One of my favorite stories from my years as a college minister came out of a conversation with a Freshman girl about singleness. We both sat in my office as she bemoaned the fact that she’d never had a boyfriend, and wondered aloud if she would EVER get married.
At the time, I was newly engaged at the age of 28. I proceeded to tell her the story of my journey through singleness, the good times and the bad. Sure, there were seasons of sadness and uncertainty, but throughout it all I had determined not to waste my singleness.
My motto as a single woman was, “No regrets!” I wanted to do as much as I could for God and His church, and experience as many things as possible in His amazing creation while I had the luxury of such freedom and time. I didn’t want to get married one day, only to look back on those years with regret. I wanted to make the most of it–and I did! I traveled the world on missions trips, got a Master’s degree, became a college minister, discipled lots of college women at my church, mentored a local teen for 8 years, and made amazing friends. I had a lot to show for those years, and I didn’t regret a thing.
I shared my testimony with my distressed student, hoping it might inspire her. “My single years were actually pretty great!” I concluded. “I wouldn’t change a thing!”
For a moment, she processed my words silently, then slowly got up to leave for her next class. But just before she closed the door behind her, she wheeled around and exclaimed, “I just hope I don’t have to wait until I am 28. That would be HORRIBLE!”
That story makes me laugh every time I think about it. But the reality is that singleness is very difficult, especially for women entering their 30’s and 40’s. As each new friend gets married and that pool of single friends grows smaller, it can be genuinely terrifying. I don’t want to make light of that.
Married Christians have a tendency to talk about singleness as a “gift,” but it is often a gift that nobody wants, like a pink knitted teddy bear sweater from your Great Aunt Pearl. I therefore realize the risk I am taking with this blog post and I am not trying to sound like a smug married woman who knows better. That said, if you are single and have never had children, I encourage you to use the freedom this season affords. I don’t know what the future holds for you, but in the mean time I hope you will pursue God with abandon. I hope you will drain the marrow out of life so that whenever you look back, you can proudly proclaim that you were a good steward of the unique resources you had.
This year I will attend two different weddings for close friends marrying in their late 20’s. This same year, I had two friends in their mid 30’s who got engaged. Another woman in my church got married for the first time in her 40’s. I share these stories, not to strike fear in the hearts of you ladies in your 20’s who want to get married now, but as a reminder that every woman’s path is different. You don’t know when you will get married, so I hope you will not miss out on the special missions of ministry God has for you today because you are too busy looking ahead.
While I know that is easy for me to say now that I’m married, I also say it as a woman who is still learning to find contentment in the here and now. It is a lesson that will follow you the rest of your life until you learn it. Whether you are single or married, we all find ourselves tempted to worry about tomorrow. That’s why Jesus warned us against it in Matthew 6:34–he was protecting us from ourselves. We get so caught up wanting a boyfriend, wanting to get engaged, wanting to finish school, wanting to have a baby, wanting to live in a house instead of an apartment, waiting for that next big thing. But it never satisfies, and it produces a life defined by waiting, bitterness, and never fully living. Which is why, dear sister, I hope you will avoid that trap and truly live!
In verse 33 of that same chapter, just before Jesus cautions us against worrying, he exhorts us to “seek first His kingdom.” Seek FIRST His kingdom–that is your priority for today. Don’t worry about tomorrow, just seek first His kingdom today. Figure out what divine appointments and special blessings God has for you on this day. Whether you are single or jobless or struggling with infertility, seek Him today. Be on the look out for what He has for you and embrace it. Live each day with no regrets, and those days will add up to a lifetime of radical devotion to Christ and amazing adventures along the way.
What does “seeking God’s kingdom” each day mean practically?
Great question, Emily! It means that we conform our lives to the character of God’s Kingdom and we surrender ourselves to His reign. Practically speaking, that can mean any number of things. It means first and foremost spending time with God each day so that you can know His heart and be transformed into His likeness. It means living out the Gospel in how you treat your spouse, your family, or you ornery co-worker. It means being generous until it hurts. It means practicing patience and love and mercy in those moments when the world tells you to be angry and bitter.
It also means we look for the signs of God’s in-breaking Kingdom in our world and pointing others to it. Whenever we love others and direct them to the hope and grace they have in Christ, we give them a taste of the character of God’s Kingdom that is to come!
So that’s just a little bit about that. Maybe I should write a blog about it some time. 🙂
Great advice, Sharon. You’re absolutely right about the lesson of contentment following a person for their entire life. It is hard not to hope in the wrong things, even good things like marriage, a job, and children. These are great blessings, to be sure, but no guarantee of happiness. They involve their own trials. The grass is not always greener, as they say. Thanks for the reminder to keep looking to God, living for Him, and waiting on Him.
This is just what I need to hear right now. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years and we’re approaching the point of getting engaged and it’s just not quite here and I’m eagerly awaiting this. This really helps to put it in perspective to not worry about tomorrow and to just focus on right now and the great things you can do for His Kingdom. And He knows the desires of our hearts and it’s all in His perfect timing and He knows when this is going to happen for all of us.
This was an encouraging post and a great reminder about seeking first His Kingdom… so easy to get caught up in the daily routine of life and forget to love God through it all. I agree with you: PLEASE write a blog entry about seeking God’s kingdom in a practical way! 🙂