Using Your Single Years Well
By LESLIE LUDY
I’d like to let you in on a little-known secret: If you are single, God has a much higher calling upon your life than spending all your time and energy trying to snag a husband.
(Shocking, I know.)
While such a statement may seem obvious when it’s written out in black and white, in real life it can easily become blurry. You’ve probably noticed that in our modern culture, especially the Christian culture, single women are often under tremendous pressure to “hurry up and get married so your life can start.” Of course, no one actually says that out loud, but there is a common, subtle, underlying message that a woman isn’t truly “complete” until she finally marries and settles down. The result is a generation of single young women who put their lives and happiness “on hold” until they finally meet the right guy and get a ring on their finger. And in this era when social media and Internet dating provide quick and easy ways to connect with the opposite sex, the temptation to build your single years around the pursuit of a relationship is stronger than ever.
Certainly God puts a very high value on marriage. It was, in fact, His idea in the first place! The vast majority of us are called to be married. And there is certainly nothing wrong with desiring to be married, preparing practically for marriage, or taking steps toward a romantic relationship with someone as God leads. The problem comes when we overlook the amazing opportunity God has given us in our single years, letting that season go to waste because we are desperately seeking marriage above all else.
Corrie ten Boom wrote,
“Marriage is not the answer to unhappiness. Happiness can only be found in a balanced relationship with Jesus Christ. When you belong to Christ, you can be happy with or without a husband, secure in Christ alone.”
I can’t count the number of single young women I’ve met over the past ten years who build their entire lives, thoughts, and emotions around the pursuit of a guy, instead of the pursuit of Jesus Christ. They think that once they find a husband, they’ll find the inner peace and fulfillment they long for – overlooking the fact that Jesus Christ alone can meet the deepest desires of their heart. When we are in relationship with Christ, we have everything we need for happiness right now – whether married or single. (And if we expect marriage to solve the deepest needs within our soul, we’ll only be placing unhealthy, unrealistic expectations upon our future husband from the very beginning.)
So how should we use our single years? If you feel called to be married someday but God hasn’t scripted your love story yet, it can be extremely confusing to know how you should be spending your time and energy during this season of waiting and preparing for marriage.
When my sister-in-law, Kristina, was in her late twenties and single, someone asked her, “Krissy, are you called to singleness?” Kristina longed to be married and have a family, but God had not yet brought her husband into her life. She didn’t feel called to a lifetime of singleness, but she knew that until God unfolded His plan for marriage in her life, He had called her to live out her single years well … for His glory. She thought for a moment about that question, “Are you called to singleness?” and then replied, “Today I am.”
If you are single today, don’t worry about the next two, five, or twenty years – or whether you are called to a lifetime of singleness and how you would ever be able to handle that. Simply rest in the fact that if God has not yet brought your husband into your life, He has a plan for you as a single woman today. And He will give you the grace and strength to bring Him glory through your singleness today.
Kristina spent her single years well – pouring her life out on the mission field, ministering to orphans and widows, and sharing the Gospel with those in need. Now, she is married to a wonderful Christian man and they have a growing family – and she doesn’t look back on her single years with regret. They were just as fruitful for God’s Kingdom as her years of marriage have been.
As Paul wrote, being unmarried is an amazing opportunity to serve the Lord without distraction:
“The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world — how she may please her husband” (1 Cor. 7:34).
In your single years, more than ever, you have the ability to pour out your time, your energy, your love, and your resources to those who are in desperate need of the Gospel. Are you taking advantage of this amazing opportunity?
There are many Christ-built, warrior poet men out there who are praying and hoping for a set apart young woman – one who is not following after the trends of the culture, one who is not wallowing around in discontentment or on the prowl for a guy. Nothing would thrill a true warrior poet’s heart more than to know that his future bride was spilling her life out for the sake of the Gospel. Want to find a godly guy? Focus on pouring your life out for Jesus Christ, and leave the rest to Him. As it says in Psalm 57:2, He will be more than faithful to fulfill His purposes for you.
A Shift in Focus
If you are ready to make a shift in your focus and begin dedicating your life, not to the pursuit of a guy, but to pour out your life for Jesus Christ, then simply come to Him and tell Him so. Get alone with Your King and consecrate Your body as a living sacrifice unto His purposes, from this day forward. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, and supernaturally equip you to shift your focus from finding an earthly romance to being so caught up in Him that nothing else matters. Ask Him to reveal to you any activities or habits in your life that are not glorifying to Him. Ask Him to show you anything in your life, as harmless as it might seem, that is distracting you from having a single-minded focus upon your Savior. And then, by His grace, remove each and every one of those stumbling blocks from your existence.
Next, take some time to prayerfully consider the direction and focus of your life. What is God calling you to? How can you respond to the sacred claim He has upon your existence? How can you practically become His hands and feet to this lost and dying world? Ask Him to open your eyes and show you what next steps to take. And remember, it might be necessary to make a complete shift in your life direction. American mentalities train us that this life is all about our dreams, our goals, and our ambitions. But that’s not true Christianity. How might God be asking you to forsake all, take up your cross and follow Him? There is desperate need all around us. Millions and millions of people around the world are facing unspeakable suffering. They are living without hope and even worse, dying without knowing Jesus.
Ask God to shift your passions and desires from marriage to His sacred calling upon your life. You will never regret the glorious exchange. And if God’s purpose for your life is marriage, you can trust that even your difficult steps of obedience to Jesus Christ will lead you closer to your earthly prince. That’s the beauty of our Lord’s ways.
You don’t have to be amazingly gifted or highly educated to pour your life out for Jesus Christ and dedicate your single years to the “least of these.” You don’t have to have been seminary educated or groomed at Bible college. You just need a heart fully surrendered to Him.
Gladys Aylward was an uneducated parlor maid when she set off, against the advice of the Christian system, to give her life to the people of China. Amy Carmichael was merely one simple girl in feeble health and with very few supporters when she left it all to rescue endangered children in India. Corrie ten Boom traveled the globe well into her elderly years, preaching the Gospel of Christ with passion and conviction. These single women changed the world for Christ, and not because of their own abilities – they were merely vessels willing to lay down everything for the Kingdom of God.
Not every single woman is called to travel the world or live full-time on the mission field. This may not be the calling God has for you during your single years – but that doesn’t make your calling less significant. God may desire these years to be spent on your knees, wrestling in prayer for the unsaved in your family or community. He may want you to spend a season in diligent training; gaining education and practical skills for what lies ahead in your future. He may ask you to pour out your life for your family – selflessly serving your parents and siblings and communicating the Gospel through your joyful givenness at home. Maybe He desires you to shine His light in your church or hometown – ministering to children, the elderly, or the sick. Or it could be a combination of many different things.
If you aren’t sure where to begin – spend focused time in prayer and seeking Him through His Word. Look at the opportunities that are sitting in front of you – even if they seem small and insignificant. Do you have a neighbor who needs the hope of the Gospel? Are there elderly people in your town who need encouragement? Does your family need practical help and sacrificial love? Even if you don’t have a “huge opportunity” sitting in your lap, take the small steps of obedience that He calls you to take – and He will be faithful to lead and guide you at every point of the journey. If you are faithful with little, He will entrust You with more.
It is vital to remember that what you are doing with your life during these years is far less important than why you are doing it. Whether you are caring for a hundred orphans in Africa or changing diapers in the nursery at church, whether you are cooking meals for your family or pouring over your studies in college – if your actions are an outflow of your love for Jesus Christ, they will make an eternal difference in the Kingdom of God.