I’ve avoided writing about this topic for a while because I feel like I’m in the middle of figuring it out myself. It can be daunting, overwhelming, and so many people have so many thoughts on it. For the next few weeks, I’ll be using this space to answer some questions I’ve received about this particular topic. Hang on to your seats y’all, this is one wild (beautiful and messy) ride.
*cue dramatic music*
A word that produces so many different reactions. Disgust. Joy. Avoidance. An overload of opinions. Sadness.
If high-school Ellie could see me now… she definitely thought I would be married with a child by now. In fact, I was given the superlative “Most Likely To Get Married First" by my Christian, mostly home-schooled, high-school class. (Yes, that's for real. I'm not sure whether to be happy or bummed out that I didn't get "Coolest Fashion Sense?") Twenty-four years old was ancient in that girl's mind. If she didn’t have a kid by her mid-twenties, I mean what was she doing with her life?
So. What is my biggest problem with how the church today talks about singleness?
My biggest problem is that the narrative is often, unintentionally and subtly, single people are incomplete and marriage is the end goal of life. And I believe that if we believe that, we’re walking in the wrong direction.
I got to spend Valentines Day this year talking to high-school students about how I’ve been single my whole life.
Okay, so the message was about finding your identity in who God has made you to be and being the person He has made you to be rather than putting your worth and value in a specific person or relationship. It was refreshing to be able to speak so openly to those students about my own experience and be reminded of the overwhelmingly good truth that if I fix my eyes on Jesus, everything falls into place HIS way. Which is the best way.
I used to wallow in my singleness. Like, full on “Why me/What’s wrong with me/Why don’t I have a boyfriend” wallowing. There were tears, there were pity parties, I did it all. I had an unhealthy view of relationships, thinking that once I had a boyfriend, I would be okay. I would be complete. It's a never-ending cycle of not being good enough, of constantly comparing yourself to people who have a significant other and wondering, "What do I need to do to get there?"
Singleness is a season of life. So is marriage. So is parenthood. So is grief and loss, and success and heartbreak and the fullest joy. And yes! When you are looking at Jesus and walking with Him, you’ll be in a place where you are filling your life with people who have the same vision as you do. And when you are full of gratitude for what God is doing in your life, you will be full of joy and will feel an overwhelming peace. But none of that is a recipe for a relationship.
We need to grab onto the John 14:12 truth that is, "The person who trusts Me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing."
Jesus doesn't say, "People in relationships will do all the cool things." He says, "If you walk with Me and do life with Me, you will be able to do incredible things because the Holy Spirit is continuing the work I started here on Earth and YOU are a part of it."
What if we actually let the truth of God's feelings and thoughts towards us sink in? "Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day." (Psalm 139:13-16)
My friend Kristen texted me these words on a night I was feeling especially down, “I see you. I care about you. Keep doing and wanting the best things.” They struck a chord with me, reminding me that as I continue to wait, as I continue to want a relationship (which is a GIFT from God), I don't have to waste this season of singleness by watching time sail by. I can get my hands dirty in the work that God is doing. I can live out the purpose God has placed on my life. Right now.
To the one feeling extremely single, to the soul who wonders if they’ll ever find their soulmate, to the person who is feeling content in their current season of life…
I see you. I care about you. Keep doing and wanting the best things.