The Single Calling
I used to think that being single was a bad thing. That it was a sign that I wasn’t good enough. I was led to believe that if I couldn’t fall in love and get married before I turned thirty, then I was a failure. The people who made me feel this way were well-meaning and wanted me to be happy. However, all these people were married with kids. That was their calling, not mine.
Hallmark channel didn’t help me with this problem either. For a while, I fell prey to what I call “the Hallmark Syndrome.” I watched a lot of Hallmark channel before I enlisted in the Air Force and then again after finishing my four-year term in 2020. As a result, I started to believe that I would definitely meet someone and fall in love by thirty. Because, you know, all the Hallmark girls are thirty and have most of their lives figured out already. But that isn’t reality. We don’t have it all figured out by thirty and we don’t all meet our future spouse in the same time frame. I had to come to terms with this over the course of several years. Last year I turned thirty and thought, “It’s my year. All the girls on Hallmark channel are like thirty when they meet someone. Now it’s my turn.” Well, I’m thirty-one now and still single. Still haven’t met anyone… and that’s okay.
You see, my problem wasn’t Hallmark channel and its unrealistic expectations for romance and men (none of those men are real, no man is that “perfect” or “understanding” – that’s why it’s called fiction). My problem was the inability to fully love and accept myself as I am, regardless of what my relationship status is. I would claim that I was okay with being single and was “waiting on God’s perfect timing”, but the truth was that I wasn’t okay with that. I wanted a boyfriend, a partner, a lifelong friend, and confidant – a husband. While I still want those things, I have realized a few things. First, it’s okay to want those things.
During the holiday season and now heading into Valentine’s Day, I’ve seen a lot of couples walking around on campus at my university, at amusement parks, even in the grocery store or the mall. At first, I felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw them holding hands or talking and laughing together (just like in the movies, you can insert a song of your choice here – like “Somebody to Love” by Queen, you get the idea). I thought I had gotten past all of that and accepted my singleness, but during this past holiday season, I came to terms with the fact that I hadn’t. That I still wanted a relationship and marriage. Yet, over the past month or so I came to realize that it wasn’t a sin to want those things. I don’t know if God has called me to marriage or to be like Paul and some of the others who never married but devoted their entire lives to ministry. I don’t know if I will marry one day, perhaps later in life, but I do know this: God’s plans are far better than mine.
In Isaiah 55:9 God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” This verse has been one of my life verses for many years and words that I go back to whenever I don’t understand things or start to worry about anything. These words apply to my singleness too. While I don’t understand a lot of things, God has a reason and a purpose for everything in my life. Including my singleness. And His plans are way better than mine. Not to mention that they are for my own good.
God knows me better than I know myself. He knows that I have a lot of stuff to work through before I’m ready to marry. Therefore, my relationship status doesn’t matter so long as I get my most important relationship right: my relationship with God. When we live in a right relationship with God, it naturally bleeds over into all our other relationships. How we think, feel, act, and react change because of how God has changed us and given us a new heart. A heart of flesh and not of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). With this new heart we can continuously learn how to love and see people the way God loves and sees both them and us. So, when we get our relationship with God right, then that will seep into our other relationships and create a healthy, strong foundation in which God is at the center.
The second thing I learned was that my timing isn’t the same as everyone else’s. Some people marry young, some in their thirties, and others later in life. Whether or not I get married doesn’t matter. What matters is what I do with the time God has given me to be single. I realized that it’s actually good that I am still single because I need to work on myself before I can even think about working on a marriage. I have a lot of baggage that needs to get sorted and I can only do that while I am single. I am thus able to spend more time focusing on my relationship with God rather than on my husband.
Additionally, there are so many things I wouldn’t have gotten to do if I had married young. For instance, I never would have joined the Air Force and explored Europe while I was stationed in England. Or taken a last-minute deployment to Qatar where I spent six months, which included all of the holidays in 2019. I wouldn’t have gotten to take a short summer travel course to England last summer – which was a spur of the moment decision in which I had less than twelve hours to decide. In a nutshell, God gave me all these opportunities to grow as a person and see more of the world rather than living a life I thought I wanted but didn’t really want.
I’m a creative writer, therefore I have an adventurous heart and don’t want to sit still all the time. I want to go places, see new things, and experience new cultures. If I had married young, I would have missed out on all the experiences I had while single. I wouldn’t have grown as much as a writer or a person because I wouldn’t have done as much as I have. While marriage may still be in the future and I do still want that, I have learned to be truly content with my current relationship status. I’m not so concerned about it anymore and am more than happy to focus on other things: such as my relationship with God, growing as a person, and, naturally, my writing.
I’m not going to be all cliche and say that “Jesus is my boyfriend” or that He’s my “valentine” or anything like that. To me, all that feels like a cover for how a person really feels. To me, it says that I’m not okay with being single. But that’s just me. I know it’s different for other people, but I’m only talking from my perspective and not anyone else’s. Instead, I now embrace my singleness for what it is: A gift from God.
That’s the third and final thing I’ve come to learn. Singleness really is a gift. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, but it truly is a gift. As I pointed out, I was able to do a lot of things and travel to many places because of my singleness. Being single has been a blessing. It only took me about three decades to figure that out. It doesn’t always feel that way, but the truth is that we are each gifted with a time in which we are single (some shorter and some longer than others). I believe that this time is for us to discover who we truly are and how we relate to God as well as how we can serve Him before we meet and marry our future spouse. But for some of us, singleness is the call upon our lives. Sometimes, you just don’t realize that until later in life.
Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” We spend a lot of time in church and in books looking at verses 5 and 6, but I want to point out the beginning of verse 7. “Do not be wise in your own eyes.” While we do need to trust in God and not lean on our own understanding, we also need to understand the fact that just because something seems good and wise in our eyes, doesn’t make that thing part of the plan God has for us. Marriage is a good and beautiful thing, as difficult as it can be, but that isn’t God’s plan for all of us. We are each called to something. For some of us, we have the call of singleness upon our lives, just like Paul the apostle. However, whatever our calling, whether that be to remain single or to one day get married, the same will always remain true: God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.