You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
If there is one conversation that occurs in my circle of friends repeatedly it’s the issue of singleness. Oh I know. The word itself looks like a curse word against the canvas. It’s stark. Just the mere mention of the word in certain groups of people ignites a firestorm of passion on both sides of the issue. (It usually involves 1 Corinthians 7 being thrown around somewhere.) Being quite passionate about the issue, I decided to add my voice in to the discussion of being single as it relates to Jesus, church and culture.
Here is a little background on me: I’m single with mostly married friends. I have worked for the same ministry for 9 years. I’m actively involved with 2 churches. I’ve got a great family who I am fortunate enough to be around all the time. Do I want to be married? Yes. Am I going to freak out if it doesn’t happen tomorrow? No. I’m not anti-marriage. Nor am I pro ‘If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with’. I believe there is purpose in each life stage. And it’s up to us to make the most of whatever stage we’re in.
I think one of worst things we can do is consistently think that the grass is greener on the other side. For married people, many sometimes wish for one day when they could pick up and do what they want. But they wouldn’t trade their families for anything. Single people, however, seem to be much more prone to look at marriage as the end all of life. That our one purpose for living and breathing is marriage.
I heartily (that’s right – heartily) disagree with that sentiment. Being single should be as valued as being married. Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros. Singles have the ability to pick up and go – wherever we want to. We’re available to serve without the ties of soccer practice, taking the kids to school etc. We have the chance to impact our communities and the world. Our circles of friends are usually much more varied with people from different walks of life.
There are cons as well. The feeling that everyone else in the world has someone and we are the only person left who is absolutely and utterly alone. We seem to not have a sense of completion or fulfillment we want in life and we attribute it to not being married. There is also an abundance of irritation at the seemingly low numbers of the opposite sex in which to be interested. And an even greater frustration with the inability to find someone compatible with you.
In looking at society – we can see the various ways people try to deal with the pros and the cons. One night stands. A leave ’em where you meet ’em mentality. An anything goes sexual appetite. Take whatever is in front of you now, but don’t be afraid to toss it to the side if something better presents itself. Chemistry is by far the most important ingredient in a relationship. Once that fizzles, time to skedaddle. If it gets hard, it’s probably just not meant to be.
Is it any wonder that most of us are confused? We’re lost in a culture of over sexed, under committed, deeply afraid people. We are the people I described. So how do we wade through the muck and mire offered in the world and in the church? (Because if anyone thinks that those adjectives don’t apply in the church… just pick up the Bible and see what some of our Patriarchs did. Or read the news on any given day.)
The first thing I think is needed is understanding. Yes, while there are those who are called to a life of celibacy, the majority are called to be in the wonderful covenant of marriage. However singleness is also a time to be treasured, not thrown away in want of something ‘more’. For those of us who are single right now the Lord is offering us a chance. To serve? Yes. To be engaged in His body? Absolutely. Even so, above all that is the chance to experience a union with Him without the distractions that family inevitably brings.
In the experience of that union with Jesus He works miracles in us. I’m not saying the cons I listed magically disappear. But they can become bearable. We realize there is inexplicable beauty in singleness. The opportunity is offered to us to make a difference. As a generation I believe we want to be a part of something that impacts people – no matter how big or small. This is our chance. It’s our time to show the world that we have more to offer than instant gratification, reality television, and the newest iPhone app.
We can show the church and the world that within the chest of the Millennial generation beats a heart that is intensely passionate and caring. We are the most single generation right now. Instead of focusing on the cons that we see – let’s change those into the positives they can be. Let’s show the universal Church that singleness is a gift from the Lord to His body. We are uniquely equipped people for this moment and this time to take the gospel into the uttermost parts of the earth. We will dig ditches, build houses, hug the sick and afflicted, visit those in prison, clothe the naked and proclaim with passion that this is the acceptable year of our Lord.
Maybe that’s the challenge for all of us. It’s not about being married or single, it’s about living. Having lives that show we did what we could to the best of our ability. Because in that we have valuable life experiences to bring to the table when – at last – our Love finally comes along.