I recently posted asking what people would like to read in a blog. Thanks Barbie for suggesting the topic of Christian singleness. Truth be told, before becoming a Christian I didn't know how to be single. I went from one long term relationship to another and sadly defined myself through the men in those relationships. When I came to the saving knowledge and grace of Jesus I was engaged and living with a man who was verbally abusive. After rededicating my life to Jesus and realizing I was living in sin, I eventually moved out and purchased a condo on July 30, 1999.
I was so broken and insecure but vowed and made a commitment to save myself for marriage, with the next person I dated to be my husband. I was barely 25 years old and all my friends were starting to get married. Here I was, single for the cause of Christ. I'd go through nights of crying alone and feeling like having the "fairy-tale story" of an unconditional love was only for others and not for me because of everything I'd done. Those five years of single Christian life were some of the loneliest, yet some of the most defining. I learned how to war. I learned how to love myself. I learned how to be alone and be intimate with my Father in heaven. My favorite song (that you can click on the name to hear) during that season was Hillsong's "Jesus Lover of My Soul" because He truly was that. I learned how to be totally satisfied with Jesus' love that completed me...not a man.
I learned many valuable lessons during those 5 years of being a Christian and single and here are a few:
1. Most Important and Uncompromising Standard
When I was a single Christian woman I began writing down things and characteristics I wanted in a husband. I was specific. And there was one thing that was an absolute and should be for ALL Christian singles, male and female. It seemed so basic to me but I'm surprised by an answer when counseling a friend or young person who excitingly tells me they're dating someone or even interested in someone. I always ask one question: "Is he/she Christian?" People who know me literally don't even wait for me to ask...I've had people say when I ask if they are dating or interested in someone: "and YES, Kaitrin they're a Christian." I'm glad I'm so predictable and consistent. My advice or opinion won't change. If the answer to that question is "no" I really don't have much else to say.
In instances where the answer was "no," that the relationship was between a Christian and non-Christian, I've noticed it usually starts in one way...you (being the Christian) begin ministering to a person of the opposite gender who is not saved. I have a motto that I've lived by since becoming a Christian and one that I speak into Christian singles: Christian single women--you have NO business ministering to a man. And Christian single men--you have NO business ministering to a woman. It's the role of Christian men to minister to Christian single men and the same for single Christian women.
Another thing I've heard over and over is: "I'm witnessing to him/her and believe they're going to come to Jesus through me and our relationship. God put me in his/her life to get them to church. I'm the ONLY person in their life pointing them to Jesus." [Emphasis on ONLY obviously added.] It's not your job to "get that person saved" who you're in a relationship with or be the motivation for them coming to church and getting saved. You're not the Savior. Jesus is perfectly capable of meeting that person right where they are without you getting in the way. May sound harsh or blunt, but ministering to the opposite sex who is not saved is a trick of the enemy and a trap.
If they aren't saved when you meet them, single Christians, walk away. It's that simple. Save yourself the hardship from the beginning. The more you dabble and get attached to someone who isn't Christian, the harder it'll be to break, so don't even start down the road. Nip it from inception! Young woman, you're not being a bad Christian if you don't minister to that young single man. Connect him to a Christian man, back away, and then you'll see how genuine he is in wanting to serve the Lord, or if he was playing the part to get with you. And the same goes vice versa for single Christian men. Stop trying to "play" Jesus to others and let Jesus be Jesus.
You probably know these Scriptures about yokes (which is the wooden connector in the picture):
"Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together." Deuteronomy 22:10
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14
If you're yoked (or bound/connected) to someone who isn't a believer or who isn't a strong Christian, you'll ultimately pull at different strengths and not plow through life at the same pace. You'll always feel like you're carrying the load and that person will slow you down or they'll get you off course because they're pulling you in a different direction. Spare yourself the agony and don't compromise.
2. Embrace Your Singleness...
Singleness is not something you have to endure. Enjoy and embrace your singleness. It's not an oxymoron. What do I mean? Now being on the other side of singleness (with a husband and three children) I look back and remember all the ministry I got to pour myself in to during those years I was a single Christian. Once you begin dating and get married, it's no longer just about you and the call on your life. Yes, it's beautiful because you have someone to do life with...but you also often have to put the other's needs and calling above yourself and consider them in the simplest things. It's not just you making decisions...it becomes a joint effort. I've had seasons where I literally put my dreams and aspirations on hold for my husband/children and he's done the same as well.
I remember my first week being married I casually told my husband, "Oh...I'm going out with Stephanie on Friday" and he said back, "you didn't ask." I remember snapping back, "What!!! I need your permission to go out?" In reality, yes I did. He explained that he may have had surprise plans for us and also as a courtesy, I should've asked first. I was a strong, independent, thirty-year old who got married later in life. It was difficult to break some of those selfish tendencies when we first got married. I've come a long way thanks to God's grace and my patient husband!
The point is...your singleness is not a curse. It's a blessing and exactly where God has you for the season you're in right now. Enjoy it. These are years and moments you'll never get back. If you spend your whole time as a single Christian wishing you were married, you'll miss out on so many opportunities to minister the gospel. During those years as a single Christian I traveled extensively and was able to pour myself in to ministry in ways that aren't feasible now that I'm married and a mother. My priorities are focused on them, which means there's less time for me to focus on ministering outside my home.
In addition, part of embracing your singleness is letting go of things and mistakes you made when you weren't a Christian and single/dating. Receive the promises that you're a new creation and embrace your singleness as a Christian. You're being refined, made new and have so much to offer your future spouse. Stand firm in your singleness and have fun serving in the kingdom of God! It's easier to get noticed when you are busy in the field.
3. Expect the Ignorant "You're Still Single" Comments
Spare yourself some agony, frustration, irritation, and offense by expecting to get ignorant comments from people when you are living the single Christian life. No there's nothing wrong with you, no you're not gay, no you aren't overly picky but do have standards, and yes you know your biological clock is ticking. Those were just a few of the things that were always asked or commented on when I was single for an extended period of time. I even had one single man who I served in ministry with tell me I was "too intimidating" because I had a law degree, owned my own house, had a great career making good money, and had a high anointing on my life. He explained that I had it all together and a man would feel intimidated because he wouldn't be needed. So basically, I needed to be uneducated, living in a studio apartment with no furnishings, be dependent on others to make ends meet, and not be following the Lord with fervor? If a man is intimidated by who you are in the natural and the supernatural, he's surely not the man for you. My motto when I was a single Christian was: "I'd rather be single and satisfied, then married and miserable." Adopt this motto and post it on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder! I'm sure each of my single Christian friends could write a blog (or maybe even a book) on all the ignorant comments people have made about your singleness. Brush it off and laugh. Don't let it weigh you down. Besides, they're not the ones writing your love story...THANK GOD!
4. Marriage Will Not Solve "Loneliness." Jesus Must Complete You First.
Just because you get married doesn't mean you cannot still suffer from loneliness. Unfortunately, there's a lot of married couples who actually experience deep levels of loneliness because they have someone physically present who's supposed to be their confidant; however, they're living isolated lives and co-existing. Honestly, I've had periods in my marriage where I "shut down" and was lonely. In those seasons our marriage was sustained because our foundation was on Christ and not on each other. Your spouse (or the idea of having a spouse) cannot complete you. It's an unfair burden to place on another person to expect them to fill a void that can only be filled by Jesus. I've even seen some single Christian's get married out of loneliness and when the marriage didn't fill that void, they were quick to want a divorce. Use this time of being single to learn the gift of being alone and complete in and with Jesus. When I was single, Jesus was the best date night and the best gift giver! Date Him and when you and your future spouse are ready, He will send you a Godly, equally yoked spouse. Truth...when I met my husband, I was convinced I was called to be single because I had become that comfortable being alone.
5. Roles in Pursuit
Now I know I'm treading a little bit beyond being single here and discussing the threshold of dating, but this is critical. Men...it's your role to pursue a woman. WOMEN!!!! Do NOT pursue a man. As a strong independent woman this was a very difficult thing for me when I first got saved and had an interest in someone. Women, it's not your job to flirt or manipulate situations so you will be in a man's presence or cause him to notice you.
When God writes your love story and a man of God pursues you, there's no other feeling like it! Wait patiently and don't force anything. My best friend prayed for YEARS and even watched the person who God told her was going to be her husband get engaged. She continued to have faith, prayed, and God's promise came to pass. They are married and expecting their first child, but it took her waiting for him to pursue her. Side bar...I can't wait for you to read their crazy love story when they publish that book, in Jesus name! It's truly one of a kind.
Let God write your love story. Don't force it. And men, when God tells you to move...move. Don't be intimidated by an anointed woman if God has shown you that she's called to be your wife. Don't be intimidated by the word "marriage." I can't imagine the weight men feel, with the call of being the priest of the home...but remember, you don't have to be perfect. We already have a perfect Savior. You merely have to be connected to the perfect God and trust that He will grace you to be the priest over the woman God has called you to shepherd. I'm so grateful my husband wasn't intimidated by me and pursued me despite being from polar opposite worlds and upbringings.
I'm going to cross a threshhold into Christian dating with one more piece of advice...my brothers and sisters....when you begin dating, set really high standards and boundaries. The way we live and act as single Christians and Christians in a relationship should look different than the world.