Dear heart of mine,
You’ve had a really weird month. Year, even. I know there are days you don’t mind being single, and days where you hate it. I know you know all the churchy answers to being single: that it’s good, that the grass is always greener, that Jesus is better. Sometimes they sound trite. I know this even as I try to tell them to you. So rather than scold you yet again for not being content enough or holy enough or whatever enough, let me peel back the layers and get to the, well, heart of the matter.
Here are four precious promises for your joy:
You are whole.
It’s true. You are a whole, entire person. You have a calling, and dreams, and skills, and favorite TV shows. Maybe you have a black thumb, can cook a mean steak, never answer texts or always default to reruns of Parks and Rec on a bad day. You have particular and besetting sins, and particular and wonderful gifts. You are hilarious and sometimes melancholy. You are a whole, entire person. And yet you are not whole because of anything you’ve done or anything you are, but because God has made you, He loves you, He has redeemed and will redeem you. If you’re single for the rest of your earthly years or if God calls you to marriage, you are whole — in Him, not in your spouse or imaginary boyfriend.
You are loved.
Oh my gosh, you are so loved. Someone died for you. Someone lives for you. Someone intercedes for you. Someone protects and perseveres you. Someone is for you more than you are for yourself, who is able to do immeasurably more than anything you could ask for or imagine. Your Bridegroom loves you. So much. Marriage won’t make you more loved than you already are right now, in this moment. Marriage might very well be another way the Lord puts His own mercy and love on display for you, but I bet if you ask Him for the eyes to see, He’ll lift the veil and show you all the ways He loves you and is for you now.
You have a family.
You may not have a biological family of your own, but you have been adopted by the Very Best Dad. He adopted you to Himself, and He adopted you into His family, too. Hear that? You have a family! God has set your lonely heart in His family. You belong, beloved. Quit worrying so much about whether this family is “single-friendly,” (although … hey, Church? Be a single-friendly Church. Don’t hold marriage so highly that there’s no room for anyone else.) and just be. Love them. Serve them. Ask God to give you eyes to see what He’s given you to do in this family, exactly as you are.
You are free.
I’m not going to throw 1 Corinthians 7:28 at you. Well, not yet, anyway. First, I’m going to remind you that God has made you so free. Free from the power of sin. Free to delight in Jesus. Free to throw yourself into the sea with abandon when you see your risen Savior on the shore. This is true, married or single.
And yet, there is a little more freedom in being single. A little less … clutter. Fewer entanglements. We are all free, but Paul wants to see us not-yet-marrieds freer still. And yes, now I’m going to throw 1 Corinthians 7:28 at you:
But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.
I would spare you that, the apostle says.
You want to argue with him: Please, no, don’t.
But here is the thing. Your sin, it is overwhelming. You have your hands full with your own self before your God. Repent and pray for help and fight for joy and repent and pray and lather, rinse, repeat. And that’s just for one person! The idea of joining with another person — another whole person’s worth of quirks and sins and joys — is staggering at times. And what if together, you make even more persons, each with their own bundle of joy and sorrow? Whoo, boy. It is no trifling thing, this marriage-and-family business.
So maybe the apostle, who speaks with a father’s heart, is on to something. We who are not married are not limited by our circumstances; we are free — to issue last-minute invitations, to listen and to linger, to give generously of our time, to swim and soak and wash ourselves in the Word. Even if we knew for sure that marriage was coming, why wouldn’t we live with abandon now? Why wouldn’t we forge friendships and run wild and root ourselves in the Word and learn how to be faithful where we are? Those are lessons we need always; we might as well give ourselves a head start on them now.
So stand firm, my sometimes bruised and bewildered and doubting heart, and know that “… all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)