i’ve been thinking about how i was going to write this post for a long time now. i wanted to give practical advice, but i couldn’t think of a single practical thing i’d done to learn to seek Christ in singleness.
so let’s start with an illustration instead.
imagine there are two fires. one is your relationship with Christ. (that’s the one we’re stoking now.) then there’s another. it’s your relationship status. everything you do as a reaction to being single stokes the fire of your relationship status. and it eats at you and gnaws at your soul and eventually burns your spirit to ash.
and you feel far from God, and you don’t know how to get back, and you don’t know how to do anything besides what you’ve done but what you’ve done isn’t working.
STOP STOKING THE WRONG FIRE.
i know. we don’t know how. we don’t know how to step away from this pursuit of being “youandhim” instead of just “you.” we know it has something to do with our bibles and we might have heard the word Jesus somewhere but we’re still just not really sure where to start.
well, those tips i wanted to give you? turns out, i actually do have a few:
one | get rid of your pinterest wedding boards
when joseph was tempted by potiphar’s wife, he did not sit there and contemplate the possibility of having a relationship with her or with any other woman. no, he just fled.
before the days of pinterest, a friend told me i seemed so much more content with being single than she did. after we both got pinterest accounts, she created a board specifically for weddings and flooded my home page with pictures she’d pinned to it. on the other hand, i only pin the occasional wedding picture to my fashion board (and by that i mean, on a board of 180 pictures, less than a tenth are wedding-related).
so if you are constantly thinking about dating or getting engaged or married, flee temptation! putting images of other people’s weddings and proposals are only going to keep you believing the lie that everything falls together when you fall into relationship. it isn’t true, so stop pinning it as if it were. flee temptation. delete the wedding board. believe me, you will have plenty of time to scour pinterest when there’s a ring on your finger.
two | give sacrificially of your time
a few months after i was dealing with this, and in the midst of another heartrending situation, i began volunteering. mind you, i didn’t necessarily start because i wanted to. i did it because i was desperate for something that didn’t involve being on campus. i worked at an elementary school with at-risk kids, helping them with homework and other activities. at the end of the afternoon i realized i hadn’t thought of either harrowing situation even once.
as a single person, time is more available to you than it ever will be, and there are so many people, so many organizations, that would benefit by you giving your time. if you go to church, this is a good place to start looking to volunteer. don’t let being single hold you back from that, regardless of what people say to you about it. if you act like being single is a peripheral thing (because it is) and seek instead for how Christ wants to use you in your church and your community, you’ll find you think about it a lot less than you would otherwise.
three | write a list of reasons you’re glad you’re single
i got this idea around four years ago. i started the list in my journal, wrote down a few initial reasons i was thankful for singleness in that moment, and set aside three additional pages to go back to and add as i thought of more. you don’t have to have a long list – after four years, my list numbers hardly more than twenty reasons. knowing the list was there helps remind me that, yes, there are reasons to be grateful that i don’t have a relationship even when i want one. and i love rereading the list, reminding myself specifically of why i’m grateful to be single in this season.
four | pray: authentically, scripturally, out loud, & in physical manifestation of your attitude
the southern baptist token answer to everything is “read your bible and pray,” and if the speaker is feeling particularly eloquent, they will add, “it’s so cliche, but it’s true!”
great. but read what? pray for what?
i believe you should pray authentically. pray what you mean. don’t pray, “God, i want a husband, but in Your timing!” if that’s not what you mean. don’t play nice with God; it’s demeaning and insulting. He’s not a toy.
instead, pray what you mean. if today, you had a hard time being single, tell Him that. “God, today being single sucks.” why? because it does. & because He knows you’re thinking it, so if you say anything else, you’re lying.
also, pray scripturally. find scripture that reinforces what you’re seeking: you’re seeking more of Him and less of you and your obsession with your relationship status. so find verses about being content, and pray those over yourself. so if you were to pray proverbs 19:23 over yourself, you might say, “God, i pray You’d teach me the fear of You, that leads to life, that i might rest content in You, untouched by trouble.” or pray verses about being filled by the Spirit and forged by His consuming fire, like these. “i pray You would fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all the love and understanding the Spirit gives, so i may live a life worthy of You…” & so on. find exhortation. remind yourself of truth. surround yourself with examples of faith. pray yourself through that, because then you not only seek to hear what He has spoken to the ages, but what He speaks in this time, here, to your heart. write these verses down, too, and tape them up places you will see them often as encouragement to your heart and as quick prayers you can offer up as you go about your day.
pray out loud. i can’t urge you enough to do this. i have found i pray more authentically and more meaningfully if i actually say the words. if i find i can’t say them, or struggle over saying them, i know i have to pray for the faith and strength to do so. also, saying out loud, “i pray You would teach me to be content with being single,” will reinforce itself in your heart, and it will help you seek that more often.
and the last, but in my opinion, one of the most important: praying in physical manifestation of your attitude. who am i to stand in the presence of the Lord? i’m not even fit to unstrap His sandals. so when i need to remind myself how low and small i really am in the mighty face of God, i kneel. another thing i did once was, when i was praying for surrender, hold my hands out open as i prayed. the minute i laid them open and began praying, they literally began to ache to close again. it was a fight to keep them open. but isn’t it always a fight to let God take over what we think is most precious to us? because we forget He is what should be most precious.
this list isn’t a checklist. it isn’t a guarantee that you will be content in singleness if you do them all. they’re steps, and it’s a process. and dialoguing with God will teach you more than anything i have to say – so if you do any of these, please, please pray. pray for Him to reveal where He wants you; ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. that’s a promise.
but i know it’s hard. and i’m only where i’m at after six years of saying, “God, i don’t know if this is a season of singleness or a lifetime, but whatever it is, give me contentedness, give me purpose, give me faith and strength, for today. just today.”
today He has called me to singleness. today He has called you to singleness. because today, that’s how we can best serve Him. & i know, if that’s the case, then He will give us the strength to see it through.