Single and Sanctified

I read a lot of mommy blogs. I don’t know why. I am not a mommy. But one of the common themes of these blogs is how sanctifying motherhood is. For instance, you never really know how selfish you are until you have kids. Or, you have little ones looking to you to be an example every day. Or, some days are just so mundane and the kids are so whiny and you have to call on Jesus all the time.

Motherhood makes you holy, is what they’re trying to say.

For a long time, I felt like maybe I wasn’t as holy, or wasn’t as “set apart” or just flat out wasn’t as good as those married and mommied ladies. After all, being single means staying up late every night, watching my shows and eating bon-bons, right?

If only, friends. If only.

For me, being single looks more like running nonsense errands and spending money just for something to do. Being single means wasting a lot of food because cooking for one? The struggle is real, people. Being single after a certain age means a lot of weekends and evenings with only Netflix for company (I mean, OK, I am going to be real with you; sometimes that’s a perk. But day in and day out? It gets old fast.). Being single means that sometimes, every bone in your body is aching to hold and be held, and it’s almost physically painful, but there’s really nothing you can do about it.

As it turns out, being single is its own sanctification. A long time ago, I pointed you to Steve DeWitt’s post on being a single pastor. He’s since married (you go, Steve DeWitt), but the way Jesus transformed Steve’s single years still hold true. More recently, I stumbled upon Fabienne Harford’s excellent post on the Gospel Coalition, “Sex and the Single Woman.”

I don’t know what to add to their wise words. Some tears, maybe, as I ponder both the weariness of the fight, and the assurance that Jesus is enough. That however intense my longings might be — for companionship, to be a little less lonely, to touch and be touched — there is something even better up ahead.

In Hebrews 11, we’re presented a list of people we know from the Old Testament — people who didn’t know about Jesus yet; they only knew that salvation was coming. They were confident God was faithful, and they hoped in Him, trusting that He would, indeed, make all things new someday. But all these people — Abraham. Sarah. Enoch. Isaac. Jacob. Joshua. Rahab. Moses. Gideon. Barak. David. Samuel. The prophets. And many more. — all of them died having never seen Salvation come. They didn’t get to see the fulfillment of their longing, but they trusted that God was good.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. — Hebrews 11:13-16 (NIV)

And so God was not ashamed to be their God! He promised them a home, and He does the same for us now. In Jesus, in God’s good plan, we have a refuge for our weary souls. Fellow singles, take heart. This means that even if we never get married, never become parents, or always feel on the outside as an unmarried, that God is still good. We can put our hope in something better up ahead — something better than committing ourselves to another person, or in coming together to create another one. Our hope is not just in our God who is, but in our God who is to come.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. — Revelation 21:1-7 (ESV)

When I wish I had someone to sit next to on the couch, I can be at peace knowing the Holy Spirit resides in me. When I feel like the weight of being single and of living alone might be more than I can bear, I remember that Jesus has promised that His yoke is easy, and His burden light, and that God’s commands are not burdensome. When I’m tempted to believe the lie that I am not enough because I am single, the Lord is good to remind me that He has called me His, He has redeemed me, and He loves me. And when I am tired — just so tired — of having to wrestle with not just my own flesh, but against the schemes of the devil and the spiritual forces of evil, I can rest on His promise that He is coming soon.

Has there ever been a relief so sweet as that?

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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