“Christian contentment, therefore, is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord and to be totally at His disposal in the place He appoints, at the time He chooses, with the provision He is pleased to make.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson
If you would have asked me 5 years ago, I would have absolutely said that I never wanted to get married or have kids. I grew up without my father and at the age of 4, I was sexually abused by my stepfather and watched him continually abuse my mom, physically and verbally. My view of men and marriage seemed hopeless, tainted, and irreversible. I did not ever want to give a man (or anyone for that matter) the ability or control to hurt me again. But, through God’s grace and perfect timing, he began to heal my heart. I began to grow in the understanding of God’s sovereignty and started to slowly trust that He was in control of all areas of my life, especially suffering.
Honestly, I could stop right here in the story. This transformation alone was a monumental testimony to God’s faithfulness in my life. I slowly began to desire a godly marriage and saw the ways that God had and was continuing to redeem my past. I began to actually have hopes and dreams that involved a husband and a family. But as the years go by, and more and more friends and family get married and have kids, I am still single. I am 33 years old. In the world’s view (and especially my family’s view), my time is running out. I often get comments like “Oh just keep praying, he’s out there” or “just have more faith, he will come” and my least favorite question: “Have you tried online dating?” (This by the way is NOT for everyone!) I slowly began to doubt God’s plan for my life and viewed singleness as second best. I would have times of despair and hopelessness. In my sinfulness, I would question why God would have brought me this far and somehow I continue to stay single. But God, in his great mercy, revealed my heart to me and the ways I was sinning against him. I was not finding Jesus as all satisfying and was looking to marriage, family, work, friends, comfort, you name it, to satisfy my soul. I cried out to God and constantly battled my unbelief. I begged God to give me contentment in all areas of my life, that whatever season I was in, I would be content in Him. And God graciously answered my prayer.
Within the past year, I have truly felt contentment in my singleness. This is not from anything I have done but all glory to God. God has begun to give me a right view of his design for marriage and singleness. He has reminded me to keep in sight what I am actually waiting for; the day Jesus returns, and I am united with Him. Often times I will be tempted to believe lies about God and his character. When I try to blame my singleness on my weight or appearance, I am trying to find my identity in something other than Jesus. When I start to believe marriage is more satisfying than Him, I am exchanging the truth of God for a lie. When I fear that I will be forgotten when all my friends are married and have children, I am seeking the approval of man more than God’s approval. I must continue to put these sinful thoughts to death and remind myself of who God is and what he has done for me. As in Galatians 3:27-28 “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentiles, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. I am a new creation in Christ and my identity rests solely in Him, regardless of what season of life I am in. Another passage in scripture that has been very encouraging to me is 2Cor. 4:16-18. It says “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is producing an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”. I cannot question God’s plan and try to take control. I must trust that what he is doing in my life is far better than anything I could imagine. This does not mean that I no longer desire to be married but instead God has grown in me a desire for him even more!
I want to highlight that I can do none of this in my own strength. Discontentment will not just magically disappear if I get married or have kids. I continually have to pray that He will sustain me and keep me until the end. And this may continue to be a lifelong battle, but I can share with you today the great joy I have in seeing the ways I can serve God through my singleness. I have time and energy to invite people in to my home and serve them. Over and Over again God graciously shows me how my story can be used to encourage others and point them closer to him. I have seen the ways that marriage and singleness are both beautiful ways to glorify God. I pray that we would all view those roles rightly. One is not greater than the other; they are both gifts to be celebrated. I’ll repeat that, singleness is a gift! And whether it’s one more day or the rest of my life, God has given me this gift to sanctify me, to help me learn more about him, to serve his church, and to give me a longing for my true groom, Jesus.