Having known each other since middle school, my best friend Abbie and I have sailed along in the singleness boat our entire lives, but it’s now that we’re college-aged that this tiny detail is being run over with a neon highlighter.
I knew long before it arrived that college would be the season when my peers would begin to get “picked off,” but the truth still hit me like a bus. So. Many. People. Are. Getting. Married. It seems like every week there is another couple who has made their dating relationship official or a guy who’s popped the question, yet Abbie and I are still single.
Both of us love discussing interesting topics so the idea of finding contentment in singleness has been a primary conversation. How do you turn away from the pressing thoughts of having a special someone and focus on what really matters?
First of all, it is okay to be single. In and of itself (read on for caveats), there is nothing wrong with singleness. It’s not wrong to want someone, but it’s not wrong to be single either. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul expresses his wish that everyone were single like he was and able to wholly devote themselves to the advancement of God’s kingdom.
“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”-1 Corinthians 7:8-9
You know you are meant to be single forever when you do not desire to get married. Possessors of that mindset, however, are few and far between. Most desire to connect with someone they can call their own, so for the majority, singleness is a waiting game.
In waiting, however, there can be discontentment, especially if you are surrounded by couples.
Abbie noted that it’s when two people start a relationship that she feels discontent. When someone is getting engaged or married, it’s like, “Oh! That’s way down the road! We’re not there yet.” When we see that beginning stage, however, it’s easy to fall into discontentment because that’s where we’re looking next.
Notes to Self
Apart from innate desire, there is the possibility that you might end up being single forever. In part joking and in part consoling, Abbie and I have been trying to convince each other that such an outcome will be okay.
“It’s gonna be great!” We’ve told each other. “We’re going to build a tiny house community of single people. We’ll get to watch our best friend’s kids! We’re going to be old spinsters together. It’ll be great!”
Even then, however, it is okay to desire a relationship. It’s just a matter of balancing where God has you. Even if you would like to be elsewhere, it’s okay because this is where God has you.
Then God also uses singleness to shape you. Maybe you’re not ready and God is using this time to work on you. We must learn to praise Him in whatever season we’re in.
It’s also possible that your future spouse isn’t ready. What if he’s going through something really hard right now? What if he doesn’t even know Christ right now? Primary things you need in a husband before starting a relationship.
“Let God make a man out of him before you try to make a husband out of him.”-Unknown
“It’s hard to focus on my relationship with God.”
When the chaos of life hits in, it’s hard to focus on Jesus as your primary source. Whether responsibilities are consistently pulling at your attention or you get caught up in a “ring by spring” orientated culture, it is easy to get distracted.
In an atmosphere where everyone is progressing in or centering their conversations around one romantic relationship or another, my attention is constantly reading into trivial and meaningless interactions. All such occurrences drive me crazy because that is not what I want to be thinking about.
I want to be totally focused on my relationship with Christ. I want to free up more time so I can devote adequate study to the Bible and attention to prayer. It’s when I focus on my relationship with Christ that my mind is in the right place and my soul is refreshed.
“You know, talking to you’s the only time I feel clear. And calm. Like I might actually get better.”-Leopold Fitz, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“I want a go-to person.”
There’s a kind of person (not necessarily someone you have a romantic relationship with) but someone that’s interested and invests their time in you. A person who’s right there, like a best friend. It’s a whole other level.
“Meeting someone with the same mindset as you is a rarity.”-Unknown
Abbie talked about how she has a lot of friends she goes to but not necessarily “that one person.” Most of the people Abbie knows have that one person, so it’s easy for her to want that and hard to spread out between multiple people, yet it’s so healthy.
It’s especially important for girls to go to girls and have girls as their mentors and guys to go to guys and have guys as their mentors. Not that there’s a problem with cross-gender association, because there is a lot of benefit in having different perspectives.
“My friends are getting picked off.”
I’ve found that when my relationship with God is on-par and I have my girls around me, community around me, I don’t feel discontent with singleness. I’m okay with where I’m at and content to move toward a future with my people and watching their kids.
This was especially the case during my second year of college…until Abbie got asked out to a school event. Then reality hit me in the face that she is an attractive young women, so guys would naturally be interested in her.
This prompted the notion that she could very well “get hitched” and I would be forging the way into singleness by myself, a lonely trek I would not consider to be fun. Having community is wonderful, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to be content even if that community gets “picked off.”
To Be Content in Singleness…
Focus on your career
There are a lot of things that can feed into contentment, such as working on a career. By heading that direction, you can find a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your work, especially if it has to do with advancing God’s kingdom.
In my case, I got a burning passion to develop this blog and create content to export what I’ve learned, and you know what? When I’m whole-heartedly focussed on and excited about the work God would have me do, I’m not thinking about things it’d be best for me not to dwell on.
Find your satisfaction in Christ
As always, the primary cure is to draw closer to Christ. When I’m honed in on God and completely in that koinonia, I’ve found that I don’t desire a relationship. I don’t feel that haunting loneliness. I’m completely fulfilled in my identity in Christ.
“Dance with God and He will let the perfect man cut in.”-Unknown
Christ has always been and will always be “that one person” to whom you can turn (Matt 20:28). Like when Jemma remembered that Fitz never left her in the season finale of S.H.I.E.L.D. “You were with me the whole time,” she said.
God was with us at the beginning of our lives and He never left through everything we’ve gone through. It is grace that has brought us this far and it is grace that will lead us home. We can rest secure in Christ because He is the one foundation that will never be removed.
Surround yourself with Christian community
God is a social God. He has community within the Trinity, therefore we who bear His image have an innate and natural desire to be with people. Humanity is God’s walking poetry and it’s through them that we get to see micro-aspects of what our Father is like. You cannot fully know God apart from His children.
Abbie said that it was when she was surrounded by her church family during our first summer in college that she first felt truly content in singleness. From constantly being loved and having Jesus poured in through conversation, she was able to experience a glimpse of what a relationship with Christ is like through union with fellow Christians.
Through that koinonia, you gain so much contentment because you’re realizing how good God is and how much He’s put in your life already. When you consider being discontent from that vantage point, it seems too selfish and you lose the habit of going there.
“Girls can survive without a boyfriend, but they can’t survive without a best friend.”-Unknown
If you are in a state of singleness, you need your people. You need that community. You need that like-minded embodiment of people who are on fire with their passion for the Lord. You need to be in a group of people that are pursuing Christ because that will eventually rub off on you and help direct your focus upward where it belongs.