I’m having a hard time understanding why people call singleness a gift. I have to say that I am not all that thrilled about having this gift. I’m in my late thirties and have been single for most of my adult life. I deeply desire marriage and children but am perplexed as to why God would give me a “gift” I don’t want. I try to trust Him but at the same time, I wonder if I should just accept what He’s given and not expect anything more.
Receiving a gift is supposed to be a guaranteed moment that is packed with joy. You expect to be happy, to have your heart gladdened by the sight of an unexpected act of love. So it is a weirdly somber experience to receive a gift that you don’t want. And this gift is from the Lord, which can make you feel disappointed and conflicted. But I think the key to understanding God’s gift of singleness lies in the perception of the word “gift”.
The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 7:7 (The Message), “Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.”
Paul wasn’t referring to “gift” in the sense of an object of delight given to someone. But rather, he meant as a skill, a capacity to excel or endure in a process. For the duration of our single season, God grants us what we need to flourish in that environment and handle all that may come with it. Author Tim Keller wrote in his book, The Meaning of Marriage, “In his writings, Paul always uses the word, ‘gift’ to mean an ability God gives to build others up. Paul is not speaking, then of some kind of elusive, stress-free state…Paul may very well, then, have experienced what we today would call an ‘emotional struggle’ with singleness…Consider, then, that the ‘single-calling’ Paul speaks of is neither a condition without any struggle nor on the other hand an experience of misery. It is fruitfulness in life and ministry through the single state. When you have this gift, there may indeed be struggles, but the main thing is that God is helping you to grow spiritually and be fruitful in the lives of others despite them. That means a single gift is not just for a select few, and it is not necessarily lifelong, though it may be. It may be a grace given for a finite period of time.”
And since this singleness may last for only a season, I don’t think that means you should stop cease seeking God for marriage. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Matthew 7:9-10 (NLT) He is a good Father who knows the desire of your heart and desires to give you good gifts, including the gift of marriage.
And while ‘gift’ is defined as an ability in the Scripture, marriage and singleness each come with their own brand of joys. Both states give license, creativity, and course to enjoy varying facets of the life God designed.
I hope this blesses you. Praying for you as you learn to embrace and value your gift in this season.
– Jen @ MRP!