I’m 27 and somewhere along the way, dating sort of missed me, or at least serious dating. I am not one of those twenty-somethings that enjoyed dating throughout college and early career. No bars. No clubs. No coffee shop dates. No wedding dates. A few pursuits, but that’s all.
And you know what…that’s perfectly okay.
But somewhere along the way, as a single, I have still somehow become that person people come to for advice and counseling regarding relationships, dating, and marriage.
What I have found in my many years of being single, is that, my singleness is not only valid, but I have some things to share with those of you who will listen. I hope you’re okay with my honesty and openness to things I will share in this post. I think we could all use some honesty and vulnerability and willingness to listen…and I’m preaching to the choir here. All I ask, is that you hear me out, and some of the things I have learned along the way in my near lifetime of singleness. Prepare yourself, because this blog is a bit lengthy.
I went to a Christian college. Everyone wanted to date and get married before graduating. And believe me, plenty of my peers did just that- date, get engaged, and married all within the 4 years of college. I learned quickly that so many (not all) of these couples were rushing the process because they had waited (sexually) until marriage, and now that they had found the one whom their heart loved, they would just get married. What we really had, in many of those cases, 20 year olds that couldn’t control their hormones anymore with the person they loved, yet at the same time, was terrified of having sex before marriage and being tainted goods. In other cases, there were friends that dated and didn’t rush. They took their time and they got to know the person. Some of those people got married before graduation and some did not quite get their “Mrs. Degree” (only you Christian college kids might get that reference). And still others, got married after graduation to someone they met along the journey of their life. None of these paths were wrong. But none of these paths have been mine.
I dated one guy very briefly right before graduation of high school. That relationship didn’t last long…But what do you expect of silly high school relationships? In my early years of college, like really all college students, I had my crushes. Of course I had my hopes of falling in love and starting my married life by my early 20s. Also…not my story. I wasn’t even asked out in my entire 5 years of college and graduate studies. There was a chapter in the middle of my college years where I dated a childhood friend. It didn’t work out and that’s okay…he’s happily married now. That was six years ago, and I have remained single since.
I have a point in all of this commentary of my history.
I have not been without near failures, indiscretions, and mistakes. Most people who know me, know there is a shadow of darkness upon my story. I was a porn addict for my years of high school. I am human and have those natural desires like anyone else. Let’s be adult and not need an explanation. But the beauty of grace is that He redeemed me from that addiction my first year of college, and now, I get to counsel people with addiction, tell porn stars and strippers they matter, and show people that regardless of their story, Jesus can redeem them. Somewhere in the midst of my desires for marriage, minimal dating life, my earlier years of addiction, and many years of singleness….I have found some wisdom to which I’d like to share with you.
As I said, I am 27 years old and haven’t been on a date in over 6 years. I am actually one of those unicorns- you know…the ones who are waiting for marriage to have sex. As I have gotten older, my desire for marriage and intimacy has only grown stronger. And my struggle to remain pure has only gotten harder. Please listen to me when I say this: I understand a sense of waiting and patience that few really can understand. Myself, and those who are likewise waiting, can offer something tremendous to the Church and Body. We can show what waiting through desires, controlling our flesh, and loving Jesus more than an idol of a longing for a spouse can really look like. We can show you what it looks like to serve the Church and Jesus Christ utmost the way Paul encouraged, without distraction of a spouse or children. We can show what it looks like to serve those who are broken when we might also be broken.
I have invested so much time into the Gospel and serving others, like so many others, but I do it without the pleasure of having my spouse on the journey with me. For 4 years I was a youth pastor and, honestly, those were some of my loneliest years of my life. There’s something so lonely (sometimes) about doing ministry without getting to share joy, heartache, loss, excitement, passion, and vision with a spouse. I don’t get the privilege of going home after church or work and sharing my day with someone. I don’t get to plan a wedding (yet!). I don’t get to prepare for pregnancy. I don’t get to plan my kids’ birthday parties. I don’t get a lot of things that my married friends have been able to experience. What I do get, is an opportunity to find my strength in Jesus through my absolute greatest longing. To turn my longing toward Him instead of him. I don’t know if or when God will allow for me to be married. I do believe that God has a man out there in the world for me. I have believed that since as far as I can remember. But I also believe that God has me waiting, for whatever reason, for His timing.
So here’s my wisdom and words to you, whoever you are:
- waiting is painful
- serving Jesus has been the greatest joy in my entire life
- Churches and pastors need to stop being so scared of talking about sex
- God created sex and marriage and said it was good!
- its okay to long to be married
- its okay to be sad about being single
- its okay to want certain things in life…but it can’t become an idol
- even a desire for a spouse can become an idol
- the more you give your heart away, the more broken or fragile it will be
- for those of you in ministry…I get you and I’m here if you need a support system
- whether you’re married or single, don’t forget to have adventures
- porn is never good for you
- honor your spouse now while you’re single
- honor other people as they are not your spouse
- avoid compromising situations
- it is possible to wait for sex
- it is worth it to wait for sex
- if you’re single, work on your struggles and weaknesses now
- let your patience in the waiting become a virtue, not a burden
- let your self-control be an encouragement to others
- being single doesn’t mean you’re broken
- being single isn’t bad
- if you’re married, invest in the singles around you and in your churches
- if you’re single, find friends and invest in them
- if you’re single, find married couples you can learn from
- if you’re married, love your spouse in spite of their failings
- if you’re single, love your spouse now- it doesn’t start at the altar
- mistakes happen
- redemption is possible
- your story isn’t over until your last breath- don’t give up
- love Jesus more than you could ever love your spouse, your kids, or anything else
I am sure there are plenty of other things I could share with you. I am sure I missed a few thoughts tonight. But I hope you understand that for people like me, the single (who doesn’t always feel so young anymore), that single-hood is both awesome and annoying, painful and beautiful. A lot of the Early Church was advanced by single people dedicated to telling the world about Jesus Christ. A lot of people in the Early Church were married. The point: we all have a part in the bigger story that God has for us if we are willing to be obedient in the journey. Whatever your story- single or married- God loves you and He is not done with you yet.