(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Looking Back at Singlehood
By Jacqueline Napoli
Singlehood is bittersweet: freedom, fun and opportunity abound, yet you crave connection. But there are valuable treasures to be mined from the single years. I’d had a ring on my finger for more than half my life, but just five years ago, I discovered myself suddenly single after 19 years of marriage. As I look back at both of my single experiences, I think of Ecclesiastes.
I didn’t chase riches or go out partying like Solomon did; not at all (except surfing or snowboarding a little obsessively). I loved God and really put Him first. But now that I have years behind me, I have arrived at the same conclusion Solomon did after all his soul-searching. Keep the Lord foremost in your mind, starting in your youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1), and the whole sum-total purpose of life is to fear God and obey His commands (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
If there was only a single lesson I could cull from my whole life of learning, it would be that there was never a time where I disobeyed God and was glad I made that choice, or it paid off even a little. Literally not even once. Clear as day. How could it pay off? There’s God’s plan, which is infinitely wise and infinitely kind; our plans, which are half-baked and totally misinformed; or God forbid, Satan’s plans, which are intended to render our life a burning wreckage. Every obedience is a gold brick laying a future path of glory and joy. Every disobedience is the long, painful way. No loopholes. This is what I’ve learned.
I see singlehood as the time of forging one’s identity in Christ – it’s just us and Him. There is no time like singlehood to go full-tilt and press on to know Jesus. Paul said that when you are married, you really worry about your husband and his needs, which is loving and right. But it’s very consuming (1 Corinthians 7). When you are single, you can pick up and do whatever the Lord calls you to. This is thrilling, if your heart is fully committed to His will and ready to obey. This can prove quite an adventure. Now is the time to begin knowing His voice (through prayerful Bible reading) and to be courageous in obedience. This forges character, which stays with you for life. It qualifies you to become an excellent wife if He wills that. It sets up your path within His perfect will which is “good, perfect, and pleasing” (Romans 12:2).
Another great thing about following hard after Christ during singlehood is an idea that a counselor told me; we tend to choose mates precisely as broken as we are. Maybe it’s to resolve issues awaiting their healing. Maybe that’s why we pick people who push our buttons. But this is key – the more healed and strong you are in Christ, the more healed and strong a mate you will be attracted to. This reverberates for the rest of your life. I’m forever grateful for the worship, the tear-drenched Bible sessions, the counseling, coffee dates with girlfriends, the books, the journaling, and the intense prayer sessions filling my single days. These shaped me more than anything in my life and made me a solid Christ-follower whom my husband’s “heart safely trusts” (Proverbs 31:11).
Besides, if you do end up getting married, the best gift you can give your future husband is to be an excellent, praiseworthy, and virtuous wife. You become that by becoming an excellent, praiseworthy, virtuous daughter of the King. You were bought by His blood. You became His daughter by confessing Him as Lord. The outworking of amazing, beautiful character is hard won through the single, laser-focused years of learning to know His voice and to obey Him instantly, like a soldier under orders. Maybe that’s why, when Solomon found his Proverbs 31 girl, he described her “as awesome as an army with banners” (Song 6:10). Obey Jesus radically, and regardless of marital status, you will be one stunning, radical woman. And that, you get to keep forever.