Gifts, Opportunities, and Mixed Feelings

So, here we are again. Another Valentine’s Day. The one day other than New Year’s when no one wants to be single. And, here I am, single…and ironically, this time by choice. This year is kind of different than the past few years because for the past five years or so I’ve listened to my iPod exclusively when I’m in the car. No radio. No static. No commercials. Well, as a combination of luck and God’s sovereignty would have it, my old car became a paper weight and I had to get a new one. And I haven’t been able to get adapters and such to be able to play my iPod yet. So, I feel like I’m stuck in the 90’s again listening to FM radio. Static, commercials, and all the frustrations that come with both. This entire week I’ve been reminded…ok, bombarded by Valentine’s Day commercials, blatantly driving listeners to new heights of consumerism. So, this year, I’ve felt the tension of being single all week.

Why is there tension? Namely, because I’m a Christian. And because I’m a Christian, I absolutely believe that Paul is right when he says that there is a sense in which to be single is better (1 Cor. 7:8) and that it really is a gift (1 Cor. 7:6). So, I have built in me, according to God’s good design, the desire to be married (or at least dating) as well as to follow Christ, whatever that may mean. And at this point, following Him means being single right now. So, how do single Christians resolve this tension?

Some of this may sound cliché, but the reality is that we have to get outside of ourselves. Erin Claxton, one of the ministry assistants at The Village, pointed out that the gift of singleness is given for the same reasons as the other gifts from God: The sanctification of the believer to whom the gift is given, and the good of the Christian community, particularly the local church. Now, on the surface, this may not seem like much of a comfort. And, maybe it isn’t at first. It takes work. It takes a lot of work. I remember when my brother, Seth, got his first guitar. He had to WORK to learn to play well. It was probably a year or two before he went from playing songs on a single string to playing chords to playing songs people would actually want to hear. Now, though, he can pick up the guitar and play pretty much anything. Here’s the interesting part though, as much as he likes playing and gets a sense of accomplishment and the like from doing so, the people who really benefit are those who listen. Whether that be the youth group for whom he played guitar during worship sets, or in random jam sessions at the house. Just like anything else, once you’ve done the work to learn, you start seeing the reward both in your life and in the lives of those for whom you use your gift. The gift of singleness works the same way.

Focusing on others is hard. It’s even harder on days when our consumerism-driven culture presses us to make the day all about ourselves. So, those of us who are single have a unique opportunity today. We can invest in the lives of others without expecting anything in return from them. Whether that be spending tonight in prayer for our families and church community, getting together for gospel-centered conversations, or just getting out of the house and hanging out with people to help bring some of the joy and light of Christ to our friends.

Don’t misunderstand me. There will still be tension. There will still be the desire to not be alone. Even though we know Christ is always with us, there will still be that desire to be in a covenant relationship with one person for life. And you know what? That’s ok. It’s ok to feel that tension.

What’s important is that in this tension we keep pressing into Christ and trusting in His sovereign plan and grace for our lives, instead of letting this become an opportunity for Satan and/or sin to derail us spiritually.

Soli Deo Gloria

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