The ‘gift of singleness’. I could say a lot, but I’m going to try and keep it concise because if you are like me, you have heard an ear full (or two) of people’s thoughts on this topic.
Most people refer to the gift of singleness as a specific calling in life. If you are not currently dating someone or have dated a bit but can’t seem to find that one someone, people will encourage you with ‘well, maybe you have the gift of singleness’. My thoughts seem to be a bit different from a lot of people’s (surprise, surprise). People have asked me before if I think I have the gift of singleness. I reply by saying, well, I’m single, so yes. This isn’t what they mean of course. They mean do I think I will be single for my whole life. To which I reply, ‘who on earth knows?’ Seriously. I don’t even know what will happen in my life tomorrow, nevertheless every day for the rest of my life. I believe if you are single, you have the gift of singleness. If you are married, you have the gift of marriage. If you have kids you have the gift of parenthood. If you have a job, you have the gift of employment. If you have two legs, you have the gift of walking. I could go on and on.
The ‘gift’ aspect of singleness, is just like the ‘gift’ aspect of any other thing we have been given. Everything we have is a gift from our Creator, and a gift that we have the privilege of ‘gifting’ back to Him. We get to use our gifts, whatever they are, to bring Him glory, however that looks. As believers, we are given gifts that are to be used to build up the church and further the kingdom. With all of the other gifts (teaching, leading, encouragement, hospitality, etc) we strive to see how we can use them to serve and build up. Seeing singleness in this way changes things so much. Being single is a gift. It is a unique gift that presents specific and unique ways to be used to bring Him glory. It isn’t a certain calling. It isn’t necessarily a life-long status, but it is most definitely not just a season of waiting.
Being single doesn’t mean that I am ‘still under construction’. Singleness is not a waiting room for adulthood. There isn’t some piece to my life that I’m missing that has to be found before I can move forward and start my ‘real life’. My life is complete and whole right now, just as it is. To live is Christ, to die is gain. I am whole in Him. He has redeemed my broken and empty life and given it purpose and meaning. How that plays out in detail will change throughout different seasons of my life, and I may receive different gifts with which to glorify and serve Him throughout those different seasons. But now, here, in this season, I am not incomplete, I am not half of a person, and I am not only halfway fulfilling my calling. I am living in the moment, 100% embracing what is right in front of me, and following step by step after the Spirit, trusting Him to direct me in everything no matter the context.
I am happy here and now, because my life has meaning and purpose because of Christ. That doesn’t mean I have a special calling to be single. Please understand that some days are a struggle. Some days are hard and I have to make really big decisions on my own. Being happy here and now doesn’t mean I never struggle, it means there is a primary goal in my every day life, there is a primary relationship that keeps me stable and at peace, and it all revolves around the person of Jesus Christ. Dating and eventually marrying someone isn’t going to bring me complete happiness. It won’t solve my problems, give me the answers to life’s deepest questions, or introduce me to a higher level of life that I’ve been missing out on. There is no man, no matter how good, kind, in love with Jesus, or pure in heart, that can bring me those things and it is totally unfair and unrealistic to expect them to. I’m not man-bashing. Too many people in the church do that these days. ‘You don’t need a man, you just need Jesus.’ ‘They aren’t worth anything these days anyway.’ I hate these kind of comments. I need to be encouraged, led, protected, cherished, reminded of my worth, affirmed in my purpose, and all these other things that typically come from a relationship. I’m a girl, I’m created that way. There is very much a role in my life for a man to fill, there is a need there for that type of a relationship. The things is, it is not my highest need. It is not a role that is going to change my ability to serve my Savior if left unfilled. That’s keeping it in perspective.
For me, dating and marriage are about finding someone with whom you will be able to serve Christ with in a better way than you can do alone. What I mean by that is that I am striving to serve Christ to the best of my ability, hopefully my potential husband is doing the same, and if it so happens that we can best serve Christ together in more and better ways than we are doing alone, then praise God. But the ultimate goal in my life, and what should be true of all of us, is to glorify Christ to the best of my ability. I don’t need to wait to date or get married to do that.
My relationship status is not attached to my identity. The cool thing about that? I’m free from that bondage. If you’re not careful it will affect every aspect of your life and your relationships. I can pursue friendships with guys and enjoy the process of learning about them and how Christ has changed their life. I can let them challenge my views on life and my faith and learn from theirs. I can even pursue more intentional relationships and go on dates without all the expectations, the anxiety and stress of wondering what this guy is thinking and if I look alright or act alright or any of those things. I’m free to be myself, because I’m not just trying to convince this guy that I’m worth his time, I’m trusting that God will give both of us clarity as to what this relationship is supposed to look like.
When you identity and your relationship status are not attached, you’re free to guard your heart. This doesn’t mean I’m cold hearted and block out all feelings, quite the opposite. I’m free to have feelings. I’m free to consider them and sort through them and (I know this is crazy) even share them with the guy they concern. I’m free to trust this guy and the fact that he is seeking Christ as well, and we have the common goal of wanting to be in His will. We hear the phrase ‘guard your heart’ all the time, and for the most part the people that say it to us have the best of intentions. When we go to practically live this phrase out though, I feel like we do it the wrong way. Guard your heart doesn’t mean cut off your feelings. Guard your heart doesn’t mean put up a wall and don’t let anyone see inside. It means to keep yourself in a frame of mind where you can objectively make decisions. Feelings are messy. Relationships of any kind are messy. Discerning God’s will is messy. There’s no specific formula or guidelines. It’s a process of sorting through, comparing the things He’s told you with the things in front of you, and seeing what lines up. By finding my meaning, purpose, identity, and value in Christ as opposed to a relationships, I’m able to ‘guard my heart’. When a guy comes to me and says ‘I think I have feelings for you and I’d like you to consider pursuing this relationship further’, regardless of my feelings (and believe me, sometimes my feelings are very strong and challenging to deal with), I can objectively say ‘Okay, I don’t even know for sure what I’m feeling here, but I do know ultimately I want to serve Christ, ultimately I know He has this, this, and this in my future, how does this potential relationship play into that?’
In a similar scenario, if I have feelings for a guy, I can approach him and say ‘Hey, I’m confused about what I’m feeling here and I’m praying for clarity, can you help clear things up?’ If he says, ‘I’m in love with you!’ or if he says, ‘Eh, really not feeling it.’ (hah), either way, I’m a-okay, because I am reminded that ultimately I am seeking what God has for me and so is this guy (hopefully) and so we can mutually ‘guard our hearts’ and seek for clarity.
I serve a God who only gives good gifts. No matter what season, what context, what situation- I know He is intimately involved in every intricate detail and has orchestrated it in such a way that it will bring Him glory. That’s where my ultimate happiness comes from. It may not always line up with my immediate feelings, but my immediate feelings are often confused and off balance. Ultimately I trust that He will give me the right answer, and no matter what it is, I can’t be upset with that.
I’m living a crazy adventure of a life, and one day there may be a man who decides he wants to share in that and have me share in what he’s doing. That’s awesome, and that would be a really neat scenario. But the other scenario- the one where I keep living this crazy adventure of a life as a single lady, is just as neat to me. Because the future and the potential and the possibilities are endless. Life truly surrendered to and in pursuit of Christ is a total adrenaline rush. That’s something that makes my heart swell every time I think about it.