The following post is adapted from some notes of a message I gave last year on singleness. And shocker… I am actually single and not a married woman sharing about how hard it is to be single and how sorry I am that you’re still single. Yeah, I’ve read those posts and heard those messages too. Lately, you, the single woman like me, have been on my heart. Perhaps it’s the holidays. Perhaps it’s because I am inching closer to 30. I don’t know. I just thought it was time to share this post. I am not saying this will make you feel better about your current Facebook marital status. But I hope it does give you some encouragement on the journey…
Founder & Executive Director
WHOLE Women Ministries
Dirty Girls Ministries
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I think of any people group in the world, the single adult population is the most diverse. I say that because we have women who have always been single, like myself, women who have been married but who are single again (whether through divorce or loss of spouse). We also have women who are single moms, and they too could have never been married, or they are single again for whatever reason, or have always been single.
That’s a lot of different kinds of people. And each one is uniquely created to fulfill a God-given purpose.
But for some reason, single women, particularly and if not exclusively Christian single women, live their lives like this is the staging area for the big production … or like they are just sitting in the waiting room outside the rest of their real life that’s to come.
There are misconceptions (maybe) that as single women, we can’t know or live out our God-given purpose in life until we’re a wife and a mother. I believe this misconception might come about as a result of what we see and hear at church or in our culture and from our well-meaning, but idiotic-sounding married friends.
We hear a lot of sermons on parenting, on being a good spouse, etc. and very little or nothing at all on what it means to live out our purpose as single adults. And we hear from our friends that if we would just put ourselves out there more, we’d find a husband or that we’re just too picky.
(What’s wrong with being picky by the way? What happened to “don’t settle cause God’s got the perfect man for you”? Is that just advice for high school girls?)
So we almost develop this kind of complex that we’re just not complete until we’re married. That life really doesn’t begin until after marriage. That we don’t really count until we’re married. That we just don’t… measure… up.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In this post, we’re going to look at some rather large chunks of scripture. These verses can be freeing to you as a single woman, but also a bit convicting. But as we know, conviction is God’s way of correcting our thoughts and behaviors. So we should never shy away from the scriptures that speak hard, honest truth to us.
The first book of Corinthians is one of two letters that Paul sent to the church of Corinth in Greece about Christian living and conduct due to concerns that had been brought to him from those in the area.
A little bit about Paul, if you don’t know, is that Paul was formerly known as Saul, a Pharisee and just an all around bad guy. He had been a murderer of Christians. In today’s standards, some might think of him as a terrorist. But he had a mighty encounter with the Lord on the Road of Damascus that changed his life.
You see, Paul was set apart to do great things for the Lord.
He accepted Jesus as his Messiah and became one of the most influential missionaries to ever walk this earth. Planting many churches, discipling many young men and women, and even authoring as many as 13 books of the New Testament including 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, etc.
And he did all of this while living as a single man who from what we know of scripture, never married.
And like I was saying before about playing the waiting room game or believing that our life’s purpose can’t really begin until after marriage, the scripture says,
… don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. (1 Corinthians 7:17 MSG)
To decide to pursue your own passions and purpose as a single woman is not equivalent to you throwing in the towel on the possibility of marriage and family. It is does not make you an old maid. It does not make you a lost cause. It does not mean you have to symbolically marry Jesus. You are not destined for the convent life as a nun.
You have a life to live now and it can be a pretty great one.
Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me-a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. (1 Corinthians 7:7 MSG)
Nothing is accidental. If God wanted you to be married right now, guess what? You would be married.
There’s actually nothing in the Bible that requires marriage. In fact, Paul talks of singleness as the better choice when compared to marriage. Basically saying, “only get married if you must.”
Why did Paul say it’s better? Let’s look at the scripture together and find out.
I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.
I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions. (1 Corinthians 7:29-35 MSG)
I have lived 28 years of single life and without any prospects. I know it is hard to be the third wheel, or feel singled out for being single, or be literally one of the last of your girlfriends to walk down the aisle.
But if we begin to look at our singleness as an honor or as a gift, that we’ve been set apart to do the Lord’s work without distraction, would we be as upset about our martial status? How much more could God do with our time?
There’s nothing wrong with desiring marriage and family. I believe both are from the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart in due time. But these years of singlehood can be a time for you to be totally about the Lord’s work both in your own life and in the lives of others.
So live your single life as if it were on purpose. Because it is.
I want to leave you with a perspective shift and a challenge, if you’ll allow me that.
Last March, I was on a mission trip to Thailand. Not only does Thailand battle a huge human trafficking epidemic, but there is a huge cultural pressure for young and arranged marriage in this culture.
It is not uncommon for a Thai girl to be married by the age of 14 or 15. In fact, for a girl to remain unmarried at the age of 20 years old, it is considered shameful by her family and by society. As a result, teenage girls are getting married, becoming young mothers soon after and not pursuing their education or their dreams.
Eight years ago, Mai, was taken in by a safe home in Pua called Grace House. She was very bright and even had dreams of becoming a doctor. Last March, Mai returned home after school released for summer break like so many girls do.
While she was away, Mai succumbed to cultural pressure and was married over the summer. She now has a young baby and will not return to her education. She’s was only 17 at the time and would have graduated high school last March.
Stories like these are becoming far too common over there.
One evening while at New Hope Home, which is a home for girls with HIV or who have been displaced because of HIV, one of the pastors on the trip asked the girls to make him and God a promise.
To stand against the pressure that is placed on them. To pursue God. To pursue their passions. To pursue their God-given purposes.
And as you see in that picture, these girls have their hands all in and they are repeating back to him their promise, their commitment to never settle and to live out the purpose God has set them apart to do long ago (Ephesians 2:10).
I challenge you today to make the same commitment.
So please don’t, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side. (1 Corinthians 7:23-24 MSG)
What are misconceptions you’ve encountered as a single woman in the Church?
How have you allowed cultural pressure to determine your steps?
If you’re married, how can you help create a culture where it’s safe to be single?
Do you want to see more posts like this? Let us know.
I can’t even begin to tell you how on point this post is. I too fall in the category of never having been married and no prospects. It has been interesting to see how others’ perception of me has changed with each decade it was cute in my late teens and 20s… a source of discomfort… now in my 40s… I get the sympathetic pursed-lip look a lot. Personally, I have finally come to a place where I can accept that God’s answer to me in this area just might be “no” and that’s not bad, it just is. Anyway, thanks so much for this post. I’ve got a purpose to get back to! ;o)
Love this article. I have been married to the same man for 34 years but I counsel single women frequently. More than not they are in a “holding pattern” waiting until they get married and have a family. One question I always ask is, “What happens if that is not God’s plan for you?” “What happens if you never do get married?” They are all taken back by those questions as if that is an impossibility. God would never ask them to go through live single, would he?! I will definitely keep a copy of this article for them to peruse and learn from. Thank you Crystal.
As a married person with single friends I love what you wrote! The verse you quoted 1 Corinthians 7:7 MSG, was just part of bible study yesterday! And it got me thinking that I do often ‘pass judgement’ on why are you still single? And my friends will tell me “because they choose to be” Thank you for putting this so well! For both those that are married and those that are single!!!
Thank You for this blog! Very helpful for where I’m at today!
Loved your post! Just what I needed right now… I am still a teen and not Sure if celibacy is for me but I do know that it God’s will for me to remain unattached for some years to come. So why should I dwell too much on a relationship if I know I shouldn’t have one right now? I should be pursuing God and NOT any worldly passions.
This article was such a blessing to me tonight! For the past two years, I have lived an “on purpose” single life after a tragic breakdown of my marriage. I am not even 30 yet, and I have been through more relational drama than I should have in a lifetime.
So two years ago, after having left a very dangerous situation, I came to the realization that you made in your post: as women, we often live our lives in the waiting room, and we stand up momentarily to try to peak through the double doors and see who God has in store for us. But the truth is, life is meant to be lived for each second that it’s worth. And every life is just as valuable as the next, whether that life happens to be walking parallel with another or not.
Christian fellowship is important, but it does not have to come in the form of marriage or even a dating relationship. The intimacy that we crave in this lifetime can be met and exceeded by an incredibly deep walk with Christ.
I have found that the more I dive into God’s Word, the more I notice Him “wooing” me in my everyday life. And over my last 2 years of purposeful singleness, I have come to fall more deeply in Love with God than I have ever previously been.
I was happy to see you reference Paul, because he has been such an influential example in my life. I read his books so regularly, and they are like a spiritual prescription for the single soul.
I just want to thank you for taking the time to write this Spirit-filled post, and let you know that you are not alone in your single walk! May God bless your every step with love, comfort, and peace.