Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gifted with Singleness

I was talking with a friend last night and I had an "ah-ha!" moment of clarity. I didn't really put it all together until this morning, but when the light came on it was actually refreshing.

I am a single 41 year old woman. To many people this is a weird thing. To the Church (universal) it is a weird thing and sometimes the Church just doesn't know what to do with singles. I'm not talking about singles in their 20s who have yet to be married, but singles 30+ who are not married, never married, and don't look to be anytime soon.

I'm here to say singles are not defective or weird. Singleness really can be a gift.

Katie, my sister in Christ, longs to be a wife. She pines for a soul mate to share her faith in God with and to share a relationship with a husband that represents the relationship of Christ to His church. As long as I have known her, this has been true. She seems to have been created to be a wife. When she hears "singleness is a gift", it is something she can't comprehend.

My other friend and sister in Christ also longs to have a deep intimate relationship with a mate. As we talked last night it became apparent to me that this longing that people have is persistent and can be very frustrating. When she hears "singleness is a gift", it is something she can't comprehend.

Just because someone is single, it doesn't mean they are gifted with it. People really need to stop throwing that phrase around to "comfort" the single person who longs to be in a relationship with a mate. It can be hurtful.

You see, I don't experience a desire to be with someone. I do not burn with passion. I do not have that longing to be anything but what I am, single, and at one point last night I even said "I must be broke".

But, this morning I remembered this:

"I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:7-9)

People casually toss around the phrase "singleness is a gift" but what they mean is "don't feel bad you aren't married, God can use singles too, blah blah blah." This is a misunderstanding of what Paul is teaching to the Corinthians. It never made sense to me until now. I'd wonder why on earth, if God created us as relational beings, singleness would ever be a gift, but now I get it!

I can go to a restaurant and sit by myself totally content. Singles not gifted with singleness can find themselves less than content when the hostess says "just one?" Some attend church and feel self-conscious because they are seated alone, but not me. (Although, I am blessed to have many sisters in Christ who join me in worship and also couples who invite me to sit with them -- sometimes I may take them up on it, sometimes not.) Sometimes I wonder why other people are uncomfortable with single people sitting alone, maybe because it seems like such a foreign concept? People describe to me their desire to be "held" and be close to someone, but while I won't say I wonder what that might be like, it is not something that consumes my thought life. It really isn't a sad and pathetic thing to a person gifted with singleness!

Sometimes I think I want a relationship, but I think I "want" that only because that seems to be "normal". I even filled out a profile on Christian Cafe -- the lack of results just confirms my gift of singleness! Katie thought my lack of responses may be due to what I posted! LOL

In talking with my friends I have concluded that some people have a burning desire to be with that someone special. Sometimes that desire is so strong it can lead to temptations that are dangerous. One might say it borders on torment.

It dawned on me that many people "burn with passion". The gift of singleness is the fact that I don't burn with passion!

It is a gift to be single and not burn with passion. That is the gift of singleness.

If one burns with passion, and can't control themselves, the Bible instructs one to marry. If one is gifted to be single, praise God!

I am truly gifted with singleness. It is God's will and He invites me to join Him in His work. He uses my singleness to accomplish His work through me. My prayer is that I be obedient and moldable.

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