I often bemoan the fact that I’m single. I mean, there are good things about it, and I get to know Jesus in suffering and whatever. But it just occurred to me in the past couple of weeks that I actually have chosen singleness. Do choose it. Am choosing it.
I kinda don’t like that. It’s easier to think of singleness as something that’s happening to me, something that has been chosen for me. I like to think that, if it were up to me, I would choose marriage and a family of my own. Yet, 33 years into this life, I have yet to make that choice.
For instance, when my best-ish guy friend asked me to be his girlfriend, I turned him down. More than once. When a guy I reconnected with after 10 years indicated that he might be interested in me as a future wife, I turned him down. Again. I’ve gone on dates only to firmly cut things off before the second date, and I’ve refused to give out my number to interested parties.
It’s not like this happens often. In fact, it happens so rarely that I just summed most of it up in one paragraph. Still, I’ve had to process for a couple of weeks if I’m even qualified to write about singleness, since I’ve chosen it on a number of occasions.
I had to really confront myself with questions like:
- What right do I have to share my stories alongside the people who have truly, heart-breakingly never had a choice?
- How can I even begin to compare myself to people like a certain friend, who seems to only attract men who haven’t quite come out of the closet yet?
- How dare I complain about being single around my friends who have gone through gut-wrenching divorces, not of their own choosing?
- How can my stories exist in the same realm as my homosexual Christian friends who are living celibate in order to glorify God, with no hope of ever getting married in this lifetime?
- I’ve turned down men! Christian men who loved Jesus and liked me. How snobbish does that make me?!
The more I process this idea, though, the more I realize that, in my case, singleness is a by-product of bigger choices. I choose to aim higher than “good enough” in life; I choose not to “settle” for my plans, instead seeking out God’s plans; I choose to follow Jesus, as He followed God’s plan. It just so happens that those choices have led me to turn down men who were wrong for me.
Here’s what I mean when I say I follow Jesus: Jesus, the Son of God, became a man so that He could show us what it’s like to perfectly follow God. Every decision He made was in order for His Father to be glorified. Some of those decisions to follow and trust God led Jesus into extremely terrible things, like homelessness, rejection, attempts on His life, physical abuse, mockery, death on a Roman cross, and – yes – singleness.
In His time on earth, Jesus had multiple opportunities to cheat His way to rewards that would have been “good enough” or “settling.” For instance,
- Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world on Satan’s terms, and Jesus turned him down.
- As God, Jesus owned the entire world; yet He didn’t choose to raise up an army, overthrow the government, and live in a palace.
- Jesus had access to legions of angels who could have delivered Him from the crucifixion, but He went through with it anyway.
Jesus decided every moment and every day to follow God no matter what, so God turned His great suffering into a great reward in heaven. Because He waited and did things God’s way,
- God gave Him more than the kingdoms of this world; He gave Jesus all the universes (which Jesus created anyway, so I guess that was fair).
- Jesus doesn’t live in a cushy palace on earth; He lives in heaven where He’s waiting for us to join Him and live in perfect peace forever.
- Jesus doesn’t just have access to the angels; He lives with them (the Bible says that the angels fly around and around His throne in heaven, worshiping Him constantly).
Jesus perfectly, consistently chose God’s way, ultimately so that His people would be able to choose God’s way and share in His reward. Without Jesus as my example and my savior, I would just be hanging out, dating whomever and marrying the first guy to propose (he was in fifth grade, and I was the teacher’s helper; it was inevitable).
Jesus’ story and pretty much the whole Gospel affect the way I make decisions and interact with the world. As it concerns my relationship status, I don’t want to cheat my way to a “good enough” romance; I don’t want to “settle” for less than God’s best for me.
So I choose to follow Jesus by…
- not dating unintentionally. So singleness happens every day that I don’t set up online profiles, upload pics of myself 20 lbs ago, and go on dates with every man who “winks” at me.
- not having sex before marriage (and not just because I don’t have a boyfriend). So celibacy happens every day that I don’t download a Tinder app or wear skanky clothes to clubs in order to find a man to corrupt me.
- honoring the roommate He has given me. So roommate life instead of husband life happens every day that she and I spend time doing life together, encouraging each other, and reminding each other why we choose Jesus in our singleness.
So I may be choosing singleness, but it’s ultimately because I’m choosing God’s way of doing things. For some people, choosing God’s way leads to marriage; for some, it leads to children; for some, both or neither. But His way is always good and worth it, even (especially) when it comes about the right way.
I know it will be worth it because it was worth it for Jesus. Because I follow Him, I get to know Him in ways I wouldn’t in marriage; I get to serve people like I wouldn’t get to as a mother; I get to know people in ways I wouldn’t have time to if I weren’t single. Not only that, but I get heaven, just like Jesus did; in heaven, all the struggles of following Jesus on earth and being single will be miniscule.
God’s way, through Jesus, brings hope to un-kissed people, acceptance to rejected people, a family to abandoned people, and a future to all people who love Jesus. Jesus’ story (the Gospel story) makes us equal to Jesus Himself in the family of God, and the Gospel is the reason my story co-exists with wildly different ones.
So I’m single, not because I once turned down a marriage proposal, but because I trust that God’s plan is better than “good enough.”