Hellooooo. My name is Beth and I’m one of the directors at The Wesley. I could give you all sorts of background on myself right now, but really the most important thing you need to know for this blog to be credible to you in any way are these three things: I love Jesus with all that I am, I’m single as a pringle and def not tryna mingle, and I have experienced quite a bit of the beauty and pain possible within each Relationship Status that we’re talking about in this series (single, dating, married). So, with that, I’ve got some thoughts for you on singleness today and I hope this will be a way God ministers to you or prepares you to minister to someone else in your life.
To be honest, when I was growing up I didn’t even know singleness was an option. Dating and marriage didn’t seem like something that was a path for people as much as it seemed like the path. If you weren’t on track with everyone else you were either something to pity or something to be regarded with suspicion. There really was no in-between. Like I can’t even tell you the number of times things like this were said to me “Why would a girl like you still be single?”, and this is just a side-rant…but, this is not helpful?? For real, don’t say this to your single friends/family, okay? Let’s just make a pact together right here right now: “we will not say things to our single loved ones that further perpetuate the idea that something is wrong with them”. Cool.
So pretty much my whole life I did my single thing and didn’t think anything of it, until high school. All the sudden dating became a polarizing factor in the identity of everyone around me, including myself. The thing is, I really didn’t want to date…I just didn’t want the reason that I wasn’t dating to be up to someone else. So, I did something about it. I became an expert in capturing the interest in guys that I had no intention of dating just to have the satisfaction of knowing I could date if I really wanted to. It was messed up and I knew it was messed up, but in my mind, nobody could break your heart if you just lived like you didn’t’ have one.
By the time I was graduating high school, I’d sold my identity out for anyone who would pay me some attention. I was tangled up in more deception, guilt, and shame than felt fixable. I had let these behaviors get so out of hand that I honestly had no idea what it looked like to have healthy singleness much less a healthy relationship.
Even at the point that I wanted out of this lifestyle and wanted to do relationships right, I didn’t know how to do anything differently. Soon enough singleness didn’t feel unfair to me as much as it felt like exactly what I deserved. I’d caused other people pain, it only made sense that I should hurt too. Hating who I was and feeling completely unworthy of genuine love, Jesus showed up and did what he does in signature.
For the sake of staying on task, I’ll just simplify what that looked like in these few words: I thought I knew Jesus when in reality the relationship I had with Him was nothing more than intellectual agreement. But the summer after I graduated high school, Jesus came after my whole heart.
Whether your relationship status is single, dating, engaged, married, or something in the complicated in-between…Jesus is after your whole heart.
Sometimes the meaning of things we say in Christian circles gets lost in cute expressions and tired jargon. So, stop reading for a minute and seriously think about what it would mean for Jesus to be after your whole heart?
Now consider these words in Luke 10:27:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
Heart. Soul. Strength. Mind.
Essentially, Jesus is saying…let everything that makes up your identity be rooted in your love for the Lord your God before anything else.
All the things that make up who you are and who you want to be…submitted to Jesus in love. Now, in context to this series, this doesn’t mean that we can’t seek relationships outside of Jesus, but it does mean that our relationship with Him takes priority over any other (including your family, friends, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.).
When I first heard this, I thought, what right does God have to ask so much of me? But even in my questioning, God shows his kindness by leading me into understanding. God, maker of our hearts, author of our existence, knows what we need, and we need Him…more than anything. We need him, and when we seek him first, He begins to shape all that we are to reflect Him so that we are able to experience the fullness of joy through the love and life found in Him. And because life is not just about us, this shaping process also equips us to show others the way into this kind of joy too.
Nothing and no one out there can be the fullness of what your heart longs for outside of Jesus. You were made by God, for God (ref. Colossians 1:16). You were not created for yourself, nor for anyone else. If this is true, and if you are in Christ Jesus, you lack nothing.
You. Lack. Nothing.
Single saints, you better be listening. Singleness as a purposeful calling shatters the lie that if you are not somebody’s someone, you’re no one. Relationships are not the greatest gift God gives us; that’s Jesus. We do not find our purpose in relationships, we find our purpose in Jesus. We are not redeemed through relationships, we are redeemed through Jesus. We are not given identity through relationships, we are given identity through Jesus.
And you know what? That should comfort you. Relationships come and go. Marriages fail. Spouses pass away. People end up alone. We grieve these things. They hurt. They’re heavy. They’re real and they’re hard, but this is why we can’t put our hope our identity in what is temporary. Even in the best-case scenario, all of us are created and nothing created can step into the role reserved for the Creator. Our love is a mere glimpse of the fullness of Love embodied.
This love isn’t undone. It doesn’t break up. It doesn’t abandon. It doesn’t end.
This love isn’t fractured. It doesn’t neglect. It doesn’t shame. It doesn’t manipulate.
This love is unwavering. It’s always present. It’s always sure. It’s always true.
More than that…this love creates. It restores. It resurrects. It redeems. It heals.
This love fulfils every promise of the word in 1 Corinthians 13.
This is the love that has called your name. This is the love that our hearts cry out for.
This is the love that deserves the throne of our hearts. Nothing else will satisfy.
To echo the words of Al at Underground on Thursday night, whether you are in a season of singleness or if singleness is the season…your purpose and identity are finally and wholly established as God’s beloved. No past darkness, whether in singleness or in relationships, can separate you from that love. No current brokenness can separate you from that love. No future struggles can separate you from that love.
You, right now as you’re reading this, are pursued with this kind of love. But nothing I could write to you about singleness or dating or marriage will make an ounce of difference if you do not have a firm foundation in the knowledge of the love of Jesus that is after your whole heart. Regardless of your relationship status, you have to know the love of Jesus for anything else we talk about with relationships to make sense. Why? Because it all starts with Him.
We love because he first loved (ref. 1 John 4:19).
His love isn’t supplemental, it’s foundational.
Before I fully surrendered my life to Jesus, my heart was divided a hundred different directions. I tried to find peace through control. I tried to find worth through attention. I tried to find myself through others. I don’t know what you’re struggling with right now and I don’t know what your history with relationships/singleness looks like, but I do know this: you will not find sustaining love and life outside of the one who creates life and personifies love. But this is our good news, “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” We have been called into relationship with Jesus, and as sure as we can trust in the promises of forgiveness and salvation, we can trust in the promises of God that he will not put us to shame or fail to provide what we truly need. As Jesus truly reigns in our hearts, we can be confident in knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So, in your singleness, learn how to live wholehearted for the Lord.
And if you end up in a relationship, keep living wholeheartedly for the Lord.
Let everything that you are stand upon the foundation that you are the beloved of Christ and live out Luke 10:27 to the best of your ability in every season.
My prayer for you today is that you will find yourself more and more consumed with love for Jesus and that every other thing of worth would pale in comparison to your relationship with Him. It’s only from that heart that both singleness and relationships can become the gift they were meant to be, rather than a curse on your life or a weight around your neck.
May you find joy in the season you are in, for however long it lasts.
You are loved.