“It is God’s will for you to be married!”
The phrase still rings loudly in my brain. I heard it at a conference five years ago in a room with about two
thousand other 20-somethings. I don’t remember the context of the sermon, or anything else about that morning really. I remember feelings that set in instantaneously, like a wave of insecurity and shame reinforcing the lie that I must not be godly enough for someone to want to marry me. Since it’s God’s will for me to be a wife, then it must be me and my sin that’s kept me from doing what God wants, right?
I remember not being surprised by this statement either. The belief that marriage is the essence of the godly woman’s life was something that has been taught to me, and perhaps you too, for as long as I can remember. There were few things in my life that had made me feel more shame and embarrassment than showing my face to those who also believe that lie.
I remember feelings that set in instantaneously,
like a wave of insecurity and shame reinforcing the lie.
What a sad story right? I’m guessing many of you can unfortunately relate. The issue of singleness in the church is a sensitive one. What to say, what not to say, how to approach it, how to be sensitive. But I think the hardest part about this issue is how to change the focus of our hearts, and begin seeing people for what Jesus is doing in them and through them, not simply their marital status. Yes, relationships and giddiness are fun. Yes, falling in love and beginning a life with someone is no doubt an exciting adventure. But what are we valuing most? Are we more interested in their latest love interest than what Christ is doing in them? What does that communicate to the unmarried people in your life?
The good news from this is that the Lord has redeemed these wounds in my heart in an unbelievable way. He has redeemed my mind and the lies that I once believed. Do I desire to share a life with someone one day? Sure! But do I view my worth in my marital status? No. And God doesn’t either.
Change the focus of our hearts
and begin seeing people for what Jesus is doing in them and through them,
not simply their marital status.
If you find yourself in this category, here are a few Truths the gospel teaches us in our singleness. I have to preach these truths to myself daily.
1. Jesus is not disappointed in your singleness. Read that again. I forget that sometimes. Between the feelings of disappointing parents, friends, and myself, it’s easy to lump Jesus into that as well. However, the gospel Truth says something completely different and completely freeing. Jesus’ love and delight in you are independent of your marital status. We are adopted (Gal 4:4-7), rescued (Psalm 18), and delighted in (Zeph 3:15-17) whether we are content, whining, dating someone, or happily married. As His daughter, Jesus looks at you and smiles. He is not waiting for you to shape up so a man will find you worthy for marriage. You are worthy in His mind because you are found in Him. And for no other reason.
Jesus’ love and delight in you are independent of your marital status.
2. Our call, mission, and purpose are the same. The call of a disciple is the same for the single and married. Whether you are recently divorced, a new high school graduate, or somewhere in between, as believers we are all called to be making disciples wherever we are. However, depending on our life circumstances our primary sphere of influence in which we do this will be different. For some, their primary mission field is their spouse, children, and children’s friends. For others, they are discipling their co-workers and roommates. In my case, I am most concerned about the 150 college freshmen living within 100 yards from me. The call to make disciples is just as urgent and important no matter what season of life you find yourself in. Old, young, retired, student, married, or single.
3. You are uniquely and deliberately gifted to further God’s kingdom, just as you are. I think sometimes we (I) think the godly, “grown-up” versions of ourselves start when we get married. That thinking can be incredibly dangerous! As believers, we have been given unique gifts to further God’s kingdom, with or without a spouse. God is intentional in how He designs His children and those gifts and passions are to be used today. They are valuable and needed, married, single, waiting, or none of the above! Whatever category you find yourself in, dive into ministry there.
If you find yourself on the other side of this conversation as a married person, remember to value who your single friends are for what Christ is doing in them, not just their love lives. It is more than okay to be excited and ask questions about potential interests, however, help them to see who they are outside of that. The most loving thing you can do is to encourage them to be in the heart of God’s will by using their gifts and making disciples. Period.
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Image Credit: Julia Ceasar, Unsplash