I often joke that I force myself into people’s lives, but it’s not entirely a joke. I am intentional about developing, building, and maintaining relationships because we were made for community. God has always been in community with himself as the Trinity (Gen. 1:1, 26; John 1:1-2). And when he made man, it was not declared good until man had a helper of his own kind (Gen. 2:18).
As a single woman, it can be tricky to figure out where I fit in. I don’t have a husband to help, but I do have a community, a household, that the Lord has placed me in — the church (1 Tim. 3:15). And I am called to be a helper in the midst of my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you find that the Lord has placed you in a similar season, I urge you to make the most of it. Here are several ways you can do that.
Embrace solitude, not isolation
I am by myself a lot, sometimes on purpose and other times just by nature of being single. Because of the unique situation of being single in an isolated day and age, it’s important to recognize that there is a distinction between solitude and isolation. Solitude what Christ would model. He would go away in order to be by himself and pray (Mark 1:35), which is a good discipline to practice, single or not. Some call it a quiet time, but regardless of the name, it’s a time for worshiping and cultivating your fellowship with the Lord. It is a time for rest, repentance, regeneration, rejuvenation, and restoration.
Isolation, though, means staying away from others, and, likewise, accountability. If you’re isolated, you don’t have people around you to speak truth into your life or to confess sins to or to see your blind spots. You don’t have anyone to call you out and call you up, and it becomes easier to give into temptation. Proverbs 18:1 teaches that intentionally isolating yourself is out of step with sound judgement.
Solitude is good if you use it like it’s intended, connecting with others and practicing other disciplines. Isolation, on the other hand, is bad because it can often lead you to fall prey to sin, even imperceptibly, and stay in it without turning back to God.
A group of sheep is safer against a wolf than a lone sheep. One sheep, whether lost or wandering, is likely scared and vulnerable. But a group can at least provide cover. Yet, better still is when the shepherd is there! The good shepherd will protect the flock and will not flee (John 10:11-16). He goes after the one sheep in order to return it to the others and to safety (Luke 15:4-7). As the sheep, we need the shepherd, who meets with us in our solitude and keeps us from isolating from the flock to our harm.
Singleness is an incredible opportunity, though it may not seem like it at times. Paul elevated the goodness of such a season because single people don’t have the extra worries and divided interests that come with marriage (1 Cor. 7:32-35). Their time and talents can often be used at their own discretion to serve the Lord. So, it is the perfect season to intentionally go on mission. It doesn’t necessarily mean going overseas, although it is often easier for a single person to go to hard places than for a family. But we can always be on mission by serving others in our workplace, neighborhood, family, etc.
There are many practical ways to do this. Check in on people, especially the marginalized, outcasts, and other singles that you know. I am able to give rides, sit, visit, meet for coffee at a moment’s notice, and host Bible studies or girls’ nights. I have time to plan and organize events. And I love meal trains. Cooking for one is very difficult, but I will jump at the opportunity to cook for others. I am also able to give more financially to the mission of God than my friends who are married with kids and have specific budget constraints.
Take advantage of the ability to spend time with people from all life stages as much as you can. If your friends’ kids play sports, you could go to the games; you get to spend time with the parents while supporting the kids, and they get to learn from you. I’ve taught Bible studies with teenagers and then sat alongside their parents as a peer in small group. I’ve picked kids up from school, attended kids’ birthday parties, and sat in hospital waiting rooms. I also love to spend time with my peers’ parents and glean their wisdom.
All of these opportunities are gifts that end up blessing me as I seek to serve others.
Tie yourself down to the local church
As a single person, it can often feel like you aren’t tied down to anything, especially if you have a strong desire to get married and have a family. One of the beautiful things about being a Christian is that you can be connected to a family: the church. I urge you to put down roots in your local church and choose to be tied down there — to the people you live around, work with, spend time with, and interact with regularly. A marriage covenant only lasts as long as one spouse’s earthly lifespan. But, the covenant friendship and familial relationships with other believers will last for eternity; they have become your redefined and forever family (Matt. 12:48-50).
There is good and important work to be done in your local church in order to build up the body of Christ. Serve in the church regularly. Serve others while among and beside them. Find a small group, and then find an even smaller group of the same sex. Christ had the 12 (Matt. 10:2-4; Luke 6:12-16), and brought the three (Peter, James, and John) in even closer. Read and study the Bible together, not just on Sundays. Make yourself known, and be open to being known by others for the sake of your spiritual growth. Find someone who is further along in their journey and learn from them. And never believe you don’t have anything to offer. Mentor someone. You are always one step ahead of and one step behind someone in life.
The local church is your hub for accountability, community, and belonging. Prioritize your role in the family of believers as a brother or sister to others who, like you, were adopted by the Father to be Christ’s brother or sister (Rom. 8:29), through the finished work of Christ’s death and resurrection.
In the midst of all of these good things, it’s right and important to set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no. Your singleness is not an invitation for others to take advantage of you. You have human limitations and need the rest and space to have the kind of solitude before the Lord that fuels your service. Instead, your singleness is an invitation for God’s glory to be displayed as you point to the sufficiency of your Savior and the belonging of your forever family.