Sometimes I think about what God meant for us to do on this big earth. We are creatures given two able hands, a mouth with words, a brain to dream, and 90 years or so to use all that for some purpose.
I just think of all that potential we have within us. It’s a blank slate of 90 years to choose how we will fill it.
Purpose: family or the world?
Some people choose to fill their life with a spouse and family. It takes a huge portion of their efforts to do so and it takes much of their remaining efforts to provide for that family financially (often just hoping to get into a career they believe in). I think that raising a family is the best way for some people to employ their skills and passions to fulfill God’s purpose for them. Not that they can’t do more, but they are choosing a few people to pour the majority of their sacrifice and love into. It’s a ton of work, and it’s beautiful.
But I think for others of us, we have been given the opportunity to give ALL of our time and resources to the rest of the needy world. Our time is not distracted by the needy people we ourselves have introduced to the world. We can live simply and cheaply, and if our calling doesn’t earn us enough money, at least we can spend all the time we’re not at work directly pursuing what we feel called to do.
So, I definitely don’t think marriage and family is in any way inferior to being single, but I think that if we can get over the negative stigma that we have generally put on singleness, and acknowledge that marriage isn’t the only goal worth pursuing, we can begin to truly live into God’s goals for us, full-heartedly, with focus and perseverance.
How’d we miss this in the Bible?
Despite what we often assume in church, the Bible seems to think highly of those who choose singleness. Jesus, the central figure in our whole faith, was single and in Matthew 19:12 he even says, “…some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (NLT)
The apostle Paul, who wrote the most number of books in the New Testament, was single and says that he wishes all men had that same gift (1 Cor. 7:7). He says it’s good to marry if you have to, but says it is also “good not to marry” (1 Cor. 7:1b). He explains, “… those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” (v. 28b)
The married people I know
From the married people I know, even the ones who have no kids, it seems like this is true. I was at a bachelor party this weekend and all of the married guys gave advice to my friend who was getting married. Almost all of their advice included something like, “Marriage is really hard.”
And kids are a huge sacrifice of time and resources. I look at my two younger brothers who are raising bustling young families and they are doing a good thing. But when I call they usually barely have enough time to catch up before a kid starts to break something or throws up. So I smile, and I let them go. Then I get back to my writing, or drawing, or meeting with someone for coffee– some of the passions and callings that I think God has given me the time to give to the world.
No marriage in heaven
In Matthew 22:30 Jesus says, “at the resurrection we will neither marry, nor be given in marriage…” So if it is true that in heaven we won’t be spending our time on marriage or raising a family, I wonder, what will we be doing? I wonder if we will be fully pursuing the gifts God has given us to give to the rest of the people there. Whether I get married one day or not, I think I’d like to get a start on doing the thing I am made to do, while I have the time and focus to do it. I think in heaven the way I will please the creator will have something to do with drawing, writing and creating for people all day long. Maybe that is why it makes me feel so alive now. So being single allows me to live into that aspect of heaven more fully here on earth.
I’m not saying I won’t meet somebody one day with whom my calling would shift to loving her and maybe some children. And I’m also not saying I wouldn’t get married if someone came along with whom we accomplished both of our callings more effectively together than apart. But I’m thinking that if I have more time to pursue my God-given passions and callings full-heartedly while being single, I will soak up as much of that as God will give me. Whether that be for my whole life, or until he calls me to marriage.
Raw Spoon, 8-29-16
Below are some other thoughts that I just noticed I forgot to delete! But upon reading them I thought, maybe you’ll find them valuable!
[One of the biggest prophets in the Old Testament, Jeremiah was a young prophet given the mission to reach his people, and God called him to singleness. It appears that it was so that he could focus on his mission. (Jeremiah 16:2)]
[Even if the desire is in you or me to be married, I’m guessing that as we pursue our heavenly calling it will be like a beacon drawing that future spouse to us. This is because we will be living into what God wants us to do and be and therefore probably be more attractive to the type of person who wants who we are.
And if a person comes along with whom we help each other accomplish our callings better together, then perhaps that is my new calling, and it will be even better than singleness.
And I think that’s a good place to be if I am asking whether or not I should marry. If I am content pursuing my calling without a spouse, if I find someone who helps fulfill God’s purpose for me even better, then that’s a win.
At least that’s where I’m at after 36 years of whole-heartedly pursuing my passions, and wondering if I’m meant to be single.]