Single by Choice

The Beauty of Singleness

A Happy, Fulfilling Experience

By Emma Lette

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Introduction, by Grantley Morris

Even if, unlike Emma, being single feels like a daily curse, the God who is devoted to you has vowed to wrestle everything around for good for whoever returns that devotion (Romans 8:28) and he declares that even the most atrocious trials end up achieving so much in our lives that they are reason to rejoice (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-3). I know this on a deep, experiential level because although I find it hard to comprehend how anyone could find being single more torturous than I have, I am filled with gratitude for all that this seemingly endless pain has accomplished in my life.

If we find ourselves single, however, there is no point magnifying our torment by letting ourselves feel second class or hard done by. The Bible affirms not once but four times that being single is good (1 Corinthians 7:1,8,26 – twice in the last verse). The word for good chosen in these passages is exquisitely rich. “It means good, not so much in the sense of an ethical evaluation as in that of pleasant, enjoyable, beneficial.” It has connotations of strength, soundness and wholeness. Moreover, it refers to what is noble and beautiful. (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 2, translated with revisions and additions from the German.)

Can singleness really be beautiful? Can a single person glow? Emma is living proof, and it is something everyone who is single should aspire to, because even for those to whom being single is a trial, becoming bitter or keeping oneself miserable will not shorten the trial.

Grantley Morris
Founder and primary author, Net-Burst.Net

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“Oh, you’re not married yet?” “Why aren’t you married?” These are two of the many questions married people pepper us singles with. When people hear the word single, many sit awkwardly in their chair, walk away or fall into a daydream about their future spouse.

Perhaps you have read somewhere or heard sermons entitled, ‘Singleness for a season’ or even, ‘When will I marry?’ In contrast, I am about to plunge into something I don’t think we see often enough: promoting singleness. We hear many sermons on promoting marriage and being prepared for marriage but how about being prepared for a calling of life-time singleness or, perhaps, a longer than expected season of singleness? Drawing from the Word of God and from my own journey, my goal is to encourage you to be content in your singleness and to shed some positive light on this topic instead of frowning on it.

First, a little about myself. I am single, have no children, and have never been engaged or married. I am turning 40 years old. I have been a born again Christian for about 17 years. Yes, I am happily single and loving every day of it and I truly embrace this lifestyle which God has blessed me with. For the first three-fourths of my walk of faith in the Lord Jesus, however, I had run from the singleness God was calling me to.

Let me briefly describe this journey. A year or two into my walk of faith, a burning desire began growing within me to love the Lord with all my might; and for me that meant laying down all other loves. I remember in my excitement telling someone that I want never to marry. Not understanding how this was springing from the innermost depths of me, her response was, “See how you feel in the future.”

As time went on, however, that intense desire faded a little, and I thought about the life I could have if I married. I have dated a few times over the years but God has always shut the door on these relationships. The ending of each relationship was done in peace and there were no hard feelings.

God had spoken to me through repetitive dreams and other means about remaining single. Should I force a door back open when clearly God shut it? I had run from my calling by ignoring that pure desire I once had and starting relationships. I was never truly at peace when I was dating. So when each relationship ended, I was really receiving confirmation in my spirit and a positive tick to a consecrated lifestyle.

You may wonder whether a person can truly be content single. To be honest with you, it took a number of years to come to where I am at now in my life, and it took much prayer and persistence in seeking God. It is by his grace that I can accept this call on my life. I have devoted myself to God and I firmly believe that being single is my ideal marital status.

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In the inspired Word of God, Paul expressed his wish that all would be single like him, so that they could serve God without distraction. He went on to say, however, that each of us has his/her own gift, whether it be the divine empowering to be single or to be married (1 Corinthians 7:7). Whilst you have your own gift from God and the Lord will give you the capacity and ability to live out that gift, I am here to focus on singleness.

Neither marriage nor being single is intrinsically better than the other. Each has its own responsibilities and cares and blessings. But let’s consider this:

    1 Corinthians 7:32-34 But I desire to have you to be free from cares. He who is unmarried is concerned for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife. There is also a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.

These verses have so much in them. I will keep it simple and digestible. As mentioned earlier, the Apostle Paul desires that all people be single so that we would be free from concern and free from troubles of the flesh. This passage shows us that a single person is more concerned for the things of the Lord, how she/he can serve God and expand his Kingdom. She/he is undivided in devotion to God. The single person can go out to a mission field and not be concerned for their spouse and possible children. We are told to use our time wisely and what better way to use our time by serving God and people. Ministry and serving the Lord God should be the focus for a single person’s life and then there are those little things in everyday life that make singleness so liberating and enjoyable.

From personal experience, I get to enjoy so many things being single. I am free to spend as long as I want with the Lord meditating in his Word, worshipping him (I can wake up 3 AM and put on some worship songs on and praise him) and praying without worrying about disturbing my husband, or needing to restrict my time by having a husband to look after. I can attend as many meetings as I like or I can even go on weekend retreats without having to consider my spouse.

I do not in any way think I am missing out on life because my calling is to be single. If anything, God is able to use me to the fullest as I am obedient and this, to me, is truly living. As a matter of fact, I think marriage would be a heaviness for me. God created me to operate as a single woman.

When God gives you a gift he will enable you to use. “He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it”(1 Thessalonians 5:24). Only by God’s grace are we able to live out the gifts he has given to us. Being single is a day to day dependency on the Lord God.

    Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, God.

Having a longing for Jesus’ love, and yearning for deeper fellowship with him is normal for people called to singleness. They would abandon anything and everything just to abide in his love; going to that secret place in the heart of God.

I am no way saying a married person cannot have such a longing for God and enter the Secret Place but a single person has another level of friendship with God: undivided devotion!

I have such a longing for Jesus that nothing else matters. I am not satisfied with human love. It disappoints and fails regularly. God’s love is perfect. Since acknowledging my gift of singleness, my relationship with the Lord is so very much deeper. I truly experience his love in such a tangible way that it takes my breath away and changes me from inside out. The point of being single is that one can draw close to God without any barriers or distractions.

As the inspired singer pleads in Psalm 34:8, I have seen and tasted God’s love for me. In fact, I have done this so deeply and powerfully that it’s all I desire and run after daily.

To me, the single life summed up in these Scriptures:

    Mark 12:30-31 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

    1 Corinthian 7:34  . . . The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.

I don’t find myself longing for marriage. Instead, I have discovered a contentment in being single and a genuine satisfaction in my relationship with the Lord. I believe that we should be found complete in Christ before we are complete in marriage. Of course, being single does not sentence you to being alone. You can still have friends and surround yourself with great Christian fellowship.

Do not despise your singleness. Instead, embrace it with a whole heart. It is an exciting journey. I am so happy that God had chosen me for this vocation and that I responded with, “Yes Lord!”

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Final Thoughts, by Grantley

Narrow-minded people presume that the only way for anyone to be whole is to be married. The sobering truth is that people thinking this way are guilty of putting their own inadequacies upon their betters. There are people gifted with the ability to be complete in themselves and this is noble, just as anyone who can achieve things unaided is superior to the person incapable of this and needing someone else’s help.

No matter how capable, fulfilled and blessed you are, it can take its toll having people repeatedly projecting their own weaknesses onto you by ignorantly seeing singles as somehow defective, abnormal or an object of pity. Such people are as out of touch as children pitying adults for not having dolls and toy cars to play with. Those guilty of misguided pity might be loving, caring people. Like ‘friendly fire’ in a tragic accident of war, however, commendable motives are unlikely to offset the damage inflicted.

The results are tragic, but before inviting everyone over to a pity party, perhaps we should re-evaluate our expectations and acknowledge that Christians are meant to have people looking down on them disapprovingly. In the words of Jesus, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,” (Luke 6:26, NIV).

I say this with compassion, but the cold reality is that we need to toughen up. No Christian is promised immunity from hard times, and being pitied by Christians who don’t understand us is a summer camp compared to what any Christian could face. Here’s some promises few of us are keen to claim:

    2 Timothy 3:12  . . . all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

    Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end . . .

    Matthew 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!

If you imagine it is only non-Christians who will give us grief, you are having a lovely dream but it’s time to wake up and re-read the Bible.

Almost all of the criticism and hostility Jesus suffered was meted out by people who saw themselves as godly Bible-believers. There are attacks recorded only once, such as Jesus being reproached for not enforcing ceremonial washing regulations (Matthew 15:2), but over and over and over he was accused by the upright of having a demon, condemned for doing ‘unacceptable’ things on the Sabbath, and scolded for befriending ‘low-life’ (Check it Out).

And those following him can expect no better: “They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time comes that whoever kills you will think that he offers service to God,” (John 16:2).

The one we model our lives on was criticized and derided even by friends and family (Scriptures). And he told us to expect the same: “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s foes will be those of his own household,” (Matthew 10:34-36).

Even Jesus’ hand-picked disciples were continually criticizing or advising him (Examples).

“. . . we are slanderously reported . . . ,” wrote the Apostle Paul (Romans 3:8). Elsewhere, he continued the theme by saying, “Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now,” (1 Corinthians 4:13). Large slabs of the Bible are devoted to the apostle repeatedly finding himself in the embarrassing position of having to defend himself to fellow believers and sometimes even in churches he founded.

Since every Christian can expect to be misunderstood and even put down by fellow believers, it is vital that we refuse to see ourselves through the distorted lens of others, and keep seeking God and working hard on seeing ourselves through God’s eyes and developing the mindset that he alone is humanity’s Judge and that everyone who disagrees with him will end up loathing themselves for their foolishness (Isaiah 45:24), and those they put down will be eternally exalted above them (Luke 18:10-14).

Being complete in oneself means not being needy. It does not imply loneliness; it means having the capacity to reach out to others with pure motives and to work closely with people as a giver, rather than a taker.

What a drab world it would be if God had made just one species and color of flower, if all food tasted the same, if every cloud were identical, and so on. Our Creator delights in variety and insists there should be a rich diversity in the Body of Christ for it to be all that he expects (Romans 12:4-6: 1 Corinthians 12). Instead, many break his heart by trying to snuff out diversity in Christ’s body and exalting bland uniformity. This small-mindedness that opposes God and his ways is how some people treat singles.

God celebrates your uniqueness. It’s what makes you irreplaceable.

As much as it displeases God when people envy those who are different, it can likewise appall him when people feel superior to those who are different (cf. Luke 18:10-14) and even pity them and seek to meddle in their lives; arrogantly trying to make them like themselves.

Despite knowing for decades that one should be careful about reading too much into a single word, I probably got carried away when I discovered that the word used for good in 1 Corinthians 7 has wonderful connotations. Even the scholarly article I quoted, despite being titled, “?a??? (kalos) good, beautiful, noble,” eventually gets around to suggesting these connotations do not apply to Paul’s use of the word in 1 Corinthians 7. My uneducated guess is that, even here, the word is not entirely bereft of those overtones. Moving beyond this uncertainty, however, it seems clear that “it is good for a man not to touch a woman,” harps back to Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” It is hard not to see this as a deliberate effort to correct misinterpreting God saying it was not good for Adam to be the only person on this planet as to mean it does not have the seal of divine perfection for anyone to be single. In fact, there is no marriage in the ultimate manifestation of divine perfection – heaven (Mark 12:25).

In any case, being single can be beautiful. And there is no greater beauty than being so in love with God that one stays so close to him as to regularly mirror his beauty. This truly makes a person glow and brings fulfillment that lasts for all eternity.

Someone dear to me, though having every reason to feel good about herself, used to feel continual shame because of the way people viewed her. She suffered this for much of her life until a spiritual revelation suddenly set her free. In her case, being single had little do with it – in fact, it continued after she married. What helped her so profoundly, however, might possibly also help you. Her story is found at When All Else Fails: The End of Shame

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Related Pages

No Marriage in Heaven?

Why I’ve Never Married: My Own Story

Singles: Celebrate your Sexuality

Why Marriage Will Never Satisfy Our Deepest Needs

Marital Love: A Reality Check for Singles

Never Too Early to Prepare for Marriage Includes an examination of whether marriage is for you.

Help in Handling the Pressures of Being Single

Feeling Unlovable, Undesirable & Unwanted

Overcoming Loneliness

Not to be sold. © Copyright 2017 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at  Freely you have received, freely give.
For use outside these limits, consult the author.

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