In which being single is something to celebrate

It is Valentine’s Day and my friend’s just broken up with her boyfriend. And there’s nothing worse except for being alone on Christmas, and Hallmark has this way of isolating the wounded.

I write my friend, and I tell her, Take good care of yourself today. Because you are so very special. You are special, not because of any man, but because of YOU. You are an eternal creature who has been created for a divine purpose.

The enemy wants to distract you, to make you think that you’re less because you’re single.

But you aren’t. You are only more powerful because your heart is solely focused on Jesus.

I haven’t been single for fifteen years but I know I’m distracted. I know marriage, and human love, does that. I fight to keep my focus on Jesus but I’ve got this man to serve and my children and at the end of the day, sometimes the most God gets is a few well-meaning sentences dribbling from my mouth onto my pillow as I fall asleep. My hand resting between two translucent pages of Scripture.

But when I was single, I was on fire. I would spend hours praying.

I went on mission trips to the Middle East and I walked and breathed Jesus.

Of course, there was the constant distraction, then, of marriage, too, just in a different way. The wondering If, and When, and How, and Who.

But imagine if we did trust that God cared even about our love life? If we trusted it so bad and so hard and so fast that we didn’t let our singleness be a crutch, but instead, flourished in it? Celebrated it?

I have a 52-year-old single friend. She’s a virgin. I’m pretty sure she’s the last virgin standing, and she said so herself. And she is STUNNING and funny and successful, yet, when people find out she’s single, they look her up and down and say stupid things like, “But you SEEM normal enough.”

When I told my mum about my friend, and how she was single, my mum’s first reaction was “Oh, what a shame.”

NO! I told her. It’s not a shame! Marriage is not some destination we’re all meant to reach… It’s one possible route. Singleness is another.

And whether you’re married or single, when you thrive where you are, it’s a beautiful thing.

My friend is exactly where she is meant to be, doing what she needs to do. Not only is she a successful psychologist, but she meets monthly with fathers of daughters in her living room, all of these married men gathered around, and she’s mentoring them in something called The Abba Project. She still wants to get married, but she’s letting God do the looking, while she looks at God.

Singleness is not something to be ashamed of.

And it’s not something to be afraid of.

God made Adam single. And he made him out of dirt.

Later on, he made Eve from Adam’s rib.

Don’t you think he’s still creating helpers for us, when we need them? Still working in miraculous ways to fill our loneliness? That set us with the men and women we’re meant to be with?

Maybe it’s friendship. Maybe it’s marriage. But he hasn’t left us alone.

In the meantime, trusting that he knows our needs, can we cast off society’s stereotypes, the shame and the pressure and the judgment, and live FULLY in our own bodies, not needing any other human to make us complete, trusting that if Jesus could do this life alone, we can too?

[Photo: bortescristian, Creative Commons]

  • Katie Axelson

    I love this, Emily. Thanks!

    • Emily Wierenga

      I’m so glad Katie. Peace to you! e.

  • Taylor

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.

    This is a really beautiful perspective of something I’ve been studying and reading and writing and living for a long time. In a place right now of feeling very much as though choosing singleness has meant giving up on God’s best plan for human relationships and somehow settling for a less-connected, deeply lonely version of life. So this. Especially that last paragraph. Beautiful.

    I’ve been writing a lot about similar things, and think this one might be an encouragement to others.

    • Emily Wierenga

      thank you so much for this Taylor… I look forward to reading what you’ve written, too. Bless you. e.

  • Douglas H.

    “But imagine if we did trust that God cared even about our love life?”

    I’ve been waiting for someone to say that. Thank you.

    • Emily Wierenga

      Douglas, I’m so glad God prompted me to write this, so you could know how much he does care. He really does. e.

  • Anna Kaye

    I definitely needed to be reminded of this truth today. “The enemy wants to distract you, to make you think that you’re less because you’re single.” Thanks for the encouraging thoughts Emily.

    • Emily Wierenga

      Oh Anna, may you always know how beautiful and beloved you are. Peace to you friend. e.

  • Mia

    Hi Emily
    I love this! Too often women are looked upon as an addendum to her husband, but I think we should look at ourselves as what and who were created to be! Just yourself, not a mother, wife or friend first, but a beautiful person God created. Married or single doesn’t change who we are.
    Much love

    • Emily Wierenga

      Amen, Mia! And thank you!

  • Emily_Maynard

    Love the way you use your words for good. Thank you, always.

    • Emily Wierenga

      Oh Em, that means so much coming from you. Thank you girl.

  • Shems

    I’m single and I don’t spend hours praying! Love that you are affirming that singleness is not a holding pen for the unmarried though. However, can we just agree for singles to have the freedom to celebrate their singleness when they are enjoying it and also allow them the freedom to say it’s sucking when they’re not? I often feel like people don’t believe me when I’m happy with my single status and then when I’m in a time when I’m not (which does happen – I believe coupled up people are also unhappy sometimes too?) they get this knowing look on their faces as if to say ‘see, I told you she was unhappy, her entire life is a lie’ . . .

  • Cynthia Mathai

    I love this line, “Whether you are married or single, when you thrive where you are, it’s a beautiful thing.” AMEN!!! I was a bit shocked to discover that I know this 52 year old single friend of yours. I facilitated a prayer circle last year that she was a part of, and I’d agree, she is both stunning and incredibly inspirational in how she thrives where she is. What a great example!

  • Jordie V

    Hey Emily!

    This is just along the lines of what I’ve been thinking about lately — I’ve been what I like to call “perpetually single” for pretty much, well, life. I made my peace with that a long time ago and learned to love the freedom of singleness, the joy of being alone. I have yet to meet a man that I enjoy being with more than I enjoy being single, but I will admit that I’ve had my share of moments where I’ve been a little too distracted by the concept of my future marital status being, well, married. I just recently came to the place where I decided to let go of that distractedness and live fully into the gift of being single, so this article was great encouragement and confirmation for me!

    Thank you!

  • Suzanne

    thanks. i’ve found myself caught AGAIN in daily wondering about who my husband is and when he’s coming. it’s no way to spend my time. more Jesus!

  • Joy-bells

    This, more than anything I have read in some time puts clearly what God has been saying to me over the last few months! I LOVE beig single, and that doesn’t mean I don’t have tears-racking-my-body-curled-up-on-a-marble-floor moments of ‘why me?!’ Yet it does mean that I’ve learned (or let’s be honest, am learning) to view it as, ‘Why me indeed..?’ As I travel from
    Country to country and adventure to adventure…thank you for recognising that, and thank you for making me feel that what I am doing is worthwhile!!!!:) know that what you do is so worthwhile too, and that we are truly grateful!!!:)
    God bless. :)

  • Stella

    This is a lovely sentiment, but let’s stop making the single life out to be something glorious when it isn’t. It’s hard and it sucks. Granted, it may suck less than being with the wrong person in many ways but it still sucks. And this notion of “celebrating” singleness and being able to use singleness to serve God is so classist. I would love to have the option to go on mission trips and lead seminars and use all my time to serve God, but I can’t because I have to work to support myself. When I am done with my day job, there is my night “job” of watching my sister’s children so she can go to work to support them. Think about all the people who long to get married because it would make a hard life a bit easier to have two incomes and tell them their loneliness and struggle is a gift. Singleness doesn’t feel like a gift when you’re lonely and you can’t pay your light bill. I find it interesting that this article was written by a married mother. As sensitive and intelligent as I am sure Emily Wierenga is, she just doesn’t have the insight to write about singleness. I think she may be too privileged to see that.

  • Lori

    I have three women friends over the age of 50 who have never had a date and who are wholeheartedly following Jesus. I have been single for 17 years…and I can tell you that while the world and even the church will try to distract us from contentment in Him, it is a good thing to have peace as a Christian single. Thank you for this wonderful message.