Growing up I fell in love with lots of girls — I just never talked to any of them. I didn’t even date or kiss anyone until college. I was so insecure around the people I wanted to like me, and I had no idea who I was. Adolescence was hard and lonely and full of longing.
This is partly what afforded me the time to develop my thoughts and passions. I began writing, drawing, and developing my own thoughts on life and who I wanted to be.
By the time I was 25 or so I’d established a confident, unique self I loved. Since then I’ve dated from time to time, but being single is partly what allows me to spend much of my days pursuing my calling and my dreams. Every day is filled with stuff like writing and illustrating books, running a small business and meeting with friends as we try to encourage and inspire each other.
I think it’s largely due to finding so much purpose in these things that I’ve also found some contentment in being single.
Sometimes I get lonely when I see couples holding hands or when there’s romance in movies. But over the years I’ve heard many of the complications that come with marriage: disagreements, accidental hurt and conflicts of interest just to name a few. In fact, I had a married friend tell me the other day, “If you thought being single and lonely was hard, just wait until you’re married and lonely.” Marriage won’t perfectly solve any of my problems or longings.
There’s beauty in marriage and family, but I’ve gotten a new appreciation for the life I get to lead. I’ve realized that being single brings a certain power and freedom with it that marriage doesn’t allow.
I’ve also begun to wonder what I would have to sacrifice if I had to prioritize a wife and children. There’s a whole list of people I would no longer have margins for. A friend recently lamented how all her friends were disappearing as they got married: “Things just change when someone gets married. I don’t see them anymore.” After my last girlfriend and I broke up, a different friend said, “Ross, you were just a lot less available when you were dating.”
Christians who are using their singleness to pursue callings are doing holy work. And it’s strange that the church seems to look down on singleness. Jesus was single and he said, “Some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can” (Matt. 19:12b, NLT). The other New Testament MVP, the apostle Paul, was also single and says, “An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife.” (1 Cor. 7:32b-33, NLT). It seems there’s a mandate to honor, not dismiss, singleness.
Let’s make being single desirable again by taking full advantage of its opportunities and freedoms. This will undoubtedly look differently in each of our lives, but let the one thing that unites us be the empowerment we experience in singleness, not the discontentment we resign ourselves to.
Maybe someday God will shift my calling to loving and marrying one person and then perhaps raising children who can also give to the world. Or maybe I’ll find someone with whom our callings are accomplished better together than they are apart. But today I am grateful for the freedom and opportunity to pursue many things I wouldn’t be able to in marriage.
As Paul suggests, singleness is a very worthy calling because of how much more it can allow us to do in the world. So let’s take advantage of our singleness, do tons of beautiful things with the time it affords us, and redeem the calling of singleness in the church.
Let’s make it cool to be single again … even if, at times, we still want to be married.