The Gift of Singleness

cross-heartI feel like all of the posts and articles I have read lately are either about yoga pants or about Fifty Shades of Grey, so please allow me to write about something else!

Maybe it’s just as hackneyed a topic, but Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and it’s a pretty relevant topic for me.  I’m praying that I can provide a novel take on the subject though.

I consider myself to be both a cynic and a romantic, so Valentine’s Day has always held an odd mixture of allure and distaste for me.  Let’s set the stage here – I will be 30 in August, and I have been single for 7 years.  Yes, I have dated during that time, but nothing that lasted any longer than a month or two.  It’s been 7 years since I last called someone my “boyfriend.”

Seven years is a long time.  And my attitude towards my singleness has varied widely during those 7 years.  There were periods where I thoroughly enjoyed being unencumbered and free to do as I pleased.  There were also periods where I was profoundly lonely and heartbroken to be without romantic companionship.  And then, of course, there was the middle ground.

As I progressed from early twenties to mid twenties to late twenties, I feel that my attitude tended to hover more in the heartbroken direction.  At 22, it’s fairly easy to hold out hope that you will meet Mr. Right in the near future, but as the sands slowly fall through the hourglass that is the twenty-something prime of your life, doubt begins to creep in.  And as more and more of your friends pair off, get married, and start families of their own, you begin to wonder when it will happen for you.  And then, as more time passes, IF it will happen for you.

The church doesn’t deal well with its single constituents, and singleness tends to be viewed as the “waiting area” before God gives you your Christian soul mate, you marry, and you begin the work of being fruitful and multiplying.  Many people have the impression that one of the many promises of God is that He will bring you a spouse.  But that’s just not true.  Look at some of the things the apostle Paul has to say about singleness and marriage:

I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.  1 Corinthians 7:26-28

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 1 Corinthians 7:8

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. 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 7:32-35

I think the general consensus of the world is that to be single, particularly after a certain age, implies you have some kind of defect.  Why doesn’t anyone want you?  And when there doesn’t appear to be anything significantly flawed about you, people always express surprise over why you are not attached, “How are you still single?!”

I think that mentality seeped into my own mindset over the years, but today, it struck me how thankful I am to be surrounded by such an amazing singles community at my church.  I know literally dozens of single men and women, in their twenties and thirties, who are godly, intelligent, successful, loving, generous, and attractive people.  They are proof that you can be an amazing person, but not be in a relationship with anyone other than Christ.  And I think we often fail to maximize this part of our lives, whether singleness is a season or a lifetime.  It’s an opportunity to be completely devoted to Christ because we are undistracted by the complexities and responsibilities that come from being in a relationship with another person.  At this point in my life, the Lord wants me for Himself.  How can I be upset about that?

St-valentine-baptizing-st-lucilla-jacopo-bassanoThe ironic thing is, the true origin of Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with romantic love and everything to do with Jesus.  According to legend, Saint Valentine was persecuted for being a Christian and was interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II.  Claudius attempted to convert Valentine to Roman paganism, but Valentine refused and tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity instead.  Because of this, Valentine was executed.  However, before his execution, it is reported that Valentine performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer, allowing her to see for the first time.  Because of this, the jailer’s daughter and his entire 44 person household came to believe in Jesus and were baptized.

I’m not sure I will ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.  The story of St. Valentine is about a man sold out for the gospel so completely that he was willing to lose his life rather than renounce his faith.  Even more so, despite his dire circumstances, his faith and love were so great that he was able to perform an act that brought both glory to God and 45 people to belief in Christ.  It is my prayer and my endeavor to strive for that kind of faith and that kind of courage to love both my God and my brothers and sisters just as boldly.

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