I’m tired of hearing that I should embrace my singleness.
I don’t really know why. I mean, it makes sense, and it sounds like a very mature response to being single, whether I want to be single or not. Maybe the phrase is just overused.
Or maybe it’s more than that. I think I react when people tell me to embrace my singleness in the same way I react when older adults tell me to enjoy my youth — like I don’t realize how good I have it. OK, maybe I don’t realize how good I have it.
But these sentiments seem to overlook the very real difficulties that lie in singleness, specifically prolonged and unwanted singleness.
Everything has its purpose
So, what do we do with our singleness?
Instead of being told to awkwardly and disingenuously “welcome” singleness, I like the idea of “stewarding” this life stage. We usually think of money when we think of stewardship, and for good reason. Stewarding calls for responsibly and wisely using our resources for a purpose.
But stewarding is applicable to so much more than our income. God has placed each of us in a specific community and a specific church, and He has given each of us specific talents and specific interests and specific friends and family members — all for a purpose.
Likewise, He has placed us in a specific life stage right now — for a purpose.
No matter our current life circumstances, the Bible assures us we are all stewards of grace, which is a beautiful picture to think about. If we are stewards, then we have work to do. Stewards don’t just sit back and enjoy life while everybody else rolls up their sleeves and gets to work. Nor do stewards pout about their own tasks while wishing they had the work that others were assigned. As we steward what we’ve been given and work to make the most of the opportunities God has placed in our lives, we need to have a longer view in mind.
In Hebrews 11, there is a whole list of people who followed God in less than perfect circumstances. Abraham was really old and had no kids. Jacob lived on the move with a constantly bickering family. Joseph was sold into slavery.
Even in all the hardship these people faced, they knew that God would be faithful and that their heavenly reward would outweigh anything they ever sacrificed or suffered. Maybe marriage and parenthood are in my future, and maybe they aren’t. Either way, I’m not working toward a future life stage; I’m working toward my reward in heaven.
3 tips for stewarding any life stage
How do we steward our singleness?
The exciting-but-incredibly-difficult truth is that the answer to this will be different for each of us. But there are a few tips we can all work into our stewarding.
Do the next thing.
The late Elisabeth Elliot popularized an old anonymous poem that sums up most days for all of us: “Fear not tomorrows, child of the King, trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.” We don’t know God’s long-term unique plan for us, but He will show us the next step. That next step is all we need to focus on.
Be intentional about finding ways to reach out.
I know singles who have led organizations or events or served in international missions. Some have since found spouses, while others continue to be single, but none of them let their singleness hold them back from pursuing ways to serve. Start small and look for others who could benefit from your time and effort.
Don’t worry about tomorrow.
Literally. Are you starting to wonder if you’ll ever walk down the aisle or join the ranks of parents? I hear ya. But we’re in today right now. God is working right here, right now, in our circumstances. When we’re busy focusing on what we don’t have yet, what will we miss that God is doing here and now?
This is your life
So maybe “embracing” my singleness isn’t all that different from “stewarding” it. Maybe the difference is only in my head.
My best friend got married last year and moved out of state. Through Marco Polo, I picked her brain on singleness from a married woman’s perspective. What would you tell your single self, I wondered, now that you’re married?
Her advice boiled down to using this time to really focus on following God. “I know it’s cliché,” she said, “but it’s true.” And just be yourself. “I think I tried to put myself into the box of who I thought my husband-to-be would want me to be,” she said. “I wish I had just been ‘me’ more.”
Follow God and be you. Sounds like good advice. And if we ever find ourselves in a new life stage, this advice still holds true. As we learn to live fully where God has us now, we will be even more ready for the next season of life — whatever and whenever that might be.
Copyright 2020 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.