by Vicki Nunn

In an earlier issue of SPAG Magazine we explored the ‘Gift of Singleness,’ and who is given this gift. We concluded that the gift of singleness is given to every Christian who is currently without a partner, no matter if they’re dating or even engaged. We determined that God has a purpose for us while we are in this state of singleness, which is why He gives it to us.

We shared that the gift of singleness is different to spiritual gifts, and is like one side of a coin with the ‘Gift of Marriage’ on the reverse. That doesn’t mean that it is the opposite of marriage, but that it’s merely one of the two gifts that God gives to Christians.

The Gift of Singleness means that a Christian single is more easily able to make themselves available to God for His purposes. Married persons tend to have less free time, especially once children enter the picture (although for single parents, this is also an issue.)

We explored the possibility that God will at some point provide us with a partner, if it’s part of His plan. While we are waiting (patiently) we can be busy doing His work. We don’t have to keep a watchful eye out for potential partners because if we keep close to God, His Holy Spirit will prompt us when that possible partner comes into our sphere.

Some Christians prefer to remain single for various reasons, but for others it is a concept with which we struggle, even though Paul clearly stated that this gift is given to some. Some Christians are so resistant to the idea of remaining single, that they deliberately ignore the idea that singleness is from God, and may even rush out and jump into relationships so they won’t be on their own.

So let’s explore some reasons why we may still be resisting the gift of singleness.

1. Bitterness

We think it’s unfair that God has kept us from a loving relationship, and we’ve allowed bitterness to grow in our heart. It can almost seem as if God is punishing us, which of course He isn’t. While God’s aims for our life aren’t always clear, or sometimes are about as clear as mud until God let’s us in on His plans, Biblical evidence (and personal experiences of millions of Christians over the centuries) would certainly indicate that what God does for us is out of love.

Ultimately we must recognise that our bitterness will impact badly on our relationship with God and with others: our desperation and/or bitterness is likely to attract the worst quality partners, and certain to chase away anyone decent!

If one of our aims in life is to be miserable, then if we continue holding onto resentment, we’ll quickly achieve that goal!

2. We’ve Made the Goal of Marriage Our Idol Rather than God

If marriage is our major aim in life, then perhaps we’ve made it an idol, with God a close second. How can we tell if it’s become our idol? First we must ask ourselves this question and give it an honest answer:

“Am I saying that God is not enough?”

After thoughtfully considering that answer, we should then follow that up with this one:

 “If God asked me to give up on the idea of marriage altogether, could I do that?”

That’s a pretty scary question if we’ve never seriously considered it before. God sometimes calls on us to give up things that may hinder our walk with Him, or that distract us from His goals for our life. If we do remain unmarried, do we understand that God wouldn’t be doing that purposely to hurt us or to make us miserable?

If we can come to terms with the concept that God may have called us to singleness, then as I shared in the previous articles on this subject, compensations come with it. God will send us joys and a sense of contentment in ways that we hadn’t expected or experienced before.

If at this point we still feel ourselves resisting God’s gift of singleness, then perhaps we should consider that we are focusing on our own desires rather than God’s purposes for us. Are we putting ourselves and our needs as the number one priority in our life? If so, then alarm bells should be going off at this point! We need to get our priorities sorted out promptly.

3. We Believe that We’ll Get Closer to God if We Find a Good Christian Partner

While it’s true that a good Christian partner may encourage us in our walk with God, we are deluding ourselves if we believe that ‘partnering-up’ will improve our relationship with God or bring us closer to Him. The fact is, the only door by which we have closer access to God is through Jesus.

If we are desiring a closer relationship with God, no-one else is going to be able to do that for us. WE are the only ones who can improve our relationship with God, and finding a partner will not alter that for us.

If there’s a problem with intimacy with God to begin with, then intimacy with a human partner is likely to take our thoughts and our heart further away from God, rather than closer.

4. We Believe that Finding Someone to Love Us Will Prove We are Worthy of Love or Prove that We Are Attractive

Does God really need to prove His love for us, more than giving His son Jesus to die on the cross for us? Do we think that human love will prove to us that we are a more worthwhile person than God already knows we are?

The world likes to deceive us with this lie, or the idea that to be a valuable human being, we must be physically attractive. Ultimately, while finding human love is nice, or being good-looking and enjoying the attention that brings can make us feel good, neither of these things can ever complete or satisfy us.

If we are determined to find a partner because we have a need to prove we’re worthy of love, then consider that perhaps we need to look at our own upbringing/background. Did we have a tough or unloved upbringing? Did someone that we trusted from our past say horrible or negative things about us that made us doubt our value? How was your relationship with your parents and/or siblings? Any troubles there?

If this is an issue for us, we need to be aware that we’re likely to get involved with people that are not healthy for us because we are trying to move from an unhealthy upbringing without fixing anything before diving into adult relationships. This usually results in a negative way on our self-esteem and those self-doubts grow even stronger.

To have any chance of a healthy relationship, we need first to love ourselves through Christ. It took me a number of years to accept and believe that I am worthy of love; to heal of my past hurts and doubts, and I eventually came to accept that I am as worthy of love as anyone else. We must also accept that no human being will ever be able to complete us.

5. We’re Slack in Our Christian Walk

If we are slack in our walk with God, why would He want to distract us with a partner that will take us further from Him? I’m not saying that if we are close to God that He’ll automatically send us a partner as if it’s some kind of reward for good work! If God was waving His hands in front of our face right now, whistling or shouting madly, we’ve become too focused on looking around at all the possible human partners in our view, to even notice Him.

Let’s seriously look at how much effort we’re putting into our relationship with God:

  • Do our daily habits include spending time in prayer and reading His word?

  • Other than church, is there a group with which we meet, where we can gain a deeper understanding of God?

  • Do we put aside some time each week to do our work for Him?

When was the last time we seriously asked God, “What is it that you want from me?” rather than “This is what I want.”

6. We Hate Being Labelled ‘Single’ or Being Associated With Those Other Weirdos

Let’s face it – there are a lot of weirdos out there! When we look at certain people’s behaviours, it can be obvious to us why they’re still single. Some people are socially awkward, mentally slow, have a terrible sense of humour or none at all! Why would we want to be associated with them!?

Other people are ugly, fat or too skinny or have the wrong colour skin. Some people laugh too loud, have physical disabilities, have poor-paying jobs or no ambition, or never went to university. Some people have too many freckles, frizzy hair, a big nose or are just strangely shaped.

Ouch!

While some of this may seem a little extreme, in my twenty years in the singles ministry, I’ve come across single people who’ve rejected others for some of the dumbest reasons: “If you’re fat, you’re probably not worthwhile talking to!” (What? Seriously true – I had someone say something along those lines to me on the phone one time.)

We may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with the idea that others think that we’re losers just because we’re still single, which may be why we resist the idea of remaining single. I struggled with this concept when I was in my twenties: that people would judge me because I was single, and make assumptions about why I was still on my own. As I continued remaining single, I even had people assume that was because I was a lesbian or hated men. Thankfully, God helped me to get over my ego, and eventually I was able to work through it.

Honestly, who cares what other people think? Aren’t we supposed to leave this childish thinking behind us at some point? There are many, many reasons why people are single that have nothing whatsoever to do with them being strange! One of the simplest is the mere fact that there are more available Christian women then there are available Christian men. Statistically, it’s therefore more difficult for a single woman to find a Christian partner than it is for a man.

If anyone has an issue with us being a single person, then the problem is theirs, not ours! We’ve got to let go of our need to please others and focus instead on working at pleasing God.

Additionally, we also need to be conscious about how we treat other singles – so what if they’re a little slow, or odd-looking or socially awkward? So what if they’re not marriage material? Maybe their made of friendship material. I’ve developed some great friendships over the years with incredibly diverse people, and many have been a wonderful source of encouragement to me. C’mon! Let’s all give those weirdos a go – we never know what terrific friendships may develop as a result.

Whether we like it or not, there’s likely to be someone out there who thinks we’re one of the weirdos too …… and that’s ok. Really, it is ok! I’ve learned to embrace my own ‘inner quirk,’ and nowadays enjoy being a little on the weird and quirky side.

7. We’re Engaged or Have a Serious Boyfriend/Girlfriend So We’re No Longer Single

Congratulations! And how are we doing in our relationship with God? Have we put Him on the back-burner in favour of our partner? *Cringe!* Oops, did I touch a sore spot there?

We must be honest with ourselves and ask that question again: have we gotten slack with our relationship with God? Have we been concentrating on our partner? Has God been given the appropriate status and attention He deserves in our life? Is there any squirming going on right now because this article is hitting a little too close to home?

If we’ve been focusing on our partner, we need to re-centre our life on God. If it’s out of balance now, we must recognise that marriage is only going to skew it further in the wrong direction. Seriously!  Do we honestly think God is contented with our half-hearted relationship with Him? Doesn’t He deserves so much more?

Many years ago, a good friend of mine suddenly disappeared off my radar. She topped returning my calls, and after a few weeks, her phone was disconnected. Then I found out that she’d moved house. Following about ten months of complete silence, I suddenly received an envelope in the mail from her – it was an invitation to her wedding! I was very hurt and angry. That’s not the way we should behave towards a friend:  we shouldn’t drop them the instant we find a partner, and treat them like they’re no longer important!

How much more true is this with God! We’re talking creator of the universe, Almighty God, King of Kings here! And yet some Christians react the same, selfish way toward God, and treat Him as if He’s of secondary importance.

Surely, we’ve got to get things right with God BEFORE we get married – God after all, is going to be the foundation of our marriage, isn’t He?  Or perhaps the easiest things to do would be to just close our eyes right now, stick our fingers in our ears and sing loudly “La, la, la, la, la!”

Sorry about that, but we’ve got to face the fact that if this is what’s happening right now, we’ve got to fix it – pronto!

8. I’m Divorced or Widowed So I’m No Longer Single

It can be much more difficult for divorced or widowed people to come to terms with their singleness, especially if they’ve had a wonderful, loving marriage. Children (and grand-children) can be a constant reminder of our partner and what we’ve lost and our aloneness.

For many going through divorce after an unhappy marriage, we can feel like failures and the hurt that results can remain with us for life.

In this situation, singleness may seem either like a curse or a blessing, and for those suffering loneliness, this difficult time on our own may seem like it’s only temporary while we look for another partner. For others having gone through a painful divorce, we can be confused in our emotional state: on the one hand we assumed that we’d be delighted to be single and free of the earlier unhappiness; but on the other hand, we’re struggling with being alone and having to make all the decisions on our own, and perhaps taking most or all of the responsibility for children.

If there’s a moment when our minds and hearts are clearer, we need to have a conversation with God: “Help me to come to terms with this new stage in my life. Help me to accept that I’ve been given the gift of singleness and what that means for me. What is that you want for me?”

We can choose to resist the very alien idea that we’re now single, or we can come to terms with the reality that God has given us the gift of singleness.

9. I Never Asked For Singleness So God Shouldn’t Force it On Me

One of the things I’ve come to understand is that most people have at least one burden they have to deal with as part of their Christian walk. Many have several challenges: from a difficult upbringing to health issues and physical restrictions, mental illness to children with disabilities, financial strife to horrible workplaces, difficult marriages to being alone and more. None of us is going to find life easy, so being alone may well be part of our journey.

I could focus on my health issues and feel upset that God has forced them on me, but I have come to accept that these are just part of my burdens. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand why God allowed me to born a little crooked and to develop a bad back, hip and knee problems and now live with constant pain. Additionally these health issues impacted on me, until I could no longer continue with my earlier ministries, and this lead to some confusion for me: why would God give me the gifts for these ministries and then take them from me through physical limitations? It just didn’t make sense to me.

As I’ve matured I’ve come to understand that through these experiences, I now have compassion for others with health problems, and can relate to their struggles. It has also lead to a change in my ministry focus, and while I sometimes miss working with children, I have a new joy in my current ministry: SPAG Magazine.

While there may not always be a clearly understand reason why God allows us to have particular burdens, we can choose to hold onto resentment and feel angry with God, or we can choose to accept that this is part of the ‘package deal,’ as I call it, and just get on with it.

Conclusion

While for some, the gift of singleness may seem more like a curse. Paul made it clear that when God gives us this gift, He has a purpose in mind for us that may require that we give up the idea of finding a partner, or at least putting our desires on hold while we focus on Him.

In time as we release our feelings, desires, resentment, confusion and longings to God, He will begin to free our hearts and our minds and ease our pain. While at first it may be difficult for us to understand this burden while we are still struggling with our loneliness and aloneness, but as we share our lives with God and make ourselves available to Him, in time He’ll bring joys, contentment and compensations with it.

If you’ve managed to make it all the way through this article and still don’t believe that as a single person, you’ve been given the ‘gift of singleness,’ then probably nothing that anyone will say will convince you otherwise.

Finally though, I do encourage you to earnestly seek God’s guidance and clarity. It is because He loves you that He has given this gift to you. Crazy though that may sound, it is part of His plan for you and you’ve just got to be willing to let go of your own desires and say, “Here I am God – let’s see where the next part of our journey together takes us.”

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Bibliography:
Lori Smith, 14 September 2017, Lifeway: Single Truths, available: http://www.lifeway.com/Article/Single-Truths
Katy McCoy, undated, Girls Gone Wise: Waiting for Life to Start, available: http://www.girlsgonewise.com/waiting-for-life-to-start/
This article by Lorraine Yeung appears to be no longer active: http://lorraineyeung.com/2011/11/why-you-are-struggling-with-singleness/