(Enjoying God and all He has given to us can be difficult to understand and abstract at times. That’s why I’ve asked a few friends to share how they have enjoyed various aspects of the Christian life, seasons, and disciplines. I pray you are encouraged by this series of guest posts.)
By Lindsay Swartz
If you had asked my 17-year-old self what one of my worst-case scenarios would be, being single into my 30’s would have been up there at the top. In fact, I don’t think it even registered at the time as a possibility. Like many young women, I dreamed about meeting a wonderful man, getting married, and having a family. I may have even doodled out the names of my future children in my class notes.
Yet, here I am. I’ll be 34 this year, three years past the age when my own mother had me. I’ve wrestled long and hard with singleness. In many ways, I’ve been terrible at being single. Much of singleness hasn’t been fun for me because of the accompanying angst—and not always believing God’s goodness. But, as I look back, it’s almost laughable that this was my worst-case scenario. While I may not love being single, there are plenty of things about singleness that I wish I would have learned to enjoy much sooner. So, if you’re in an unwanted season of singleness, here are a few gifts I’ve discovered in an effort to help us enjoy the Lord.
Enjoy extended time focusing on the Lord.
I have heard plenty of my married friends and those with children talk about how their busyness often keeps them from having regular time with the Lord in his Word and prayer. While singles are busy too, there is a type of distraction we don’t share—one that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7. There are divided interests and anxieties of this world that can hinder the married person’s pursuit of the Lord.
Now, I’ve said to the Lord plenty of times, “But I want that distraction!” It seems so much better to me than the endless hours of quiet and yet another morning of waking up alone. But until that distraction comes, we have the opportunity to press on to know the Lord in a different way (Hosea 6:3), enjoying uninterrupted time in God’s Word and in prayer that helps secure our undivided (or, as good as undivided gets this side of heaven) devotion to him that will serve us in whatever the next season brings.
Enjoy the freedom of unique opportunities.
It’s pretty neat to actually stop and recount all of the things I’ve been able to do as a single adult. I’ve visited over eighteen countries so far. I’ve lived in four different states. I’ve been able to respond to last-minute phone calls for help. I’ve worked at three different ministries. I’ve been able to pick up and go at the drop of a dime. I’ve had several internships. And I’ve toured with a Christian music group working as a nanny.
While these experiences aren’t the norm for everyone (and I’m pretty sure I would’ve traded most of them for marriage and family), it’s good for me to think back on God’s kindness in the ways he’s made my single years full. In fact, as I think about the prospect of marriage, I can honestly say I’m not afraid to shift my time and attention to a family because I don’t feel as if I’ve missed out on anything. I’ve had the chance to do more than many of my friends who lived out my dream and married young. Each of us has been given a different lot, and enjoying and taking advantage of unique opportunities is just a small way that I can try to celebrate mine.
Enjoy a multitude of relationships.
I tend to forget all the amazing people that I’ve gotten to know over the years until I’m at a conference or an event with work. My time is usually spent saying “hello,” giving hugs, and being surprised by encounters with past acquaintances. Though not all of these relationships are deep or mean that we regularly keep in touch, the friendships and connections add a richness and help me see God’s sovereign hand in each chapter of my single season of life. I know people from all over the country because of the various places I’ve lived, my involvement in several churches, and my work at a few different ministries. It’s truly a blessing to have connections with brothers and sisters from all over the world because of the unexpected ways the Lord has caused my single path to wind.
Enjoy investing deeply in relationships.
It’s not until I’m overly busy or in a dating relationship that I realize how singleness has afforded me the opportunity to invest heavily in a variety of relationships. I’ve worked as a nanny for several families, have friends’ kids I spend time with frequently and who have become like nieces and nephews, get to have frequent time with “just the girls,” and have several spiritual moms and dads. There are families I’ve been honorarily adopted into – many of those I could call in a crisis – and a number of people I’ve been able to spend lots of one-on-one time with over the years.
I know you don’t have to be single to have deep relationships, but I do know the opportunity that singleness provides to be hospitable, provide a support system, and serve without certain limitations. I don’t always live this out well—and I’d like to be more faithful in reaching out to my neighbors and those without Christ around me—but I’m grateful for these relationships that have etched themselves on my heart and provide a constant source of companionship and sense of a forever family in a season that can be so lonely.
Enjoy praying big prayers.
As long as I have breath and a desire for marriage, I’m committed to praying big prayers about the fulfillment of this desire. God exhorts us to ask again and again in his Word (Matt. 7:7), and I intend to take him up on it. It’s true that delighting in God and receiving the desires of our hearts doesn’t mean God automatically gives everything we ask for, but it also doesn’t mean less than approaching his throne like that pestering neighbor in Jesus’ example (Luke 11:5-13). I don’t want to leave room for being able to say that I don’t have because I didn’t ask (James 4:2).
We can also pray big prayers about our singleness too, though I admit that this is harder for me to want to do. We can ask God to help us truly believe that we aren’t missing out. And we can ask for deep satisfaction in him and in our season. Our privilege to ask as God’s children is astounding, and his answers, we’ll come to see, will surpass anything we could imagine.
All of us, regardless of the circumstances in the season of life we’re walking through, are battling to enjoy the gifts God has given—and, ultimately, the Giver himself. Unfortunately, it’s a battle that won’t be over until our redemption is complete. I’m thankful for Jesus who makes enjoyment in God possible and anchors us to a hope-filled future of unending and untarnished joy. May he continually satisfy us throughout our lives with his unfailing love that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days (Ps. 90:14).
Lindsay serves at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) as the managing editor of content. She completed her Master of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She loves movies, traveling, good food, coffee shops, girly things, and sports. She lives in Nashville, TN and is loving every minute of living in Music City.
(Learn more about Trillia’s new book Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts)