Posts

11 Reasons to Celebrate Singleness

Title: 11 Reasons to Celebrate Singleness
Artwork by:YMI
Description:  Do you dread being single? Does your status feel more like a curse rather than a blessing? It’s often easy to feel like we’re missing out on life when we’re single—but the truth is that if we’re willing to view it from a different perspective, there’s plenty of reasons we can find to celebrate our singleness.

This Singles’ Day, instead of focusing on treating ourselves to lots of new material things, why not remind ourselves of the unique opportunities we have in this season, and how we can use this time to serve God?

Here are just 11 reasons we’ve come up with. Share with a friend who might need these reminders, or to schedule a “date” to do some of these activities together!

 

 

1. Freedom to be spontaneous! 
Unfettered by the rigors of married life, you have the chance to go on a holiday any time your heart desires. The best bit of all, your hotels and vacation spots are not restricted to just family-friendly or child-friendly areas.

 

 

2. Loads of time to pick up a new hobby
Most attached people are probably too busy juggling their hectic schedules with time for their significant other, but single you have the time (and energy) to hack through a book list, eat your way through the different cafes you have been eyeing on Instagram, or even better, commit to learning a new skill or language or start a new Bible-reading plan.

 

 

3. Plenty of resources to bless others 
When you’re single, you don’t have to set aside money for diapers, milk powder, or your non-existent kid’s education fund. The best thing about running in excess is that you have the ability to treat someone to a meal, bless someone who might be going on a mission trip, or treat yourself whenever you feel like it. 

 

 

4. No need to put up with someone else’s quirks 
Your place can be as tidy or as messy as you want it to be. This also means you don’t have to put up with someone else’s habit of leaving empty candy wrappers around the place, or not putting their gym socks in the laundry basket.

 

 

5. . . . Or someone else’s moods
We all have moments of ups-and-downs, and these are intensified when your spouse might be experiencing their own bout of the blues. A single person has only their own mood to worry about, but with a spouse, you might have to play by ear when gauging what the weather’s like over at their end. 

 

 

6. Freedom to plan your own schedule
Eat-in or takeaway? Waking up at 6 a.m. for a gym session or sleeping in till noon? The possibilities are endless when you are single. With no family demanding to be fed or taking up every hour of your waking life, you are free to plan your day, whether it’s to take time off for some self-care or to spend time with a friend in need of comfort.

 

 

7. A wider social circle
Married couples or families with children would almost always end up hanging out in mums-and-bubs groups or other parenting groups. But a single person has the bandwidth to spend time with families with children, the elderly, other singles, young adults or teens—the list goes on.

 

 

8. Extra energy for volunteer work
Raring to help out at your local animal shelter? Go ahead and put your name down, or if your church needs  more volunteers to help out with after-service refreshments, why not put your energy to good use?

 

 

9. Less worries and worldly concerns
The apostle Paul, one of the most famous singles in the Bible (aside from Jesus himself), says an unmarried man has undivided time to devote his time and energy for the Lord’s affairs (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). There is nothing more fulfilling than focusing our lives on things of eternal value, whether it’s in leading people to Christ or building relationships that will last for eternity!

 

 

10. Opportunities to savor the richness of Christ
When you’re single, you are in a unique position to experience just how rich you are—rich in the knowledge of God’s love for you, rich in your contentment of having Christ as your Savior, and rich in the security of His love for you.

 

11. Less heartache and disappointments
Though relationships and marriage bring with them the opportunity to be loved, cherished, and cared for by a fellow human being, it also comes with the potential for deep disappointment and hurt. As a single, you are spared all these emotional ups and downs, and instead, get to look forward to the perfect bridegroom who will never disappoint you, but will fulfill you completely! 

 

Regardless of what our marital status is at the moment, there will always be joys and frustrations in each season. Let’s take every opportunity to enjoy the gifts that God has given us in our current season, making full use of what He’s given us, knowing that we can be content in Christ whatever our circumstance is (Phillipians 4:11).

 

What If I Can’t Find My Passion?

How do I find my passion?

I typed that question into Google my first-year in graduate school. I asked my professors. I asked my peers. They say, it should be what excites you in the morning. They say, you should go to bed thinking about it. They say, it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life. They say, they say. But I don’t.

There was one thing that I always thought was my passion. It’s what I told my parents I wanted to do when I was a child. It’s what I Googled about doing as I debated over my life decision my first year in graduate school. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I imagined myself writing fictional sagas or novels, like J. K. Rowling or Jane Austen.

However, with Asian parents, writing wasn’t the most supported career option. Plus, I do like math, problem-solving, and pursuing research projects. But, I don’t think about equations and optimization before I go to bed. I don’t wake up with new ideas on mathematical proofs. In fact, I can’t imagine myself being okay with only working on mathematical models for the rest of my life.

This dilemma tortured me for a good part of my first year. After all, what is life if I don’t get to work on what I love? What if I get a PhD in something that’s not my passion?

The truth is, no matter how much our “passion” excites us, no matter how much we think we love our work, no matter how much we want work to fulfill us . . . we always end up asking ourselves the question like the teacher of Ecclesiastes: what are we toiling for? Is this meaningful (Ecclesiastes 2:20-23)? Even King Solomon, with all his wisdom and success, could not find meaning in the workings of his hands.

Work—or status, relationships, hobbies—is not where we are supposed to find meaning. Meaning only comes through our relationship with God. Our pursuit of passion, or anything else, will never satisfy us. However, we can find enjoyment and satisfaction in our work. Yet, as King Solomon observed, “the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

 

Finding Joy in Toiling

For me, my passion crisis didn’t go away overnight, but I did continue with my PhD. I took the required classes, completed the requirements, and worked on finding my thesis topic. For the longest time, I worked at it because it was work.

Yet as I shifted my focus from my personal obsessions, my attitude towards my research also started to change. I began to see more potential paths and applications of mathematical models. Instead of algorithm development, I was more interested in their application to solve real-world problems.

The research area I finally chose was healthcare. It was the field my advisor had always wanted me to pursue, but I had been against it. Thinking about the growth of cancer or analyzing the effects of chemotherapy on patient mortality seemed very gruesome to me. Yet as I worked and learned about the area, I realized that my seemingly boring days of running computer simulations can fuel discoveries and implement changes that improve the lives of patients.

My work isn’t about me and my pursuit of passion; the implications of my work can help the decisions people make about their health, and that is where I find my joy. God has always placed me in the right place. Yet before, I did not have the eyes to see. As I shifted my focus outside of myself to God, I realized that He has gifted me with something that I not only enjoy, but also can use to help and benefit others.

The true purpose of work is not to satisfy us, but for us to be stewards of what God has given us in this world. In our obsessive search for our single passion, we are often blinded to what God has prepared for us. As C.S. Lewis said,

Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. [. . .] Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.

To discover our passion, we must let go of our vision of “passion” and open ourselves to what God might have planned for us.

 

Renewing Our Vision of Passion

The act of letting go transforms our heart and mind in a way that enables us to see more than we did before. As I learned to let go of my idols, God showed me that there is more freedom when my focus is on Him. The way I previously envisioned passion was misguided and simplistic. Life and dreams are a lot more complex and filled with many more possibilities than I can imagine. And when God is the author of my life, it liberates me to trust and follow His voice even more than my own heart.

As I learned to trust and follow His guidance, I found that God cares about my childish dreams, too. When I’m ready, He may guide me back to them in the most unexpected ways. For example, God invited me to write for Him through a campus Christian magazine. It’s not the fictional novels I imagined, but reflections on His love and provision. And here I am today, writing to you all. The way life and dreams unfold is usually not how I first imagine, but it always makes more sense than my version.

My first-year self never found the passion, but I learned that there is so much more to the story. Through the process, I’ve found freedom, rest, and the enjoyment of work. Who knows where writing or research projects will lead. The journey is still continuing, but I trust that He will always be there to guide and show me the way. After all, it is God who weaves the little things we do into a saga much greater and more epic than anything we can imagine.

Have We Missed the Point of Marriage?

The bells toll cheerily. The doors fling open and confetti swirls in the air as bride and groom emerge, all smiles and laughter. Waving goodbye, Cinderella and Prince Charming kiss as their carriage rides away into the sun.

The scene is one I can recall too easily. I’m one of those girls who grew up on Disney princess movies, rom-coms, and Jane Austen. Add to that my parents’ stable marriage, and it’s hardly surprising that as I matured, a good part of life’s focus was to find my happily ever after.

It took my first spectacular romance fizzling as quickly as it started for that dream to be turned upside down.

Although I had prayed and thought I was seeking God’s guidance, the breakdown of that relationship revealed how I had been too wrapped up in a superficial idea of love. All I saw was the allure of romance.

God had to reshape any thoughts I had about relationships, and the eventual marriage I longed for—helping me see what it looks like to glorify God in all I do, including relationships and marriage.

Since that first fizzled romance, I’ve learned a bit more about love, and these are some things I would tell my younger self:

 

1. It’s not about you—or what you want

When I was in my teens, I had a list describing my ideal man. It looked pretty reasonable: Christian, diligent, tall, etc.

What I didn’t have was a list for myself—the kind of spouse I aspired to be. Instead, I was focused on who would fit my list. . . “The One” who would make me happy, who would complete me. My first boyfriend seemed to fit it, but because we both entered with self-seeking hearts, the relationship was bound to fail.

I still believe it’s good to have basic and sound standards, so that you won’t just fall for the next guy who comes with sweet words and gifts. But it shouldn’t stop there. The obvious fact I somehow missed, is that marriage is made up of two persons. It is as much about the other person as it is about me.

So, I began to look beyond personal wants and considered how I could honor God in the way I related to my potential future spouse. How could I give and not just receive?

 

2. It’s about loving without conditions

I learned what we can give is love. I don’t mean the eros, romance kind of love, although that is important. But the love that sustains the day-to-day of living with someone else is the God kind of love that is unconditional and enduring. This agape love will help build the relationship on eternal values and root it firmly in God.

When God rebuilt my view on marriage, He taught me how to love others with no condition. I’ll be honest—for a long time, all I saw in guys was “potentials” and whether any of them would “suit” me.

But when I joined my university’s Christian Fellowship, God opened my eyes to see that they are first and foremost my brothers. That’s when I learned to be a true friend. To listen, to support and encourage, to forgive and give grace—to seek the interests of another with no selfish intent (Philippians 2:1-4).

Of course, I applied this to my fellow sisters, too. It’s just that loving my guy friends the right way helped deconstruct my self-absorbed perceptions, and prepared me with the right mindset when I did marry.

By the time I graduated, my view on marriage was improved, and I was also blessed with sincere and strong friendships that have lasted until today.

 

3. It’s about displaying God’s love

Marriage reflects God’s relationship with His people—it’s about learning to live with one another in love. Jesus refers to Himself as the bridegroom, and the church as the bride. Ephesians 5:25-27 clearly points out that we are to love as Christ loves the church. And since we know that Christ laid down His life for the church, that’s the same kind of love we should be practicing (John 15:13).

God then designed marriage to be the field where unconditional love is played out in a very real way. My husband and I learn this whenever one of us makes any kind of mistake. Once, we came home after a two-week break to a fridge full of molded and stinky produce. No prizes for guessing who accidentally turned the fridge off. My husband could have yelled the place down at my incompetency, and I would have deserved it. But he didn’t. He heaved a few big sighs, and then got down to cleaning the fridge.

This reflects our relationship with God. We constantly blunder, but God is slow to anger, quick to forgive, and gracious to help us get through the mess we deserved to be stuck in. If done right, marriage is one of the greatest testimonies of God’s love. If we love selflessly in a marriage, John 13:35 comes into fruition: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

A Better Purpose

Had God not reformed my thinking, I would have been unprepared for daily married life. There would have been more conflicts, and ironically, much less happiness if my husband and I were seeking only our personal interests.

Yes, there is happiness in marriage, which we celebrate. But there is so much more than the Cinderella kind of happiness. Francis and Lisa Chan had this to say in their book, You and Me Forever:

This is the mistake a lot of couples make. They spend a lot of time looking at themselves and each other but very little time staring at God. When this is the focus, they naturally begin to structure every aspect of their lives around the few years they have with each other on earth, rather than the millions they will spend in His presence. Or away from His presence. These people live as though they are not dying. They live as though the King is not returning.

This is how I now view marriage: It’s a call to live with another person in love, built on a goal to glorify God in every single thing we do, and firmly rooted in God so that our joy comes from things that are eternal.

That’s the true happily ever after.

 

Editor’s Note: This article is the last in a 3-part series on relationships. Check out the first two articles, “What Should I Be Looking for in Dating?”  and “Should I Stay Single?” for more perspectives.

What Should I Be Looking for in Dating?

What does a godly dating relationship look like? While the Bible has a lot of wisdom and guidance for God-honoring marriages, it doesn’t provide step-by-step instructions for how to achieve one. Sometimes this can leave us feeling frustrated and abandoned—but our God has promised never to leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is a patient teacher, and He has a good plan for you and me, regardless of our relationship status.

I’ll be the first to admit that my track record with relationships isn’t stellar—I’m currently single, and I’ve experienced my share of heartache. But even though my failed relationships were painful at the time, looking back, I can see how God was and is still using each one to grow me into maturity.

Here’s a series of lessons I’ve learned that have helped me more clearly define the characteristics of a godly relationship. May each one encourage and challenge you, whether you’re currently in a relationship or not.

 

1. A Godly Relationship Is Clear About Its Purpose

How do you know you’re in a relationship? That’s not a trick question! Sometimes it’s genuinely hard to tell! Are you just casually dating, or seriously and prayerfully considering whether this person is “marriage material”?

Dating should be fun and exciting, but it also represents a holy purpose and a potential covenant union. The last half of Ephesians 5 is full of imagery of the global church as the bride of Christ. Jesus’ sacrificial love should be the blueprint for our dating and marriage relationships, and that love does not take commitment lightly (Ephesians 5:21-33).

One of my most painful relationships was due almost entirely to its lack of clarity. A young man and I were slowly meandering from “really good friends” to something more concrete, but the process seemed to be taking forever. I was so eager to move forward, and he seemed to be dragging his feet. At the time, I was frustrated, but too afraid to invite a clear conversation.

One day I was venting this frustration to my mom. I was shocked when she gently suggested that perhaps he wasn’t ready to date with the same intentionality. I felt hurt by her words and refused to talk to him about it. As a result, the relationship staggered on a few more months before ending with a messy mutual parting.

In this instance, our lack of definition was crippling and ended up prolonging the pain of this relationship. Out of respect for yourself and the other person, don’t take a dating commitment lightly or assume you’re on the same page. Invite a clear, open conversation about where you are at and what your purpose is.

 

2. A Godly Relationship Heeds the Wisdom of Others

When you’re getting to know someone you’re interested in, you’re usually pretty oblivious to everything else. I know how that feels! It’s such an exciting time, and if you’re anything like me, it’s easy to skip ahead and start imagining a future together. But doing so is like racing through this new relationship with horse blinders on—everything that is peripheral is blocked out. One of the most valuable things you can do, especially in a newer relationship, is to seek out the godly counsel of people who are older, wiser, and who love you very much.

For me, this is first and foremost my parents. They’re generally good judges of character, but more importantly, they know my character intimately. For you, this may look like an older sibling, aunt or uncle, or a mentor from church. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a loving, mature believer give their honest opinion of your current or potential relationship.

One of my own blind date experiences from college ended after a few meetings, one of which occurred while my parents were visiting in town. I invited Mr. Blind Date to ice cream with my parents just for fun, and the evening was more than a little awkward. Weeks later, when we had clearly broken things off, my mom remarked, “Oh yes, I could tell right away he wasn’t a good fit for you.” Her comment surprised me, and I immediately regretted not asking her sooner. Her perspective was much clearer than mine at the time, as a mom’s usually is.

So, search for wisdom. What do those people who love you the most think is healthy and unhealthy about the relationship? Where would they caution you? Where would they encourage you? Proverbs 15:31 (NLT) says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.” And in my case, you can avoid a lot of relationship pain!

 

3. A Godly Relationship Invites Hard Conversations

It started right before summer. I was suddenly seeing this guy in our group of friends a lot more often. He was funny, charming, and kind. We started texting just as the school year was ending, and we parted ways with the promise to keep in touch. I was flattered by his attention and enjoyed keeping up with him, but secretly my feelings were mostly of friendship, not romance.

We kept up the conversation for weeks, and he even drove all the way out to my parents’ home to visit. Afterwards, I felt mostly guilt and confusion. He was a wonderful person, but I didn’t want to be more than friends. There were a few more weeks of summer left, and I agonized over what to do. Should I wait to say anything until we were both back on campus? Begin to text him less often? Ignore my feelings and carry on as normal?

In the end, I knew silence on my part would be leading him on. Although it would have been much better to converse in person, the distance made it impossible. I drafted an it’s-not-you-it’s-me message and sent it off. Immediately, my heart felt a million times lighter. I regretted any hurt I had caused him, but I knew that opening this tough conversation was the right thing to do. He responded graciously and had a few questions for me, but in the end, I felt the resolution was peaceful.

Looking back, I only wish I had brought up this tough conversation earlier. And maybe I should have made the drive to have it in person! A hard conversation doesn’t need to be about ending the relationship; it can be anything that’s causing you anxiety. A hard conversation is probably something you’re tempted to discuss with other people instead of with your significant other. The voice of Proverbs again reminds us to choose truth, honesty, and wisdom (Proverbs 19:1, 8, 9, 22). Even for difficult conversations, truth spoken in love always wins.

 

Each of these lessons represents a time in my life that was unpleasant to walk through. They were slightly awkward, slightly exciting, slightly terrifying seasons of my life. That pretty much defines dating, right?

The good news is, God is with us through it all, and He can use every season and every relationship for His glory. So clarify your dating purpose, ask for wisdom from those around you, and don’t be afraid of difficult conversations.

There’s a million other lessons to be learned about what godly relationships look like—but I’ll leave a few for you to figure out!

 

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a 3-part series on Relationships. Check out the other two articles, “Should I Stay Single?” and “Have We Missed the Point of Marriage?” for more perspectives.