Wedding and engagement announcements dominate my social media feeds, and I am starting to feel left out.
Each post is just a variation of the other, with most running along the lines of, “so blessed to be marrying my best friend”, “cannot believe she said yes”, accompanied by photos of the happy couple, with the woman holding her hand up to show off her engagement ring, and the usual hashtags, #soblessed, #marriedmybestfriend, etc.
Church bulletins are no different: almost every Sunday, there are announcements of so-and-so getting married. Cue the happy couple with their big smiles, photographed against stunning scenery. Some of the couples are so incredibly young—about a year or two out of high school—that it makes me wonder if they should be shopping for a university degree or garner more life experiences instead of a wedding dress.
While I am happy for these couples, it’s starting to seem like getting married is a #lifegoal that many people cannot wait to accomplish.
Don’t get me wrong: Given the choice, I would like to get married as much as the next person. One simple reason is that I am terrified of dying a lonely death, with my remains being discovered only two years later (I have read enough news stories to know that’s what usually happens).
However, it has been nearly a decade since I was last in a long-term relationship, and while my ex-boyfriend has recently gotten hitched, I haven’t seemed to have spotted my Mr Right anywhere on the horizon.
Admittedly, it can be a little exhausting raking my brains trying to figure out where Mr Right hangs out. He’s definitely not at the clubs, and I have yet to find a decent one online. And there aren’t any single men at my workplace. I recently signed up with my local surf lifeguard club, thinking I’d meet someone along the way (but of course, the main motivation is fitness and giving back to my community). I have also asked friends if they might know anyone who is single.
Let’s just say I have combed every avenue and seen not much result, so I have put a halt to my search.
Yet I can’t say my life as a single person is miserable or tragic at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Over the last 10 years, I have spent my free time volunteering with my church’s ushering/welcome team, won a scholarship for an internship with the online arm of Chinese newspaper, China Daily in Beijing, moved out of Auckland for a reporting job with a daily newspaper, and currently volunteering to write with YMI. Once I qualify as a surf lifeguard, I’ll also be patrolling the beaches during summer weekends.
Singleness has given me the chance to give back to the community in numerous ways, and I think these things are just as good a life goal as any.
I am not putting down marriage, as it is hard work. I applaud those committed to it, but I believe it is not the only life goal God has for us on earth.
Look at the Apostle Paul, for example. Paul, who previously persecuted Christians before turning to Christianity, became a pivotal figure God used to share the message of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire. Paul acknowledged marriage would most likely deter him from carrying out his work. In fact, Paul espouses the virtues of singlehood. A married man or woman, Paul said, is concerned about the affairs of the world and how they can please their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:32-35), but a single person is concerned with the Lord’s affairs, with their aim devoted to the Lord “in both body and spirit”.
I believe if Paul was married, he wouldn’t be able to travel so freely across the Roman Empire to share the gospel, plant churches, and encourage the early Christians. Paul aside, John the Baptist was another single (according to commentaries) who lived an exemplary life. He knew his mission from God was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, and he went about sharing the news of Jesus. The Bible says he lived a rugged life, and his sole focus was on carrying out God’s works. From their lives, we can see this truth clearly: There is no shame in being single.And in a society where we are constantly looking out for our significant other, it would be refreshing to be the single person who lives a significant life.
Furthermore, I believe if we are to ask God what His life goals for us are, I think it will be more along the lines of loving one another (John 13:34), forgiving our enemies (Ephesians 4:32), and being thankful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
I have not entirely given up hope on finding Mr Right, but I have long learned not to let it stop me from enjoying my life.
If you’re in a situation where all your friends are getting married and your life partner is starting to look more like a myth than reality, can I encourage you to boldly embrace your single status, and try asking God how you can use your gift to do His works?
There’s so much more to life than getting married.