For whatever reason, God has seen it fit that I bear the cross of singleness in my life. And over the more recent years, I have been fortunate to see the blessing in my singleness.
Ever since I was in my pre-teens I have dreamt of getting married. At one point I would walk around day-dreaming about being Nick Carter’s (former Backstreet Boys member) wifey and living a charmed life (Haha!). Marriage was the ultimate for me. It was one of my many idols, and from a young age.
So, God has had to take me through a process where He has kept me single to shift my mind-set around what is of ultimate importance in my life. It certainly is not marriage. I have come to appreciate the peace and true joy in embracing (and not fighting) the single season.
Today, I was impressed to share the realities of being a single Christian woman. To share some of the things that make being single really tough for us in hopes that as a community of believers, we can better support our single Christian women.
Now, to all my single Christian sisters, I’m sure you’ve faced some awkward and sometimes annoying questions about your relationships status:
- “Why are you still single?” – This question from people who read the same Bible as you and share the same beliefs you do, and so know that you know that you are the one to be pursued and not to pursue – so why would my single status be on me when I must be chased? And with the knowledge that everything happens in God’s time.
- “Why are you so picky?” – Again, this question is asked as though you yourself do not sometimes wonder why you must have such high standards. Trust me, there are days where I have thought, “You know what? Who needs a God-fearing man anyway? As long as he goes to church I’m sure we’ll be alright.”
And the questions go on.
The above questions (and those similar to them), I have learnt to brush away. I get that very few married men and women in the church truly get the circumstances of single Christians today. And I don’t even hold it against them because deep down they mean well.
But over the last couple of years, the one question or statement that has caused me my greatest struggle with being a single Christian woman is:
“You are such a beautiful young woman who clearly loves the Lord. How is it that a woman like you is still single?”
It’s similar to question number 1 above, except that it has added salt that rubs into the wound. It’s one thing to know that you are a single Christian woman who is seeking contentment and healing from past relationships/mistakes/mind-sets. You have no doubt that were you to enter a relationship now, it would go down – and not in a good way because you’re so broken.
But then, it is another thing to know the journey you have walked with God to receive healing from all that. You are still on the journey, yes, but now you can turn around and look back to see how far you have come with and through Him. It leaves you in tears knowing that you are not the same person you were years ago.
This question then suggests that there is something wrong because you are a prime candidate for marriage yet you remain alone. It can cause even the most grounded Christian woman to wonder, especially because it is a recurring question. It can threaten to undo all the work God has done in you up to this point.
From family, to friends, to colleagues and even strangers (yes! I’ve had people I’ve met for the first time say this to me), such a question is probably one of the hardest things to carry as a single Christian woman. And more so because it is a question that you probably ask God in the crevices of your heart before anyone else voices it.
I’ve stopped dating for the sake of it. I’ve stopped watching movies that make me pine after men. I’ve dedicated my life to Jesus and I’m walking in His purpose for me. I literally seek to live a life of worship and my favourite pastime has become spending time in God’s word. I’ve finally laid down that idol of marriage. Yet, this gnawing question that suggests I am doing something wrong consistently follows me.
This has been my greatest struggle family, and maybe some other young woman’s too. I feel as though I have gone through all the steps of struggling with singleness that a Christian woman can face and this one is the biggest sucker. And probably because of the context of the African culture we grow up and live in.
Yet, this very question I have taken to God in my darkest moments and asked it to Him – “Why God? Why have you allowed me, a woman so devoted to you to miss out on a desire YOU planted in me? Why have you allowed others who didn’t even care to go through all the groundwork to get married and have babies while I watch? Why?”
I ask such questions not because I believe I am better than any other woman or even understand their circumstances that led to their marriage etc, but because this is my reality. This is what I am grappling with today.
What am I trying to say? I have learnt in the last couple of years that being transparent with God will get you through such hard moments. It doesn’t matter how long you have walked with Him or how much Bible you know or how long you’ve served in the church or how much you’ve grown content in your singleness – you are human and you will still battle with these tough and painful feelings/questions about your status. And that’s okay.
It just reminds you how much you desperately need God to do life. It reminds you of your humanity. It establishes and maintains the intimacy with your God. It builds trust with Him. John the Baptist understood this which is why he questioned Jesus on whether He really was the One who was to come or if they should wait for another (when he was locked up in prison and Christ was not trying to save him). Or why Christ cried out on the cross, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken Me?”
See, we often like to jump to the part of our Bible heroes’ stories where they share such profound statements of faith and don’t doubt God’s goodness – definitely all things we should seek to fulfil. But we skip over all the messy, human parts of their experiences and in the process nullify our own experiences which causes us added heartache. Just like you, they went through doubts and depression and anxiety and fear. But the greatest of them expressed these to God.
One of my favourite Bible characters, David, understood this so well which is why I believe he was called a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 18:6 he says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”
So sis, take the hardest questions about your singleness to Christ and don’t deny them. In your quiet time, pour it all out to Him because He cares. He wants to know. And He has the anecdote that will take away your pain and replace it with joy and peace. He can show you where you need Him to enter and transform you even more when you’re this honest. I have personally experienced it.
And to all our married friends and family and colleagues who don’t quite get it yet, no this post is not an indication about how sad or bitter we are about our singleness. It’s just an education of our experiences so you can better support and encourage us. So you can be a little more sensitive about the questions you ask us, no matter how well-meaning. To those who are already doing that, please don’t stop. You have no idea what it does for us.
Thanks once again for reading. Let me know what’s been the hardest thing for YOU as a single Christian woman. Encourage another woman. And remember that God loves you more than you will ever understand.
Before You Go Sis:
Would you like to be part of a community of black African women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!