My whole experience of being a grown-up has been as a single grown-up. I am 28 years young, and so I have had a decade of being a single independent woman, as someone like Beyoncé might put it. Well, not so much independent, but you know what I mean!
A decade in reality is just an arbitrary amount of time, but it has made me more reflective. As I’ve chatted with other single Christian women, I think one of the biggest things I have realised is that while we all follow the same Lord, and are saved by the same gospel, we all experience singleness very differently:
Some of us have never been married.
Others of us are divorced or widowed.
Some of us have chosen to be single.
Others of us are actively looking for a relationship.
Some of us are tempted to see a relationship as the solution to all our problems.
Others find the prospect of a relationship really scary.
Some of us have had a number of relationships.
Others of us have never been asked out on a date.
Some of us have experienced good relationships that simply haven’t worked out.
Others of us have experienced relationships filled with pain.
Some of us had our hearts broken by unrequited love, or almost relationships.
Others of us are worried we may not be able to fall in love at all.
Some of us had parents who were madly in love.
Others of us experienced the pain of divorce.
Some of us had great dads.
Others of us had bad dads, or absent dads, or dads who passed away.
Some of us believe we just haven’t met the right person.
Others of us think that there must be something wrong with us.
Some of us struggle with the desire for physical intimacy.
Others of us are totally freaked out by the whole sex thing.
Some of us are under pressure from family to find someone and settle down.
Others of us are from families where relationships and marriages have generally come late or not at all.
Some of us are surrounded by married friends.
Others of us largely interact with single peers day-to-day.
Some of us fully expect to get married one day.
Others of us are fearful of remaining single. Whilst others joyfully expect to remain single as God seems to have big plans for our lives.
Some of us find trusting God really easy.
Others of us find it a daily struggle.
We’re all so different. Our experiences of singleness are shaped by our experiences of relationships, our upbringing, our temperament, our ambitions, our sinful idolatries, and so on. I think all that can make it hard for us to empathise and support one-another well, and ‘Christian’ perspectives on singleness can feel like they were written for somebody else.
Perhaps, instead, we shouldn’t be looking for a universal way to do singleness in a godly way. Perhaps we should seek to recognise what has shaped us, and have honest conversations about those things with ourselves and others, and most importantly with God.
Perhaps we need to tell our stories more openly, so that we’re all more aware of the richness of experience out there.
Perhaps we need to bring our hearts, emotions and attitudes to the Lord, and ask him to:
- Heal what needs to be healed.
- Create in us right priorities and expectations.
- Replace any lies we are telling ourselves with his truth.
- Give us a bigger eternal perspective.
- Provide us with all that we need to be fruitful, joyful people…
- … and the faith we need to believe that he actually will!
All of us are sinners, and none of us have it 100% sorted in this area, but praise God, he is committed to our good.