We all know that marriage can have a purpose for our lives. But have you ever wondered if singleness has a purpose for us as well?
The Apostle Paul spoke of singleness as a gift. For some, this may be a permanent life situation, but for many, it is merely a stage or season. During that season, many things can be explored, taken advantage of, and accomplished due to the nature of single life. This is indeed a grand opportunity and not a deficit or a sign of unworthiness.
Author Vaughan Roberts even suggests that Paul is describing singleness as a state of being or opportunity and not a life skill that some succeed at while others fail.
It is common for those who are in a single season to feel as though they are missing the grace to do singleness well and are therefore disappointing God. The individual might see it as a test that has a pass/fail outcome. If this is the mindset being harbored while in such a season of life, it is no wonder why singles often feel depressed or discouraged about their lives.
Society often encourages us to focus on what is missing from single life, and what we would like to gain by being married. But what if there are things that you miss out on when you are married? What if single life can offer opportunities that naturally diminish when a partner enters the scene?
Finding Purpose in Singleness
A simple shift in mindset from “unfulfilled” to “full of potential” can take discouragement and turn it into joy and peace. This article will highlight several of areas of purpose and opportunity that singleness can offer.
Focus on your relationship with God
When you are married or in a serious relationship, a lot of your time, energy, and focus will naturally flow to your partner and your relationship. A relationship of any kind takes work and dedication in order to be healthy, and a romantic relationship takes even more.
Your attention goes to getting to know your partner, spending time with them, meeting their needs, building communication and conflict resolution skills, making future plans, and being emotionally available. Especially in the beginning stages, building a relationship is a time-consuming endeavor. If you think about it, going from strangers to intimate life partners takes a certain level of focus and dedication.
Once a relationship is established, the work isn’t all done, it just shifts to different areas. After making the decision to spend your life with someone, you actually have to start doing it, which isn’t all fun and games.
Living together takes a lot of trial and error and problem solving. Synchronizing your life and schedule with another person’s is not a simple task. Add on children, a career, a house, illness, and unexpected life events, and it’s fair to assume that you will have a lot on your plate.
Accomplishing all of these goals and tasks often makes it challenging to continue building and growing in your relationship with God. It’s easy to get distracted or not prioritize alone time with the Lord when you aren’t even getting alone time with yourself.
One of the opportunities of single life is the extra space to grow in your faith and relationship with God. If you are currently single, you probably have the freedom to wake up and go to bed as best suits your needs. Either of these times are great for devotional reading, prayer, and Bible study. There are no distractions and interruptions from other people waking and going to sleep around you, providing an ideal environment to really connect and dive in.
Likewise, you can try out any church you please, and attend any service time that meets your needs. You get the opportunity to tailor your experience to your personality and preferences, making it ideal for growth and development. If the situation doesn’t fit and you’re not benefiting from the environment, you can switch it up on a moment’s notice, reducing barriers to attendance and participation.
Practice self care
When you don’t have to invest time or energy into caring for another individual, your time can be fully allotted to your own care and needs. This may play out in a number of ways. Maybe you have health needs that haven’t been resolved in the past and could use some attention. It’s easy to let chronic conditions go unchecked or specialist appointments go undone due to distraction.
Maybe you have gotten out of shape and want to learn how to build a lifestyle of health and wellness. It’s difficult to develop a unique nutritional plan or exercise routine when sharing meals and time with another person. At that point, you will most definitely need to compromise on decisions and progress will be impacted.
Or maybe it is a mental health condition that could benefit from some therapy. Childhood traumas can often go unresolved and emerge in adult relationships. Having the time to explore past hurts and move toward healing before you merge your life with another’s is a blessing and a great investment of resources.
Sometimes a substance abuse habit has escalated to a point that your life is being impacted in a negative way, and you would like to get some treatment and support to get stable. The stressors of a relationship can make sobriety extra challenging, especially in the beginning stages, making single life an ideal time to focus on such an endeavor.
On the other end of the spectrum, maybe what you have been neglecting is to give yourself permission to have a little fun. This is a great time of life to travel and explore. What places have you wanted to see? What hobbies have you always wanted to try? What sports did you play as a kid that you would love to pick up again?
This is also an ideal time to connect with friends and enjoy the company of other singles who are also in a similar life stage; something that may not be likely once a relationship takes center stage.
With single life comes the opportunity to put time into serving God. Maybe you belong to a church and have always wanted to get involved. This is a great season to explore your gifts and passions through different ministries that are available.
Your church may have opportunities in the nursery or child care programs, greeting, media teams, community outreach, or event support. Whatever your interests, an opportunity probably exists. Maybe you have felt a calling to lead a ministry or a small group. The time it takes to devote yourself to ministry is often unavailable if you are married and or have a family.
Likewise, opportunities outside of ministry may also present themselves to you. Some individuals have a passion for politics and would like to get involved in the local government. Others enjoy coaching youth sports or volunteering in mentorship programs for teens. Opportunities also exist in pet shelters and organizations like Habitat for Humanity if you prefer to be behind the scenes. Whatever your calling, the available time that single life provides can be invested in a variety of purposeful activities and organizations.
Enjoy a simple life
Singleness has the potential to be a simple life, with less complications, responsibilities, and expectations. When the only person you have to worry about is yourself, you have a level of freedom that doesn’t exist within a relationship.
You get to decide where to live, what schedule to keep, what kind of lifestyle to live, and how to spend your time and money. These items can be major issues between a married couple, but for a single person, they are far less complicated.
If you are single, you don’t need to adjust your decision making to take another person’s needs into consideration. Inherently, the only person’s needs that are relevant are yours. You may take friends and family into consideration to some degree, but at the end of the day, the decisions are yours to make. Don’t take that level of individuality and freedom for granted, as someday you may find yourself deep in debate with your spouse on silly things such as what to eat for dinner.
So often singles find themselves “waiting” instead of “living.” It’s as if the true meaning of life has yet to reveal itself (in the form of a spouse) and the individual can’t be content until they are paired up.
Life gets put on hold, decisions not made, and plans left unfinished. The metaphor of holding one’s breath in anticipation is a close comparison. But why must a single person feel as if they are holding their breath, when in fact, they should be breathing normally? Because after all, the body still needs air regardless of being in a period of waiting, and life still needs to be lived because you are in fact, fully alive.
This leads us to the concept of finding contentment in the single life. Being content in any situation is a valuable skill and one that lends itself to any life situation, season, or challenge. In one way or another, we are always in transition and waiting for the next stage of life to present itself. So why not enjoy the journey while you travel?
What does it mean to feel content? Merriam-Webster provides several synonyms for the word content such as satisfied, happy, pleased, and gratify. If being content in one’s singleness means that you feel happy or pleased with your circumstances, that seems reasonable to me. To label it as “perfect” is an unrealistic expectation. So you may be asking, “Where do I find my happiness or pleasure if I am trying to be content without a partner? Where is it supposed to come from?”
There are plenty of areas where one can discover satisfaction including career, volunteer work, hobbies, and relationships with friends and family. The most vital source of contentment, of course, comes from our relationship with God.
After all, we were designed to be in relationship with God first and foremost. Relationship with everything else came after. If we are designed to need that, to be fueled by that, there is no reason we can’t be whole and content by our communion with God. Everything else can be considered a bonus or a pleasant addition.
One of the benefits of single life is the opportunity to practice finding contentment solely in our relationship with God. One might even describe this as a skill or mindset that is developed through practice.
Shifting one’s focus from superficial sources of happiness to an eternal source may take time to develop. It would be impossible to practice this mindset while we are simultaneously seeking satisfaction from our romantic relationships.
The ability to find contentment in God alone is a gift that can be applied to so many aspects of life. People place their faith and happiness in temporary things such as a career position, wealth, beauty, popularity, talents, and intelligence. All of these things are gifts, but we are not created for them — we are created for God.
All of these things are temporary and will at some point disappear. What happens when an earthly gift or achievement is ripped out of our lives? What happens when our satisfaction was derived from that gift and now the source of our satisfaction is no longer present?
A major part of resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and adjust to change. Having a foundation of contentment in a permanent source of happiness is a recipe for resilience and steadfast contentment in life. Losing valuable things is still a loss and worth grieving, but it won’t wreck us if our joy wasn’t derived from those things to begin with.
In conclusion, the misconception that singleness is a half empty, unfulfilling waiting period is inaccurate and damaging to those currently in that season. Our fulfillment and purpose does not come from our partner but from our Creator.
Periods of singleness can be seen as a gift and an opportunity to live out to its fullest for as long as the gift is available. If and when that season passes, a new one will begin with its own challenges and opportunities to explore. But in the meantime, give yourself permission to squeeze all you can out of what singleness has to offer!
“Hiking”, Courtesy of Free-Photos, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Jump”, Courtesy of Lazare, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Floating on the Wind”, Courtesy of Pexels, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; https://pixabay.co”Contemplating the Word”, Courtesy of Pexels, Pixabay.com, CC0 License