it was a Nebraska summer day, and I had the green dishes out, mud pies made, and coffee poured (aka water). I was six, and already had the dream of husband and family. One little pitcher is all I have left after a tornado roared through scattering my playhouse all over the county. But, 60+ years later, that unfulfilled dream lives on. By now, it’s evident to the reader that there is a range of singlehood beyond “older,” which seems to identify someone in their 30s and 40s. I’m in the “ancient” category.
From this vantage point, I see that it would have been very helpful to have a mentor in this “single thing.” But the presence was rare of older Christian singles who were living beyond the dream of marriage into the life of contentment in God’s provision. In fact, I have often felt as if I was forging a difficult trail alone. Sharing mutual frustrations with fellow singles helps only to a certain point, but too often gets stuck in the ruts of disappointment and discontent. Sharing with married folks can be helpful to a point, but their encouragement is usually in the category of “just keep waiting. God has someone for you.”
Then comes a day when reality hits full force. God does not promise marriage to all who desire it.
“I am so tired of hearing how my life is supposed to be worry-free and full of joyful service simply because I’m single.” This sentiment is echoed by many Christian singles regarding Paul’s true words in I Corinthians 7:32-25. Sermon and article alike emphasize these thoughts in giving instruction about God’s purpose for “unmarriedness.” What is too often glossed over, however, is the deep pain and struggle in many a Christian single’s heart, especially if the years stretch through the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and to a lifetime.
For those of us who follow Christ wholeheartedly and seek to please God, body, soul, and spirit, sermons on God’s design for marriage and sex can leave us with a lot of input with nowhere to put it. Where does the single find the sort of cherishing love which is intended in a Godly marriage? I’ve asked that question to a lot of married and single folks over the years, and no one seems to have an answer. What is appropriate expression of affection and intimacy for the Christian single? The church celebrates anniversaries of married couples. What does it look like to affirm and celebrate faithful singleness? I have come to believe that this is where the concept of covenant comes into play.