Perhaps ‘misery’ is a strong word to describe singles. And it is true that not every single feels miserable. I have some single friends who have no less joy than those who are attached or married. However, having struggled with singlehood myself, I do understand that for some singles, the feeling of having to do many things alone—eating, travelling, relaxing, running errands, etc—is in one word, ‘depressing’. If you happen to belong to the group of ‘unhappy singles’, there is hope in Christ to turn misery into glory.
How can that transformation happen? A few simple suggestions here…
- Tackle False Assumptions
There is a common misperception that assumes marriage will satisfy our unmet needs. Such false assumption in turn inclines some singles to feel that their lives are incomplete or less blissful without a love partner. Yet the truth is, God’s glorious purpose in creating humans is not to give every single one to marriage, but for them to enjoy loving fellowship with Him and do His will on earth. In fact, the apostle Paul said people in marriage have to battle more to stay tuned to God and His mission, thus where self-control is possible, it is better to be single than married (cf. 1 Co 7:32-38). Furthermore, a person may be happily married or attached, yet if anyone is without Christ, he would not find real bliss and contentment, as humans are created such that we can only be truly satisfied when we are in a right relationship with our Creator God—the Supplier of our every need. In fact, Christian singles who enjoy a sweet relationship with God can give out a strong blessed message which the non-singles may not present so convincingly, and that is, real joy does not have to come from a human lover, but from a fulfilling relationship with God.
- Battle with Self-Pity
Sometimes, singles are tormented by thoughts of whether they are less worthy because no one chooses them and no one desires them. And it does hurt to feel unwanted and rejected, like inferior products left on the shelves. It makes one question his/her worth. However, our worth is not determined by how people see us, but from how much God values us – to the extent that He can die for us while we were still sinners (Ro 5:8)! Thus, Christian singles have to battle against the sense of self-pity. In particular, one must be mindful not to let self-pity turn into anger towards God, questioning, “Why does God not satisfy my need if He loves me? Why does God not care about me?” It can be tempting for some singles to measure the degree of God’s love based on whether He provides them with a blissful marriage. Singles have to resist this fallacious valuation of Christ based on His provision or denial of a marital union. Actually, God cares enough to die for us when we do not deserve it! Even married persons have no assurance if their lovers will stick to them forever, but God promises that He will never leave nor forsake His children (Heb 13:5). Actually, there is nothing wrong with the need to feel loved and wanted, but we have to receive that love from the right source, otherwise we will be disappointed.
- Embrace your Freedom
To a certain extent, singles enjoy more freedom than those who are married. Singles are more freed from troubles of life (1 Co 7:28) and marital concerns (1 Co 7:32-34). Moreover, without the distraction of a spouse, Christian singles would have more time to invest in God-valued gospel work, saving souls, raising disciples, building churches and advancing God’s kingdom. Thus, if you are single now, devote your time rightly to reap divine rewards in this season of your life, however long or short your singlehood may last. With the added time in your hands, start caring for God’s sheep; be a blessing to those who also hurt, not only due to relationship issues but also other life issues; link up with other singles to support one another in faith. Struggles come and go during the singlehood phase, but do not let those struggles and lessons learnt go to waste, use your faith testimonies to bless others too. Amazingly, as you devote your life to help others and serve God, you will find yourself being lifted out of your own misery, loneliness and self-pity arising from your singleness. Instead, you will find new joy and purpose in your current single status; your faith and intimacy with God can also grow by leaps and bounds.
- Beware of Preoccupations that Steal your Focus Away from God
The extra free time that singles have can be a double-edged sword. While the time can be spent on meaningful areas as mentioned above, it may also be misused. Just as the attached and married may often be so preoccupied with their partner that they neglect God, singles—having the same fallen human nature—are equally susceptible to substitutes for God. I remember when I was single, one of my major distractions was dramas. In my loneliness and my resistance to leech on others’ company and acting like a pathetic creature, I turned to dramas for solace. Actually in my heart, I knew I was sort of trading one idol (e.g.: a lover) for another. During this singlehood period, it is especially easy for singles to feel entitled to indulge themselves, thinking, “Since I am already single and lonely, if I am still deprived of these little ‘joys’, I will be even more pathetic.” The Bible warns us of the trap of idolatry which humans are vulnerable to (1 Co 10:14; 1 Jn 5:21). We must not let self-pity be our license to indulge in idolatry, no matter how legitimate it seems to do so. Instead, we must wrestle with our flesh, for it will bring us nowhere. Anything that attempts to take the place of God is not going to satisfy, because we are created by God only to find full satisfaction in Him alone.
- Train Yourself to First Delight in the Lord
The ‘first’ here is not in the sense of ‘sequential’, as in it does not mean that while we are single with no partner, we delight in the Lord first, until the time comes when we meet our Mr. or Mrs. Right. No, the ‘first’ is in the sense of ‘priority’—first place in our hearts. Whether we are single or not, this is something we need to grapple with for our whole lives, for the evil one will keep tempting us to exchange God’s glory for all kinds of pleasures. If we cannot delight in the Lord as the first in our hearts when we are still single, it is going to be even more impossible to do so when a love partner enters our lives. In fact, the secret to enjoy all other blessings in life, is to first delight ourselves in the Lord, for He is the source of joy and satisfaction. A major blindspot and delusion that people have is thinking that they will be happy as long as they get all their earthly wishes granted. Yet, if a person cannot find joy in the Lord, the Creator of all things, he/she would somehow lack the capacity to enjoy what is given him/her.
- Stick to a Blessed Fellowship
We are all created to need love and relationships, not only romantic attachment. Thus, even if you are single, God prepares a community of faith to meet your need for companionship. Developing deep bonds with the body of Christ not only can address your emotional needs and prevent you from feeling lonely, but it also helps you grow stronger in your spirit and in your love towards God and people. Importantly, before one ventures into a romantic relationship, it is good to experience and appreciate the joy and satisfaction from other interpersonal relationships. If a person cannot enjoy non-romantic relationships, it is highly likely that his/her marriage will be a self-centered one, in which the couple isolates themselves from others, instead of using their relationship to glorify God and bless people. Furthermore, if you are praying for a God-loving partner, then you need to be in the right place. You are more likely to find a blessed partner when you stay in the right community. Roaming about in the wrong places will only lead you to needless temptations and you may end up meeting the wrong person(s). Thus, stay close to a blessed community of faith.
- Ready Yourself to Match your Ideal Spiritual Partner
If you are still praying to meet a blessed partner in Christ, do not wait idly. Your actions should match your prayers. Someone who is God-loving will surely be attracted to like-minded persons. Thus, if you hope your future life partner to be someone spiritually mature, then you need to groom yourself also into a godly man or woman, in order to attract the other party. Therefore, while you are single, strive to deepen your understanding of God’s word, nurture your spiritual character and pray that your life exudes more and more of Christ’s charm and likeness. Whether or not God leads you into a romantic relationship eventually, you would not go wrong in seeking to please your greatest Lover—Christ, by pursuing to be more godly.
Pray that your singlehood can be different in Christ. There is no reason to feel less worthy or happy just because you are single. God Himself can satisfy and use you just as He would any married Christian. Ask God to turn your singlehood to glory today by letting you see how much He values you and by helping you devote your time to blessed pursuits and other meaningful relationships.