I’ve had a few conversations about singleness recently and wanted to jot down some of the things I’ve been thinking through over the last few years. It’s not profound or comprehensive but maybe it’ll be helpful for someone.
- Whatever reason you have for wanting to be married, marriage is not going to fix it. There are a few different reasons I’ve wanted to be married at various times, but what I’ve come to realise is that marriage isn’t a permanent solution to those reasons. Whether it’s because you want a lifelong best friend who’ll always be by your side, or you want someone who will love you, or you want someone to care for you and offer a shoulder to cry on when you’re having a tough time, or you want to satisfy your sexual desires… whatever it is, if it’s something you desire while you’re single, you’ll still be desiring it when you’re married. If you feel lonely as a single person, there will also be times when you’ll feel lonely if you are married; if you feel unloved, there will be times as a married person when you’ll feel unloved.
Whoever you marry will be a sinner. They will make mistakes, they won’t love you or care for you as they should. But also, you are a sinner and you will be selfish and expect them to be and do beyond what they can (note how all those reasons I listed before for wanting to be married are selfish ones).
That’s not to say they are wrong desires necessarily, but a husband or wife won’t fulfil them completely. In fact, no one can fulfil your deepest desires except for God, and looking to satisfy those desires in a person is a futile pursuit.
So, when I find myself wishing I was married, I think about why and remind myself that I’m looking to the wrong person for that. I remind myself that I can’t expect marriage to be a magic solution and therefore I need to work through these things now by looking to God to fulfil (or correct) my desires.
- Being married may not be the best way I can be serving God. For some people (including me!) that is a slightly scary thought, especially when I consider that marriage may never be the best way I can serve God. Just allow yourself to think that through for a minute… that perhaps, maybe, you might never get married. I think we don’t like to entertain that possibility because we expect a particular pattern of life that involves getting married and having kids. But that brings me back to the second part of that statement… how can I be best serving God? That is ultimately what I want to be doing in my life: serving and glorifying God. He is my Creator, he is Lord of the universe, he has given me life despite my rejection of him deserving death – I want to serve him*.
If that’s my big purpose in life, then whether to get married or not has to come back to that, has to be considered in terms of whether I can best be serving God single or married. For me, at the moment, I’m not aware of any guys that if I were to marry them, would help me to serve God better. Now, I may meet someone next week (or find that I already know someone), and as I get to know him, begin to wonder whether I could be serving God better married to him. But today, I know I can best be serving God as a single person, and I’m also certain that if I could be serving God better by being married, God would bring someone into my life.
If it’s not your big purpose in life to serve and glorify God, then this may seem a bit strange, but consider this: what is your big purpose in life? What are you worshipping instead of God?
- What kind of person do I want to marry? Am I that kind of person? For me, I would want to marry someone who is a follower of Jesus, who loves the Lord, who puts others before himself, who looks for opportunities to serve in the church, who is keen to learn from God’s Word and who is clearly seeking to serve and glorify God above all else (among other things, and accepting that no one does any of those things perfectly!).
Now, am I the kind of person who’s like that too? Would a guy looking for a wife like that see me as someone seeking to serve God, seeking to put others before myself, keen to learn from God’s Word, seeking opportunities to serve? Or would they see someone keen to get married, desperate to impress, putting opportunities to hang out with eligible guys ahead of opportunities to serve, someone who is willing to serve but prefers doing the things that are noticed and more praise-worthy than the things that are behind the scenes and not particularly glamorous?
I expect (and hope) that the thing that will attract me to a guy (if and when I get married) will be his dedication to serving God above all else, and hopefully that would be the same thing he would find attractive in a girl. So, why don’t I simply focus on serving God rather than working out how to get noticed?
- There are lots of reasons why singleness is good. People invariably point out that you have a lot more time and freedom as a single person, and I invariably think “Yeah, yeah, whatever” and don’t want to hear about it because I’m still stuck on thinking marriage is the answer (see point 1). But, having observed my married siblings and friends, I have come to realise that it’s true. I could not be doing the job I’m doing and serving in the church as much as I am if I were married. I would have a duty (and no doubt a desire!) to spend time with my husband, and currently I have the freedom to spend that time serving others or putting in more time at work. I also have the freedom to decide what I want to eat for dinner or what I want to do with my evening or what time I want to get up in the morning, without having to consider what my husband would like to eat or do (I have heard many married people saying they’ve never been more confronted by how selfish they are until they got married). Of course, I can abuse that time and freedom and use it selfishly, but I also have the opportunity to do things I simply couldn’t do in the same way if I were married.
I haven’t got this singleness thing completely sussed, and these are just a few things God has gradually helped me to understand over the last 5 or so years. There may be other things you struggle with or think other people should realise. I probably haven’t explained everything clearly and maybe I’ve got some of it wrong. But hopefully, there’s some food for thought in there for you. Feel free to ask questions or add your perspective in the comments below.*I mess things up frequently and get distracted and am in no way perfect – acknowledging when I don’t serve God or don’t want to, and turning back to him are things I need to do frequently, but ultimately my desire is to serve and glorify him.