On the one hand, singleness is idolized because being unattached means a person can have as many sexual liaisons as they desire. On the other hand, single shaming occurs within the Christian church and the broader culture. For a person that’s trying to navigate the arena of romantic relationships, these opposite ideas (and myriad others in between) can cause a lot of confusion.
When a good thing like marriage becomes an ultimate thing, it occupies our lives and functions as an idol. If we elevate either marriage or singleness to the status of a must-have, it can introduce distortions that undermine our well-being. How then can someone start cultivating a healthy mindset about being single?
Don’t believe the hype about being single.
It’s important not to believe the hype about being single, especially if it’s hype about singleness being ideal. Being single has many advantages, as you will see shortly, but the point of life is not to be single or to be married.
Human beings were created in the image of God, who is a community of persons, the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 1 John 4:16 tells us that God is love, and what demonstrates whether we are saved is that we are engaged in loving relationships with God and other people. After all, Jesus said the most important things to practice in our faith is to love God with our everything, and to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).
Loving other people isn’t limited to romantic relationships – those are only a portion of the many relationships we enjoy. If we define our lives primarily or exclusively in terms of our romantic relationships, then we are depriving ourselves of a whole lot more that God has in store for us.
The hype that surrounds singleness is often that a single person is free to get together with anyone they please. However, such a rootless existence means that there is no meaningful context to love another, and that lifestyle is ultimately empty and unfulfilling.
Making the most of being single.
Someone could make the mistake of thinking the antidote to the rootless existence of serial romantic relationships is to get married. To be sure, being married is a blessing, but being married isn’t the universal panacea it is often made out to be. It’s possible to be lonely in marriage, to feel disconnected and empty even while you’re doing life with another person.
It is also possible to make marriage into an idol, placing enormous pressure on your spouse to meet your deepest needs in a way that only God can do. It is an unbearably huge burden to be expected to fulfill another human being; we simply were not designed for that.
One helpful way to look at either singleness or marriage is that they are states of existence that provide you with unique opportunities to love God and others. When looked at this way, neither being married or being single is the ultimate thing. That’s a good thing because neither state can bear the weight as the focal point of your life and existence.
To make the most of being single, it’s helpful to make a mind shift on understanding how you can leverage it for God’s glory by showing His love for others through service. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of your singleness and enjoy it.
Cultivate your friendships and relationships.
Just because you’re not in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean that you’re alone. Single people have lots of relationships, whether that’s in the form of friends, family, church groups, social or hobby groups, and work relationships. These relationships require investment, and they can all enrich your life just as you can enrich the lives of others through your presence.
Paul reminds us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). You have an incredible role to play in building the lives of others up according to their needs. But to know how to build others up requires that you spend time with them to know what they need and how best to meet that need.
Being single frees up emotional bandwidth.
If intimacy and romantic partnership are costly in terms of time, emotional and mental energy, being single frees up that real estate for other relationships that aren’t as complicated as romantic relationships. Conflict within romantic relationships usually leads to carrying internal turmoil. Romantic relationships also bring obligations that other relationships don’t, and Paul wrote about this:
But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this… I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided.
An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 7:28, 32-35, NIV
Being single affords you time to enrich your life and deepen your personal growth.
You can invest meaningfully in your career by going to school or taking internships with the right mentors. Additionally, you can take courses to become a better communicator, work on being more fiscally responsible and learn to enjoy your own company. Being happily single also frees you from the trap of entering unhealthy relationships simply to be coupled up.
Use your gifts for the enrichment of others.
A life of service is richly rewarding, and whether your gift is cabinet making, calligraphy, cinematography, cooking, writing, coding, or accounting, you can use it to serve others and have a rich, full life. You can do this whether you’re single or married and glorify God while doing it (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Singlehood is more flexible.
Being single gives you the flexibility to travel and the luxury of getting to know yourself better without the pressure of expectations that often exists in romantic relationships. Life’s curve balls can be a little easier to deal with when you’re single than if you have a family. It allows you to take risks that would be downright irresponsible for someone that occupies the role of a wife, mother, husband, or father.
Singlehood provides space.
Being single also gives you space to know what you really want in life and in your romantic relationships before getting into them.
Christian counseling for singles.
Being single is a gift that you can use to live a full and rich life, just as one can do with being married. Perhaps being single and romantically unattached isn’t a choice for you, or you’re struggling to see how singleness is a viable life choice, or if you can be happy and single at the same time.
That’s okay; these are questions that you can explore with a Christian counselor. Your counselor can help you think through and appreciate being single, so you don’t keep your life on hold.
Through counseling, you can learn how to make the most of the season of singleness, however long it lasts. Your counselor can help you build your self-esteem and find ways to deal constructively with gnawing doubts or unhelpful family members that might make you think of singleness as shameful.
Within the Christian faith, singleness and marriage are simply different ways to serve the Lord and others. Gaining an appreciation of that fact will help you enjoy life no matter your relationship status. Contact a counselor today to begin journeying into a renewed way of thinking about and experiencing being single.
“Standing by the Lake”, Courtesy of Nick Adams, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Watching a Video”, Courtesy of Ahmed Nishaath, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sitting in the Hammock”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Holding Hands”, Courtesy of Dương Hữu, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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