@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.