At 16 I was single and naive. As I read romance books and talked with my friends, I fantasized about the perfect boyfriend.
At 18 I was single and hopeful. My dream of meeting my husband in university was in sight. I longed to get married right after graduation and start a perfect life together.
At 20 I was single and thankful. I had tried dating and it ended painfully. I was ready to invest in God and in my healing journey. My focus shifted from marriage to serving people around me.
At 23 I was single and lonely. As I watched my friends start serious dating relationships and get engaged, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. Why was I being left behind?
At 25 I was single and focused. Focused on God and where he was leading me—but also focused on the guys around me, trying to discern if I was ready to date.
The experience of singleness over the years can change dramatically. Being single at 16 is different than being single at 30. Being widowed is drastically different than going through a divorce. And what about those who go their whole life without even a prospect for marriage?
For young singles especially, there is a temptation to fixate on relationships, especially potentially romantic ones. The longing for a partner, or for marriage and intimacy, isn’t wrong. We were created to live in community, and as we develop friendships, especially with the opposite gender, it’s natural to consider, Is this a person I could see myself living life alongside?
Yet the truth is that marriage is not better or more “whole” than singleness – it’s just different. God works through both marriage and our single years to refine us and help us become more like Christ.
So young singles out there, don’t waste this time. Embrace this season that you’re in with joy and thankfulness to the Lord. In fact, this season of singleness, for however long God intends it, is God’s best for you right now. He is not withholding something better or bigger, or more exciting. In his sovereignty and wisdom, he knows all the possible outcomes of each scenario and this one is his best for you.
Here are three ways not to waste this time:
1. Dive deep into the local church
In Titus 2:2-6 Paul writes:
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.
Here is a picture of godly men and women, and instructions for how they are to teach younger men and women in the context of the church body. One of the best investments I have ever made was to reach out to the older women and families in my church. As a young single, the best asset I had was my time. Free babysitting, folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms, coffee dates—I would do anything to get into the presence of my church family where I could just ask questions and listen from their life experience and wisdom.
That life-on-life discipleship shapes us powerfully. Living in community allows us to rub shoulders and learn by experiencing life together. Investing in the church—in God’s people—can be messy, but deeply rewarding. Let’s not miss out on opportunities to build into God’s people together.
2. Dive deep into healing
Many young Christians, especially those in their twenties, haven’t had opportunities to face their brokenness. This is understandable, as our twenties are a time of formation into adulthood. Yet, the scars and shadows that may have impacted our formative years of childhood will come back in some way. A benefit of singleness is having time and space to proactively grow in self-awareness and start the process of sifting through our brokenness.
Start by looking more carefully at your known sins: what are some patterns and struggles with sin that seem hard to escape? Are there underlying views about God, yourself, or others that shape this? Finding healing in the gospel starts with spending time in the word of God, both alone and with someone who can help you grow. Perhaps a mentor, or an older man/woman in your church community.
Another step could look like investing in some biblical counselling to help process and work through any pain or brokenness that you know of. As we see parts of our heart find healing and freedom, we are not only helped in our current stage of life but also serve our future selves and relationships as well.
3. Dive deep into mission and service
In what felt like the throes of singleness, I invested too much of myself in trying to prepare for marriage. I became obsessed with reading books and articles about marriage, listening to sermons, and talking about it all the time. The root of all this was a false belief that, if I was “ready,” then I would be able to do marriage perfectly. However, that’s not how real life works. Instead, God often prepares us during these moments and seasons.
And when our perspectives are stuck solely on our relationship prospects, we can miss out on the ministry and service opportunities God places before us. We need to overcome the temptation to only focus on marriage and relationships.
Afterall, when we stand before God in heaven, won’t it be glorious to worship him with Saints that we have helped enter the Kingdom because of our faithfulness and willingness to take steps of faith and to help others discover Jesus? Deep diving into mission and service is such a wise use of our time and resources because as followers of Jesus that’s where we will spend eternity. Why not invest in something that will reap the best long-term results?
The comforting truth is, wherever we find ourselves in life, God has promised never to leave or forsake us. He walks with us in the journey, guiding us and helping us follow him deeper. He refines us, and gives us good gifts. Knowing this, we can be faithful with our daily bread – what God gives us each day – and trust Him to provide for our future, whatever it looks like or whoever is in it.