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In Praise of Singleness

“Why are you single?”

“Oh, I know just who I want to set you up with.”

“Do you not want to get married?”

“Whatever happened to John? He seemed nice.”

“Mars Hill is such a big church—don’t you meet a lot of nice guys there?”

“Have you tried online dating?”

Eww, shudder. I always seem to be content enough with my singleness until people start to ask these questions. Don’t get me started on dating sites, which I just can’t bring myself to. And are people really suggesting I make my church a personal dating factory? How exhausting! Our friends and relatives mean well—they just want us to be happy, but it’s not all about finding a significant other.

But this is not a post about being discouraged when our friends and relatives ask these questions. So what’s a single gal to do?

Despite these awkward questions and perplexing dating sites, we single ladies have reason to celebrate: We have the amazing opportunity of using singleness to our full advantage. This is the season where time is ours and the Lord’s and we can serve others, build friendships, practice communicating well, relax and sleep whenever we want, and most importantly, grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Dating is not wrong or bad—it does help us find what we need in a husband and we learn how to just be in a relationship with the opposite gender. Yet it can be very easy to get into a relationship and make the person or the relationship my god. I have fallen to this plenty of times. I’ll admit, it was really great to go from “I” to “we” for a time. But I have also found that not becoming a habitual dater has helped me in a lot of ways: time for Jesus with few distractions, quality time with my female friends, more time for hobbies and serving, less temptation for sexual sin, less time wasted on men who aren’t going to push me closer to Jesus.

“And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” –1 Corinthians 7:34–35

We all have issues and sin in our life, and really, this is the time to work on them. It won’t get any easier if and when we get married or have kids. In fact, if you wait to work on them, you’re just bringing other people into your mess. What a disservice this is to our future families. I know I’ll never be perfect, yet I want to be healthy woman of God for my future husband and children.

I won’t deny that it can be difficult to be a woman in waiting. The fear of living alone forever does come about here and there, sometimes more here than there. I have struggled with spending all of my spare time selfishly. I reason, if I’m not married, then why would I bother thinking about it until I get there? 

But, if I do get married one day, I know that after we say I do, I won’t automatically know how to communicate with my husband. I won’t magically start reading my Bible. I cannot expect my relationship with God to suddenly become easy and perfect. It takes work, and I need to use this time to do just that. And Jesus promises that married or single, he will be with us along the way.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” –Philippians 1:6

What will we bring to the marriage God has in store for us? If and when God puts us in a dating relationship, we want to be able to discern if this fellow is “the right one” and if he can lead us closer to the Lord. We also need to know who we are so we can be a good wife to our husband and mothers to our children. What kind of wife and mom might God call you to be one day? What is God calling you to do to prepare your heart now?

Singleness is the perfect time to practice getting to know who you are in Christ so you can bring your very best to a relationship, marriage, and parenthood. Marriage is not an identity. It defines our relationship status, not who we are. We are cherished daughters of the heavenly Father—that is our identity. He loves us and desires a relationship with us. He pursues us to no end. He wants us. No matter how amazing our future husbands will be, Jesus will always love us even more—that’s really amazing. Instead of the ultimate pursuit of dating, let’s strive for the ultimate pursuit: Jesus.

Heather Carlson is a deacon at the Ballard church.

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