Embracing God’s Pattern in our Last Days of Singleness
By HEATHER COFER
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him, and he will act.
Psalm 37:4-5 ESV
I remember the moment I learned about her concerns. It was a sunny spring day in Mongolia, where my family and I had lived for twelve years. I was preparing to return to the United States to visit family, friends, and (most excitingly) Judah — my soon-to-be fiancé — who at that time I hadn’t seen in five months. My parents had just gotten off of a phone call with family back in Colorado, figuring out some logistics for my upcoming trip. They also mentioned a conversation they recently had with a close family friend about mine and Judah’s relationship, thinking it might be good for me to be aware of because we would be visiting her during my time there. Though Judah and I were both young, we had watched God beautifully orchestrate our relationship. Our parents were in full support of our blossoming romance, but this family friend — a woman who I deeply respected — didn’t feel the same way.
She thought the decision I was making to get married before going to college and becoming successful in a career was foolish. I had so much life to live and a dream to pursue — marriage didn’t have to come right away, she said. This woman had significant influence in my life during my growing up years, so when I heard her comments, I was surprised, hurt, and saddened.
I had spent many years studying piano, potentially for the purpose of earning a degree in music. But when the Lord began leading mine and Judah’s lives together, I joyfully surrendered those years of studying piano, knowing that God’s will would always be best.
But this … this shook me a little bit. Especially since the concern had been expressed by someone I looked up to and admired; someone who had seen those years of work I had put into pursuing that dream.
As I prayed and talked with my parents, I was reassured that the decision to set aside the pursuit of a career in music was the right thing for me to do because marriage to a godly man was a good thing and it was clearly where the Lord was leading me. Wrestling through this experience gave me a greater understanding of just how easily the thoughts and opinions of others can affect us and how important it is to run those things through the grid of God’s Word.
We live in a world that is focused on self-promotion, so much so that this mindset is even coming into the church when it comes to how we view marriage. Many young women are told that there is no need to rush into marriage and that they should focus on themselves — building a career, becoming independent, traveling, and not being concerned about settling down right away. Even once a couple is in a serious relationship that is moving toward marriage, there is a sense that they need to “enjoy their last days of freedom.” You see this reflected in the typical bachelor or bachelorette parties which are a “celebration” (often in a completely inappropriate way) of the last “free” moments before you’re committed to one person for the rest of your life. And sadly, it’s not only non-Christians who have given into this wrong way of thinking.
So how should we view the days leading up to marriage? Are they really our last days of freedom before we’re stuck in a mundane and freedom-less reality? Do they mark the end of our dreams and pursuits?
All of this ultimately goes back to our mindset. If you boil it down, there are really only two ways to approach life — whether you’re single, engaged, or married — living for yourself or living for the glory of God.
No matter what season we are in, as Christians, we should live every day seeking to honor the Lord. Singleness is not a season of freedom to live for ourselves. The season of singleness does have unique opportunities for certain freedoms that married people don’t have, and this is even addressed in Scripture. (See 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.) But what does this Scripture say? That single people are free to live in whatever way they choose? No! They are free to be “concerned about the things of the Lord” (CSB). And once you’re married, the Bible says you have a unique platform to be able to display to the world the relationship between Christ and His Church. (See Ephesians 5:22-32.) So either way, we should be wholly given to Him and how He desires to use our lives to further His Kingdom.
If we are functioning within this framework, then it doesn’t really matter whether we are single or married. In either stage of life we will consider Christ our goal, and living for Him our joy — and everything we do will be built upon this foundation.
The season of preparing for marriage is a unique and beautiful one. As you live out your last days as a single young woman, you are simultaneously looking forward to the next season in marriage. There can be a strong temptation to either be discontent while you wait to be married, or frantically attempt to fit in every last thing you want to experience as a single person before it’s “too late.” But what will truly make this season meaningful is committing it to the Lord and allowing Him to use it to grow you more in your love for Him and to display His heart to the world.
I recently saw an example of this firsthand in a couple from our church, who are now just a few weeks from getting married. Shortly after they began their relationship, they started asking families in the church what they, as a couple, could do to serve them in practical ways. Our family was one of the privileged recipients of this gift of selfless service from this sweet couple, and it was so clear by their actions and words that their relationship was going to be committed to loving the Lord and serving those whom God put in their path. Rather than turning inward and focusing their time and energy just on themselves, or on “living it up” in their last days of singleness, they demonstrated that their lives were fully given to the Lord, whether single or married.
Here are some ways you can begin to allow the Lord to shape your mindset as you approach your last days of singleness.
Commit Your Way to the Lord
Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act” (ESV). If Jesus is our delight and we allow Him to shape our days, then our lives will be full, rich, and without worry. But when we focus on ourselves, the temptation to fret and worry over each detail is ever-present because there is so much we have little or no control over. If you have never consciously given control over every detail of your life to the Lord, that is the place to start. Ask Him to reveal any ways in which you are living for yourself and your own desires rather than His. Ask Him to help you have His perspective for your season of singleness and your future season of marriage.
Take Practical Steps of Obedience
If there are any ways the Lord has revealed to you that you are living for your own advancement rather than His, start right away to take steps of obedience to change. It might simply be a change of mindset, or it could be as drastic as a change in the direction your life is headed. Whether you are single, married, or preparing for marriage — if you realize you have a self-focused perspective — ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to be using this season of your life, and be prepared to do whatever it is He asks of you. If you’re not sure what this is supposed to look like, seek the counsel of your parents, a godly woman, or an older couple you know. Remember, you can trust that “His way is perfect” (Ps. 18:30), and there is no better way to live than with loving service to Him.
Proactively Build a Lifestyle of Service
Up until the day I got married, I lived with my family. My husband and I had a lengthy engagement of 14 months, all of which were long distance, so I had a great opportunity to really focus on serving my family in my last days leading up to marriage.
My family was getting ready to leave the country we had lived in for twelve years, so I took over a good part of the cooking and cleaning (for our family of ten) so my mom could focus more on packing and getting our family ready to move. I also had the chance to teach piano to two of my siblings and several other missionary kids, as well as be available to help with various needs that would arise among the other missionary families. This helped take my mind off the intensity of wedding planning and helped me remember that I would never again have the freedom to serve my family in this unique capacity. Those days were filled with such sweetness and purpose, and I don’t have one single regret over any of those moments that were given to serving those closest to me.
Establishing an outward-focused life can begin with very simple things. Start by looking at what is right in front of you and see if there are any ways you can begin to serve those who are in your life every day. Find ways to serve within your church rather than just attending on Sunday mornings. Ask your elderly neighbor if there is some practical task you can do for them. Take time out of your day to encourage a friend or co-worker who is going through a rough time. If you ask the Lord to open your eyes, it won’t take long before you begin noticing the many ways He might want to use you to bless others.
There is nothing dull or oppressive about living in wholehearted surrender to the Lord and the plan He has for you. On the contrary, it is the most exciting, beautiful, and fulfilling way to spend this life that He has given us. Charles Spurgeon put it this way, “Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”1 When our days of singleness are lived for His glory, no matter how many or few they may be, you can be certain they will be used for eternal good.