I wrote a post yesterday called “The Gift of Being Single.” One reader emailed me in response to the post, as a challenge to some of my thoughts, and I asked her if I could reprint her thoughtful and gracious words. Her email read as follows: 

I wanted to respond to today’s post about singleness. I’m 33, a Christian, and single.  My singleness is not a choice, not a calling – I would definitely love to be married and have a family. I’m quite frankly heartbroken to still be single. My life is full – I have great friends, I’m active in my church, I have several hobbies, artistic outlets and volunteer activities that keep my busy, I love my city and try to take full advantage of living here. Nevertheless, all these good things cannot make up for the fact that we are created to be in a relationship, and that part of my life, that deep longing of my heart, remains unfulfilled.


I guess I question the message that singleness is a gift. I understand the Apostle Paul addresses this in his letter to the Corinthians, but those words were written in light of Paul’s belief that the second coming was imminent, and people should just stay as they are if they could help it. And I wonder also if he wasn’t speaking primarily to those who are called to singleness, vocationally. And that’s not me.  That’s not most of my single girl friends, either – we’re not called to this. This doesn’t feel good, this doesn’t feel like a gift. When I hear it described singleness described as a gift, I tend to feel doubly bad: 1) because I’m unhappy being single, and 2) because I then feel guilty for being unhappy (if it’s a gift, I should be happy to receive it, right?)

I understand that viewpoint that you expressed (and Paul did as well) that being single allows you more time to serve God, and by extension, the church and those in the church. And maybe if I had more of a servant’s heart, that would seem like a really good thing. But – if I’m being honest here – it strikes me as a strange sort of consolation prize. “You don’t get the desire of your heart, but you do get to head up the hospitality committee”?


I’m not saying your perspective here is necessarily wrong. Getting to serve God and his people IS a gift, it IS an awesome thing. And I’m not opposed to looking for silver linings – you did acknowledge that living alone as an adult is tough, but that there are benefits, too, we can try to focus on. However, at the end of the day, I guess I get frustrated to hear this situation that pains me terribly (not just on Feb 14th, but the other 364 days of the year as well), so often described as a “gift.”


Especially when marriage and family is ALSO frequently described as a gift in the church.  I look at the people around me who are married and have families, and I want what they have.  I’m under no illusion that marriage is a bed of roses – I know it’s hard. I know it has its own set of challenges. But I still want it. So then, my gift as a single person is getting to serve the people who got the gift that I actually wanted? It seems a doubly bitter pill to swallow.

We had a good email conversation in response to her thoughts, and I realized that when I talk about singleness as a gift, I don’t mean it is permanent or that people who are single should stop wanting to be dating/married. What I mean is that we can cultivate contentment and gratitude even in the midst of longing for something else. I want to be content in these early days of our daughter’s life, for example, even though it means I never sleep for more than two hour stretches, and even though I long for the time some months from now when we’ve all settled into the routine a bit more. We live in a world where things are not as they ought to be, and yet God calls us to be content with what we have, whether that is being single, having infants, not having children, dealing with chronic illness, and on down the list.  In fact, I think contentment with longing marks Paul’s life as a Christian, and perhaps should mark mine as well.

Where do you struggle most to feel contentment? Do you think it is possible to experience contentment while longing for change? 

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