Last week, a friend of mine invited me to join her live IG to talk about surviving singleness. We had a great conversation but there were so many other points I wanted to talk about, so I’m doing it here. And with this post, I hope to not only help you survive in your season of singleness, but to thrive!
The conversation I had with my friend stemmed from a IG post where Jackie Hill Perry (@jackiehillperry) was explaining that Jesus was very single and very whole. Hearing this statement made me contemplate the idea/thought patterns I had towards singleness. I knew I wanted to get married since middle school. I was a hopeless romantic; I wanted to be known and loved but none of my crushes had similar feelings towards me. I know, what does a middle schooler or even a high schooler truly know about love? But as I got older and graduated from college, being single became more unbearable as everyone I knew was getting married and having children. During that time (and up until recently), my idea of marriage consisted of doing things with my husband and posting pictures on IG. And I know marriage is more than that, but that’s where my head was. So what are ways that you can thrive in your season of singleness?
Avoid the Comparison Trap
Comparison is tricky. Sometimes it can yield positive results, like when you compare your health/fitness to when you first began your journey. Other times, it can yield negative results like when you compare the movie adaptation for a book. Comparing yourself with others, especially when you compare your season of singleness with the marriage of someone else, is not beneficial. You’re essentially comparing apples to oranges. In The Seven Myths About Singleness, Sam Allberry cautions his readers to not compare the “downs” of singleness with the “highs” of marriage. The truth is, there are positives and limitations for both relationship status’, and one is not better than the other. I found this out a couple of years ago when I did a husband challenge with some of my friends. In my bitterness of being single, I tried to convince myself that marriage was unappealing. But as I thought about it, I couldn’t deny that spending my life with someone else and being world changers, was in fact good. However, if I wanted to avoid the comparison trap, I couldn’t let marriage (or my preconceptions of marriage) constantly flood my mind. I think the rapper T.I. said it best, “stop lookin’ at what you ain’t got, and start being thankful for what you do got.”
The first thing you probably thought about was celibacy. What if I told you that purity is more than abstaining from sex and that it’s not just for single people? Well it’s true. In Psalms 119:9, the writer asks how one can stay pure. The simple answer is by living according to the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 corroborates Psalms by stating that “God has called us to live Holy lives, not impure lives.” The Hebrew definition of holy (qodesh) means sacredness, separateness. Remember in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when Augustus Gloop fell into the chocolate river? Willy Wonka said the chocolate was now tainted because human hands were not to ever touch it. This is the idea of purity, that there are things that can taint us from living outside the will of God. Additionally, we must be pure in heart and mind (Matthew 5:8). Here are a couple of things that can obstruct purity: envy, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, and selfish ambition. A person who has a thought of jealousy, allows it to brew in their heart, then acts on it is an example of how purity can easily be tainted. Yes, it’s important to stay pure in acts (ex: celibacy), but it’s also important to stay pure in mind and heart to live your life on purpose. Think about what you are giving real estate to in your life, and whether they are propelling you forward or pulling you back?
When you’re in a season of singleness, you have the unique opportunity to focus solely on yourself and grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul talks about an unmarried person having more time to do the Lord’s work (like helping and loving others) unlike the married person. With my first point about avoiding the comparison trap, this isn’t to say that being single is better than being married or that you cannot do the Lord’s work if you’re married. In the passage, Paul was sharing his personal experience of being single and having more time to serve others. Just in the past two years, the Lord has shown me thought patterns and habits I had that were not beneficial, and where they developed from. I have also been able to create a habit of praying and quiet time with the Lord. Although I desire to be married and to pray/do devotionals with my husband, I realized that I have to start this habit now and not when I get married. When it comes to your personal growth, being single is a great time to understand your identity. Many times, we may entangle our identity with others or with our jobs and hobbies. However, if we don’t take advantage of this time, we won’t know who God has called us to be and what He’s calling us to do in life.
The final way you can thrive in your season of singleness is to be content. Contentment is not ignoring bad situations or embracing sucky things. Instead, it is knowing that whatever you go through, God will be there and will help you every step of the way (Philippians 4:11-13). Remember when they said to enjoy high school/college and not rush to be an adult and we didn’t listen? It’s the same thing with being single. While being single may not be ideal for you (or me), we must be content in this season and everything it offers us. My Pastor always says, “what you focus on you magnify, and what you magnify you focus on.” If we focus on the relationship status of being single, we will magnify that to be the worst thing in the world, and then the cycle will continue. So how can one be content in a season of singleness, you ask? One, by not letting anyone (including yourself) convince you that being single is a punishment. Two, by understanding that the intimacy (i.e. being known and loved) you desire, can be achieved in platonic relationship as well as romantic relationships. Three, by not letting anyone pressure you into changing into a new season until you’re ready (and to be honest, some people may just not want to get married and that’s okay as well). And four, by focusing on what opportunities and talents/skills God given you to use now, and the people He’s placed in your life at the moment. These are only a couple of ways to become and stay content during a season a singleness, but’s it’s a start if you’ve come to loathe being single.
There are many misconceptions about being single and being married. There are positives and limitations of marriage and singleness, but they shouldn’t be compared because they are like apples and oranges. Being pure is not just for singles, just as it’s not only about abstaining from sex. Purity can be a deciding factor in whether we can receive what God is trying to say or give to us. As I touched upon briefly in the “growth” section, while singleness can prepare us for marriage, God’s plans for us are greater than changing our relationship status (Matthew 6:33 MSG). And lastly, contentment is believing that God will give us everything we need in every season. Sometimes, not having what you want is exactly what you need. This life is precious and we don’t know how much time we have on this Earth. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, let’s challenge ourselves to focus on doing what we can with the time we are given.