I probably wouldn’t have characterized my singleness as “special” (at least not in a good sense) when I was in the midst of it. But since getting married and having a baby, I have developed a deeper appreciation of that season. The following words, written by the Apostle Paul, ring a little more true:
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
Somewhere along the line, this passage got a bad rep. Probably because it has at times been misinterpreted to be saying that singleness is superior to marriage. Here’s the thing. Regardless of Paul’s reason for adamantly encouraging the Corinthians to remain single, he makes a valid point: Singleness IS a uniquely fruitful season for doing the Lord’s work.
I used to get mildly annoyed when my married friends would say things like, “Oh, you get to do so many cool things!” or “God is really using you as a single.” That’s because I so deeply desired the “less exciting” life they had. But on this side of marriage, I see more clearly how available to the Lord I was in my singleness.
The other day I was sitting in church and heard about an opportunity serving local children. My heart leapt and my first response was to want to get involved. My second response was to realize there was no possible way I could. These days I simply have to limit the number of outside activities I get involved with. It’s not that I can’t still serve; I just can’t serve as liberally as I used to. I have other “concerns” that come along with having a husband and a child.
I am grateful that I feel like I did use my singleness for the Lord. As I’m in this new season, I have no regrets. But I do now recognize how special (in the good way) my single years were. How I could serve someone at a moment’s notice. How I could stay up until midnight listening to a teen girl pour her heart out. How I could spend an entire evening in the Word, just me and Jesus. Paul’s presentation may be a little intense, but he makes a good point. Though I don’t desire to go back, I have developed a certain appreciation—even a fondness—for my single years. At the very least, I recognize how God redeemed each one.
(Read “Insight No. 1.)