Monday, February 15, 2016

Blog Pivot: And now for my thoughts on singleness and entitlement

Oh Valentine's Day... I gave up hating it years ago. That said, I was a little dubious when I was asked to speak at my church's college ministry Valentine's Day relationship-themed lunch... about singleness.* Here's what I shared**:

Does anyone else remember growing up in the youth group purity culture? I can't even count how many youth conferences I attended where I learned such pertinent truths as "condoms are only 86% effective and HIV is significantly smaller and can pass through every day of the month!"

I probably could have been the purity poster child, if my hair were a little blonder and a lot less frizzy. I attended all the lectures. I read all the books. I signed the pledge cards. I had the ring. I kissed dating goodbye. (Note: the link is not a book recommendation.) I was intimately acquainted with the life of Christy Miller and all her friends, and figured I had my own Todd Spencer waiting for me. I figured that I would hold off dating until I was ready to get married, which I planned should happen at the age of 24.

24 came and went.

30 came and went.

Nearly a full decade has passed since my scheduled age of marriage, and my Todd Spencer is nowhere to be found.

And so I got frustrated. Hadn't I done everything right? Didn't they teach me that the reward for purity and "honoring my future husband" was that I would have a future husband?

It wasn't all that long ago that I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon on the drive to work when I was figuratively hit in the gut. He was talking about how our righteous deeds, done with the motivation of trying to earn God's blessing, are actually sinful because they are motivated by pride and self-righteousness.


This is actually good news. What does it mean that we are saved by grace? It means we can stop stressing over trying to get everything right, and rest in the work of salvation that he accomplished on the cross. It means that we don't need to pay off a debt that we can never repay before we get blessings that we do not deserve.

So where does that leave me in my singleness? One thing that I have learned in the ups and downs in life is that God really does give us what is best for us in every circumstance. I look back with fondness on some of the most difficult journeys I've gone through because I can see how I grew in them.

I am not single because God is punishing me for my self-righteousness. I am not single because I made the silly mistake to kiss dating goodbye in high school. I am single because this is precisely what is best for me right now. I am single because this is how God can be most glorified in me right now.


*Fortunately, I got over that. And as I was preparing what I was going to say and joking with my friends that I could write a book about my expertise in singleness, I started to think "maybe I should..." and then I thought "well, maybe just a blog..." and then thought "or maybe just use my existing dormant blog so I don't have to go through all the work of choosing colors and images and templates."

**Disclaimer: I do joke about being an expert at singleness, but I just want to emphasize that I by no means have things figured out. I do not live in rainbow-sunshine-unicorn land where I feel constantly #blessed because I am so content with being single. I live in the real world where we all experience longing, and sometimes that longing expresses itself as "well maybe if I weren't single". So don't read my blog if you want the secret to always having a smile on your face. I really just want to start a dialog rooted in grace and how the gospel transforms us in our singleness. Non-single people welcome to join in.