Single. Though there are plenty of us out there, the word itself conveys – inaccurately, I might add – the inevitable notion that we are alone in our singleness. It doesn’t help that every Hollywood movie (even the ones about robots!) has an obligatory love story in it, or that Facebook is a virtual minefield of romantic dates, wedding photoshoots and the occasional beach holiday (sorry, guilty on that one).
The fact is, society, culture, and even the church sometimes, is generally not set up for single people. If the world were one big football game, singles are often made to feel like subs on the bench, waiting to get into the game, and only being recognised when they are. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not wrong to want a relationship, the question is how we live out our single lives while we are not (yet?) in one, and even more pertinently, if we will never be in one.
Often, we can treat singleness like a clinic’s waiting room: we browse aimlessly through magazines, we gaze around at people wondering what’s wrong with them, just waiting to be called in to the doctor’s office where, miraculously, all our problems will disappear. So what then, really, should we be doing while we are still single? It has been on my mind lately, and though I can’t claim to be leading by example, these are some points I have found helpful as I navigate through this myself. I’m writing this as a Christian, but I’m sure that even if you are not one, you might find one or two things to relate to – or maybe even find Christianity helpful in this journey.
1. You are a whole person
I say this because of the inevitable “Where’s your other half?” question that tends to make an appearance at weddings and family reunion dinners. I don’t know how to reply this without being rude, so I generally laugh and avoid the question, but just know that there is no other half of you running about somewhere in this world, waiting for you to find him or her. You are a whole person, all by yourself! Don’t let the longing for a partner dilute the way you see yourself, because our worth is in who God created us to be, and not who we are dating.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:13-14
2. You are not a 2016-2017 Wayne Rooney
Sorry, I love the guy, but he did spend a great deal of time as a substitute last football season. You are not just a bench sub. As a single person, you have two choices: sit on the bench waiting to get into the game (and who knows if the manager will ever play you?) or you can join another team that will actually let you play. (Good choice, Wayne.) And yes, I realise this football analogy is breaking up a bit here, so let’s ditch it for now.
My point is, singleness is not just a “passing through” stage in our lives where we eagerly anticipate marriage; rather, whether single or married, what we eagerly anticipate is Christ coming again. And as Christians, in whatever stage of our lives, this anticipation should never be an idle one. Hence, we continue to read His word, serve in church, encourage our fellow believers – sometimes even more so as singles, because of the freedom that singleness affords. There are many times, in moments of loneliness and heartache, where I feel like I cannot serve – I can hardly deal with myself, let alone lead others – when I am reminded that we are not called to be perfect, just faithful. So while it is still hard being single sometimes, we can choose to use this period in our lives wisely, instead of just being in waiting mode.
3. Be the right person
General relationship advice on the likes of CLEO, Her World and so on indicates what we should look for in Mr. Right. What’s on your boyfriend (or girlfriend) checklist? Here’s mine, off the top of my very superficial head: likes football, has a sense of humour, humble, speaks good English, has style, isn’t too skinny.
We wander through life with checklists in hand, ticking potential boxes and crossing off some, hoping one day someone will make the mark. You know, the perfect guy. Why not? Every Korean drama serial ever made has one – shouldn’t be that hard to find.
But here’s a controversial idea: instead of spending time looking for the right person, why not try being the right person instead? In a convoluted sort of way, the kind of person you are should attract the kind of person you want. If I buy more clothes, put on more makeup and eat less carbs to attract a guy, then that is the kind of guy I will attract. So what kind of girl does your kind of guy like? Hopefully the answer will be things like honesty, godliness, a caring heart… Things that you yourself value and can strive towards with conviction.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30
4. You are getting married, someday
You may not get to send out pretty invites, decorate the church aisles or wear a fluffy white gown, but yes, if you are a Christian, marriage is inevitable. It may or may not come as a surprise, but in the Bible, Christ coming back again to bring his people into his eternal kingdom is described as the ultimate, epic marriage to end all marriages.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready; – Revelation 19:7
And this marriage is not a consolation prize especially for those who may never get married in this life, no, it is the only prize that matters ultimately. And so single or married, as Christians we are all called to prepare for Christ’s coming again.
I hope this was helpful in some way, whether you are struggling or content in your singleness, or looking to encourage a friend. Just remember, you are not alone. As Tobias Fünke would say, there are dozens of us out there. Dozens!