I understand. I share your journey. I am a single woman.
I have experienced:
- sitting by myself at a Christmas Eve service while all the families gather
- hosting numerous wedding and baby showers while wishing they were mine
- eating 90% of my meals alone
- being tired from the responsibility of making every decision for every aspect of my life
- arriving home to deafening silence
- feeling less than, inferior, or second rate because I am single
Singleness – most people consider it a curse. Society places singles in a box wrapped in misperceptions. Many individuals perceive that to be all grown up you must have a good job, be married, and birthed children. If single women haven’t accomplished those steps, then they haven’t reached their full potential or highest calling. We feel we aren’t quite as valuable as our married friends. In circles where marriage seems to be the rite of passage into adulthood, singles are considered developmentally challenged.
As singles we are searching for some sort of affirmation that though the world around us is married, it’s okay for us to be single. More than feeling accepted by society, singles want to accept themselves and their circumstances. They want to be content. The dictionary definition of contentment is “being satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.”
The Bible’s explanation can be found in 1 Corinthians 17 (Message) – don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.
Contentment lies in accepting your spot, the place God has allowed you to be at this moment in time.
Psalm 16:5 – Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure.
The question to ask ourselves is: What is God doing with and through my singleness? Do you see God at work in your circumstances? Ultimately, we are single because that’s God’s will or what He has permitted for us right now. That’s it. It’s not because we are too old, too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too quiet, too loud, too smart, too simple, too demanding, or too anything else.
The deepest needs and longings of our hearts cannot be filled by any human being but only by God Himself. To expect to find our needs met in marriage is to set ourselves up for certain disappointment. The key to joyous living is to embrace the will of God and to receive with gratitude whatever gift He has given us.
Contentment is being okay with something (or a lot of things) you’re not okay with. It’s being satisfied with what you have. It’s the ability to open up wide and swallow whole the lot life has given you.
Contentment is a Friday-night sigh of relief to be home alone. It’s being able to enjoy a niece’s baby shower, a friend’s new house, a brothers’ successful business. It’s a security in who you are that enables you to experience the compounded joy of friends’ triumphs. It’s the ability to look peacefully at the future.
The feelings often come, though, after the determination is made. In my own life, the more I’ve stretched and toned my contentment muscles, the more content I feel for longer periods of time. To be content is to accept the gifts of God with thankfulness and a willingness to do His will. You don’t have to feel like it. You just have to do it.
It’s tempting to think, “If only I were married, I’d be happy.”
If only my kids would behave . . .
If only I had a different job . . .
If only I lived in a different place . . .
If only I owned my own home . . .
If only I made more money . . .
We “if only” our life away. We’re always one step away from what will make us happy.
Contentment isn’t about getting rid of your desires or pretending that you don’t want to get married. It doesn’t remove the pain of divorce or the sting of “having never been chosen.” Contentment and your desires and hurts can coexist.
To be truly content, we have to be able to see the value in our pain. God is at work. He doesn’t waste our experiences. He’s using them for a higher purpose that we can’t always discern. We just have to have the faith to accept that and – eventually – to rejoice in that.
Philippians 4:11-13 I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry – of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.
Paul learned to be content in the varying circumstances he faced because of the power of Christ living in him. It’s important to recognize that this takes time. The most difficult battle I face is the battle to be content with today, whatever today looks like every time I climb out of bed. Each day, I have to choose contentment. And for the big things in life, I’m going to have to choose it again and again and again.
We are able to reside in peace and rest in contentment because of the One who lives in us. Through our singleness we can learn:
The Sovereignty of God
Our completeness in Him
The way He meets our needs
The unequivocal love of our Heavenly Father
Our need to encourage others
Ladies, I challenge you to accept your role and live a life worthy of your calling as a single. God wants to perform mighty deeds in and through you. I’m still learning to be content in all circumstances. Let’s learn together.
About Shelley Pulliam
Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/