There are people who are praying and thinking about the call of lifelong singleness. If we are/a friend is considering this, it’s important to know how to make the right decision. So we must highlight that people who’ve already committed often say that they: Did Think Life Would Be Different, Ultimately Are Given A Choice, and Are Not Trading In Their Happiness.
I’m sitting down and writing this blog for a few different reasons. A while ago I posted a blog about singleness written by my friend Lora Thorley. It was about people who are single but one day wanted to be in a relationship, and explored some issues surrounding this situation. (Read 5 No-Nonsense Tips For Singleness)
I’ve written many times before about the fact that you can’t put every single person into a single category. I think the Bible makes this very clear. (Read What The Bible Actually Says About Singleness. Part 2) However, one of my other friends said to me that he was shocked I didn’t emphasise chosen lifelong singleness, in a blog which explored the challenges of a single person who wanted to date one day.
I pointed out that actually, across the website the unique challenges and perspectives of different types of singleness are highlighted, and that there is nothing wrong with focusing on one specific group in a blog. However, it did remind me that it may be time to explore this important area of chosen lifelong singleness again.
2 Interesting Articles
In the months that followed, I also came across two really interesting articles about Christian women who had committed to life long singleness. Moreover, they had a ceremony and had taken vows which marked the occasion in front of God, family and friends.
Which marked the occasion in front of God, family and friends.
One article talked about a woman who became a ‘consecrated virgin’ within the Catholic church. She was not a nun but was a teacher who lived and worked in the community, like everyone else. This ceremony and decision was part of an established vocation within Catholicism.
The other article was about a vicar within the Church of England. There wasn’t a ‘set’ way to take this vow within Anglicanism, but she had a ceremony and said her own vows.
I myself once thought God was calling me to lifelong singleness. And took steps and spent a lot of time making choices and praying prayers that would lead me in this direction (Read Single For Now, Or Single Forever? What’s God’s Plan?). I eventually took a different path. But for those of us who are still on it, and considering committing to this path forever, we need support and need others in the church to be talking about the journey.
Both of these women have important stories, which we need to hear. The key points which stood out to me, and I can resonate with from my experience and from supporting those who are in this position, are what I want to briefly talk about now.
It’s worth highlighting that often, people considering life long singleness:
- Did Think Life Would Be Different
- Ultimately Are Given A Choice
- Are Not Trading In Their Happiness
Did Think Life Would Be Different
Importantly, in these articles, they both grew up thinking their life would be different. They dated and thought they would get married and have kids eventually.
The people I work with in this situation often think this is the case too. I think it’s partly because marriage seen as the ‘default position’ in our society, so thinking about lifelong singleness requires more effort in some ways. I personally think marriage and life long singleness should both be active choices and thought through seriously, but we are where we are.
If you’re thinking about life long singleness, it’s natural for you to have a period of adjustment and deliberation. To rethink what your life may look like, and where God fits in. This will bring up its own excitement and challenges.
This could take years to explore and decide, and that is fine. We wouldn’t suddenly marry someone after knowing them for a few hours, so we don’t need to rush this important decision either. It’s natural to see this as a process, and not as a quick decision, or something you should have always seen coming.
Ultimately Are Given A Choice
The question I get asked a lot is ‘Will God force me to be single forever?’ The answer is, no.
Some people are terrified of this idea. While it’s important for us to all think about why we may be so fearful, if we do indeed pursue lifelong singleness, it will need to be an active choice.
Both of these women’s stories made that clear. They chose to do it. They still struggle in areas, they still have problems they need to work through, but God didn’t force them into this kicking and screaming.
This is a calling, just like marriage is a calling. Both have challenges, both have amazing elements to them, and both are a gift from God that only work properly when we enter into it willingly.
Are Not Trading In Their Happiness
Marriage does not automatically result in happiness. Singleness does not automatically result in sadness. Despite this being the overwhelming message from our culture, this idea isn’t true.
The people in these articles, and people I know who have chosen this path, are content and happy. Yes, life has its up and downs, but they are not fundamentally unhappy because of their relationship status.
Get out of the mindset that romantic relationships are the only way we find fulfilment
We need to get out of the mindset that romantic relationships are the only way we find fulfilment and the only way we find happiness. Investing in wider friends, family, interests and hobbies is all part of feeling valued and fulfilled. Whether we are married or not. (Read 2 Things You Should Always Do To Build Strong Communities).
Lifelong singleness doesn’t mean unhappiness.
People we know, and we ourselves, may be exploring this important decision. We can’t let ourselves or others feel like strangers or outsiders if lifelong singleness is being explored. We are all members of the church family who will be supported no matter what. And will must all try to not to make the ‘non-default’ position look like a bad one.
Imagine if we reminded people in this position that those considering life long singleness often: Did Think Life Would Be Different, Ultimately Are Given A Choice, Are Not Trading In Their Happiness.
Do we talk about active life long singleness in church enough? Comments welcomed below.
Originally posted 18/3/2019