I don’t know what age deems you “the token single girl,” but it happened to me somewhere after college and has only solidified since. I’ve only been in this role for a few years, but it seems to open the door for younger single women to ask tough questions. There are three questions I get asked a lot by girls struggling with singleness. Though I certainly don’t have all the answers, I’ve learned to polish my own convictions and experiences with these areas.
The first question is inevitably something like, “how do you endure Sunday School or church?” Sadly, this is a real and genuine concern. There are a couple of choices, of course. You can join the dreaded singles class and make an effort to get involved. You can volunteer for any Sunday School position to avoid the singles class. You can even ditch Sunday School and just go to the main service (with a buddy, of course…otherwise, it’s just as bad as Sunday school and you end up sitting behind a row of couples holding hands). I’m not proud of this, but I’ve done all of these things at different points. After trying each of these choices, I would encourage singles to invest in a singles class first. Yes, that usually comes with some awkward moments and not-so-fun Sunday mornings, but it’s essential for people to attend and invest in order to make it better. It also does really help to have some other singles in your life, even if they aren’t your best buddies at first. After really making an effort with a singles group, go where God leads you (and that’s NOT back to bed). God may want you to keep investing in singles and serve in a way that’s not teaching on Sunday mornings, but He could also lead you to teach. I truly feel called to work with kids and youth, and am thrilled to do that on Sunday mornings. I also think I have extra energy to give kids and youth because I’m single without kids. Parents are with kids all the time, it’s nice to give them a break.
The next question that’s come up lately has been “have you ever thought about online dating?” Uh, yes. Anyone that’s single (even teens) has probably thought about online dating. Personally, I don’t have a problem with online dating (I do have a problem with many types of romantic interaction online, but meeting someone online in a safe way does not bother me). I have a lot of Bible-believing, evangelical friends happily married from these types of dating services. I just feel okay about being single (most days), so I haven’t really pursued or prayed about that option. I have a feeling though that God won’t lead me down that path due to my perpetual trust problem. I too often try to take my life into my own hands, which would be a tempting motive for me with online dating. I would also advise women to be particularly careful about taking the role of the pursuer rather than the pursued in this form of dating. I’ve seen a lot of young women’s self-esteem damaged by not feeling cherished when this role is reversed.
The third question is sort of loaded and could easily break off into sub-categories. Girls often ask something like, “how can you stand being single for so long?” This question always kind of makes me laugh… well, if I was feeling content today, thanks for making me feel discontent and way too old to be single! But in all seriousness, the short answer is Jesus. The long answer is Jesus, discipline, perspective, and gratefulness.
Jesus is the theme to each of these answers, but the key is relying on His strength, staying in the Word, and surrounding yourself with other believers.
Discipline revolves around Jesus, but specifically includes abstinence. Something that inevitably comes up with single people is self-pleasuring and pornography. In case no one else comes down on one side of those activities, neither of them is ever okay for a single person (or married person, but that’s another post). There is forgiveness in Christ, but sex is designed to unite and these activities do not unite in the way God intended. They distort, isolate, damage, and confuse. In fact, I would take boundaries a little farther in this area. I don’t know what hurts guys (I’m not one, I’m not married, and I’ve never lived with a male), but I do know that romantic movies and novels (even Christian ones) can often be stumbling blocks for women. These may not need to be eliminated or even reduced, but I’d encourage any Christian girl to view these cautiously and in moderation. Similar things to consider may be social media, imaginary wedding planning, etc. It’s easy to create idols and fantasies with these seemingly innocent activities.
Perspective can come in a lot of different ways. First of all, zooming out on your own life circumstances. “I’m twenty-six, not ninety-six.” “I enjoy a lot of things being single, this isn’t all bad.” “My last friend getting engaged does stink, but it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me.” Perspective may also include listening to a married friend. Chances are you’ll find out marriage isn’t a fairy tale. A great way to gain perspective is offering to babysit the family you know with the most kids. Marriage will quickly lose its glamour.
Gratefulness is the last point, but the most important. A grateful heart will squelch any desire that seems impossible to endure. Singleness is a blessing, look for the bright spots and write them down daily if you need to!