by Brittney Chan
“...perfect love casteth out fear…”
1 John 4:18
A few years ago, I made plans to attend a church meeting in which I knew I’d see a lot of old friends and acquaintances. I was hoping that it would be refreshing to pause from my normal life responsibilities and influences to feed on God’s Word and be with His people. I booked a flight, packed my bags and had a friend drop me off at the airport. I was already thinking of how I’d spend time catching up with my distant church family and how I’d tell them about what was going on in my life.
At this point, I had graduated from South University and started my career as a PTA. While I was proud of my efforts to achieve childhood dreams; I was more excited to hear about what was going on in their lives. I like to think of one of my friends, in particular, as the “Mother Teresa” of our day. She is always actively leading people to Jesus. Her life is so inspiring, and I was getting to spend the entire week with her! I knew the kind of spiritual refreshing I was so desperate for would happen in the altar services, but also in conversations over morning coffee with her.
The week went on and it was everything I’d hoped for. God was making Himself real to me in all the ways that I needed Him to, and I was so thankful.
One morning service, I finished praying and I spotted another friend that I hadn’t seen in 5-6 years. I waved enthusiastically and made a beeline for the empty seat beside her. I rehearsed all of the questions I planned to ask: Where was she living now? How was her job? Was she still in education? What church did she attend? Was she still involved in children’s ministry? If the exchange went well, I’d ask if she’d want to grab lunch and continue to catch up!
But all of those thoughts came to a screeching halt when I sat down to be greeted with the BIG…FAT…ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.
I didn’t even get the chance to ask a single one of my questions. Instead of receiving a warm welcome: she immediately assured me that even though she knew I was friends with a certain young man, she had every intention of marrying him. (So back off, Brittney Chan!) I was so caught off guard that I was left speechless. Should I mention that I hadn’t spoken to that young man in years or that she wasn’t even dating him? Though I found myself fumbling around to salvage the remainder of the conversation, one thing was clear: Our perspectives on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness were two very different things.
I’ll be honest, it isn’t always easy to be single. Did you know that? If you are reading and you’re in a relationship, I want you to stick with me…hopefully you can gain some insight into our World of Individuality. I hope you’ll choose to encourage the singles in your life to follow hard after God.
There are challenges like Valentine’s Day, sermons geared towards the family unit, managing personal finances based on a single income, the awkward silence that follows the invasive interrogations from people trying to “fix” your love life…but all of these are things we can learn to handle gracefully! What I want to challenge in this article is the idea that singlehood equates to incompleteness.
I’ll insert a disclaimer here: I fully believe in God’s Word and His will to sanction the institution of marriage and family. It is blessed by Him. I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m a bitter old biddy. However, it is too often that I’ve engaged in conversations (like the one above) with young adults who are waiting for “God’s will” to take place. They feel like their Single Status holds them back from really living life to the fullest.
So they wait, with the idea that the opportunities of Tomorrow will somehow trump Today.
Because their perception of “God’s will” is futuristic. It is something that will happen, not something that is currently happening. And what kind of opportunities are being missed in the meantime?
Let’s look at the example of Leah and Rachel in the Old Testament. We know the story of rivalry between these two women. Simply put: Rachel was chosen by Jacob, and Leah was not. Hear Leah’s lament in Genesis 29:32 when she delivers her firstborn and says, “Maybe now my husband will love me.” This attitude carries through the remaining verses that describe her child bearing years. I have no doubt that Leah felt rejected, incomplete and unworthy. The possibility of a close sibling bond was ripped apart because “God’s will” didn’t line up with either of their expectations of what it should be.
Consider another pair of sisters. We can follow Jesus to Martha’s house in the final verses of Luke 10. Now, the fact that He graced the doorway of her dwelling had a different effect on both her and her sister, Mary. The Son of God was present, in the flesh, in real-time and Mary couldn’t get enough of Him. Martha, however, was more concerned with being a great hostess. Jesus didn’t hesitate to call her out on this either! He basically said, “You’re 1) distracted, 2) anxious and 3) disturbed! I am the Giver of Life and you are missing the whole point of this encounter!”
Okay. So I paraphrased a little. But I wonder how often God hears our prayers and wants to tell us the same thing!
Don’t miss the chances you’ve been given to be His hands and feet today because you are consumed with what is missing in your life.
Get the focus off of yourself! I’m not daring to say that He doesn’t care about the desires of our hearts, but what if we allowed Him to change our perspectives on self-worth, singlehood and serving Him?
I have watched friends struggle as their spouse’s deaths have stolen their identities. It challenged the truths they proclaimed to know about God. It threatened their security, calling and self-worth. I have seen young adults become older young adults and question their value because they hadn't been “chosen” by another human being. I’ve listened to conversations with young men in the ministry who felt like they’d never measure up if they remained unmarried. All of them were seeking some kind of validation. To know that they are loved. Can I remind you that your worth is not found in someone else’s opinion of you? Your worth was defined by God, the Father, the moment He breathed life into you.
Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23 that if we’re going to follow Him, we must determine to pick up our crosses daily and go after Him. Afterall, His will is a day-by-day relationship of trusting in His sovereignty. While you are waiting for Him, how can you work for Him?
My prayer for you - the single one, the widow, the divorced, or the friend of either - is to know the boundless love of our Father. I pray that the broken pieces of your heart…shattered by life’s traumas, the “almost”s, the “could have been”s…would be restored completely. I pray that God’s love would obliterate your deepest fears. And I pray He would burden you with a divine perspective of His heavenly agenda.
In Jesus’s name.