I have lately been intrigued by the true meaning of the beauty of purity. And that is to be content. Content with your situation, content with the way God made you, and content with being single. Being content as a single is one of the greatest joys in life since it brings you a fulfillment from God until God Himself wishes to fulfill you with a life partner. The words written below is a true reflection of contentment in our single years. I could not have described it any better, I find that these words make the explanation complete.
This article was written by Mark Arndt – To read more of Mark’s articles, click here.
Today is my twenty-first Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been through so many!
This holiday is notorious for hearts, both broken and non-broken. Either way, it seems to makes an impact. Those who are in a relationship are expected to celebrate it; those who are single are inadvertently reminded that they are single.
Valentine’s Day may bother you if you’re single. It may make you feel like Charlie Brown. Not that many years ago, it bothered me, too. I have since asked myself, though, “Mark, just why does it bother you?” I thought for a moment and then answered, “Well, because I’m single.” That’s when the issue began to come into focus for me. I wouldn’t mind being reminded that I am single if I don’t mind the fact that I am single. The pangs I would feel on Valentine’s Day were only little glimpses of the fact that I was not content with being single.
In fact, now that I look back, it wasn’t only that I was not content being single. To an extent, I refused to be content being single. I wanted very much to be married; that’s what I felt like my “role” was supposed to be. And through some distorted reasoning, I worried that if God saw me happy in my role as a single, perhaps I would make him think that all was well, and perhaps he’d make me stay single.
Now that I think about it, I suppose it was almost an act of defiance as well. I was convinced that, no, I was not supposed to be a single person, hence I would refuse to act like a happy one. It was a little bit like a kid on a little league baseball team. He wants to play shortstop — that’s where he’s convinced that he’s meant to play — but instead the manager has him play in the outfield. Pouting and grumbling, he goes out to the outfield and refuses to hustle, refuses to try, and is sure to let the manager know how unhappy he is where he is. I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but that’s an analogy of the way I acted with God.
Finally, it dawned on me how foolish it was to refuse to be content. I realized that there were only two possible scenarios for my life — that I will be married or that I will not be married. If I am going to be married someday, then I only have a limited number of single years remaining. Let’s say that I’ll meet the right person in, oh, seven years. Either way, I’ll have to live for those seven years, so I might as well be content, joyful, and productive as I pass through them. I might as well make them seven years that I will be proud of.
And if I am never going to be married, then I will be single for the rest of my life. That gives me all the more reason to learn to be content, joyful, and productive while single because I will never be anything but single! In either situation, it would be foolish to refuse to be content.
In these articles, I often talk about “the way I was,” or how “I used to think this way,” or that “I once was not content.” And that’s true — I have learned a lot, and I have come a long way. But boy, can I still get antsy at times! Even though I’m trying my hardest to be joyful and content while single, I still occasionally have to catch myself and remind myself to have patience and to wait. Even after we’ve given it over to God, I think we all have “flare-ups” of impatience or restlessness now and then, especially on days such as Valentine’s Day.
Sometimes when I feel this way, I find it helpful to assign myself a little homework. I challenge myself to come up with ten reasons I can appreciate being single today. This isn’t a way of crossing my arms and saying, “Hmmph! Well, I didn’t want to be married anyway!” It just simply means disciplining myself to be thankful for whatever my circumstances happen to be. Besides, the objective fact is, like it or not, I am single. So I might as well enjoy it. I might as well live joyfully, because I’m living anyway.
I am able to focus more on a one-on-one relationship with God. Although I still keep busy now, it is probably easier to cultivate a personal relationship between me and God than it will be when I have a wife and family.
I am able to give more time, attention, and affection to my family and my friends right now. Once I have a wife and a family of my own, they will naturally become my primary focus.
I have more time available to pursue my own hobbies and interests. Although I try not to be self-focused now, I know that I have a unique luxury of being able to do what interests me if I have spare time. I may not always be so free.
On Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, et cetera, I am free of any obligations. I’m sure it’s a delight celebrating these things, but it also adds responsibilities and sometimes pressures.
I am more free to do things with “the guys” such as going on road trips, staying up late playing games or just chatting, playing tennis, disc golf, et cetera.
Right now, I primarily have to be concerned with only my issues, not the issues of two people. My wife will have needs just like anyone else, and it will be my delight — but also my duty — to look out for her.
I can wear the same shirt for twelve days straight if I want to. (I say this only theoretically, of course.) I greatly look forward to sharing life with a woman, but with it will also come the responsibilities of always making sure that I’m pleasant to live with.
I have more time to build up character and practical traits before having them tested by the challenges of having a wife and a family. Had I been married sooner, I would have been far less prepared than now.
I will appreciate the right person all the more because of the wait. Had I met the right girl the moment I started liking girls, then I may have taken her for granted. But because it has taken longer than I expected, because of the ache of waiting, I know it will be easier for me to cherish her as much as she deserves when the time does come.
It means that I have made it one more year, one more Valentine’s Day, in saving myself for the right person. It is one more bit of tangible proof of my love, one more piece of evidence of my commitment to the right one.
That may be more than ten.
Anyway, the point still remains. When I look at the exact same situation, but through the lens of gratitude, appreciation, and contentment, I realize that I have many reasons to feel blessed by being single. Oh, it goes without saying that marriage has tremendous advantages, but the single life isn’t without advantages also. And instead of holding my happiness ransom until a certain dream of mine comes true, I need to appreciate the joys and good points of where I am right now. Being content while being single does not mean that you are any less passionate or less excited about meeting the right person; rather, it is a choice to be appreciative and joyful even when that longing is not yet met.
Like that little league kid I mentioned before, I need to sink my teeth into my position in the outfield while I’m there and stop moping that I’m not the shortstop. Maybe there’s a lesson I need to learn in the outfield. Maybe it will help me appreciate the shortstop position more when I do play it. Who knows, maybe I’m meant to always be an outfielder.
It helps me to see it as a win-win situation. If the wait is longer, then I get to continue enjoying the perks of being single longer. If the wait is shorter, then I get to experience that amazing, heart-melting privilege of committing for life to one person sooner. There will be perks and challenges to both, and I need to be careful not to always think the grass is greener on whichever side I’m not on. Perhaps it’s time to enjoy the greenness of the lawn right beneath my feet while I’m here.
I have noticed that marriage does not cause either contentment or discontentment; it simply reveals whichever trait is already there. Many married people long to be single; many single people long to be married. Sadly, a person unable or unwilling to find joy and contentment as a single often will not find them in marriage either. But the opposite is true as well. A person who has learned to find joy and contentment as a single will often find them in even greater abundance in marriage.
When I talk about learning to enjoy being single, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m knocking marriage. Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful thing that we have every right to have a burning desire for. In many ways it can be heavenly, but the fact remains that it is not heaven. My future spouse may be godly and a real angel on earth, but she won’t be God. I can hardly wait until I meet the right person; I ache to find her sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out howling at the moon, lonely to talk to her, to be near her, to hold her. She will complete me in ways no other human ever could. But she will be a human, and not God. And although she’ll fulfill me in many ways, she will not be able to fulfill me the way only God can.
So I would encourage you, on a day when you’re most likely to feel discontentment if you’re single, to find your joy in God. Find your delight in him now, wherever you are. Don’t tie your contentment to something earthly, because nothing on earth is guaranteed. There’s no guarantee when, if ever, I’ll be married. There’s no guarantee that I’ll ever have kids. There’s no guarantee that I will live even one more year. But there is a guarantee from God that — marriage sooner or later, marriage or not, a long or a short life — he is always there and he never changes. He is good, and his plans are always good. And knowing that, I can be perfectly content.