But please keep reading, instead of the eye-rolling and scrolling I usually do with anything related to singleness.
(Seriously. There’s something in me that just assumes anything on the subject will be horrible. It’s a bias I’m working to unlearn.)
I just graduated college and while I only got a couple B’s in my four years, I definitely failed one thing: ring-by-spring.
Honestly, it was never something I really thought about. I’ve always been focused on school and the things I’m passionate about. When I was in high school, my mom used to say that I was too busy working to notice boys, that I just kept walking on by them.
And for the most part, that’s still true. I love the work I’m doing – ministry, writing, studying. While I wouldn’t mind (at all) being married, I don’t really think about it all that much.
Except when other people tell me to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not barraged by aggressively misguided church ladies or any of the other stereotypes. It’s just the occasional comment about my singleness that reminds me to think about it; that reminds me that it’s going to increasingly become an abnormality, especially for someone in the church.
As a 22-year-old church-going woman, I’ve heard my fair share of classic Comments-to-Singles. And they’ve ranged from mildly irritating (“My sister was older when she got married too, it’s okay!”) to surprisingly reassuring (“Wow! You’re still single?”).
But of all the sometimes weird and sometimes wonderful things people say, there is one I would like to politely ask be stricken from the Comments-to-Singles canon:
“You’ll find someone someday.”
See also: “Oh honey, your time will come!”
“Mr. Right is going to come along just when you least expect it!”
“You’ll find him eventually!”
Because here’s the thing: maybe I won’t.
Maybe “Mr. Right” will never show up, maybe “my time” won’t come, maybe I’ll end up unmarried for the rest of my life.
And that will be just fine.
Strike that. It will be more than fine.
If that’s what happens, it will be exactly as God intended. If I’m living my life to glorify Him and no one special comes along, then being single was the way to glorify Him best.
In other words, it might just so happen that for me, glorifying Him means staying unmarried.
I’m definitely not against marriage and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to be married one day. Instead, I’m asking that we learn to stop talking about marriage as if it’s something Jesus promised His followers. I’m asking that we stop writing and thinking and talking about singleness like it’s definitely “just for a season.” Not only are we setting ourselves up for some seriously disappointed single Christians, but we’re effectively saying that there are limits to what God’s plan for you could possibly be. He will definitely give you this, it just might take some time.
I don’t need to rehash the way Paul talked about singleness and how it can be useful for ministry. Those words have been written and said and heard by Christians for a long time (thank goodness for that). Instead, I’m hoping we can start to think of his words as less of a palliative to comfort us until that period of waiting is over and more of a call to glorify God no matter our marital status.
I don’t want to be just another woman proudly raising the banner of singleness for the sake of singleness. Paul doesn’t say it’s good because it’s a more carefree, fun life. (Check out his life, for starters.)
Instead, he’s talking about being used mightily by God. He’s talking about how God uses people from every class and geographical region and marital status. He’s talking about using your whole life to glorify God and using any angle or advantage you have to glorify Him even more.
So I don’t want to hear that “I’ll find someone,” because it very well might be true that His plan is different – and it’s always better than mine or yours.
I don’t want to get it stuck in my head that there is only one marital status He intends for his followers or that being married just comes with the “Christian” territory. I don’t want to start believing that His plans for me must contain marriage, because if it doesn’t, I don’t want to doubt His goodness. I don’t want us to continue subconsciously believing that His best plans always look like our white-American-upper-class-evangelical understanding of a “good Christian life” – and that includes typical understandings of family. I don’t want us to continue accidentally leaking the message that church is really a place you go to “raise your family” and that anyone who doesn’t fit that neat mold should go and try to find community somewhere else. Instead, I want us to champion everyone who is bravely living out His plan for them and seeking to glorify Him in everything they do, whether that involves marriage or not.