In my last post, Singles Are Not Unfinished Business, I encouraged singles to embrace their singleness as a blessing and not a curse. Not only should singles embrace singleness as a blessing, but I believe there is a second courageous move that will allow singles to celebrate and maximize their singleness.
2. LEARN CONTENTMENT IN YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCE
One of the keys to celebrating and maximizing your singleness is learning contentment in your present circumstance of singleness. Fortunately, many singles have learned what it means to be content. They are finding fulfillment in who God has created them to be. They are not yearning and burning to get married, but they are experiencing joy in living for Jesus. These men and women are amazing.
Unfortunately, some singles have clothed themselves in garments of bitterness, denial and resentment because they have believed the lie that they are incomplete. I believe this is true because they have let the culture define their lives for them. Society says if you are still single by a certain age, then something is wrong with you and you are unfinished business. Also, culture says if you get married, then you will be happy (I know a lot of miserable married couples). Listen, the world is not the boss of you.
What is Contentment?
The Bible says that it is legitimate to be married and it is legitimate to be single. There are benefits and responsibilities to being married and to being single. The secret to these benefits and responsibilities is contentment. We are not naturally content. Therefore, married and singles alike have to learn the art of contentment.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
What does it mean to be content? I’m glad you asked. It does not mean pretending to be happy when you are not. It does not mean that you say you like everything the way it is. It doesn’t mean you want everything to remain the same. If you are single (or married), what does it mean for you to be content?
Contentment is the freedom from reliance upon others, whether persons or things to make you happy. Contentment is not passive acceptance of the status quo, but the positive assurance that God will supply all your needs. Being content is difficult, but not impossible. This is the reason why contentment is a learned behavior. It takes sitting in the classroom of patience, learning how to manage your expectations as you depend on God for your ultimate satisfaction. When you are struggling to crack the code of contentment, God reminds you that you can do all things – find contentment in your singleness – through his Son, Jesus, who gives you strength.
The Dangers of Not Learning Contentment
One of the dangers of not learning contentment in your singleness is putting your life on hold while you wait for your marital status to change. Some singles have put their lives on hold because they are waiting for the right person or the right circumstances to change their outlook and status. They have put their education on hold or delayed a mission trip or simply have not been fully present in the moment because of “what if” and “when I.” The problem with living off “what if” and “when I” is you miss all that life has to offer you NOW!
You don’t experience contentment by relying on a man or a woman to define you and make you whole. You are not waiting to exhale or waiting for a man or a woman to blow some magical relational dust in your eyes to make you happy. It does mean that you are trusting Jesus for your ultimate satisfaction.
Another danger of not learning contentment in your singleness is forfeiting who you are – your personality, your humor, your zest for life and knowledge, your love for God and his people – because you are waiting on their external circumstances to change. The fear of being alone has caused some singles to relinquish who God created them to be and they have lost their true voice and have simply become an echo and an imitation. Your identity is found in Jesus, not your marital status.
A third danger of not learning contentment is wasting your singleness. Some singles waste their singleness practicing for marriage by jumping in and out of relationships. They think they are getting ready for marriage, but they are only practicing at failing at relationships. Ultimately, this leads to settling for someone or a circumstance which is not God’s best for you.
Contentment is a choice
Contentment, joy, and fulfillment are choices. My single brothers or sisters, you are as joyful and fulfilled and content as you choose to be, or you are as miserable as you choose to be. If you are miserable as a single person, more than likely, you will be miserable as a married person. When you are experiencing contentment and you know you don’t HAVE to be married to be happy, that’s probably when you are ready to be married.
Your joy and fulfillment as a single person must be based on staying connected to the True Vine (John 15:1-10) and choosing the right attitude (James 1:2-5). Your contentment is directly connected to letting the life of Jesus flow in and through you, choosing the right attitudes, having non-toxic people in your orbit, and deciding you are going to spill your life for the advancement of the reign and rule of God in the world.
For the most part, you cannot control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to your circumstances. You can decide that you are not unfinished business. Someone once quipped: “Life is 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent of how we respond to what happens to us.”
My single brothers and sisters, if you have put your life on hold, I beg you to start living in the moment, now. Be fully present in your life today. Stop viewing yourself as unfinished business. Stop viewing yourself as less than whole because you are not married. Stop waiting for that life-changing event and person. Accept where God has you right now, and ask God to give you internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances. Be content in your singleness, and choose to respond to your circumstances with joy.
Turn Your Minutes into Moments
How have you learned contentment?
Where do you still need to depend on God for your ultimate satisfaction?