Finding a calling in singleness and not living in limbo

I appreciated Sam Allberry’s paragraph acknowledging that many people feel like life hasn’t started until they’re married (7 Myths about Singleness, p.44).

Is this a particular struggle for young ladies? I always expected to be a full-time wife and mother like my mother was. This is a noble calling (1 Timothy 5:14), but I never got married.

I’ve watched other young ladies struggle with this. They focused on preparing to be homemakers but didn’t find husbands. It can be hard knowing whether to go into debt attending college to prepare for a career they don’t want or to engage in short-term projects while waiting for a mate.

Have any of you struggled with similar decisions? What helped you refocus on ministry as a single when you didn’t find a mate? How can we mentor the young ladies in our lives so that they value the calling of full-time motherhood but still have skills and passion for a career and ministry apart from marriage?

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@Jennifer_Wilkinson. Here is my 50 cents. :slight_smile: Perhaps the greatest thing we could do for the young is to resist the temptation to define living via social norms. In CHRIST there is neither male nor female, greek or jew and etc. I must conclude married and unmarried rises to the same level of import.

For purposes of organizing itself humanity labels itself. Casting honor upon the most popular label. But in working with children I never encourage them to know any more than the will of GOD for their lives.

Some I know will be mothers. Some will be ministers of the Gospel. Some will be executives. Some will be in athletics. Some will be teachers. Some will be medical professionals. Or fry cooks. Or a janitor. Some may even find their calling and death among the poor of India. But nothing surpasses the joy and peace of living fully and holy before GOD.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” When I read that statement in Matthew 6, then I know that waiting means something more than waiting on GOD to fulfill my desire. I understand my desire is additional and redefined by my persistence in seeking first, the kingdom of GOD.

I think when roles or careers are directed by GOD, there is never an issue of settling. There is only the noblesse of knowing that your ways please the Lord. We can help our children and young ladies in particular when we refocus attention on a relationship with GOD. It is that relationship that makes us the best what-so-ever, and most fulfilled in life. It is that focus that makes everything in life arrive as an addition to successful living.

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Jennifer,

I read that book too and found it really challenging and helpful. It made me realize that although I consider the church corporate my family, I wasn’t integrating many into my nuclear family, particularly those that don’t have one of their own. This was most painfully impressed on me when a co-volunteer at my church, a single middle-aged male that most would consider ugly but who had a loving heart of gold, killed himself due to aloneness and depression. I was happy to share church work with him but had no interaction with him outside of church. It still breaks my heart and makes me consider what I should have done to connect with him more. Another is a converted lesbian, who like Sam has committed her life to Jesus and celibacy but does not have a family of her own (deceased parents and no siblings). After reading Sam’s book, it lead me to hug her and let her know I love her and sit and talk with her whenever I see her (Sam’s book made me consider the lack of human touch and affection that many experience while single and that the church family needs to function as a true family). I am seeking ways to integrate her into some family events too. I am finding that the Lord has opened my eyes to those in our congregation that don’t have family like her but who also are not experiencing true family in the church.

But, I believe at a deeper level, most churches have done a poor job of teaching the truth that some are called to singleness and that those people are the ones that can exhibit undistracted devotion to the Lord and be precious, valuable members of the body. Too often, it seems that an adult singles cloister develops that the larger church body doesn’t know how to address or integrate with, which is a shame. I believe that as Rhodes has done above, helping members understand even as youths that there are several paths in God’s calling and that there’s nothing embarrassing or necessarily missing for singles but instead it can provide a more special relationship to the Lord than distracted married people commonly experience would be beneficial. (Heck, if singles could spend a week living at my house with the conflicting schedules and personalities and emotions, I think many would consider it may not be all it’s made out to be! I bet my kids have taken 10 years off my life.)

In regard to limbo, helping people understand that keeping the main thing the main thing is important. Devotion to and communion with God is the main thing and that relationship is to be pursued with intention and dedication. Other relational pursuits are secondary and forcing a bad one can be a disaster.

What are your thoughts? What have you done in your own life or in your church?

Kevin

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@kumquat, your openness touches me. Thank you. I had the same reaction to Sam’s book that you did—I realized I wasn’t doing enough to reach out to the singles in my church. This surprised me because I’m one of the singles. But I live with my parents and sisters, so I still have a nuclear family, and Sam has opened my eyes to the needs of the singles who are living alone.

I agree with 7 Myths about Singleness that we shouldn’t view singleness as a special calling that certain people have. On the other hand, I do believe motherhood is a very special calling, equal to full-time ministry and foreign missions. I am so blessed by watching my friends who are mothers. The tenderness they exhibit as they guide their children is a work of the Spirit.

I think many young women feel a strong calling to be mothers. When they don’t get married, it can be confusing for them. The best comparison I can think of is being positive you’re called to the foreign mission field but running into a roadblock at the last minute. Suddenly, you need a career to pay the bills and a ministry on the home front. It’s puzzling and sometimes painful to figure this out.

I dealt with this somewhat in my twenties. My college degree (music) didn’t set me up for a well-paying job. Thankfully, I could live with my parents and work at a Christian bookstore while I tried to figure things out.

A phrase from I Kissed Dating Good-Bye comes to mind as I think about that time in my life. I know there has been controversy about that book recently, but I still think Joshua Harris said it best when he described his mother telling him, “Hustle while you wait.” In other words, don’t stand around waiting for supper. Set the table.

I took my extra free time in those years to study apologetics and children’s ministry and to write. I see how God used those years of preparation for what I’m doing now.

The best thing my church did for me was to get me involved in ministry when I was in elementary school. I started doing special music in church soon after I started music lessons. When I was in fourth grade I got to tell a story to the toddler class at church once a month. By my mid-twenties I had fifteen years of experience serving in the church, so I had a good idea what to do with my free time even though I felt like I was in limbo.

My heart aches when the parents of my music students tell me that children don’t play musical instruments in their churches. It’s much harder to start serving in your twenties if you didn’t get to do anything before that.

I’m also blessed by the fact that my current church doesn’t have a singles group. When we do things, the singles and married couples are all mixed together, and the focus is on God and what He is doing, not on our state of life.

I was a little surprised by the emotions the surfaced in my heart as I’ve tried to discuss this. I’m very happy serving God as a single, but when the tears come to my eyes, I think of 2 Samuel 24:24, where David said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” I know I’m taking this verse out of context, but it reminds me that the moments when singleness seems to cost me the most are the moments when it is a beautiful gift I can give to God.

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I love your observations Kevin. Too often I’m focused on my hurts and finding ways to meet my needs, that I could so easily overlook someone else’s longing for relationship. I hear God’s voice in your words and am going to shift gears. I know that if I’m feeling that lack of closeness with others, that others are also feeling the same, and I can offer that friendship. Thank you for sharing.