Yes, search #single on twitter and find a myriad of interesting, funny and sad tweets. One hundred forty characters are used to punctuate a person’s perspective on being single. A quick peek revealed a range of feelings including: #single I do what I wanna do, #single and hate it, I’m not #single I’m in a long term relationship with adventure & fun, #single ! :)), kinda tired of being #single.
What is it about the word single that brings either great consternation or a great sense of calm? Whether you are young and not ready for marriage, widowed, divorced or you never married, your perspective on being single will generally fall into one of these feelings. If you are single, you are very likely to desire a spouse; that makes sense. We are made for love relationships. God has hard wired our hearts to be in relationship – first with Him and then with others. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” Genesis 2:18. If you are single, or if you have friends that are single, you know that deep down your contentment or your discontentment with being single in large part drives what you do and what you say.
The same is true, by the way, for people who are married. The bigger question always goes back to “Am I content?”
Contemplating your own contentment involves asking a couple of more questions. The first one being “Am I enjoying my life?” That sounds very self-centered and at first glance can be misunderstood that way, especially if you are a Christian – you may be thinking that’s not a very sacrificial way of living. A quote by Martin Luther may help to explain. He was once approached by a man who enthusiastically announced that he’d recently become a Christian. Wanting desperately to serve the Lord, he asked Luther, “What should I do now?” As if to say, should he become a minister or perhaps a traveling evangelist? A monk perhaps? Luther asked him, “What is your work now?” “I’m a shoe maker.” Much to the cobbler’s surprise, Luther replied, “Then make a good shoe, and sell it at a fair price.” Much of your discontent whether you’re single or not comes from the feeling that you should somehow be doing more. Again, especially if you know God you may feel that you’re in the wrong profession and would somehow serve God’s kingdom better if you were in “Life “. To that, one might ask “Who would make the shoes?” The truth is, God has every one of us in position and it’s not a matter of moving positions but more importantly playing our positions. What has God gifted you to do? Where has He placed you? Why do you think He has planned for your singleness during this season in your life? Contentment comes from knowing and trusting that God has you in position. Discontent comes from believing [wrongly] that somehow God has made a mistake. Instead of enjoying (celebrating your life as it is) singleness and the place God has for you now, you long to be married or at least in a relationship.
The second additional question is one of gratitude. Are you looking around finding and seeing God’s grace in your life or are you looking around hypercritically, falling for the lie that you have nothing to be grateful for? The psalmist knew that a thankful heart was key to contentedness. He writes, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving” Psalm 69:30. This is not some trite, glossed over way of dealing with discontent. There are reasons for and seasons of deep struggle and sadness for most of us, single or married. It is not beneficial for anyone to pretend that you’re fine when you’re not. One of the reasons the Bible and Psalms in particular speak to our hearts is because of the transparency and honesty of the writers. The first few lines in the beginning of the Psalm 69 says, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched” (Psalm 69:1-3). Even in his cries to God and pleas for relief the psalmist acknowledges a thankful heart.
Thinking through singleness is a challenge. We often want to know if we’re doing everything “right”. As a Christian, knowing who you are in Christ brings great freedom. Jesus says something pretty shocking when He is asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” They are eagerly anticipating the list of things they must do. He simply replies, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” In that one statement alone we find contentment, joy and thanksgiving. You can be content in what God has called you to, which frees you to enjoy the place He has you and to express gratitude knowing it’s not all up to you. The burden of “what’s next” and “am I doing the right thing” does not rest on your shoulders. Rest in God. He has authored your singleness, and the contentment for where He has you will come from Him alone.