Singleness- Blessing or Curse?

Today's guest post is by Emily Duffey, who is a member of the RGCC Staff. Emily is a life-long resident of Kansas City who loves coffee, reading, studying the Word and spontaneous conversations with random people about the things God has done in her life and in this world. Emily has never met a stranger. She is outgoing, friendly, and says she is amazed at how she sees God using her in life.  Enjoy! 

I am an avid reader, and I find myself turning to blogs with regularity. I enjoy the vastly differing views from reader to reader, views that offer fresh insight on living this Christian life in a way that glorifies God. I found myself the other day reading through a series of blogs on singleness. I came across one written by a single pastor. The blog post itself was greatly encouraging to me—and then I started to read the comments below. At first, I just rolled my eyes, but the more I read, the more disturbed I became: “Hey, pastor! You should meet my cousin! She would be the perfect wife for you!”  “Pastor, God will bring you the right woman, you just wait”… and my favorite, “Once I became content in Christ, THEN God decided to bless me with a husband!” I am sure these comments were intended to be encouraging—yet all the encouragement boiled down to assurances that God has not forgotten this man in his singleness, and don’t you worry—He will fix that one day! The encouragement becomes a source of great discouragement, and further fuels the discontentment so many singles fight against every day. Singleness can be painted very quickly as a curse to endure, not a blessing to embrace.

So which is it, a blessing or a curse? I vacillate on that question. Some days, I love right where I am: a single woman in her early 30’s, able to serve in a rapidly growing ministry (spending time that would not be available or appropriate, were I married with a family to serve), with the ability to pack up and go whenever I need to go: to various conferences, house sit for a friend, the emergency babysitter… I have the time many of my married friends do not (and frequently wish they did!) to serve in this way.  There are the days, though, I watch my married friends with their husband’s, and let me tell you—it is a battle! I fight discouragement, jealousy, envy, and loneliness (to name a few) with the best of them. These are the days that singleness feeeeeels like a curse. I see how happy my married friends are, and I long for the day that I may be counted among them. I genuinely have to be careful in guarding my thoughts against this line of thinking. It can be difficult in a ‘married church’ to do this. The older I get, the less single women there are around me; most of my friends are married, raising families, simply living the life I WANT to have. It is so easy to fall into self-pity and the “why me?” thinking.

I fight the same battle of countless single women, ceaseless questioning that swirls around in the recesses of my mind (usually at the most inopportune moments)… Why am I still single? Why doesn’t God want to bless me with a husband, a family? What did I do wrong? What do I need to fix so that God would change His mind about me? What do others do that God blesses them, and forgets about me?

I struggle GREATLY with hearing so many women tell me, "once I became content in God, THEN He blessed me with a husband" as though THAT is the magic formula... get content, do whatever it takes, because that's when God will decide to bless you. We totally miss what God is doing in those moments... to become content in Christ is the goal, not to get a husband! I am to find my contentment and solitude in the Lord, period—if that means I one day end up a wife or NOT!

Singleness IS a blessing, as is marriage. The question is, which blessing have do you have now? It changes!!... I hear singles wishing to be married, and marrieds wishing they were single again, able to serve undistractedly. Do we use our singleness to be undistractedly devoted to the Lord? Or is it more opportunity for sin? Singleness is not a curse (although, at times, it sure can feel like one!). This begs the question, though—where is my focus in those moments, when it feeeeeels so horrible to be precisely where God has put me? In those moments it is critical I remember the truth of Scripture. I ask myself the hard questions—the ones I need to hear, even if I don’t want to meditate on these truths at that moment in time. I pray through the Scripture to focus my thoughts on His thoughts; I aim to become more like Christ in those moments.

 Is God sovereign over my marital state? Yes. God is God, and God does what He wants with what is His. Everything God does is for His glory—and for my good!
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Is God truly enough? When God is enough…we stop checking out every guy who walks through the front doors of the church for wedding bands and sizing up the single ones as potential mate for the future. When He is enough... we stop trying to 'hook up' everyone in the universe, and we humble ourselves before GOD, waiting on Him to reveal His perfect will in every situation... moment by moment, knowing that if He wishes me to marry, the perfect man will walk into my life for this purpose, and NOTHING I can do will thwart God's purposes. I cannot drive off the man God has put in my path for me to marry! We walk forward in the state we are in—the one God has sovereignly placed us in—and rest in His goodness.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psa 62:5-8

Is God good?  This might seem like a strange question to ask at this moment, but what happens when we fall into self-pity and our focus is solely upon our marital state, lacking contentment in where God has placed us, envious of what others have and we do not—we are calling in to question the goodness of God Himself. Emotions easily get in the way of remembering this truth—God is good, and God loves me because I am His. Nothing can separate me from His love. I am secure in Christ.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:37–39

What benefit is there for me to be single at this moment in time? I can serve undistractedly. I can encourage and exhort other (single) sisters in Christ to follow Jesus, and live my life in a way that glorifies God and points to His perfect will. I can rest confidently knowing God’s plan is always perfect, and that if I do marry, He is working out His perfect will in that man as well. If I remain single, I can be encouraged to know that this is purposeful and intentional, and I can glorify God with confidence in His goodness.

But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.  1Cr 7:32–35

I never saw myself as a single in my 30’s. I had this arbitrary number in my head that 23 was the perfect age to be married. I quickly learned when I rolled over into 24, and then 25… and beyond… that I cannot set an age on what God is doing in my life. I am encouraged, though, to know that God knows what is on my heart. He knows the desires of my heart better than I do. I often find myself at a loss, how to pray… do I pray for a husband? Do I pray for contentment to remain in this state? I rest, knowing that the Spirit of God is interceding on my behalf before the Father, praying for the things I don’t even know to be praying for.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Rom. 8:26–28

So, I stand, waiting for God's man to initiate, as does countless other single women in the church; I wait, finding my contentment in Christ... but I'm not waiting for a husband. I'm waiting for my Lord to work out His perfect will in me.