I don’t often write or talk about singleness, especially with respect to much of what is being portrayed via the arts, literature, lecture halls, and spoken word venues. I’m too busy living a full life to concern myself with caricatures, misconceptions, and intentional distortions both within and outside of Christendom. Much of the Christian content dealing with singleness misses the point. The world would be better off if we simply stopped publishing expert opinions and began listening to real people.
Life is hard, single or not. Work must be done to earn a living and maintain a healthy household environment. Decisions must be made. About career, education, financial choices, how to spend time, how to recognize and obey God’s call to minister.
In some ways my life is simple. I work, I minister, I sleep. Then I work and minister some more until it is time to sleep again. In other ways it’s complex. I try to maintain friendships, but life is busy. People grow distant. Friends can sometimes regress into mere acquaintances. Friendship takes a lot of work and if you are an introvert like me, one or two dismissals is all it takes for you to get the message that it’s time to move on.
In the last five years I’ve carved out healthy margin in my life. I get my sleep. I’m able most weeks to relax sufficiently to counterbalance a physically demanding job. It took finishing academic work and firing myself as Children’s Pastor to make it happen, but I am glad I did it.
Many well meaning people have shared with me their opinions about my singleness over the years. Not a single one of them has understood me or correctly evaluated my needs. Too bad they didn’t take the time to listen. It might have saved them a world of disappointment in my failure to live up to their expectations. They said things like:
Them: “Wow, Glen. You must have the gift of singleness! That’s amazing. I guess that means you will be able to do a lot more for the church.”
Me: How do I respond to that graciously? First, what is the gift of singleness? Is it written about in the same biblical context as the gift of marriage? Show me in the Bible where a person is given a spiritual dispensation to live as a godly single. We are no different than married people, including the fact that we need God’s special grace and wisdom to focus our thinking and actions so that we honor Christ rather than succumb to inappropriate sexual temptations.
As for ministry availability, my service is to Christ, not strictly to a local church community, although that is the context of my primary spiritual covering. For most of my life, much of my ministry has taken place far from a church campus out in the marketplace, workplace, and the various iterations of online communication.
Them: “God told me that he will soon reveal the person he has for you. Here’s a book. Read it and if you want to talk about it please contact me.”
Me: Oh really? How come he hasn’t told me? Thanks for the book. I’m sure I will recommend it to someone who needs it.
Them: “When are you going to settle down?”
Me: When God decides it is time for me to go to heaven to take up residence in one of his rooms he is preparing for me.
I’m all for marriage. In fact I’m pro marriage. Next to committing your life to follow Jesus Christ, it is the most profound covenant a person can make. I admire those who do so and follow through on their covenant faithfully. I don’t know why it is not my path, only that I must obey Jesus to the end of my days.
My days grow shorter with each passing moment. I choose to live them in Christ honoring fullness. No angst. No regrets. Full of joy.
I may be alone in the natural. But since I am in Christ, I am his and he is mine. What more do I need?