I have been a Boundless writer for 19 years. You don’t write about singleness, relationships and adulting for that long without gathering a few life-shaping insights. Here are a few things Boundless has taught me through the years.
Boundless taught me men are not the enemy. During my early 20s, I often heard my single Christian girlfriends blaming men for their singleness. And sometimes I joined them. After all, men were the ones who were supposed to step up to pursue us, live godly lives, take risks and, well, be men! Unfortunately, many of us had bad experiences: guys who treated us like buddies or wouldn’t take a risk to ask us out. It was easy to shift blame for the frustration many of us felt in a seeming lack of romantic possibilities.
Someone recently told me: “The enemy is the enemy. The devil is out to rip us all off.” And that is the truth. While we may be tempted to place the blame on the opposite sex, Satan is the one who wants to stop godly marriages before they begin and render singles spiritually ineffective through bitterness and discontentment. Sometime during my mid-20s while I was writing for Boundless, I recognized a critical, blaming spirit in myself toward men, which I explained in “Single While Active“:
“It’s easy to put all the blame on the guys for my lack of romantic options. My friends and I often complain about the guys we know and their lack of initiative or seeming immaturity. But what am I doing to encourage healthy relationships with the men I know?
“Not much. In fact, I regularly employ a method of instantaneous judgment. Within minutes of meeting a guy, I’ve labeled him worthy or unworthy. If he’s worthy, I stress over whether he’s interested in me; if he’s unworthy, I write him off. Instead of opening myself up to get to know the individual and his many facets, I hamper potential friendships by jumping to conclusions.”
As I sought to interact with the men in my life as the Bible instructs — with kindness, truth, honor, understanding and love, the Lord blessed my friendships and began preparing me for my future marriage, where — surprise, surprise — I would sometimes feel my husband was to blame for my frustrations.
Boundless taught me there is no formula for finding a spouse. Oh boy, have there been times when I wished there were! Part of what made singleness such a frustration was that it was a “problem” that seemed to have no solution. So much of finding a godly mate was completely outside of my control. I prayed, networked, tried online dating, took up new hobbies, served at my church, accepted set-ups and dozens of other things people told me would increase my odds. And yet I remained dateless for most of my 20s.
Something I began to learn along the way was that if I believed God was sovereign over my life and I was seeking Him, I didn’t have to worry that I wasn’t doing the “right things” to secure a spouse. Not surprisingly, when I met my husband, Kevin, our relationship unfolded naturally and quickly, requiring no contrived formula. If there is a “secret ingredient” to finding a spouse, I believe it’s in simply following the Lord closely, growing into the person He created you to be.
Boundless taught me you may not be able to choose your circumstances, but you can always choose who you will be in them. I was single longer than I wanted to be — a reality I know is shared by many Boundless readers. As I walked through my young adult years without a life companion, I often thought about who I wanted to be if marriage was not going to be part of my story. I studied single women I knew who were ahead of me on the journey, to see how they lived out their singleness. Some had become bitter, negative and fearful, while others seemed to bounce through life with joy, purpose and gratitude. I desperately desired to be the latter.
Single or married, I decided I wanted to be a person who was passionate about God and people — a person who lived with purpose. I chose to believe that Jesus had come to give me abundant life, and that kind of life was not dependent on my relationship status. As I walked confidently in that belief, I became more satisfied with my circumstances and leaned more fully into my identity as a child of God.
Boundless taught me I can serve God in every season. I grew up with a high emphasis on the value of marriage and family. As a single woman, I sometimes wondered if I was missing out on important Kingdom work that could only be done in the context of marriage and childrearing. I served the Lord in many ways during those years as a small group leader, a mentor, an encouraging friend and a children’s ministry leader. But those roles sometimes felt like a placeholder for the “better work” of investing spiritually in a husband and children.
As I explored this question through my writing, I was confronted with the truth that any Kingdom work the Lord gave me to do as a single woman was the work He had sovereignly prepared for me. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Now married, I see clearly that there were special assignments I was able to take because I was single. Now with four children, I have different assignments, which are also ordained by God.
Writing for Boundless all these years has been an education. During my single years, my identity and calling were strengthened by engaging some of the big questions Christian singles have. And following marriage, I was able to confirm that many of the lessons I learned while single translated well into married life. I went into marriage feeling secure in who I was in Christ and knowing that I could trust Him through every season of my life.
Copyright 2023 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.