I figured since I’m doing this Fifty Days of Singleness it might be a good time to reflect on some things I’ve learnt through the various relational stages of my life. This is the first part.
1. Being single is awesome
Forever alone isn’t really forever bad. There are some excellent things about being single. Probably the biggest thing is that every decision you make you make alone. You don’t have to consider how anyone else might feel, you don’t have to ask anyone what they think. You just do your thing. Wanna go on holidays? Do it. Wanna stay home tonight? No worries. Wanna move overseas for a year? Go nuts. Got some OCD tendencies? OCD away, no-one’s gonna intrude on your perfect world.
Singleness is freedom. Singleness is spontaneity. Singleness is thinking, planning, choosing and living for one.
I loved being single.
2. Being single is lonely
We’re people built to be in relationship with others, so as a single, feelings of loneliness are never far away. As a result you have to work at your relationships. You arrange catch-ups with friends, nights out, holidays with others, because if you don’t you’ll be stuck doing life all by yourself.
The older you get, the more you have to work at maintaining friendships, because everyone moves on. They get partners, spouses, kids, and lives which don’t involve you. So you often have to be the proactive one, otherwise you find yourself with no friends.
But more than just friendships, you want a partner. Someone to come home to, someone to message when things are good, or bad, or just nothing, without it being weird. You want someone to talk to about your day. You want someone who is your default option. Singleness sometimes equals loneliness.
3. Singleness’ default is temporariness
We are conditioned to live expecting that someday we’re going to find someone, get a partner and settle down. That means that whatever decisions you make while single, there is always a chance it’s all going to get disrupted by the arrival of a partner. I noticed this most clearly through my years of living in share houses. Share houses are temporary households. No-one is there forever. It’s fun, but you know it’s not going to last. You or someone else could move out at anytime. This feeling of temporariness permeates your whole life, every big decision you make has the clause that this could all change if you meet someone. No-one ever tells you “You’re going to be single forever”, so you just assume you won’t. Temporary is the default setting for life while single.
When I moved in by myself I remember feeling like I was removing the temporariness of my singleness. I wasn’t committing to cheap rent and people to share the chores with anymore. I was committing to making a life as a single man. It wasn’t bad, I was just changing my default outlook on life. I was probably going to stay single, build a life by myself, and that was ok. In fact it was nice to be able to commit to a future which didn’t depend on the arrival of some unknown person.
4. Sex is not everything
We live in a world that is all about sex. Sexual identity is identity. Your value is based on how much sex you can get. Your view of the world is shaped by your sexual orientation.
But when you’re a single Christian having zero sex, you get to discover there is a lot more to life than sex. Of course you want to be having sex, you just can’t. But when you get told implicitly through the media or through the conversations around you that your identity is found in how much sex you’re getting and who you’re getting it from, you know that’s not true. You know it’s not true because you’re not having any sex and you know you are still a whole person.
It’s exciting knowledge to have. Very few people get to take the time after adolescence to discover who they are without sex. Celibate singleness gives you that chance.
5. Jesus is enough
My great prayer while single was “Jesus is enough”. Singleness is generally defined by your lack of a partner, and your lack of a family, and your lack of a defined future. But the Bible tells me that I am not defined by my lack of anything. I am defined by fullness in Jesus! When you’re single you get to hold on to this truth, and pray this prayer, and remember that you are greater than what you’re missing.
I know I felt the truth of that while single. I knew a fullness in Jesus that transcended my loneliness. It’s hard to define, except perhaps as a sense of safety. You are free to be single or not, lonely or not, temporary or not, because your basic essence, as a saved child of God, isn’t ever going to change. That’s safety. Whatever you long for, it’s less than what you already have. Jesus is enough. That was my most valuable lesson of singleness.
If you want to hear more of my thoughts on singleness from when I was single, you can listen to my sermon here.
Photo by Damien McCallum.