Written By Deborah Fox, Australia
Last week, I realized I may be a contender for a world record—the highest number of weddings attended by a single person under the age of 35. I’ve been counting and, although it seems impossible, the number has now reached 207.
In the past month alone, three of my friends changed their Facebook status to “married”. I celebrate with them but I also feel a sense of heartache. When will it be my turn? Have I been too picky? The longing in my heart grows with each year that passes, while my sense of self-worth seems to diminish.
So, Valentine’s Day—today—just reminds me of my singleness and the relationships that have not worked out. I just wish my married friends would stop saying, “You’re still single? What’s wrong with you?”
I know what you’re thinking; I must be using hyperbole here. Well, unfortunately not. Many people have actually said this to my face. Most of them have been well-meaning Christians or extended family members. They care about my future. They want to make sure I share the same happiness and security they enjoy. But they are not being helpful with statements like that, because well, it’s perfectly okay to be single.
So if you’re going through Valentine’s Day this year as a single, here are a few reasons to take heart in this status and phase of life.
1. Marriage was never promised by God
God gives us many promises in His Word, but a life partner is not one of them. So why, I wonder, do so many people see marriage as an ultimate life goal to aspire towards? And why do they treat singleness as some kind of disease for which we all need to find a cure? The love between a husband and wife is certainly a gift from our Creator . . . but it’s not a gift we are all promised.
In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” While it is normal to desire intimate relationships, God has also designed us to be in relationships in a community. Time after time, I’ve heard single female friends say that they are either waiting for God to provide “Mr Right”, or preparing to take the situation into their own hands to find a “Mr You’ll Do”. They are so focused on looking for a man that they miss out on experiencing good, deep friendships.
For those of us who are still single, marriage might come our way eventually—but it doesn’t mean we should put our lives on hold to wait for it.
2. Singleness is not an exception to the rule
This is particularly true in Christian circles: We need to stop promoting the idea that being a single person in the church is somehow not as important as being a “wife”, “husband”, “mother”, or “father”. The fact is, there is a large population of single adults in most Western churches.
I belong to a Bible study group that is made up entirely of single women in their 30s and older. I’m single. My sisters are single. Many of my friends are single. Yet, singleness seems to be treated like the big elephant in the room (or church pews). Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for encouraging healthier marriages and providing parenting help to families. But we should not neglect the needs and experiences of single people. We are all part of the church family and Body of Christ, not just “spare parts”.
3. Effectiveness in Ministry
Have you ever wondered if you could be of any use to God on your own? In his letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul urges Christian believers to consider how effective singlehood can be in ministry, as it allows for “undivided attention to the Lord” (1 Cor 7:35). They are not bound by duties to their husbands and wives. They can go to far-flung corners of the globe to serve God.
While I know of many families who are extremely effective in mission work, the majority of my friends involved in cross-cultural gospel work are single. They have a great passion to serve God, no matter what their relationship status is. My sister is leading a translation project in Asia, three of my close friends are spread throughout the world with different mission agencies, and another friend is leading evangelism projects in her own neighborhood.
4. Our identity is in Christ, not our Facebook relationship status
At the end of the day, whether we’re single or married, in a relationship or not in a relationship, divorced, separated, or anything else in between, God loves us just as we are. We don’t need to do or be anything other than ourselves to be accepted by Him. As long as we look to Jesus, we can rest assured that our identity as co-heirs with Christ in God’s Heavenly Kingdom will never be taken away from us. In heaven, there will be no marriage (Matt 22:30; Rev 7:17), but as members of God’s church, we get to share in the ultimate wedding feast.
As tempting as it is to compare myself to my married friends, my status as a daughter of God is the only one that really matters. I am blessed to be surrounded by incredibly loving family and friends.
Valentine’s Day might be filled with reminders of relationships that didn’t work out or insecurities about being alone. But it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the source of true love: God. The interesting part is, St Valentine was not the love-sick Cupid he’s sometimes portrayed to be; it is likely he was a bishop in the early church who was martyred for his refusal to partake in pagan worship!
St Valentine knew that his allegiance lay with Jesus, whose ultimate gift of love was to lay down his life for us. This Valentine’s Day, I’ll be catching up with Christian friends and we will be spending time thanking God for who He is and what He has done in our lives. God is love and that is the one thing we can all celebrate together!