I was going through some old paperwork this past weekend and found some old study notes of mine.
They were from a time I was asked to speak at one of our woman’s retreats breakout sessions.
My topic was on how to be a single woman in ministry.
As I was putting my notes together I was simultaneously complaining to a friend about the “stigma” of singleness. Venting about singleness and the stereotype it holds or how I felt people treated me. You know, because I’m a sinner.
Ultimately I was hurting inside and bitter and angry at where God had me in my life. I had a longing that was not fulfilled and I felt less than. Nobody was forcing me to feel this way, I had an issue inside that needed to be dealt with. My friend, as she always does, listened and somehow understood my plight and then she spoke:
She told me that she prays for me and she wants me to be married, she wanted to see me navigate that part of life. But… and that was a big but, she also said that she didn’t know God’s will for my life and nowhere in His word does He promise that any of us will be married or have kids. She told me she doesn’t know if I will ever marry.
I sat there and took in the words. These words were spoken with such love and care, with such purpose and clarity. They hit me right in my chest where I felt them settle and start to work.
I sat there on my bed that night and I sifted and worked through many feelings. I sat and prayed with my face to the ground, not because I am super spiritual but because that’s where the Lord took me. And after all of that the overwhelming feeling I ended with that evening was that I was free.
There was a freedom in the truth she spoke.
I’ve had many different people tell me many different things about singleness and marriage. I’ve heard many different people tell my single friends many things about singleness. I’ve gone to conferences and have listened to podcasts and sermons and have read books about singleness. Sadly, up until about five years ago, on that night, in my room, over the phone, through a friend who was hundreds of miles away was the very first time anybody had spoken words of truth about my singleness.
Those are the words that started to heal me and free me from an expectation I was holding myself to.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuke to an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25: 11&12
My friend, that night, listened. She listened to not only me but she also listened to the Lord and spoke words of truth that I’m sure were not easy to speak. But words that were needed to be said none-the-less. She didn’t try to make me feel better or to sugar coat things. Out of love she got right to the heart of it and it was exactly what I needed.
I, in turn, also spoke words of truth to these young twenty-somethings at the retreat the next weekend and I’m not so sure they were ready to receive it. I get that, I’ve been there. As their big eyes looked back at me, the girl who was supposed to give them some sense of hope or some insight on how to navigate around singleness (I know this because I have sat in studies with this exact expectation) was telling them that we are not promised marriage. That we should not be waiting to serve the Lord until a man comes into the picture. That God wants our whole life now. That our relationship with God is our own and that our focus should not be on finding a man but on serving the Lord and His people. I said these words with love and compassion because as hard as they were to speak they were even harder to take in.
I have no idea if any of those girls needed that truth at that moment or if any of them have even thought about it after that afternoon. I do know that God healed me through that lesson and placed my expectation and perspective right where it needed to be.
I don’t believe these words are just for the single folk. I believe there are many of us in various stages of life that are waiting. Waiting for something else to happen before they move on to fully serve the Lord. Waiting to have kids or to get a promotion, to get into a nicer or larger home, for the kids to grow up or for work to be less stressful. We often times get stuck in life waiting for the next thing before we move forward with the Lord. I’m not saying that there aren’t seasons in life that we should step back and wait on the Lord to move us forward or that raising kids and a family are not important. What I am saying is most of the time our lives are not going to go as planned. Sometimes we need to let all of that fall into the background and just serve the Lord. Whatever that looks like in your life and I think we all know deep down if we aren’t living in that space.
All of that to say:
Friends, this life is not our own so lets speak truth in love and follow hard after the Lord.