“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts….I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done….Worry is the antithesis of trust. You simply cannot do both. They are mutually exclusive.” – Elisabeth Elliot
Elisabeth Elliot is a hero of mine for many reason. She is first and foremost a mentor to me (most of my mentors have come in the form of authors and their books) because of her passion for the pursuit of purity in every aspect of her life. She is a women who wrestled her way through a life of loneliness and the loss of three husbands.
I should also preface this post to note that I am not someone who has it all figure out. I still struggle and I am very much still on the journey of learning how to do life well; a journey that extends to our very last day on earth. Something that Elisabeth was always honest about was her struggles as she learned to submit her will to the Lords.
However, throughout my years on earth and struggles with certain things, I have learned some lessons that I wished I had truly committed to my heart earlier in my life. It’s one thing to know truth, it’s an entirely different thing for it to be the true posture and position of your life.
My heart in writing this post is to dig into the purpose of the blessing of singleness. On days like today, Valentines Day, it is highly evident that our culture celebrates relationship. We’re surrounded by it. Rarely do you have a TV show or movie without some romantic underlying story or celebration of relationship. Relationship is a wonderful thing. I am a wedding photographer! I love marriage. I love how the Lord has designed it, the desire to be known and entirely loved by another soul, the blessing of doing life along side another for the rest of your life, and the journey of holiness your soul takes alongside another. Plus, it’s just wonderful that you get to commit to living the rest of your life next to your best friend.
I do think, nevertheless, we don’t celebrate singleness enough or recognize its value.
During family gatherings or while I am hanging out with friends, the question of, “So, have you met anyone yet?” arises sooner or later and when I say “no” they awkwardly respond, “Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone shortly.” As if I need encouragement or reassurance for something that I am currently lacking.
There are no ill-ment meanings behind these questions and I certainly don’t mind my loved ones asking about my life and how I’m doing. Yet, sometimes, there are underlying beliefs. The belief that I am somehow not complete or entirely satisfied until a boy comes into my life and sweeps me off my feet into a world of good-feelings and completeness.
That something is missing in my life until I meet my “other-half.”
For those who use the phrase “other-half” I offer a word of caution. The phrase “other-half” derives from a greek-myth. In short, it is told along the lines of the greek gods becoming unsettled by the rising strength of the humans on earth. They were becoming god-like. So the god’s spilt each human soul in half, so that the humans would spend their days searching for their other half instead of trying to become more like gods.
Funny isn’t it? How we use terms and phrases without knowing where they come from or what they truly mean.
You aren’t a divided soul, who needs another to be complete. You’re a whole soul made in the image and reflection of God, who desires you to become more like Him. You’re not in want or need of completion from other human beings.
Please note my use of the word completion. This is not an anti-relationship or anti-valentines day post. I seriously look forward to the day the Lord brings someone into my life. I look forward to a future marriage and I pray mightily for the man I may someday marry. In fact, my desire in writing this is to encourage those of you who are single because I know the desire and the potential struggle that can come from being single.
Your days of singleness are intended to be days, weeks, months, or years of intense chasing after the Lord and undivided attention to becoming more like God and flourishing in virtue of the One in whom you are created to reflect.
You’re also not defined by your relationship status. At the end of your life, you will be held accountable for everything you did during your life. You’re not going to give God an account of your relationship status. You’re going to give Him an account of how you glorified Him and honored Him as an individual.
Who you ultimately decide to marry will play a large part large part of how you glorify Him, but is not the end goal of your life.
You weren’t created to spend your single days looking horizontal for another half-fulfilled soul. If you spend them breathlessly waiting for prince-charming, you miss out on the rich joy and freedom that does come with singleness.
Your single days are meant for an uninterrupted vertical gaze towards the face of your creator.
And if you spend your single days like this, you WILL find more fulfillment in your marriage because you’re already being fulfilled by the One who is intended to complete you.
To quote Rebecca Mclaughlin, ” Marriage is not meant to fully satisfy. No this is not heresy, but Orthodoxy established by the church long ago. ” (Although Disney has done its best to teach our young hearts the opposite). Marriage hints towards a greater unity or reality that exists. It’s supposed to give us a taste of what divine unity awaits us. It leads to the pursuit of the divine as our own sin in human relationship is constantly revealed.
We are not meant to be someone else’s savior. To be so would be heretical. However , I fear it’s a mental position we all easily fall into. We must not be misled into believing a spouse is a substitute savior.
If your walk into your marriage having already been fulfilled by the Lord as a single person, you’ll be an entirely more fulfilled married person. And in fact, I would argue, a more happily married person.
Too often I see girls choking with desire of the affirmation of someone else to fill a void ultimately only the Lord will ever be able to fill. We all desire unity, to be known, fully loved, and entirely adored. That’s a wonderful thing that’s ingrained into your human nature. It’s only bad when we try to fill it with the wrong thing.
To ask another human to fill a God-shaped hole in your heart, is to ask them to be something they were never intended to be.
In fact, the better spent you single days are, the stronger your future marriage will be. The better shaped you are after the image of God during your single years, the more your marriage will be a picture of the intended meaning of marriage. From deep trust in the Lord comes deep lasting fulfillment. When we walk in accordance to our design, the more fulfilled and satisfied we will be.
So to those walking in a season of singleness alongside me: Be Encouraged. Be Excited.
If the Lord has marriage written in your future, that day will surely come. Instead of looking around and breathlessly waiting and taking measures in your own hands, focus on this season. Focus on the things the Lord has created you to be passionate about. Travel, study hard, be a good steward of your money, learn to keep yourself accountable, and with undivided attention chase after the Lord. Be diligent.
Don’t waste your season of singleness. Don’t be the impersonation of Rapunzel waiting around in her tower singing “When will my life begin?”
Pursue your dreams and dream big, keeping you eyes vertically up. Seek His kingdom first and maybe one day you’ll look around and find someone else seeking His kingdom and walking alongside you.
Don’t let this season of singleness feel like a curse, because it’s not. The only curse it will bring is if you bring an expectation of completeness or complete satisfaction into your marriage that was never meant to be the purpose of it.
Don’t spend this season of singleness chocked by the desire of a day to come. Look at today and see what you can accomplish with undivided and un-destracted attention towards this season of your life.
To the single women, the only one who can complete your soul is the God who made and designed it. He knows you and loves your more than any other fallen human ever could. You’re not to look for another person to complete you. You’re not a half soul. You’re a whole soul in need of restoration by the One who created it.
So spend this season of singleness in your life as a time of great joy. Figure out who you are, what you’re passionate about, and be in avid pursuit of the Lord. Don’t let desire to be in a relationship with another be a leash that holds you back from understanding the rich fulfilling love the Lord has to offer you in this season of singleness. The sooner you learn this lesson and become confident in who you are in Christ, the sooner you will find yourself not ooking for another soul to complete you.
Marriage was never meant for completion.
It’s meant to be a shared celebration of who Christ has made you as individuals with the common goal of holiness, with love, satisfaction, and laughter along the way.
Likewise, singleness was never meant to feel like a curse.
It’s meant to be a season of entire trust and dependence upon the Lord, that teaches you the love and complete satisfaction found in the Lord alone.
Don’t let this season of singleness feel like a curse because it’s not. It’s a chance to give the Lord your undivided attention as you await each season of life He has in store for you. The rich joy and fulfillment we often think will be offered to us by another person, is offered to us now.
“I was regretting the past
And fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
“My name is I Am.” He paused.
I waited. He continued,
When you live in the past
With its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard. I am not there,
My name is not I WAS”.
When you live in the future
With its problems and fears,
It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.
When you live in this moment,
It is not hard. I am here.
My name is I AM.”
-My Name is “I AM” by Helen Mallicoat
Friends, let us not let fixed past actions hold us back from now. Let us press on, undaunted by the content of the future, because of the ever-present I AM. When we are not, He is. When we fear, He is there. In each season of our life, He is there and He is calling. May we see and take each moment as it is given. For His blessings and joys are not contingent upon seasons of companionship or singularity, but available for all who ask.