Living Single

Today I want to unpack a little more what I meant when I said yesterday, "Do not limit yourself to work minimum wage jobs 'waiting on the Lord to bring the man of your dreams.' What are your dreams for today? What is God putting in your heart today? Do that! Pursue that wildly and confidently." I think about this a lot because I have spent a very good portion of my life "saving myself and preparing myself" for marriage. This is not to say that I sat home making potholders and pining away for all the ways in which I could be a good wife and mother. No. I mean to say that I wrote lists of what I wanted in a husband when I was 15 and was disappointed to find that at age 19, there were still no prospects around. By age 24, I'd given up hope of being married and just decided to pursue a life of radical singleness, which, for me, meant I spent a lot of years yearning for contentment in the way I understood it at that point.

I got my college degree (two in fact!), spent a chuck of life in Central America, traveled a lot, budgeted to the penny, served my church, tried desperately to be the sort of undistracted single person that Paul says is possible. I describe those years of my life as years with blinders on. I was determined to keep myself undistracted from the siren call of marriage and motherhood.

When my pastor preached a sermon including a biblical definition of contentment, I felt that my world was about to be radically changed and the old radical was nothing more a wannabe. He described contentment like this: Doing what you're able to do with what you have available to do it. Until that point, blinders on, I'd just done what I was able to do. Just put my hand to the plow, kept my eyes on the goal (being undistracted), determined, resolute. After that definition I realized that though I was doing what I thought I was able to do, I was not using all of what was available to me!

Unpacking that first statement above, I want to talk about what we single women tend to say and the way in which we can tend to walk. Here's what we ask often: How can we do everything that we want to do in life and not become too good for any possible prospective spouse?

First, let's look at Sarah. The Bible says she did what was right in the sight of the Lord without any fear. In the same way we do the right thing without fear that we're shortchanging or outdoing what God has planned for us. That is our radical calling! To find a woman who is living a life free from fear is to find a happy, content, vibrant woman. She is radical in the sense that she is a rarity. This is undistractedness according to Paul (I Corinthians 7)!

Second, instead of thinking of all the ways you're limiting the pool of men who won't be scared off by your wisdom, knowledge, and college degrees, instead think of the limitless God you are serving. Do not pursue wisdom for the sake of wisdom, pursue it for the sake of the gospel. In the same way, do not continue in ignorance, skirting issues and feigning stupidity, because you are afraid that a guy won't be attracted to someone who equals or surpasses him intellectually. The gospel has the power to change us and we should never limit the ways in which it will change us. Desire after wisdom. Dig deeply for it.

Thirdly, in a practical sense, it is tempting to do one of two things,

1. Gather everything you think you will need for the rest of your life so that you can live a comfortable, middle class American lifestyle (career, house, dog, car, savings account, etc.) as a single person


2. Put off everything you want in life in hopes of a marriage someday (dishes, home, job, etc.).

In the first you are over-prepared for the life you now lead, single and unattached! Let yourself be unattached! Untie yourself from the pride of life that says if you do not have these things you are unstable and uncared-for. Live risky and flexible, and let the Lord surprise you in the ways in which He will provide for you.

In the second, you are placing your hope so securely in marriage that you are missing the opportunity to serve and practice hospitality today. Visit a thrift store and buy some plates. Make whatever place you inhabit a home, inviting and warm. Are you working a job you hate in hopes that someday you'll be rescued by a customer who turns out to be the man of your dreams? No. Search your heart and find out what desires you have that can be fulfilled today and then walk through every open door in your path until a door closes.

Too often we all are too concerned that we are going to fudge this master plan of God's if we misstep or take a risk, but God is so sovereign and so good. He isn't waiting for you to walk through the wrong door so he can slap your wrist and send you right back out of it. All things work together for good for those who love God.

So love God! Love Him and love what He's doing in your life today! Instead of being so preoccupied with lining your ducks up, prepare yourself for the surprise of His love toward you in unexpected places and ways.


Want to share this on Twitter or Facebook? Consider using this copy: Are you waiting for marriage to begin living? Thoughts on singleness for the long haul by @loreferguson

While we're on the subject of controversial thoughts on gender roles and other things that upset the fruit basket, I want to talk about something that might hit a nerve today (whether you're a guy or a girl).

The comments on that Wall Street Journal to which I linked the other day contained some telling commentary on the reasons that some very good men may not step up to the plate (and not only concerning marriage, I think this is applicable in many areas, with many people). "Why should we," one comment read "step up, when we know that [women] can buy their own house, have children through other methods, provide, and fill all the needs you say you want men to fill?"

While I don't agree that simply because one person went beyond the bounds that scripture lovingly places on us (Psalm 16), another person ought to shrug their shoulders and abdicate, I hear the angst in this man's comment. Even the guys who want to be a husband and a provider feel unnecessary on the trajectory of a woman's life! I think this raises two points that may seem contradictory, but I believe if lived out in gospel centrality, will result in a kingdom life.

1. Because of the age of many singles these days, individuals are forced to be the primary breadwinner in their "family" units like never before in history. While this may look different for some singles, ultimately the cost of living falls primarily on their own shoulders. As single women in particular this can feel very counter-intuitive to the created order: we know we are built to be nurturers and home-makers. (And by home-maker I don't mean that if you are not at home full time, you are not still making a home wherever you are. We do this naturally.) God calls it a Helper and I love that--I am created to help!

But because of my age and station, a single young woman on my own for a decade, I am in a situation where feeling like a nurturer and helper feels beyond my control. Who am I helping? It feels sometimes like the only person I'm helping is myself! I pay my bills, make my own food, drive my own car, etc. I'm not sharing this burden and no one is sharing it with me. This can cause resentment to grow in my heart as I might feel that the most (literally) fruitful years of my life are being wasted. I hear this time and time again from my peers, "Why would God create me to desire this and leave me feeling incomplete?"

I want to draw you back to Genesis again, the original mandate on man and women was not to be fruitful and multiply, but rather an implied mandate, spoken by God to God: Let us make man in our image. Your primary role is to reflect God. So when you cast blame for what you feel is a misguided calling on your life, please remember that first and foremost we are called to be image bearers. The delight of this is that as image bearers we are also helpers and nurturers and providers and all these things that God is innately.

He didn't mess up when he made you--he made you perfectly designed to reflect all of who he is. And in your singleness you are not gypped of that whole calling; it is there, in your life somewhere. Find it. Find the areas where you can bear that image and fulfill the whole calling of God.

2. The second point is directed toward the Church. In the uprising of secular feminism, there was an unfortunate drop of femininity and the Church did not remain unscathed from that blight. I am not making excuses for any identity crises that a single woman may deal with, but one of the difficult things about having to embrace the side of feminism that has us working and providing for ourselves, is that it becomes more and more difficult to feel feminine. This might be due to the lack of a man who appreciates the natural beauty of every woman, it might be due to a prolonged season in which we feel unappreciated, etc. I don't know exactly. I know that married women who do get to fulfill the calling of a woman in a more practical and tangible way may feel this as well, but I don't think we can deny that for a single woman, the cost of femininity is a bit higher.

Church, you are a bride! You know intrinsically what it feels like to feel under-appreciated and unloved, unbeautiful and overworked. Surely if there is anything we can understand as a body, it is the angst of a bride whose groom has not yet come to take her away! So I challenge you, Church, to step in and be the fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters, to single women. I'm not only talking of car issues and home maintenance issues, I'm talking about valuing and appreciating the unique calling on every woman's life to be a woman and a nurturer (as well as an image bearer).

Men, do not think for one minute that simply because we single women may "have it all" in terms of living in American culture, that we are not still lacking in your unique ability to be a guard and hero, a rescuer and fixer! Do not be afraid to bear the image of God to the single women in your life, afraid that she will suppose there is something behind your actions (A proposal must be in the works because you walked her out to her car once!). Women struggle with the hope of something more all the time, the fix for that is not to abdicate, but to show her what a true man is and does so that her standards are raised and not limited to crushing on every guy who does something kind for her. Get your hands dirty on her behalf!

Women, do not think for one minute that God is unable to fill that position in your life through the body of Christ. Do not begrudge the care of the Church and her desire to guard your femininity while the world is trying so desperately to wrestle it from you. Not every man is showing kindness to you because he is in love with you--appreciate his efforts to be an image bearer as well, without placing your hope for a future with him based on his simple kindness. Do not limit yourself to work minimum wage jobs "waiting on the Lord to bring the man of your dreams." What are your dreams for today? What is God putting in your heart today? Do that! Pursue that wildly and confidently. His word does not return void!

Finally, we live in a broken world and we are broken people and we are doing broken things to fix broken things. Pursue the Lord. What is He calling you to do today? How can you best reflect Him today? Pursue His kingdom radically and with your whole heart, receive His word and the Holy Spirit, serve and be served, show grace and receive grace.

day nine of 30 day challenge put down by one Jason Alan Churchill Thorburne Morris.