I am single.
An old maid.
A future cat lady without a cat.
I’m about as single as single can be.
At 37 years old I should probably be more concerned about this; however, I actually enjoy being single. If you had asked me 10 years ago, I would have had a very different response. All of my friends were getting married and the thought of being single was terrifying. I watched as they got married one-by-one, started their families, bought big beautiful houses, and talked about the joys of married life and raising children.
And to be completely honest, I was jealous.
It doesn’t shock anyone when I say that life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay it didn’t. Different doesn’t mean bad. It just means different. I have built my life through a lot of sweat and tears, and I’m pleased with what I’ve done with my years so far.
Singleness is not talked about much in the church, and I think it’s important to realize that being single does not make you an outcast. In fact, your singleness can be used for great things.
Here are some truths I have learned about being a Christian single:
God doesn’t call everyone to get married.
As much as we may hate to admit it, God does not call everyone to get married. I know for some of us that is hard to hear, but in all the many plans God has for your life, sometimes a spouse is not one of them. The Bible talks about this in several verses, but most notably in 1 Corinthians 7:7–8, where Paul mentions that some are given the gift of singleness.
It is very common for people around me to say these really encouraging things like “there’s someone out there for everyone” and “I’m sure you’ll find someone someday.” While I hope that is true, I know that it may not be. Perhaps God’s will for my life is to be single. There may not be anyone out there for me. It’s one of those things in life where I will have to wait and see what happens.
The church doesn’t serve singles well.
The hardest part for me, as a person growing in my faith, is realizing how the church fails to minister to those of us who are older Christian singles. It’s an odd place to be because we’re not the norm. Older singles in the church are often seen as the oddballs. The weird ones. We just don’t fit.
The first thing people want to know is what is wrong with us. They say we are being too picky or are not open-minded. Or they can’t understand how people can be single and content with being single.
The church usually has great opportunities for younger singles, especially college age. Churches also tend to minister strongly to their seniors and widowers. For those of us stuck in the middle, there is often nothing for us.
Even Bible studies are a struggle when so many of the topics are how to be a better mother or wife. I can count on one hand the number of sermons I’ve heard preached about singles; yet, my church dedicates an entire month each year to sermons about family and parenting. While this makes me sad, I realize that it’s because the families in our church are the future of the church. It’s not that our church doesn’t care. They just aren’t sure what to do with us.
It’s never ok to settle because you are lonely.
One thing I’ve seen way too often with older singles is that we settle. Often times this is because we are lonely and afraid of growing old alone. I understand this because I thought about settling a few years ago. I was 35 years old and realizing that if I wanted to have children I needed to get married soon. Things like someone who had strong faith in God, or someone who would support my dreams and aspirations, went out the window as I hoped to simply find someone who was interested. I was willing to settle for something less than the best in order to start a family.
This is not the way to start a relationship, and definitely not the grounds for marriage. Finding a spouse should be considered a lifelong choice, and you need to make sure that the relationship can last. If you settle for something that you don’t really want or need, it can cause you to have a tough marriage. I want a spouse that shares my faith, and for any children we welcome into our lives to be raised in that faith. It’s better to be single than to settle for someone who can’t do that.
Being single has advantages.
I don’t have to worry about consulting with other people about my choices. I can go wherever I want to and do what I want to. I have a sense of freedom in being single that someone married with children doesn’t have. My time is my own, meaning I can choose to use my time in any way I see fit. Single people often have more opportunity to serve God because they don’t have to worry about juggling the schedules of multiple people.
I can pursue opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to do. I’ve moved halfway across the country for work and back. I’m taking dance lessons. I've recently starting a writing career on the side. I’m also seriously considering going back to school to get my Master’s degree. Married people can 100% do all of these things. It’s just much, much harder. I’ve learned that time is the single person’s biggest gift.
Find away to get involved with the community and use your free time to serve others. You may not be a mother/father, but you can parent other children by serving in children’s ministry. Or volunteering in the nursery. Or find a community program that allows you to spend time with children. Perhaps you can lead a Bible study? Or if your church does not have programs for singles, why not be the one to start one? There’s so much you can do with your time. Even if God does not bring a spouse to you, you don’t have to be lonely or bored.
Being single isn’t the end of the world even though it may feel like it. I sincerely hope that someday God will send me a spouse, but if he doesn’t, I’m ok with that too.