The Sexy Celibate’
to read the story of my new friend Alexa O S Russell
to read the story of Dani Scoville [and a look at Deconstructing Boundaries]
to read the story of my friend and possibly brother-in-law Dale Nunes [his brother married my sister]
two other blog posts i was directed to that contain some great stuff on the topic are:
‘Singleness is not a Prelude’ [on a blog called 'broken cameras and gustav klimt' guest posted by Jennie Pollock]
‘I don’t wait anymore’ [on a blog called Grace for the Road]