Many (usually married) people say being single is a “blessing” and others say that you should “enjoy it while it lasts”. Whilst I appreciate the good intent in these words, to the single person they are often not helpful and can often compound the problem further. Worst still are the times married people will say to a single person “you don’t know how lucky you are” (usually after a row with their partner).
For the single person, just being single can be the hardest thing – all around you there are couples, society is geared for them. I speak from experience.
I was ‘called’ to be single and it lasted for over six years. By called I mean that I felt that God definitely wanted me to be single. So this was a fait accompli as far as I was concerned. I was under the illusion that I was to be single for the rest of my life. God never said that, he never put any time on it. I still believe he wanted me to be single during that time but I think he wanted me to trust him more than I did. Do I know why? No. Does it mean all single Christians have similar destinies? No. I think it was just what was meant for me. I wonder if it might have been easier for me had I been less stubborn but looking back I am grateful for God’s mercy during that time of my life.
Anyway after six years, I had the feeling the Lord was ‘calling me’ out of single-ness. Everything seemed to point to it and the confirmations were there from external sources. My hopes were high, I was using terms like “out of the desert” and “end of a season” a lot. I had somehow stumbled into a friendship which developed into something deeper as well. It seemed as if it was all falling into place. The relationship – and my world – changed when I asked my girlfriend to marry me – and she said yes.
My fiancée didn’t live near me so much of our communication was done by phone and e-mail. Four days before I was due to go and visit I lost contact with her. I was in panic but when I finally got through to her she said that she felt the Lord was saying it was “all wrong” (see footnote) and this was why she had been out of contact, she was trying to find a way to tell me. End result – she called it all off and the only “answer” I had was a big exclamation mark over my head with my mouth wide open.
I was devastated. My sister and her family generously offered me a space on their holiday. Married people take note, sometimes single people want to be included so lets have no more of this leaving them out of dinner parties because you’re afraid they’ll feel like a gooseberry! Anyway, after my holiday I felt a little better (see touching a heart for more on this) and did some soul searching.
Married people take note, sometimes single people want to be included so lets have no more of this leaving them out of dinner parties because you’re afraid they’ll feel like a gooseberry!
I realised, slowly that I had built my life around (if you’ll excuse the pun) a solitary question “Am I supposed to be single?” It became a real burden for me. I realised I had fallen in love with the ideal of being a husband – everyone said I’d make a good one, so there you go!
But I was wrong, I got it wrong. How did I get it so wrong!!!
The anger was coming,
I could feel it’s familiarity
“Why can’t I just have one shot at this!”
It grew as I fed it
“WHY DO I HAVE TO BE THE ONE WHO IS SINGLE!!!!”
Then God responded. Very, very quietly, He responded.
I was watching a Christian teaching video. The preacher was speaking about holiness. Yeah, yeah heard it – next message please. But God wanted me to hear something else. Just one phrase.
The pastor on the TV looked right (I mean real close up) into the camera and said “you people at home – when was the last time you lived your life for God and not yourself?!”
WHAM! – Cue the fish impressions and the exclamation mark again.
Later (much later) I got back to thinking about this…
“That’s it?” – I mumbled through a quivering lip “But what about being single?”
“Okaaay, what about being married?”
The silence continued. Then quietly I asked myself, “But what about the way I am living my life?”
If you can hear God smile, I heard it.
Then it came. Slowly, but it came to me. I had based my life on the wrong question – “single or not?”. It should have been “holy or not?” ….. I had to get my life right.
I thought the day we broke up was the worst day of my recent life but I realised the worst day I could possibly have was to stand before the throne of God Almighty and watch Him cry as He said “what did you do for Me?” and all I could answer was “er…um… well you see, I was kinda dealing with this issue of being single…”.
So I guess what I am saying is that I had a choice, I could aim for an answer to my question or get down to work so that I could see as well as hear that smile on the face of God.
Would I rather give up everything to become a husband or part of The Bride of Christ?
So did I give up on being married?
Not give up, I laid it down. In the end it would have dragged me down and away from the loving arms of my God. I looked at the options… single, married? There’s a better option… holy.
Better to be holy and single or holy and married that just single or married. What is holy? I’m not sure and I think it’s more about the journey to holiness. For me it’s about being more of who God wants me to be than doing what I want. That may sound like a cliché but it doesn’t make in less important. We are all on a journey and for mine I have found myself more at ease with my life, with myself, when I am trying to be more of who God wants me to be than when I am not. As I found out the best bit about God is his grace. When I found myself in a mess of a life and realised the questions in my life weren’t helping I discovered God is a loving Father who let me learn my own lesson in my own time and helped me pick up the pieces.
So what about you? What are your questions? “Is this wrong job?”, “Is this the wrong church?”, “Am I in the wrong marriage?”. I can’t answer those any more than I could answer my own question. God can but he may not choose to. I would suggest that his concerns lie with something rather more dear to his heart in every case… “what about the way you are living your life?”. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” all the other answers come later, once we figure out what the real questions are.
Somebody asked me – “so are you supposed to be single or married?”
My answer?… “No. I am supposed to be God’s servant”
Thinking back I guess that persons facial expression matched Joshua’s when he asked the Captain of the Host, who’s side He was on and got the answer “No” “But a married or single servant?” they said, thinking they had beaten my answer
I thought about it…
“I think I had better get the serving bit right first don’t you?”
Offered in the love of Christ Ryan
I would like to say that my girlfriend at the time was a very loving Christian. I know that what she did took real courage and I owe a lot to her for seeing it through. Had she not we could have both ruined our lives. She was right.
Therefore I would like to say here that I thank God for her, her inclusion here is for the sake of completeness and not to malign her in anyway – I apologise if it appears otherwise
Some people have asked what happened regarding my marital status following these events. For those interested It was sometime before I found my thoughts going back to the question of a companion. I believe God took me through a season where He showed me more about myself with respect to this side of things. I met a beautiful woman at a local church. Just under two years later we married on the happiest day of my life. Funnily enough that was not because it was what I had always wanted but because I was starting to share my life with someone who loved me so much and whom I loved equally so and for both of us having God at the centre of our lives, together an apart, was paramount. We’re still together and still very much love each other.
It is important to say here that I do not think that my reflections above are a “magic formula” to wave over single peoples’ lives and hey presto they meet they future spouse. I just think I am truly blessed that God used my mess of a life to bring me to a place where I could be ready (well sort of) to be a husband and then introduced me to the perfect partner for me.
I don’t think the relationship I had prior to this one was evil and certainly not the woman involved. I just think it was not meant to be and one reason for that is that God wanted my wife and me to be together. Now that we are I can see why.
What all this means is I can see where I went wrong and I have repented of that. God has shown me where my attitude was way wrong in a lot of areas and I pray those involved will forgive me. I also pray I will have the humility to learn from my errors.
But as for now, I move on. I trust Him to see me through today and do not worry about tomorrow.
So now I am married, I am trying to live by my opening statements and remember the sometimes pain and also joy that being single can be. I remain repentant of my prior attitudes to marriage. One thing I have learned is that LIFE is a blessing – not SINGLE or MARRIED life but life itself. Marital status is a part of that life and no matter what that or any other part of it may bring we must remember Who it is that gives life – God must come first. I hope I can now continue my married life in the correct attitude and remain that way.
I don’t expect to be perfect, I expect to be imperfect.
My wife doesn’t expect me to be perfect, she knows I’m not.