And then, all of a sudden I was single… If you have found yourself in this horrible position, believe me, I empathize with you. Solitary life began for me close to four years ago, with a break that left me absolutely devastated. That one fateful day began a downward spiral of hopelessness, from which I had no perceived chance of recovery. I had landed in the terrible category of single, checking off boxes on surveys that I would rather leave blank. It is a label that draws condolences and looks of pity from paired up individuals who assume - correctly - that I must have no purpose without someone to share my hopes, dreams and bank account with. With the dreadful status of single violently thrust upon me, I have now become the single martyr, third wheeling with blissfully happy couples while my blood cries out for vengeance. Ask and ye shall receive - tried it, God has other plans. Seek and ye shall find - sifting through Christian Mingle profiles is not how I want to spend my spare time. I bind the evil spirit of singleness and send it to the fiery pit of hell. I command the heavens to open and let loose the single men, all while singing, “It’s raining men, hallelujah, it’s raining men, amen!” … Anything God? Nope. Nothing.
This current drought begs the question, am I in the desert of life, Bridget Jones'ing for a man who can create me? Desperately searching for someone I can find my identity in? I take a step back, and I have to ask myself, when did that stop being Jesus? Up until the final heartbreak, I had never been single with God. In fact I had been a serial monogamist, breaking hearts until the final heartbreak. Guilty of so many selfish acts of unkindness that I should be locked up in relationship prison with no chance of conjugal visits. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I’m still free!
Freedom and choice are amazing things. I am free to focus on my sad state of affairs. I can choose to lament over what could have been, should have been, and never was But, does my sadness rob me of my freedom? Do my choices hold me hostage?
To all my fellow spinsters, collectively joined with me in the cry of suffering, let’s take a moment to possibly consider a new perspective. I am tempted to ask if - under the looming clouds of single life - there is any silver lining to my tragic state of affairs? In a culture that places so much value on relationships, romance, and sexuality is there any way that I could possibly want to say “no to the beau” instead of “yes to the dress.” Are there any benefits of being single? There has to be a reason why the Apostle Paul says “to those who aren't married and to widows--it's better to stay unmarried, just as I am.” (1 Corinthians 7:8).
If it is true that “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” then perhaps I have been focusing on the wrong things. Perhaps there is some aspect of the single life that can be redeemed. So with this new perspective in mind let's explore some of the things that being single (with God) has taught me:
1. I am my number one.
“The truth is that from God’s perspective it is all about you. When you’re in love, it’s always about the other person. And so for God it’s all about you, [and] for you it’s all about Him.” - Bas Rijksen.
If God loves me so much that He would die for me, why wouldn’t I attach the same value to myself? One of Christ’s commandments was to love others as I love myself. Not more than myself, not after myself, but as myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am and will always be an advocate for the fact that as we step out in loving others, we become better at loving ourselves. Anyone who says they need to love themself before they can love others will never reach that magical moment when they are transformed into the proverbial Mother Theresa. However, I do believe that when I first became single, it was important to take time and learn to see myself as God sees me - especially since I didn’t have a man around to tell me how beautiful, smart, lovely and kind I am (which, by the way, are all qualities God sees in me... even if I sometimes don’t). Being single has given me the luxury of focusing on myself, and treating my mind, body and spirit as number one priorities in my life because Christ now lives in me - I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. I knew very well what self-sacrifice in a relationship looked like, to a degree in which I rarely put my own happiness or dreams first. The beauty of a relationship with Christ is that self-sacrifice to Him actually changes me into a better version of myself because He becomes my better half; in fact He goes so far to say that He becomes my better whole. I don’t need someone to complete me because I already am complete in Christ. Because my identity is now completely found in Jesus, I become number one, and as He lives through me I become better for it.
Ephesians 3:16-19 That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
In loving God, I am becoming a lover of myself. I am now obligated to daily focus on continuing to renew my mind to His word, and believing that what He says about me is true. I am worth it.
2. I am strong and independent… but still fully dependent.
Let me take a moment to explain this apparent contradiction. Physically I’m a wimp - lifting a bag full of books takes some serious sweat - but mentally, I am one of the strongest people I know. When my relationship ended I had the ugly cry. The one where it feels like you are drowning, your heart has been ripped out, you are on the floor in a pool of tears and your face is contorted into the face of pain. It was bad. I even recorded a video of it on my phone so that every time I had fond thoughts of the past with him, I could replay it for myself and pull my treacherous mind back to reality - don’t you dare go there Linds. There were days when I wondered if the hurt would ever stop, because I didn’t feel strong enough to face another day, let alone crawl out of bed to shower or eat. But with God, and a healthy dose of Psalms, I got past it. He picked me up, dusted me off, and set me back up on two feet. I survived without the rebound - because loving Jesus doesn’t afford the luxury of dirty hookups, drunken nights at the club and the walk of shame past room mates, or God forbid parents!
The bible says, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." - Nehemiah 8:10.
If the joy of the Lord is my strength, then I’m a real life superhero, because I have so much joy I’m sure people wonder what drugs I take. With God I sing, smile, and laugh my way through any hardship life can throw at me. With God I am faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! And able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
One of the tall buildings I cleared was the high rise named codependency. Codependence is defined as the excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction. Have you ever met couples addicted to each other? I have, and it’s oppressive. In the aftermath of my own split, I realized that I had placed expectations on this man to fill the places in my heart that only God could. I was dependent on him for feeling truly loved and I had inadvertently made an idol out of him. This placed expectations on him that ultimately suffocated us both. We were addicted to each other and called it love. It was very unhealthy, and not what God intended. With that being said, old habits are hard to break and I had lived a lifetime of dependency. What better way to replace an old addiction than with a new one? The new addiction that helped me kick the habit was a devotion to everything that God is. I needed to know and understand the one who created me for Himself. Now, the hole my heart was desperately trying to fill with another fallible, imperfect person is filled with God; and He perfectly fits that hole that only He was intended to fill.
Psalm 62: 5-8 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.
So you see, it is possible to be independent, yet fully dependant at the same time. As a single, independent woman there are so many things that I can do. I can change my oil, take apart my carburetor, use a power drill and all the other things usually attributed to manhood. But that also doesn’t change the fact that I am now fully completely dependent on God - I depend on Him for the air that I breathe, food that I eat, income, support, and most importantly love.
3. My identity is found in Him - I Am.
Some of the questions that my single self now had to face were:
Who am I?
What are my values and beliefs - the things I won’t compromise on?
What makes me happy?
Without a man, where do I find my identity?
Looking back I see that I had adopted a pattern of acquiring new habits, hobbies and interests because I felt he might like me if I like them. What a complete waste of time. I’m not saying that you can’t share similar interests, but the problem for myself arises when I try to be a chameleon for the man I am with. Doing the things he likes to do, while never taking the time to consider whether or not I actually enjoyed doing those things. Wait… do I actually enjoy watching endless hours of conspiracy theory videos about how my froot loops are really coloured by the blood of dead unicorns in illuminati factories hidden in the lost city of Atlantis? Is watching grown men pee on trees to try and attract Bigfoot, quality entertainment that we both agreed upon? Precious time well wasted on something I have little to no interest in. Well ladies and gentlemen, not anymore! Now every single day is a relentless pursuit of the things I enjoy, the things I am passionate about. The things that truly define who I am and what I care about. I am free to pursue my own God given desires because He gave them to me and I am now free to chase after them without any constraint or compromise.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Furthermore, if names frame our identity then in this age of Brangelinas, Bennifers, and Kimye, who we attach ourselves to seems to become who we are. If this is the case then my paparazzi name with my current fling would be Jesindsay… hmm, nope. How about we just keep them separate and you get the idea… I am Lindsay, but I am also Jesus, and I find my identity in Him because after all, I was created in His image. There are so many things the bible says I am in Christ and Joyce Meyer has an amazing compilation of many of these affirmations. According to Jesus, at the basic level of my identity in Christ, I am love. And because Jesus so wanted it this way, I now find my entire identity in who He was and is through me - perfect love.
John 17: 21-23 ... that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
4. I am good at making myself happy.
I consider myself one of the funniest people I know, and sometimes the things that come out of my mouth surprise me just as much as it does the people around me - I laugh at all my jokes, sometimes hours, even days after I have come up with them. I used to think that connection with a man would make me happy, but that concept turned out to be one of those nasty if/then propositions that I always trick us into this idea of how things would be:
Lie: If I had a boyfriend, then I would enjoy traveling more.
Truth: I enjoy traveling just as much, if not more, by myself than I ever did with a significant other. I have had enough solo trips, and road trips with God to say that traveling with God might just be the only way to go. There are things that I have experienced that God sculpted, staged, and framed for my/our eyes only. I love traveling alone and I am truly happy just spending time in my own company. *Warning* too much time in your own company is not healthy - week three on a solo road trip I started to respond to myself - abort mission!
Lie: If I had a boyfriend, then I would feel whole.
Truth: I am a motivated, driven, passionate, loving person. With or without a man. There is a verse that says "When Jesus saw him [lying there], and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, will you be made whole?"- John 5:6. Jesus commands that we be made whole (made whole=made well) healed and happy. I can be content with my situation and actually enriched by it. With Jesus, I can be my own better half - which if you’re a math whiz, automatically makes me whole. This is being filled with the fullness of God.
Lie: If I had a boyfriend, then I wouldn’t feel so lonely.
Truth: I felt more lonely with a man who wasn’t right for me than I do without him. A good friend, spoke from experience when she said, “Being in a relationship with an unbeliever is a long and lonely road.” I have held that in my heart ever since. The bible says that Jesus will never leave me, that His presence always goes with me, so I can know that when loneliness knocks Jesus answers the door.
Lie: If I had someone to love, then I would be happy.
Truth: That’s a big, fat, lie!
5. I’m single… not lonely.
It’s interesting that when you search for the definition of “single”, the word "alone" pops up as a synonym. Why are these two considered equivalent? Loneliness is an interesting thing. I will admit that In my years of singledom, there have been a few chilly nights I wouldn’t mind just nuzzling up into some big lumberjack’s fur vest, beside a roaring fire, on a bearskin rug, stroking his beard as he tells me stories of chopping down timber, and how he wrestles grizzlies for his morning workout - sorry where was I? Ah yes loneliness. In spite of the rare harlequin lumberjack scenario, I would like to challenge the thought that being single means that we are somewhat alone or lonely. I’m not going to lie and say that I never hear the nocturnal whisper of loneliness trying to befriend me. When I finally settle in for the night and the busyness of life calms down he silently slips in, sidles up beside me and whispers, “Let’s be friends, I’ll comfort you.” This is a powerful suggestion, and the door once opened usually leads down a path of depression, sadness, compromise and heartache. But, after years of visits I’ve started to wise up to the voice of loneliness and shut the door on his horrible suggestions. Now I would say, the amount of times that annoying friend visits me is less and less as I begin to put my faith in the word.
Matt 28:20 ...and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Deut 31:6 ...the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you
That’s the beauty of the word, and God’s promises: How can I feel lonely with promises like that? The amazing thing is that as I start to believe what God says, I start to feel it too.
God said “it is not good for [woman] to be alone…” so he gave me Jesus, and at the same time so, so, so many friends. Being single seems to have become a package deal with the gift of friendship and I acquire friends so quickly that I have coined the term 'instafriend'. Over the years, being single has afforded me the time to really invest in my friendships and they have grown into connections in which we know and support each other on a deep personal level. God has blessed me so richly, and I can honestly say that there is not a place or time where I haven’t had an ear of support in the tough times. My friendship pool is diverse; men and women of different ages, backgrounds, stories, and even beliefs.
Through these friendships God has also given me male companionship. So while Jesus is the one in my Song of Solomon, God has also given me male friends for whom I am forever grateful. Snow White had the seven dwarfs. She would do anything for those little guys, and they kept her safe and happy. And to be perfectly honest, her life in the woods with those little men is a vision of my paradise. No, my male friends are not little people, but they have huge hearts like those little guys, and I love them with all my heart.
It is absolutely amazing how many stellar men God has put into my life. Some are mentors, others confidantes, there are father figures, and handymen. I have the honor of knowing men that are loving, caring, kind, generous and wise. I don’t need to be in a relationship to share the company of men who love me without conditions. Despite what Webster and his dictionary say, being single doesn’t have to mean that you are alone.
6. My space, my time.
The beauty of having friendships with strong independent people is that at the end of the day these lovely people have their own homes and lives to go back to. There is a selfish side of me that appreciates my own space and the time I have to spend on myself and with myself. I often tell people that an ideal living situation with my future husband would be a duplex scenario. No dirty underwear on the floor, no wet towels on the bedroom floor, a whole sink to myself, and a shower full of my toiletries. My peaceful slumber not interrupted by a snoring, sweating husband trying to spoon me. I’m convinced that men run at least 30 degrees hotter than women - they are literally a human furnace, and all that sweaty manhood creates a morning musk I could live without. Perhaps I’m set in my ways, but I like having my own personal space and it is a sacrifice that I will only make for a truly exceptional man.
Time is even more precious to me. My last relationship was with an unbeliever. I was saved two years in, and it resulted in a lonely life where I never could share time with God and him together. My God time, which is so personal and precious, was a time that revolved around whether or not I was with my man. God was taking second fiddle to my boyfriend and if there’s one thing I know about God, He has a way of removing the people or things that take the focus off of Him; and for myself that’s precisely what he did. Putting my relationship with God first, I prayed a scary prayer, and told Him that if Mr.Right was in fact Mr.Wrong, then God would need to change his heart for me. Less than a month later I got the call. His feelings had changed, and he didn’t want to be with me anymore. I now had all the time in the world for God, and in the heartbroken state I was in, I would need as much time as I could get with His healing and saving grace. After all these years of being single I’ve now come to relish my God time. In fact, my time is actually God’s time because I owe it all to Him for giving me eternity. I am not going to lament over lost time with another person, but rejoice over the amount of time being single has afforded me with God. Time spent in prayer, praise, travel and meditation. There is no distraction anymore. There will be a time when I am waking up to a husband, and kids and a career and busy life, but right now I have all the time and space I need to give all my heart to God.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8 But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another. So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.... In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that the married person’s “interests are divided.” This single gal's interests lie solely in Jesus. In the words of Bill Withers, “Just the two of us, [God] and I.”
7. I don’t need to find acceptance nor value in physical intimacy.
Don’t you miss the cuddle? Of course this is question that comes up with anyone who is curious as to how it’s possible to be single for so long with no serious prospects on the horizon. And I know what the people who crave physical intimacy are saying, “I can’t make out with God Linds.” To that I respond, “What do you think God invented dogs for, duh?”
- this is clearly a joke, please don’t start making out with your dog ladies, that’s wrong, and you’ll be stoned (see Leviticus)
I agree that this is an absolutely valid statement and after my break up, what I personally missed the most was touch. Obviously this is a love language I’m speaking. The human embrace is comforting to me; and it’s affirmational. I am an especially affectionate person if I’m feeling those warm fuzzies for someone. To explain how this obstacle has more than been overcome by Jesus can only be described through a story:
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved hugs. I prefer hugs to kisses even. Even though I loved hugs I never fully felt satisfied by them. There was a part of me that wanted to hug my loved ones so tight that they became a part of me. No matter how tight I gripped, the hug could never be close enough. I couldn’t understand what this inner longing was or where it came from. After all, you can’t mush a person into yourself can you? Well here’s the good news for me, the bible says I can.
Ephesians 5:31-32 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
So perhaps it doesn’t use the word mush, but what it says in layman terms is that when I became a believer (part of the church body), Jesus got mushed into me, and we are now one big uni-hug human. Clearly, it’s hard to put the feeling into words, but Jesus has become the inner hug my heart was always longing for. We hold each other so close that his heart has become a part of my heart, and we are wonderfully one. In the end I realized that it isn’t the touch that I was necessarily missing, it was the feelings attached to the hug - fulfillment, affirmation, assurance, comfort, and peace. Believe it or not my intimacy with Christ is on a level that fills me with all of these, and my need for physical touch is abated.
Furthermore, we have all heard the old adage - sex sells. We are bombarded daily with opinions on sex, sexuality, sexual agendas, sexual acceptance, and human sexuality. Sexuality is something that we ascribe so much importance to, but what is this cultural obsession with sex? Sex does not define who I am. If every man disappeared off the face of the planet and there were no chance of me ever getting married and doing the boom boom, I would not blink out of existence - I would not cease being who I fundamentally am. I do not define who I am based on whether or not a man accepts me or is intimate with me, and I don’t believe that others should either. With or without sex I am an incredibly unique person, created by God with so much more to offer the world than just a sexual status. Heterosexual, will never be in the list of top ten words that describe me because I believe sex is an action, not an identity.
8. Jesus is the standard.
I'd like to share with y'all something God said during an amazing vision: “Lindsay I have been walking you down the aisle your whole life, but the only way I will let go of your hand is when the man standing at the altar looks just like Jesus.”
Despite the romance in this promise I still am prone to sometimes think, “Well thanks God... that’s never,” because to emulate Jesus is the highest standard a man could ever attain. My family says I’m picky, but they have absolutely no idea how picky I am. No one past present or future has ever, or will ever compare to Jesus. He’s the complete package. He’s a tall, dark, handsome, hard working carpenter. A man who after a long, hard day at work, will wash your feet and turn your boring glass of water into the best glass of wine you've ever had. He can read all my thoughts, knows exactly what I need, and is so obsessed with me that he would do anything to make me happy. He freakin died for me. What man could compare? But hope can still be found in a beautifully redemptive way. The bible tells us that when we are reborn we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), made in the perfect image of Christ (Romans 8:29). My man may not be perfect, but he will be perfect in the eyes of the Father. And call me a hopeless romantic, but he will be absolutely perfect for me; He will be perfectly imperfect. I have no problem waiting for God to present me to the one whose rib I am made from, just as he did for Eve in the garden so long ago (the very first love story ever told). When my future husband wakes from His slumber, he will so emulate the spirit of Christ, that our marriage will be a reflection of the sanctified love of Christ and His true bride, the church.
Ephesians 5:25-29 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church...
You think Disney built the dream - Nope! Jesus was the first and final knight in shining armor.
So in the end, I’ve come to realize that being single in my walk with God is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. There is always redemption for every condition when viewed through the wonderful goodness of God, even for what seems like a bleak single existence. I learned that I could look at my own circumstance as a gift rather than a curse. You see, I have come to find that being single has actually been enriching to my mind, body and spirit - not a time of suffering and punishment. Finally I can enjoy me! I can dance and sing and love everyday, always embraced by the ever present love of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus.