By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
At my Christian college, I observed an interesting phenomenon. As a playwright, I’ll best illustrate it in dialogue form.
Girl 1: Hey, everyone in my dorm, I just got a job!
Other girls (with mild enthusiasm): Neat. Cool. Way to go.
Girl 1: Hey, everyone in my dorm, I just got asked out to coffee.
(Girls from every corner of campus rush into the room)
Girls (bouncing up and down): What’s his enneagram? Have you planned your wedding yet? How many kids does he want? You better let me be a bridesmaid.
Granted, yes, I did implement slight hyperbole, but only just slight.My college campus raved about marriage. We had a number of terms to indicate one’s desperation to find their potential significant other in four years. From the time you moved onto campus and engaged in the “Freshmen Frenzy” (freshmen trying to find their future spouse) to your final semester on campus where you tried to squeeze in last-minute coffee dates with near strangers (the “Senior Scramble”). We had rituals surrounding dating and marriage life at our college.
Couples would walk around the loop on campus, symbolizing a Define the Relationship (DTR) talk. Females who got engaged would sit in a circle in their dorm and pass around a candle, singing, “Going to the Chapel.”
Although, sure, friends would beam at you and perhaps give a side hug whenever you accomplished something such as acquiring a job that would propel you into your lifetime career—the item you had signed up for college in the first place to attain—people devoted far more attention, enthusiasm, and favor toward marriage.
Those who had other goals in mind were ostracized, ignored, or seen as not-quite-complete.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/nicoletaionescu
Does the author of this article hate marriage?
Of course not. God instituted marriage to reflect His relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:25), as a way to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), and to strengthen each other to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ.
However, I do have to object to the pedestal in which the Christian community has placed marriage. It has gotten to the point where we idolize everything about it, and when we enter into such marriages with such lofty expectations, we’ll end up disappointed, hurt, and jaded.
Married couples reading this, know I want to offer you all the congratulations in the world. Relationships, marriages take an incredible amount of work. I do not want to discount that bond you have worked so hard to keep close to each other.
Nevertheless, single Christians reading this, your lack of a marital status right now does not mean:
- You are incomplete; our completeness comes through Christ alone (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
- You cannot do kingdom work; single or married, God calls us to spread the Gospel.
- You have been overlooked by God, as though He has not given you the whole of human experience until He sends a significant other.
Single Christians, consider the following things to look forward to in life, aside from marriage:
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Impacting and Growing in Your Friendships
Not in every case, but often when a husband and wife marry, friendships float to the margins. For instance, my best friend, a guy, and I have a very solid friendship. But if God placed another man in my life who became my husband, I would have to divorce myself from that bond with my best friend.
Even platonic or same-sex friendships can face this marginalization. Married couples have less time to meet with others when they have other cares to focus on such as children or ensuring the strength of their marriage.
Yet, in our times of singleness, we have no excuse not to impact and grow our friendships.
We could have a strong friendship like David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18), or we could even lead our friends to Christ during this extra time spent with them.
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Strengthening a Community
Single, strength, and service all start with the same letter.
Periods of singleness allow for us to invest more time in a particular community. Maybe we help with the church’s youth group, or we devote a day a week to serving in a kitchen at a homeless shelter.
We have the potential to shape lives and build new programs during this time. Want to start a theater or sports ministry at your church? Want to create a Bible study? You have the time and resources to do it. Right now.
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Growing in Intimacy with God
We have placed marriage on such a high pedestal that we often forget our first love: Christ.
Fallen behind on daily devotionals or don’t attend church as consistently as you like? No worries! You can devote this time to engaging with Scripture, praying without ceasing, and growing closer to God.
If God does choose to bring a significant other in your life down the road, you will have matured (Hebrews 6:1) and will avoid some potential hurt you could’ve caused from a lack of spiritual maturity. The more you love God, the more love you will have for others.
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Bringing People to God
Nothing can make your entire year quite like the words, “Because of you, and because of your example, I investigated this whole Christianity thing and decided to give my life to Christ.”
We have become so enraptured with marriages, we have forgotten our most important calling in life: to share the Gospel unto the ends of the earth and help the prodigal sons come back to Christ.
Without potential distractions and cares marriage can often bring, you have the opportunity to share the Gospel with everyone you come into contact with. By word and deed, your example may cause someone to crack open a Bible for the first time in years or follow you to a church service on Sunday.
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Appreciating this Beautiful World God Made
Gratitude goes a long way.
When I first approached this season of singleness, I harbored quite a bit of resentment against God. I wondered why in the world He wouldn’t place me with someone I could choose to love every single day. I had a lot of love to give and nowhere, I thought, to give it.
I needed clarity during this time to see the world in a less jaded light. Now I have more time to appreciate the beauty, not only in creation, but in the people around me.
Overall, when you’re single, you just have more time to take breaks and “be present.” You have fewer stressors and can devote that time and energy into admiring this beautiful world God has made.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Joshua Sortino
Growing and Using Personal Talents
You may feel a strong pull from the Holy Spirit to do missions work in another country (or another town, even). A married person, if feeling this conviction after tying the knot, will have to work around schedules and possibly compromise this calling if their spouse cannot commit to major changes.
Whether you have a talent for missions or even a vocal ability to sing on your worship band set, singleness allows for you to grow and utilize such talents without the constraints of balancing extra schedules.
Maybe now is the time to improve and hone a skill, such as creative writing, because maybe down the road God will call you to publish a book. With this extra time, you can dedicate more hours to refining those skills, so when the days comes for you to perform, you can do so well, and in turn, give the glory back to God.
Hope Bolingeris a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 350 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 3,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) just released, and they contracted the sequel for 2020. Find out more about her here.
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