7 Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.1 Corinthians 7:7
How many times have I heard someone say, “Maybe you have the gift of singleness.” Or some have even formed it as a sort of ominous foreshadowing mixed into a question, “Are you sure you don’t have the gift of singleness?” It’s as if they expect me to look deeper in myself and suddenly realize that God has given me some super human ability to not long for a spouse. Their hesitancy and uncertainty say ‘Maybe God has given you the gift of singleness. And he doesn’t actually have a husband for you. But even I think it’s too unfortunate to actually tell you that you definitely have this gift.’ Rather than encouraging me or leading me to feel more whole in Christ, the mention of this gift has often been a source of deep frustration and confusion for me. A reminder that for many, there must be something about ME that keeps me in this state. Whether they think it’s superior strength or unusual weakness, neither of them make me feel good about being single.
In the church we talk about spiritual gifts: the gift of teaching, giving, serving, preaching. These are all things the Lord empowers us to do. We also tend to view them as things that are inherently in each one of us. They are a part of who we are. Something that flows from the inside out. But when Paul mentions singleness and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, it’s in the context of talking about our outward circumstances. What if Paul isn’t saying that I, a single woman, have some inner gift that’s holding off all potential suitors; rather, he’s saying that my outer circumstances, be what they may, are a gift from God?
This may seem like an insignificant difference to some. But to me, it makes a world of difference in how I feel about this so called ‘gift’ of being single. You see, when others suggest that I have the gift of singleness, they’re almost shifting the blame to me. You see, it’s something inside me that keeps me from being married. But when singleness is an outward gift freely given by the Lord -hey! It’s his fault and not mine that I haven’t found Prince Charming. And honestly, I’m okay with that. I can trust that God is good. That he is faithful to write my story better than I can. I can see all the ways that my time as a single (whether it be a few years or my whole life) is a blessing:
- It’s a huge blessing when my friend texts me at 3pm on Saturday to invite me to a movie at 6 and I can text back and say yes without a second thought.
- It’s a gift when my friend is hurting and just needs someone to be with her and I can go out for coffee anytime.
- It’s a gift when I can minister to youth of all ages and also be their friend, because I’m still very much relatable.
- It’s a gift when I can travel to spend quality time with loved ones and don’t have to worry about leaving a husband and/or children behind.
- It’s perhaps the biggest blessing in my life that I am literally in control of ALL of my time and can offer 100% of it to the service and glory of my heavenly Father.
I don’t have to worry about a husband or child. I don’t have to serve them first and then serve the rest. I can just focus on others. Of course, I don’t always do this. Because I’m sometimes selfish sinner just like the rest of you. But isn’t it easy to see how singleness really is such a GIFT?
Having the gift of singleness doesn’t mean I’m better at being alone. It doesn’t mean that I am stronger or braver or better at fighting against temptation. It also doesn’t mean that I’m incomplete or just in the ‘waiting’ for my real life to start. It doesn’t mean I’m just not ‘ready’ and God just wants to ‘fix me up’ a little more and then the right man will come. My life is happening now. And I’m living it and giving it 100% to my Father. He is satisfied with my singleness. And so am I!
So to all of the well-meaning women who have said ‘Well, maybe you have the gift of singleness.’ I DO! And it’s perfectly okay for you to rejoice with me in all of the blessings that come with this season of my life. It isn’t a curse or a gift idea gone terribly wrong. It’s a blessing that God has bestowed upon me- and in no way determines my value, worth, or contentment as a person. So here’s to fully enjoying the very good gift of singleness.