IF YOU’RE MARRIED, PLEASE DON’T STOP READING AT THE TITLE.
This blog (and the next one) is for you too.
My hope for my married friends is that you will see how incredible our God is in both singleness and marriage. That this would be an opportunity for you to rejoice with your single friends. And that ultimately, we would learn how to love and care for each other better.
If you’re single, my hope and heart for you are that you would be refreshed and encouraged. That you would be reminded that God sees you and knows you. And that ultimately God would be more glorified in your life.
If you are single, right now, you have the gift of singleness.
Yes, I said gift.
Now hear me out. I’m not talking about that spiritual gifts test where you are doomed to be single for the rest of your life if you score high on singleness. I’m talking about a beautiful thoughtful present from the Lord. A gift of grace from your Father.
Vaughan Roberts says:
Paul speaks of it (being single) as a gift (1 Cor. 7:7), and Jesus says it is good ‘for those to whom it has been given’ (Matt. 19:11) … When Paul speaks of singleness as a gift, he isn’t speaking of a particular ability some people have to be contentedly single. Rather, he’s speaking of the state of being single. As long as you have it, it’s a gift from God, just as marriage will be God’s gift if you ever receive it. We should receive our situation in life, whether it is singleness or marriage, as a gift of God’s grace to us.
I had the gift of singleness for 34 years (I married Michael nine months ago).
I was the girl in high school and college who didn’t really want a career, I wanted to be a wife and a mother. It was the deepest desire of my heart. And yet, God chose to give me the gift of singleness for 34 years. Those years were really, really hard for me. I went through relationships and breakups and times of loneliness and depression.
There were times I deeply struggled with my singleness and because of it I struggled with God’s sovereignty. And there were other times where I learned to be content. If you are feeling something, any emotion really, about being single, believe me, I’ve been there.
I didn’t want the gift of singleness, and for most of my life I didn’t even view singleness as a gift.
One verse that was always hard for me to understand was “delight yourself in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
The deepest desire of my heart was to be married! Most of my single life was spent in vocational ministry. I decided that if I wasn’t married then I would give my life to serving Jesus. I learned so much through this season and am so thankful for it, but I couldn’t get past that one verse.
I was delighting myself in the Lord, my whole life was devoted to Him. So why wouldn’t He give me the desires of my heart? What I learned, and what I think this verse means, is that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He becomes the desire of our hearts. When we delight ourselves in Him, we get more of Him.
This is not a genie-in-a-bottle verse; love God and He’ll give you whatever you want. This is a verse that taught me that Jesus is enough. That He is worthy of my life. That He is the one that makes me whole. And my whole life, whether married or single, I want to spend delighting in Him.
Many of you have been given the gift of singleness right now and you all may feel very differently about your gift. Some of you are like me and don’t want to be single in any way, shape, or form. Some of you feel perfectly content with your gift and where God has you right now. Some of you may struggle with your gift daily, others may choose to be single for the rest of your lives. However you feel about your gift, we all need to learn to steward our gift wisely and to love and appreciate the Giver of our gifts.
I think singleness is an important subject and one that the church rarely talks about.
In many ways the American church is set up and aimed toward married people as if marriage was the closest thing to Heaven on earth.
But that’s not true is it? That’s not how the Bible talks about singleness.
Before we dive into what I believe God calls us to in singleness, I want to dispel two myths that I think we easily believe.
Myth 1: Marriage is Heaven on Earth.
Marriage is not Heaven on earth.
In this long quote, Jackie Perry Hill gives us a beautiful picture of what marriage is and isn’t:
In all of its glory however (marriage), it is not the highest glory. Marriage, for some time, has been esteemed idealistically—as a mini-heaven perhaps, unguarded by golden gates, entered into preferably before a woman’s pretty begins to die, or by the time a man is ready to plant his seed. From the time a young girl learns of love, she’s taught it’s in its purest form when a white dress carries a woman into an “I do.” Cartoons and children’s books indoctrinate us young with this ideal, but they aren’t the only ones making a utopia out of marriage. Christians (sometimes unknowingly) continue to make it an undue part of their gospel witness… The exaggerated promise of marriage or the unbalanced emphasis on it placed in the Christian life can lead… men and women to being disoriented about God’s specific call for them. Which we can say with confidence God’s call is this: to love God and love people (Matthew 22:26-40). For some, loving God will lead them down a path of God-honoring marriage. For others, a life of God-exalting singleness… In both, God is glorified. The book of Genesis introduced us to the mystery of marriage, and Revelation concludes with the consummation of what marriage reveals. In Revelation, we are given a glimpse of what will happen once the church, Christ’s bride, forgiven sinners, stainless saints are finally at home with their Bridegroom, who purchased their “I do” when He declared, “It is finished.” This is the highest glory of the Christian life, to be married to the King of Glory. Marriage is glorious, but it is not Him. Though many have projected onto marriage what only God can give in Himself, it is not God. It is a creation of God for the glory of God so that the world can get a picture of the gospel of God.
Marriage is a good and glorious thing. But it is merely a living, breathing parable. Marriage is not the end-all, it merely points to THE end-all. As glorious as it is, it’s not the most glorious, it points to THE glorious. Marriage is not the gospel, it’s a picture of THE gospel.
Marriage isn’t Heaven on earth, Jesus is.
Psalm 16:11 says,
“In your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
It does not say in marriage there is fullness of joy. It says in Your presence there is fullness of joy. In Jesus, that is where joy is found.
Marriage doesn’t mean you’ve arrived. Jesus does. Marriage is hard. It reveals your sins in a way singleness never will. People are messy and when two people become one, the mess is magnified.
Now don’t get me wrong, marriage is wonderful and a gift. But singleness is a gift too. And married people have their struggle just as much as single people do.
Marriage is not Heaven on earth. Jesus is.
Myth 2: Singleness is a curse.
False. Singleness is a gift.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are single.
You aren’t cursed.
I know that it’s tempting to feel this way. How many times did well-intentioned church ladies tell me, “I just can’t believe you’re not married yet, you’re such a great catch” or “when you get married…” or “It must not be God’s timing yet, He wants to teach you something first (If this is you, please stop. Marriage is not God’s goal. These statements don’t help. Instead, encourage your single friends in how you see God working in their lives.)
Statements like these made me wonder what was wrong with me or what I needed to do better in order to deserve a husband. Though it may feel like it at times, Singleness is not a curse, it’s a gift. We need to fight to see it this way, the way God sees it.
Elizabeth Elliot says this,
“Having now spent more than forty-one years single, I have learned that it is indeed a gift. Not one I would choose. Not one many women would choose. But we do not choose our gifts, remember? We are given them by a divine Giver who knows the end from the beginning, and wants above all else to give us the gift of Himself.”
If you are a believer in Jesus, you already have the best gift that could ever be given. You have the giver Himself. Singleness may not be the gift you wish you had right now, but the gift giver is good and knows exactly what you need right now in order to get more of Him in your life.
Sam Allberry says it this way:
It means singleness, like marriage, has a unique way of testifying to the gospel of grace. Jesus said there will be no marriage in the new creation. In that respect we’ll be like the angels, neither marrying nor being given in marriage (Matt. 22:30). We will have the reality; we will no longer need the signpost. By foregoing marriage now, singleness is a way of both anticipating this reality and testifying to its goodness. It’s a way of saying this future reality is so certain that we can live according to it now. If marriage shows us the shape of the gospel, singleness shows us its sufficiency. It’s a way of declaring to a world obsessed with sexual and romantic intimacy that these things are not ultimate, and that in Christ we possess what is.
After years of struggling with my singleness, I decided that instead of dwelling on what I didn’t have, I wanted to dwell on what I did have. And what I had was the best gift of all, Jesus.
In my singleness, I wanted to show that Jesus is enough. That the Lover of my soul was all I needed. That my Savior was the one who made me whole.
Singleness is an incredible gift because it can show that world that Jesus is enough, that He is sufficient, that He is what makes you whole. This is our calling in singleness.
Thank you. This August will be my 60th birthday. 60 years of living the gift of singleness. A friend sent me this blog post this morning. It was a good way to begin my day. Some days this gift is fun, exciting, fulfilling and others is just plain lonely. I’ve decided today will be a good day to rejoice and be glad. I do love The Giver!
Thank you, Chelsea, for speaking about singleness in such a healthy, truthful, helpful way! Ps 37:4 also caused me to struggle for many years. Thank you for bringing to light that God is the delight of our hearts- not that future potential spouse.
Beautifully and skillfully written, Chelsea, communicated with grace and truth. Thank you for the encouragement it speaks to my treasured single brothers and sisters, and the reminder to them that their singleness is s gift from God. And thanks for the encouragement it brings to me, as a married person, to love my single friends as Christ loves them. (And, though I’m married now to my wonderful wife and best friend, I was single until I was 38. I only wish I’d read a post like yours during those years!)
You know how much I appreciate this, Chelsea! So we’ll written. Barry Arnold said something to me a few years back that almost instantly flipped my perspective- He said: “You have the gift of singleness” although I have been very content in my singleness for years, a lightbulb went off with this statement. Thanks for writing this!
when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He becomes the desire of our hearts. When we delight ourselves in Him, we get more of Him.
Well said, Chelsea. True for the single, the married, and the unequally yoked. I love Psalm 16:11 ❤️.
Wow this brought me to tears. Thanks so much for taking the time to share all that. It’s such a good reminder. I find myself often longing for marriage and putting it on a Pedestal but often forget the blessing that God has given me for however long this season of singleness may be.
Beautifully said, Chelsea.
I was married young and enjoyed living with my husband for 40 years. Since the stroke that took him 24 years ago I was given the ‘gift of singleness’. I didn’t ask for that gift but as you reminded me God gave me that ‘gift’. I’m trying to enjoy that gift but so miss the man God generously gave me early in life. I want to praise God for His faithfulness to me! My desire at this point is to encourage my granddaughters (I have 13), those not married, to entrust their lives to knowing God more fully and seeing this time as a gift. Thank you for your inspired writing!