Why Am I Still Single? 7 Things To Consider If You’re Single And Don’t Want To Be.

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To: Todd Wagner (pastoraloffice@watermark.org)

From: xxxxx

I have question that I’ve been pondering and praying about for a long while now and wanted to know what your views and interpretations of the Bible concerning singleness are?

More specifically, I am a 36 year old single woman who desperately wants to have a life partner in a deeply devoted Christian husband and of course children. I’ve always wanted a big family as I’m an only child to older parents and have a very small family. I always pictured myself getting married and having children, but I question if it’s in the cards for me.

Now, I know that Paul had written about marriage and staying single if it’s at all possible in I Corinthians 7 and I do realize that as a single, I’m able to do many of the things that married people cannot. I have the capacity to put more of myself into service for the Lord, get closer to Him and that my ministry can be much more than if I had a husband and kids.

My question is this: If God has a plan for me NOT to get married, wouldn’t I be wired by Him in a way that being single doesn’t bother me? I heard it preached at my former church singles group that for a very few people…those not meant to be married, that God would instill in them the capacity to not be concerned with whether or not they will get married…that they wouldn’t long for it like most of the population does. Do you think that is true? Is it true that if I weren’t meant to be married that God would sustain me and that I would have a peace about it?

I ask because I don’t have a peace about it. I’m also no spring chicken and wrestling with this matter a lot. On top of it all, I don’t think I’ve ever had past a 2nd date with a man. Am I meant to live my life single? Is this addressed in anymore detail within the Bible?

Your feedback concerning this matter would be greatly appreciated. I’m striving to get into the Word, to sit at the feet of Jesus and I know that He’s truly all that I need, but the want for a family can’t be shaken.

Thank you in advance for your counsel,

xxxxx

——————————————

From: Todd Wagner

To: xxxxx

XXXXX,

So encouraging to read your email and see you seeking understanding in this as we should in all things. I am sure you have already asked your community group their thoughts and what the Lord has already said to us about these things in His word. (if not I would beg you to stop reading here….see what y’all can come up with on your own and then take a peek at some of my thoughts.

Here are a couple of biblical truths I would share with you on this topic and additionally would love for y’all to meet with Cynthia Culver and let her share with you her own reflection on God’s word related to your question.

Why it would be a better world if we were all from Texas A&M

I went to the University of Missouri.  My wife went to Baylor.  My oldest daughter goes to Oklahoma State.  I don’t own any maroon.  I am constantly, expectantly, lovingly, and annoyingly (cultishly?) interrupted by “whoop” anytime the word Aggie is mentioned.  I could go on and on about the many, easy-to-make-fun-of quirks that friends in College Station have, but the truth is we need more of what this university bleeds in every college and corner of our country.  The picture and post below from an A&M ethics professor compel me to not be an anonymous Aggie fan any longer.  I hope my other kids go there…or at least I hope what goes on there goes on in them.

Aggies…you have my honor freely given.  Whoop.

The picture above looks innocuous enough. Students are often in line—waiting to get into an exam or a class, waiting for tickets to a football game, waiting for a bus. But this line was different. Without my knowledge, my TA emailed my class and told them she would have a get well card for my wife, who has been challenged with heart issues over the last few months. What you see is my TA’s snapshot of the 30-minute-long line that ensued.

These students are currently in my class. Except for one or two, I have only known them for four weeks, and I am still learning names and faces. They have never met my wife, and they know her only by her official title, The World’s Most Beautiful Woman. We have not mentored them or invested in them. In fact, I have not even given them an exam yet.

What you are seeing expressed is honor. Honor is why we blow Silver Taps every month to remember fallen Aggies and why we softly call the Muster. I saw it last Saturday night at Kyle Field, as the entire stadium rose to honor the oldest living Aggie. I saw it even more intensely as everyone rose to applaud for a small group of disabled veterans who were sitting in the end zone bleachers. And the crowd repeated it, section by section, as those veterans moved by on their way out of the stadium in the second half.

Honor, freely given, is a powerful antidote to cynicism. I have observed that one of the characteristics most frequently mocked by detractors of A&M is our unflagging optimism, even in the face of contradictory evidence. I teach professional skepticism to young auditors like the ones you see standing in this line, so it is easy for me to let skepticism devolve into cynicism. But the experiences of my life since coming to Texas A&M have changed me, and I think for the better.

I am looking harder to find the good in things, and I am reconsidering my views when they are not well-informed. I am sitting still more often and taking a step back, rather than immediately trying to solve everyone’s problems. When I receive criticism, it still hurts, but I am less likely to lash back at the critic, and more likely to consider how I should change.

I do not mean to imply that being here has fixed my character problems. (If you cut me off in traffic, I will probably still honk.) But it has undeniably made a difference in my life. These voluntary expressions of honor—by my TA in arranging a card, by my students standing in line—have made it impossible for me to just careen into being a grumpy old professor.

Today I am trying to figure out ways that I can do things better and make the classroom experience richer for my students.

I keep going back to that picture of the line. What do you see there? Boredom, texting, a smile or two, conversation. What do I see?

I see the reason I invest my life at Texas A&M.

Treasures Don’t Do the Hunting

I recently read a blog post by my good friends at the porch (which I hope you check out here). As a Dad of three young women, I was prompted to add a few thoughts to JP’s list of “why guys don’t ask girls out”, and I thought I would share my “adds” here.   See bottom of this post for more on the blessing that the porch is and check out the the link above to see his original post that prompted my comments below.

Ladies, and I certainly tell my daughters this, one of the reasons guys don’t pursue women is that they don’t have to.  Some girls make themselves too available.  In other words, they make their three-dimensional selves way too accessible.  Don’t let a guy spend too much time with you (especially once you find yourself starting to wish he would ask you out) without seeking that time out with you intentionally.  In other words, seek the Lord (as opposed to seeking a date/husband), serve passionately, and then skedaddle.  I’m not talking about playing games here…but after the third or fourth time you go out with the same group after serving, being at The Porch, etc., it might be good to not join the group (especially if the guy you hope pursues you is always there).

Why?  Because he has no reason to pursue you privately if he can always enjoy you publicly. I tell my gals that the treasure doesn’t do the hunting.  If there is never any mystery as to what is “down there” most boys will never go through the trouble of digging.  So don’t play games, but also don’t always play with the group.  Go home early and spend some time seeking the Lord, reminding yourself of the MAN you want your man to look like.  This is especially true if the reason you always join the group is because the guy you want to ask you out is always in the group. Going on the group date with him every week is maybe the very reason he never asks you out.

Finally, there is a similar reason why the men who DO date you DON’T marry you, and it just might be because you are making more than your time too available.

Why would a guy date a girl if he can be with her any time he wants without intentional effort?  Even more, why would a guy marry a girl he can sleep with (or get off with) any time he wants to without intentionally declaring before God and family that SHE is the ONE.

Treasures don’t do the hunting and treasure chests have locks on them for a reason.  Don’t give him the code until he makes the covenant.

*JP’s  blog post is yet another example of why the Porch and its leadership are a HUGE gift to 20-somethings and therefore a HUGE gift to both the future and the present of this church and our city.  It is not easy to find leaders who will speak the truth to you these days and it is even harder to find those who will do so creatively, winsomely, and always back it up with ULTIMATE TRUTH.  Way to go JP. Way to go Porch team.  May the Lord multiply your kind, and do so by y’all making and multiplying disciples.

The Complete Single

Recently, a friend asked me a question that has popped up occasionally in my time in ministry: Should I stay single or should I settle down to serve Christ in a life-long commitment to another? To both singles and married folks alike, I’d love to share this exchange with you in the hopes that it would encourage you all to keep Christ the focus of not only your relationships, but your lives:

From: xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 11:01 AM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: I’d like to hear your thoughts…

Hey Todd,

I’d like to hear what you have to say about this since you are a Godly married man seeking after Christ. This past semester in my local ministry our Bible study was over 1 Corinthians. As an unmarried man I have been wrestling with/considering 1 Corinthians 7 (primarily vs 7-9). I certainly know that Paul does not forbid marriage and that there are many benefits of it, spiritual and non-spiritual. What initially caught my attention was that Paul says that he wishes more people were like him (single)…and elsewhere in the book that married men are focused on things of the world whereas single men are focused on the things of the Lord. (Obviously only disciplined and Godly single men are focused on the things of the Lord and being single does not automatically make one focused on the Lord…I also take the statement about married men being focused on things of the world as Godly men being focused on the world only to the extent that is necessary for them to take care of their families…not a sin just a non spiritual necessity).

I believe that Paul talks of marriage and celibacy as different spiritual gifts, that one is not necessarily better than the other. I know that God calls people to different lives and that marriage and singleness are both callings that he equips people for. Perhaps part of the reason I have been wrestling with this passage is because I had not really studied it or heard it preached on in the past. I also feel that most Christians and churches in America do not take singleness seriously because it is counter culture and seeing that might also be why I have been wrestling with it. (Obviously I have not been to most of the churches in America so I can not necessarily make that statement with evidence).

You may have already discerned that the reason for this email is that I am a single man who wants to pursue the Lord and righteousness above all else, who is nearing life decision points in his life, and I have been weighing and evaluating these scriptures and God’s will for my life. I have been dating the same girl since high school. I certainly believe that God has blessed our relationship and that it has often been used to glorify him (and of course we have had our struggles and hard times). My girlfriend has been and become a wonderful, Godly woman who I would be incredibly blessed to be married to. And this has certainly been my (and our) thought for a while.

However, there are a few reasons why I have been searching to see if God has called me to singleness ever since I my 1 Corinthians Bible study. For one, I feel called to work in a demanding/non family friendly and dangerous career. However, my girlfriend has sincerely expressed willingness and desire to go wherever the Lord sends me be it dangerous or not, so that is not that big of a reason anymore. I am concerned about my career as I know I will be a workaholic. This is a blessing and a curse because if God gave me a family I do not want to be an absent father, so I know there would be conflict between being the father that is needed and performing the career I feel called to serve in. I can see how the Lord has equipped me to be single more so than most people I know. For one, I enjoy solitude (though I never consider myself alone, but I enjoy being free of distraction and the world) and I believe that I grow the most spiritually when I am away by myself or my girlfriend and I are away from each other. The biggest reason I have been weighing this is certainly the scriptures. I know that God made marriage and gives it as a blessing. But I feel Paul is also saying that God has made some to be single and it is better for them to be singularly devoted to the Lord. I certainly take scripture as the authoritative message of God and will do (try to do) what it says.

I have talked to my dad about this and he brought up the point that marriage can provide the support and encouragement to better serve the Lord. I agree with him and appreciated that input. I can easily see how the scripture would encourage singleness. So going back to my main point I would like to know what you feel led to share with me on the matter as you are a married man that is serving the Lord. As I have told my girlfriend when discussing this, I do not yet know what God is calling me to in this situation. But I am seeking His will so that I can say/act/live with certainty that I am doing the right thing and that I have carefully considered the scripture and the truth.

I am very sorry for the length and density of this email. I know that ultimately God will guide me according to his will if I seek after him. If anything this has helped me filter my thoughts. I appreciate anything you might have to say. Of course I would appreciate your prayers that God will give me direction and boldness to go where he calls me to and to serve wholeheartedly in all aspects of my life.

From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 4:17 PM
To: xxxxxx xxxxxxx
Subject: RE: I’d like to hear your thoughts…

Sorry to just now be getting back to you as I have been out of town for a few days. Unsurprisingly I am very encouraged with the way you have been processing this and searching through what God would have in store for you next. Love how have been unpacking 1 Corinthians 7 to see how it applies to you.

A few thoughts…and I’d love for you to share this with your dad and the other guys from your Bible study as they know you/your relationship best and can counsel your situation consistently. For starters, while marriage is a largely important part of most people’s adult lives, we weren’t created to eventually get married…we were created to know Christ and make Him known. We were created to “not be alone”….but that doesn’t require marriage and sadly many married folks don’t pursue oneness with each other or with others in biblical community as Christ intends. Marriage is required for us to biologically “be fruitful and multiply” but we certainly can (and should) do that spiritually as single Christ followers. Check out a message I did many years ago called, “The Complete Single: Oxymoron or Option”.

The first question I would have you ask yourself (which it sounds like you done to some degree) is what circumstances will allow you to do that best? Will marriage be a place where you can partner with another to serve the Lord, understand your own struggles more intimately, and grow in your faith, or will it hinder you from following Christ in any way that He is asking you to do?

Tommy Nelson did a good job with this topic even longer ago when he gave a message titled something like “The Monkey of Marriage and How It Can Grow To Be the Gorilla of Distraction”. He talks about 1 Corinthians 7 and I think I refer to it some in my message. You might enjoy both.

On another note, I would caution you some against giving too much weight to your future job pursuits (while they deserve some consideration and certainly are something you should be communicating with your girlfriend about). I would encourage you to live fully in light of today instead of making decisions based on an uncertain future. I am fully confident that you can achieve these high goals that you have set for yourself, but only God knows exactly what our future is (James 4:13-15). He will take care of you and your hopes and dreams whether you are married or single….keep seeking him like you have so far, with ALL your heart soul and mind and marriage/career/future will be a joy. I would also encourage you to think through your implication (resignation?) to be a “workaholic”. You know God is glorified when we work hard in all we do (Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31), but that doesn’t have to look like a role that puts you in a position to trump family and your relationship with Him. Our first calling is to be a follower of Christ, and if we are married, our second calling is to care for our spouse…I would never counsel anyone to decide early on in life that they would put themselves in a job function that elevates the day-to-day of that ahead of either of the things above. I understand your concern about bringing a family into the jobs you want to pursue, and that is valid as those industries need devoted followers of Christ ministering/serving in them…but above all set yourself up for success in a vocation that gives you room to abide with Him….and to Paul’s point, single soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3-4/1 Corinthians 7) have less homeland concerns so they can be less distracted/encumbered/responsible for/concerned by/obligated to other things than the war at hand. BUT…don’t underestimate marriage as a gift from God….for more than kids or sex. It is a great place to learn things that can only be learned in the furnace of trial and commitment. Luther once said, “l learned more about spirituality and surrender in marriage than I ever did in the monastery”. Frances de Sales (17th century Christian writer) replied to a young woman asking him what he thought about her friend’s advice that she should not get married because it was “more holy” to remain single, care for her father and to devote herself as celibate to God by saying, “The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other. It is a perpetual exercise of mortification…from this thyme plant, in spite of the bitter nature of its juice, you may be able to draw and make the honey of a holy life.”

So not only have you not sinned if you marry….you are set up to be sanctified in great ways if you stay committed to your commitment.

As you know, marriage has been a blessing to me as it has grown me in ways nothing else has (worldly speaking) and certainly given me the blessing and encouragement of my kids as well…whether you choose to pursue marriage, to remain single for a time, or to remain single for your time on earth, your #1 priority is your relationship with the Lord.

Bottom line…be faithful where you are. Whether married or single. Be a faithful student of the word, friend, son, boyfriend, and servant. Honor your girlfriend in dating by continuing to pursue her as long as with her, and by guarding her heart if you feel led to step away from that relationship. Given that y’all have been together as long as you have been….it is getting REALLY close to the time to release her to pursue others who have the desire to enter into a covenantal relationship or let her know you are pursuing that with her. It is not as if y’all need to get to know each other better…and keeping her around in case you do want to get married someday is not exactly putting her interests ahead of your own. Be free….but be considerate and willing to live with your indecision or decision;that is what Godly men do. Philippians 2:3-5.

Praying for you…may you be devoted to Christ and center all of your relationship around Him. May He bless you as you serve Him as a single man today. I am proud of you and rejoice with you at God’s kindness in your life. This email back is not complete….use it to get the conversation going with your guys/Dad/Lord…don’t use it as dogma.

Romans 14:22,

Todd Wagner | pastoraloffice@watermark.org
www.twitter.com/wordsfromwags
www.watermark.org
214.239.8809