After being back in Houston for about two months now, I was excited when a friend of mine reached out to me about the prospect of me visiting Nacogdoches (Nac) in the near future. A small East Texas college town that had a big impact on me, and where I gained some great friends, including this particular friend who had recently gotten married, moved to Florida, and had a new baby girl I couldn’t wait to met. I soon reached out to some other friends of mine (a newly married couple) to see if they’d be willing to grab me from Houston and bring me back to Nac. They were happy to, and I couldn’t have been more grateful!
Fast-forward to the evening I arrive in Nac at the house I’d stay at for my week-long trip. A young couple I lived with for a year before graduating, that are more to me family than friends, graciously host me for the duration of my stay. As I caught up with my friend for a few moments before bed, she mentions in our conversation that a mutual friend of ours (who I had strong feelings for, for a number of years) recently acquired a girlfriend. I nod (as though unaffected), and we continue our conversation and not long after call it a night. As I retire to my room, I decide to have a little chit-chat with The Big Man before catching some Z’s. Needless to say, I was…all of the things! Sad. Hurt. Frustrated. Done. All of it. And I told Him so.
As the week progressed, and I spent time with various friends, I noticed how much my singleness stood out to me at moments, like I could feel what made me different in a crowd. (A number amid the letters, so to speak.) For instance, the friend who was hosting me with her husband planned for her and I to spend time with our mutual friend (the one who moved to Florida and had a baby). We met up with her at where she was staying, and soon find out that more friends were headed that way. As the group grew, I at one point found myself with four friends who are all wives and moms. And I felt it.
That feeling happened several more times that week, and is one that happens throughout my life, in moments that feel like my singleness is showing. It’s a very vulnerable mental, emotional, and especially spiritual state to be in, that I find is not easily concealable though I can’t help but attempt to.
Which makes me wonder: Why?
What is it that makes me feel the need to hide what singleness does to me at times? Why is it something that I don’t want others to see too evidently linked to me?
It was encounters with that friend of mine that’s dating now, and conversations with God that revealed parts of the answer.
I, during my visit to Nac, had to literally and figuratively stare rejection in the face and respond to it. At times I responded poorly, and at other times a bit better. But it was the sharp sting of rejection that shaped my view of my singleness. Reasons why aside, (which, thinking about all the possible why’s, has only been for me a web of lies and half-truths for me to get trapped in so The enemy can toy with my mind and perspective) being rejected itself places so much doubt on you about you that it very easily becomes you. Instead of someone who was rejected, you operate out of the identity of Reject, and it becomes who you are instead of something you’ve experienced.
(While discussing rejection, let it be noted that to reject someone, like any other action, should be done in a respectful manner, and that cannot be accomplished passively. Passive rejection is simply disrespectful and causes more harm than good in the end. While rejection done directly in love and honesty, shows a sense of respect for the other person. (Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:15; Eph 4:25))
It also occurred to me, that my singleness was something I felt directly reflected my feelings of being undesirable and overlooked. In the Bible, however, this is not the case. Paul, (who wrote a famous section of scripture spelling out just how beautiful marriage is and what it is to look like in Eph. 5:22-33) wrote on singleness and how he preferred it to marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:7, 32-35.
1 Corinthians 7:7, 32-35 (MSG)
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.”32-35 “I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.”
Clearly singleness is not a season/state of life God means to highlight your flaws, He instead means it to be a time that highlights your freedom. Now, if you’re anything like me you may want to read that and say, ‘Well that’s all well and good Paul, but that’s not how singleness has been going for me! Instead it’s been a time of rejection that has me feeling overlooked and undesirable!” It’s to that idea though, I think God and Paul want to ask you and I the question of, ‘Are you going to let feeling over power Truth?’ Not to undermine feelings, which are real and powerful and should be handled with care, but to put it in it’s proper place in relation to The Word of God. I often feel, the weight and sting of rejection as I walk through life as a single. Yet, if I’m rejected by one, a few, or the majority, my acceptance in Christ not only does not weaver, but becomes all the more sweet and precious to me. Feeling overlooked and undesirable for me, and maybe for you too, often seem like truths that mock me at every opportunity. But The Truth says I am seen by the One who loves me beyond measure.
I don’t write this as though now I will be able to perfectly walk in singleness absolutely content, never again thinking poorly of this season or of myself in it. Let’s not get things twisted. I’m not perfect. I will fail. But, in my failings I want to, from this point forward run into the truth of God, not run to God believing false-truth. I want to come to a maturity level where when I am hurt, sad, and frustrated to instead of telling God how much I’m disappointed, to instead tell Him that despite it all I know that He loves me beyond what I am capable of knowing, I know that He sees me when I don’t feel seen, and that being accepted by Him is the sweetest gift I’ll ever receive and to forgive me in moments where I forget that. I want to come to a place where singleness is no longer a bad, bitter-tasting word or season who’s only company is rejection, and feelings of being overlooked and undesirable. I instead work toward the day when singleness feels sweet, and freeing. I also, very importantly, practice entrusting my heart to the One who made it and enveloping it in His Word always (Matt. 6:21; Phil. 4:7; Ps. 34:18, 73:26; Pro. 3:5-6, 4:23, 23:26).
I hope, you and I both, rise to the challenge of walking in singleness well, not allowing it to be something emboldened by negative characteristics, but experienced as God intends. A gift of freedom, where you and Him can devote all you want to each others time and attention. (Sounds like a pretty bomb relationship!)
Thanks for walking through this with me, and I hope to see you again on another Christian Journey.