By now, I should have been happily married to the love of my life, with two adorable children named Cedric and Caleb (if I had boys). I would also be working part-time and contributing articles to some Christian parenting website about how to bring up children in the fear of the Lord.
At least that’s how I had pictured my ideal future to be like, 10 years ago.
But my reality today couldn’t be more different from what I had envisioned then. On top of the fact that there’s no husband (and naturally, no children) in sight, my daily routine hasn’t changed much, except I’m now in the workforce instead of school, and writing articles about singleness instead of parenthood. Perhaps the biggest changes in my life are that my dad is no longer around, and most of my friends are married—half of them already having one or two kids.And now that I’ve hit my 30s, the possibility that I might remain single for the rest of my life, and that life would more or less remain status quo looms over me with each passing year.
Sure, I’ve taken active steps to “go out there and meet new people” in recent years—seven to be exact. While some were just not my type, there were some whom I was interested to get to know better, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Though I wish I had met “the one” by now, I can’t say I’ve regretted any of the decisions I’ve made in that area. If not for anything, I appreciate how each one of those experiences have taught me a lot about myself and the areas in my life that God still wants me to work on.
On a larger scale, this journey of singleness has taught me three important things about God’s provision and purpose for my life.
1. God will always provide community
One of the biggest laments my single friends have is that of loneliness, since there isn’t that one person to do life with. And that’s compounded by the fact that their circle of friends seems to shrink as they age, especially after they get married and have kids.
In his book Spiritual Friendship, author Wesley Hill described this phenomenon aptly, “If it comes down to making time to be with friends or returning home to preserve marital or parental intimacy, the choice is clear: the sacrifices friendships warrant have their limits, and they dare not cut too deeply into quality time spent with family members.”
While I agree with his description, I find that it only takes into account the friendships we have with our peers. But what if we didn’t put all our eggs in the same basket and opened our social circles to a larger community, for instance, those going through different phases of life now, like students, other singles, or older adults with grown-up children? What if God meant for different groups of people to journey with us through different seasons of life—instead of just one single person or one select group of friends?
If there’s one thing I can say with utmost certainty that God has never withheld from me, it’s community. Whether at home, at church, at work, or at large, I have never felt lonely as I journeyed through life’s ups and downs—even when my father passed away unexpectedly six years ago. To be sure, I am no longer as close to some of the friends I grew up with, but over the years, I’ve seen how God has brought both younger and older friends into my life who have shown me His love in many ways, through acts of service, words of kindness, and gifts of love. Some have also given me the opportunity to experience the life I may not have; just last year, I was invited to be the godmother of a (now) 16-month-old boy, whom I adore and am excited to journey with.
These relationships have given me a glimpse of the richness of the body of Christ, as well as a taste of what heaven would be like, where there is no marriage and no exclusive lifelong commitment to one person (Matt 22:30), but one body of Christ made up of different individuals with different gifts.
2. God has placed me in a unique position to reach out to othersRegardless of our marital status, one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that life is hard.
A few weeks ago, one of my single friends shared that she had cried for over an hour the night before, overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness. Some days later, I placed my hand around the shoulder of another friend as she sobbed over the fact that her boyfriend wanted to break up with her. Over WhatsApp messages, a friend shared that she was sad and tired from having to care for her sickly father at home, and another asked for prayers for her two young sons who were constantly falling sick. And most recently, I had dinner with two friends on two separate occasions: one had been trying for a kid for some time and was about to embark on the IVF treatment process, and the other had just gotten her divorce finalized.
Being single and available (with my time and resources) has allowed me to show up and be there for the community God has placed in my life (1 Corinthians 12:26-27), many of whom have been the very ones who have consistently displayed God’s love and presence to me. As Hill wrote in another chapter of his book, “Friendship is a call to voluntarily take up the pain of others, bearing it with and for them, by virtue of our relation to Christ.”
Of course, friendship is not without its joys. Just a few months ago on my birthday, I received a surprise bouquet of flowers from a new friend whom I had only met up with once for dinner some years ago, shortly after she had broken up with her then-boyfriend. The card read, “Thank you for being there when I was very down . . .Those encouragements and prayers are what I needed the most back then . . . ” Earlier this year, she tied the knot with the person she had met after her acrimonious break up. More recently, another friend who is currently single, sent me this message after our dinner together: “God has always used you to speak to me in special ways and I always thank God for you!”
Through sharing in the lives of my friends—rejoicing with them and weeping with them—I’ve been able to live out God’s vision of what it means to be in the body of Christ. It has also allowed me to see the difficult realities of life all around, which has helped me put my life into perspective.
3. God has already made me complete in Christ
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons this season of singleness has taught me is that I am already complete and have all I need—because of Christ.
Colossians 2:9-10 (NKJV) says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Back then, the Colossians were misled by false teachers to think that they needed to turn to something or someone to “complete” their spiritual well-being. Sometimes, even in the church, we speak as though marriage is the pinnacle of humanity, and that we cannot fully experience or understand Christ’s love for the church, unless we get married.
What this means for me practically is that in Christ, I have no lack. Though moments of deep loneliness may one day come, this truth remains unchanged and should give all singles (myself included) the assurance and peace to press on in life with courage and hope.
Losing my dad some years ago has also helped me see clearly that singleness is something we all have to experience at some point. Even for those with spouses, the time and season that they have together is limited and should not be taken for granted. So it would do well for all of us to cultivate our relationship with Jesus Himself, who will never leave us nor forsake us. For myself, this means learning to be comfortable on my own, and to spend time regularly soaking in God’s Word and resting in His presence.
While it may sometimes feel like life isn’t going anywhere for those of us who are currently single, may God keep us focused on our eternal destiny and calling as Christians—to shine His light and share His story continually to the community He has placed around us.