I’m writing to you because, if you’re anything like me, I suspect you might need a little bit of encouragement. Especially if you’re single. Especially now, in the time of the ever-dreaded Valentine’s day. It’s the time of year when our hearts can be at their most troublesome. Others may read this and get something out of it, who knows. But this is really for you, my dear sister. In fact, I’m doing something I’ve never done before: a series. Because I feel like there’s a dearth of singles addressing singleness in the church. Mostly there are two types of people I’ve heard from about it: same-sex attracted Christians who are embracing singleness as a permanent lifestyle, and married pastors who, frankly, are somewhat hard to take seriously about this particular subject. So, single lady to single lady, I want to talk about it.
I have to caveat this slightly. I recently met and am now dating a wonderful man. Who knows if it will lead to marriage? Only God. So, although I don’t quite consider myself single anymore, I’m certainly not married yet. And, until very recently, I was very much feeling the struggle of the single life.
I get it. Not exactly what you’re going through, I’m sure, but the general difficulties. I’m 31 (almost 32?!) years old, looking around at my life wondering, “How did this happen?” Married couples everywhere, children everywhere. I received three wedding invitations in one week recently. I’m officially the last of my college roommates who’s unmarried. I know it can be tough sometimes. But I’m not writing to you to have a pity party. This isn’t “girl time: let’s talk about our trauma.” I just watched the clip of a girl called Nightbirde winning the golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent, and she spoke some wise words. “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” I hope we can talk about that.
I had a bit of a drama about this time last year. Just a silly boy who did a silly thing, but it messed with my heart and my head and sent me into a completely disproportionate tailspin. My emotions pretty much went into a death spiral because I was 30 going on 31, and every time something falls through anymore, it feels like it will be an eternity until the next opportunity comes along. I’m sure you can relate. Single men are getting fewer and farther between as we get older, so when one slips through your fingers it can feel like a huge blow. So, I did what I do when life gets really dire, and I ran to Daddy for help. Specifically, I decided to spend Lent digging myself out of the pit I was in. A verse a day relating to my singleness plight, for 40 days. I shared my verses and thoughts with another single friend of mine as well, and it was her who suggested that the topic might be worth a blog (or two or seven). I’ve since shared some of these verses and thoughts with other women who also found them helpful, so now it’s your turn, I suppose.
I’ll leave this first “letter” with a few scriptures that describe a “heart posture” (to use the horrendously Christianese phrase) that I, and hopefully you, would like to cultivate. The first, perhaps confusingly, is from Daniel.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What legends. In this passage they essentially tell the king, “Do your worst. God will save us. But even if He doesn’t, even if it kills us, we’re going to remain obedient.” I think there’s a big focus for singles at the moment to need to feel like we ought to be ok without a spouse. As if God, in His infinite wisdom, has designated that you are single now, than you should accept and embrace that single life. “You’ve been praying and hoping and trusting for a spouse, but God’s enough so you should release that. No need to waste your time on that. It’s fine if you never get married! You have everything you need in God!” Which, in a way, is true. But. In the end of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s story, they weren’t roasted. They were ready to obey God regardless of what happened, to the death, if need be. But they weren’t counting on that. They weren’t relying on plan B. In fact, they obviously had every confidence that God would protect them, because He did. They weren’t remotely harmed by the fire. Didn’t even smell like smoke. They had every confidence in plan A, and God came through for them. BUT they still had the attitude of, “Even if He doesn’t, He’s still worth serving.” Fully surrendered. That’s the attitude I want to have. I want to get married, and so far, God hasn’t told me that’s not an option. That’s my plan A, and I’m confident in it. But even if that unexpectedly doesn’t happen, obeying God is still worth it to me. If you feel the same, I hope you’ll continue reading. If not, these letters may not be for you.
The final verses are about hearts. I can tend to have a troublesome heart. I’ve watched too many chick flicks and Disney movie and my silly, twisted visions of romance have often landed left me heartsore. Oh, foolish Allison! Fortunately, God is equipped even for troublesome hearts.
Psalm 51: 10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Ezekiel 36: 26, 27
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Psalm 51 is the one David wrote after Nathan confronted him about Bathsheba, after his heart was being highly inappropriate and unruly. And I want to cry out with David “God, give me a freshly clean heart! Take this heart that so quickly wanders off after men that aren’t meant for it, that gets distracted from you over and over again, and wash it so it can stay fixed on what’s important!” And in the verse from Ezekiel, He promises to do just that; to take my hard, intractable heart and give me a soft, tender one, that listens to Him and follows His ways. Dear sister, if you’re looking for a similarly tenderized heart, I genuinely hope these letters can help give you a start. Discovering them and pondering them was a process that helped me a lot.