Saint and Single

I got married in my late-thirties, and so for a sizeable chunk of my adult life I have been the “single” person among my married friends. Not an easy thing to be, especially in the Christian community where to be married as soon as you have passed your driving test is usually deemed essential. This experience has given me a great love for the “not yet marrieds” and so, for this month, here are my ten golden rules for single life.

Number one, do enjoy it! Tricky for some to do I realise, but be assured that there are things that you can do now that you won’t be able to do when you’re married. “Single” is not an illness from which you need deliverance. It can be a blessing!

Number two, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about wanting to get married. The need for intimacy is natural and godly and the lack of it can bring uncertainty and sadness. The church need to be a little better at helping people through this time, sensitively, without trying to play matchmaker in place of the Holy Spirit.

Number three, whatever you do, don’t make getting married the top priority of your life. It’s dangerous because it leaves you wide open to making a huge mistake. Seek first the Kingdom and everything else will arrive in time, Jesus said. “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Solomon 8:4).

Number four, when considering who to marry, try to immunise yourself from thinking that the “choices” are all on display for you to see right now. They are not. Don’t just marry slightly backslidden Rob because he’s the only guy left in the church. Life is bigger than today and your friendship circles will be shuffled like a pack of cards soon.

Number five, if you want to be married, pray. Don’t wait for fate, because there is no such thing. If being single is not a joyous experience, then “ask and you shall receive and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). James writes “Ye have not because ye ask not” (James 4:2). So pray!

Number six, ultimately, getting married is a decision that you make, not a decision that God makes. You can decide to be single forever if you want. Check out Paul’s views in 1 Corinthians 7.

Number seven, don’t ever try and speed up the will of God. Just as Christ faced His greatest temptation in Gethsemane, many Christians may face their life’s greatest challenge here – waiting for God’s best to come. The Lord will make everything beautiful in its time, but we can often be impatient. Mr Right is not necessarily Mr Right-Now. Don’t beget an Ishmael and end up married to the wrong person; a decision that you will regret forever.

Number eight, try to quickly forgive married people for some of their thoughtless advice, jokes or comments! Many of them were married at eighteen or in their early twenties and have simply no idea what it is like to be single and the challenges that single people face. Their flippancy is just their ignorance, so let it go. They know not what they do.

Number nine, when it comes to dating and getting engaged, don’t rush! If it is God’s will for you to marry someone, it will still be His will a year from now. The only thing you catch “at first sight” is superficial attraction, or a cold. You’re not a double glazing salesman who has to clinch the deal before it’s too late. Just relax and think things through carefully!

Finally, number ten, I always encourage single Christian with this thought: “Run a good race and you’ll meet another good runner.” Years ago a friend of mine wrote a list of all the qualities she wanted from her future, unknown man. My encouragement to her was that she should rip this up and write instead about all the qualities that she would bring into the relationship. If you want to marry a wonderful Christian person, that’s great, just don’t forget to be one yourself.

God bless you and don’t forget to invite me to the Reception. I do a cracking Best Man speech and all at Credit Crunch busting prices.

Originally published in JOY Magazine, August 2009

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