When Singleness Gets Ugly

treeI’ve been getting a little mail from Christians struggling with singleness.

I have a heart for them. Long-term singleness is a delicate, heartfelt matter. If my journey has taught me anything, and if I may be honest, I’ve found the Kingdom’s singleness teachings…lacking. Not always deep enough. Frequently written by people who married at 21. Often rushing to deny that it’s even a struggle (for various reasons).

I may not be John Piper, but I am a single Christian, and you know the saying: write what you know.

Okay. For some believers, singleness is…a longing. They could use encouragement. But that’s as far as it goes. They’re okay. They wouldn’t call it their foremost trial.

For others of you…it’s something more.

You find yourself thinking about it often. It’s what you usually mean by phrases like “unspoken prayer request” or “I’m just struggling”. You used to take comfort in having plenty of time before you reached the age of the married people you admire. Then you look around and they’re all younger. Perhaps you’ve ground through three or four committed relationships (that wasn’t in the manual) and wonder what it will take for one to finally stick. Or you haven’t had a date in six years.

This stuff matters to you. You’ll not catch me looking down on you for it.

It’s not about just your “plans” (which is how the church often responds), thank ya kindly. We wanted this. Some people don’t want to vacation on their own. They just don’t. We want a witness to our lives, someone to share a ministry or thunderstorm, a Netflix series or an ominous newscast. We want someone waiting at home, to laugh and cry with us, to know our favorite words. Just getting to say “we” instead of “I” sounds amazing.

Instead, your faithfulness seems unrewarded. Singleness involves rejection. In what universe is that not supposed to sting? After a while, singleness feels less like a season and more like a statement. This is beyond campfire cliches. Anyone who’s carried a hope deferred for ten years qualifies for better spiritual aid. (Even college students can feel this ache pretty keenly.)

Singleness landscapes life. You’re walled out of ministries, less sought after by married friends who still love you but want to celebrate and grow with those in the same season. You realize families have a bigger footprint at church. Ever noticed how couples can make friends just by swapping stories of their kids? You don’t have that. Depending on the crowd you run with, it takes a greater effort each year just to keep up. I doubt that’s what Hebrews 12 meant by “run the race”.

Some judge you. They’re annoyed to see someone struggling with something so “minor” and “escapable”. They assume some dysfunction or immaturity that’s driving all your dates away. (We even assume this of each other.) Or they might just not know what to tell you anymore.

I know chaste singles who no longer wear their old purity ring. It’s long ceased to be a promise and become only a reminder.

At the end of the day, it is a profound test of faith. We don’t talk about it anymore because it never changes anything and others are tired of listening and we’re wondering whether it should be this big a deal, but honestly…nothing else seems as hard. Wisely or not, some of us staked large parts of our hearts – even the question of God’s goodness – on the dream of getting married. We feel blindsided by how bumpy and lonely and ordinary life has turned out instead.

There have been long nights, tears, clenched teeth, or abandoned purity. You’d be amazed at how often someone leaves their faith and some failed romance (or no romance at all) shows up on the autopsy. Depending on the person and their story, this season can be debilitating and scary.

You’re welcome on this blog. You’re not nuts. You’re not pathetic. You’re a child of God (or can be), target of his patient love, beneficiary of his endless strength.

Singleness is the journey I took (or was given), and know this – God has not run out of things to say. Even if the church has. We’ve only just begun to tap into the depths of his resources. When he offers to lift us through any trial – well, I have much to say about what that looks like.

For now, come back to this: he still loves us. He still pursues us. He is still for us. He has not left our side. Despite the disappointing weight of the years, he still knocks on the door of our hearts, hoping to share a meal. No new teaching is better than that.

 

I’m glad you tuned in today. If you consider this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!

24 thoughts on “When Singleness Gets Ugly

  1. You hit the nail on the head. We want that person who will go on an adventure with us so we can have those memories to talk about when we’re older. In the Bible Study group I attend, I’m the only single person there and there are some nights they go around the room sharing couple stories. I not only feel like I’m missing out, I also feel left out. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to struggle with singleness. I just didn’t understand why God wasn’t putting someone special in my life. I’ve seen all my friends meet their significant other and would cry myself to sleep. But I’ve managed, with the Lord’s help of course, to become content with my singleness. If God has someone out there for me, He will put that person in my life in due time.
    It was a struggle to get to this point in my life but I have reached it and God is with me.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Brandon! I have been married for almost a year and a half (I was 36 when I got married). I have always and will continue even as a married person to advocate/stand up for/befriend single brothers and sisters in the faith. I wrote many school posts in Seminary imploring those in church leadership to do more to include singles and to truly help a young person learn how to stay pure, rather than just telling them to wait. Older single and married believers I believe need to help young people with singleness. I too am tired of hearing pastors preaching from the pulpit singleness, yet they have know clue what that means or looks like in today’s culture. I appreciate you Brandon! I appreciate your willingness to get in the trenches and meet people where they are. I appreciate your honesty! I am so thankful the Spirit led me to your blog! Blessings, Mandy

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re just a waterfall of kindness around here, Mandy. I appreciate your point about churches equipping singles – I’m happy to say my church is actually pretty good at it! (It’s because we’re a Scripturally literate church). And even more so than cheering on purity, there’s a lot of work to do in simply guarding and strengthening others’ hearts during hard times. This season can throw around a lot of lies and dark emotions, and that’s where our battleground is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Brandon! I am encouraged to hear that you are part of a Scripturally literate church! I completely agree with you about the work that needs to be done to help and encourage others’ hearts during hard times. I know what it is like being single and not fitting in. I am also learning that when you’re older and married without children or grandchildren you don’t fit in either. I am so glad this tension of single/married and kids/no kids will not exist in Heaven. For what it is worth, I am in this battle with you. If there is EVER any way I can pray for you or encourage you, NEVER hesitate to send a message! Praising God for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so true – thanks for verbalizing what we’re trying to say. I think many of us have done a pretty good job of making a life we didn’t expect out to work better than we expected. But let’s face it – none of us expected to still be in this position at this time of our lives. It’s good to know others are hanging in there with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’ve had to figure a LOT out on our own, that’s for sure. Nobody ever comes out and says, “yeah you might be steppin’ solo for a long, long time”. But it happens.

      I’m just glad God doesn’t leave our side for an instant. Thanks for coming by, hope you stick around!

      Like

  5. Well said! Thank you! I’ve had a recent conversation on this topic but your post added a fresh light to it. My friend and I discussed the struggles of several married friends who like to act like we should be jealous of their happiness. It’s a gentle smugness we struggle to understand. Both of us handle singleness with more grace and happiness than either of us would have imagined from ourselves 5 or 10 years ago. We’re in love with our lives and love to swap dating nightmare stories. We feel very secure in ourselves and our singleness. But a lot of young (19 and married) couples or long term relationship couples around us act like God favors them more or tend to believe we really need to be unhappy in singleness. Which is just silliness. It’s become offensive several times and we hardly suffer the couples very well anymore. I’ll defintely be pasisng this on as a refreshing reassurance to my friend.
    Thanks again!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Amen! Thank you. 30-year old single here, who never expected to be single at this age! (With friends years older than me who are still here.) What a journey it has been! I’m actually writing a book about unexpected singleness. God willing, it will be out later this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, He knocks everyday… we ought to open the door while it is still light outside, before the darkness overtakes us. And, we ought to intercede that others will do the same. Only with Him, is there Hope; Life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so wonderful and encouraging! Being single is a blessing, although it’s so hard to see it that way when you are longing for something outside your circumstances.

    Isaiah 41:10 promises that God will “uphold you with my righteous hand”
    1 Peter 5:7 encourages us to “cast your anxiety on him because he care for you.”

    Thank you for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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