As a woman who spent my entire twenties as a single person, today’s topic is one I’m very familiar with. The question of singleness and the tendency for women, in particular, to be hounded with questions about why-why-why-when-when-when seems to be unrelenting. Add to that girlish childhood fantasies, heart-felt grown-up longings, and a pinterest-saturated world of wedding images and it can be a recipe for a bit of a mess. My dear friend Sarah is sharing today about her perspective of singleness. I’ve known Sarah for twelve years now and have seen her continually approach “singlehood” with grace, wisdom, conviction, and passion. I hope that if you’re a ‘single’ reader you’ll be encouraged, and if you’re a married reader you’ll be encouraged with insight on how to empower our single sisters. So happy to have Sarah’s voice here on the 31 Days of Women Empowering Women series today. Thank you Sarah, for being so freakin’ awesome. xo
“Why are you still single?”
If you have ever been asked this question you will understand that there is never an easy answer. Sometimes there simply is no answer. Trying to answer a question like this on the spot at a social gathering can lead into further questions about your personality, career, high standards, and eventually your identity.
Unfortunately the place I was most confronted with this question was at Christian gatherings. Friends, acquaintances, and even new introductions would eventually pop this question and take the lead in to a conversation that wasn’t always encouraging.
I was once interviewing an elderly Christian professor about missions at a conference (on stage) when he interrupted me with this very question. His following advice on how I could get married included a statement how I was obviously intimidating due to my role in leadership. Therefore, he concluded, I needed to be the one that [insert list of recommendations on how to approach Godly single guys to start a relationship].
I left the conversation confused and wondering if he had been serious about me being intimidating. The truth was that I really liked my life, I was living in the adventure of my calling, and I felt in these moments unable to articulate that there was so much more to me than my relationship status. Even though I did have the desire to one day be married, I knew there wasn’t a specific blueprint to follow on how to exactly make that happen.
More of this, more of that. Less of this, just relax.
Throughout my twenties there were always plenty of “helpful” suggestions. Some of these included: “You need to wear more dresses,” or “You just need to open up your heart more,” and my personal favourite – “As a leader you would obviously be intimidating so perhaps try to flirt a little more”. It was always more of this, more of that.
What happened to trusting God? What happened to living in the fullness of this season until He decides its time for the next? Why did not being in a romantic relationship mean that my heart was closed? Do we even believe that God may have a personal wisdom for us in taking steps towards that special relationship?
Do our labels help or hinder?
I have come to believe that the tag ‘single’ is not a kingdom concept. Think about the meaning of the word. It implies that there is ‘only one; not several’. Is there anything ‘single’ or ‘independent’ about the life of someone who is a follower of Jesus? The Christian faith is about relationship. We are in fellowship, we are accountable, we are called ‘joint heirs in Christ’ (Galatians 3:27-29). We are connected. We are not isolated.
When I was 31 years of age I was still not in a romantic relationship. People cared and wanted to see me with someone special. I thought about it a lot and took my questions to God. What was His plan for relationships? Was He worried for me? Are we really alone until we are in a special relationship? What can true community look like when we all do life together? I came to the conclusion that these are the questions that we should be asking.
The fact is, I was living a life full of relationships. I loved hanging out with my married friends, my unmarried friends, the senior citizens group, and the youth group. I enjoyed staying with families of small children on holidays and going out for coffee with friends. Popular culture is obsessed with romantic relationships. They are a beautiful gift but there is so much else that God has given us. They are not when our life begins.
3 myths about singleness we need to debunk:
Myth #1: To not have a boyfriend/husband is to be alone. To be unloved. To be unchosen.
The bible tells us that we were chosen before the foundation of the world. God has already chosen to be in relationship with you. That is the most important relationship of all. There are also people in your life that God has already trusted you with. Build those relationships and be faithful with the people God has placed in your life.
Myth #2: If you really let go then “it” will happen.
There is no formula with God. Just like each woman is unique, so is her journey. Trust God. It’s not a passive thing. Letting go will look different to every individual but one thing is for certain – it will not press a magic button and make what you want happen. True surrender may be a daily decision to be open and allow God to lead you.
Myth #3: All the good men are taken.
Why is there the fear that the longer we wait, the more likely we will miss out? The Kingdom of God is not a Boxing Day sale [aka “after Christmas sale”]. It is a kingdom opposite to the world. Jesus performed his first miracle by providing the best wine for last. This miracle came from a God who was concerned for a newlywed’s dignity. What does this tell you about your God? Do you not think that God is also concerned for your dignity? He really can save the best for last. You’re not going to miss out. Use this time to become the kind of woman that a Godly man would be waiting for.
“Why are you still single?”
If you’re being probed by this question I want to encourage you. God is good and he has filled your life with good things (Psalm 103:5). Don’t allow popular culture to reduce God’s goodness in your life to one faith gap that you’re trusting Him with. There is always going to be some kind of faith gap in your life. Remember who God is and what he is like. God loves relationships. God loves you. God is a God of perfect timing; but He does not follow a formula. Letting go doesn’t mean that you’re going to get an automatic outcome. Surrendering has a lot to do with an attitude of trust. You can trust God.
There is so much in your life that needs your attention right now. Why not begin to focus on stewarding the relationships that God has already given you? Be a friend, a sister, a kind stranger. Start to enjoy this season of your life because it can suddenly change and you don’t want to have missed the beauty of what God had for you and him together.
Sarah McCutcheon leads the Youth Ministries at YWAM Newcastle. She enjoys peppermint tea, vogue magazine, and meaningful conversation. Her favourite character quality in people is kindness.
Dear friends, are you a ‘single’ woman? If so, what kinds of things from those around you make you feel empowered, despite your relationship status? And if you are married, how do you try to honor and empower the single ladies among us without reducing them to a ‘category’ or relationship status?
Love, Adriel xx
- 12 Essentials for Your Twenties: Practical advice for Christian 20-somethings Part 1 and Part 2
- Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor.
The post “Why are you still single? A single woman’s perspective on the dreaded question is part of a series called 31 Days of Women Empowering Women.