Life’s Relational Seasons

Well, it’s not too hard to know what calendar season we’re in…with all of this heat; it’s definitely Summer!

In our last two blog posts, we’ve ventured into the area of two other seasons of life; singlehood and relationships.  This summer, I’ve assisted in facilitating an online learning series entitled, Life & Love, navigating singleness, dating, engagement and marriage in the modern age based upon the book of a similar title by Ben Stuart.  We’ve received enough encouraging responses from readers and participants that I think I’ll continue exploring this area with you for at least one more post.  Whether or not we continue will be based upon your responses.

So far, we’ve talked about how God created us to be single individuals, but never alone and how, if we become impatient with His timing and provision, we can set unrealistic standards and expectations or even begin settling for less than God’s best for us.  (If you’ve not yet had a chance to read the last two posts and would like to catch up before continuing, you may access them here.)

This week, let’s take a step back and look a little bit deeper in the why-behind-the-what, of God creating each of us as individuals…some of the things He had in mind for our singleness.

Since this may lead to some further discussion and posts regarding the other stages of our relational lives, (dating, engagement, marriage or single-again) let’s go ahead and lay down one fundamental truth right up front.

Never try to outrun God. 

In whatever stage of relationship life you find yourself navigating, this has several applications:

  1. Don’t presume you’ll be able to figure things out on your own. (See also, Proverbs 14)
    1. Whatever you do, recognize that things will go much better where you involve God and make Him the Lord of the process.
    2. The road may not always seem smooth with Him, but it will be guaranteed bumpier if he’s not part of your plan.
  2. Don’t get ahead of His plan for your life.
    1. We live in a pretty fast-paced, instant gratification and entitlement mentality culture.
    2. We don’t like having to wait for anything.
    3. We often think we can figure things out based upon our own rules for doing things or even our past experience and forget who created us and wrote the “owner’s manual.”
    4. Get over yourself; be willing to ratchet down your pride and “ask for directions” or “read the instructions.”
    5. The one who designed and built it typically knows best how it is intended to function.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.  James 4:10 (NKJV)

In his book that I referenced earlier, Ben Stuart writes, “We need to embrace the realization that God has given us a specific, compelling reason for each (stage of our relationship lives).  When we understand this reason, we’re equipped to engage every moment of our day in that season with a tremendous sense of purpose.”

Are you the kind of person who strives to live every moment of your life with a tremendous sense of purpose?  Do you believe it’s possible to become that type of person?  Do you recognize that becoming the kind of person who lives each day with a tremendous sense of purpose often begins in doing so while you’re single?  Have you noticed that people who are purposeful also somehow seem more attractive?

Consider another excerpt from the book, “Single. Dating. Engaged. Married by Ben Stuart.  In it, Ben states, “Though seasons of singleness vary in length, God has purposed that every human being on the planet experience this stage of life.”  Think about it; even if you happen to be a product of a multiple birth, every one of us comes in to this world, one at a time.  And most of us leave it as individuals, as well.  Since it seems that God has a specific purpose for every human being that he creates, yet creates us all individually to experience different seasons in life, it’s also fair to then ask the question: Why?  Ben says, “If we say the purpose of singleness is simply to find someone to marry, then we’re saying Jesus (and most likely the apostle Paul) failed at singleness.  I don’t know anyone who wants to say that.”

So what does God want our season of singleness to be about?

If you’ve landed on the answer that He wants our season of singleness to be about getting to know Him more fully as he fully knows each of us, you’re on the right track.  But he wants that for us in every season of our relational lives. Singleness offers some unique opportunities for focus.

Ben suggests, that “we’re at our best when we function as we were designed.  Freedom isn’t the absence of boundaries.  It’s the ability to fulfill our created intent.  Singleness offers freedom that married life doesn’t.”

However, most people use this season primarily to focus on one of two interests: careers or themselves.

Neither of these pursuits are necessarily wrong.  Yet, neither, in and of themselves, will ultimately satisfy our hearts.

Not unlike the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well, we tend to be thirsty for something that only He can truly satisfy.  To use Ben’s terms, “We have to get our relationship with God right before we can ever hope to get a relationship with a guy or a girl right.”

As was stated in a previous blog, ‘we must learn to be single…separate, unique, whole and complete in Christ Jesus.’  For it is only as we really begin to get to know, follow and lean in to Him that the hole in our hearts can truly begin to be fulfilled.  To accomplish this takes devotion; what some may even refer to as the discipline of discipleship.

Ben teaches that, in Greek, the word devotion is made up of two words: good and beside, meaning that we need to become good at being beside God; attentive to His Word and involved in His work.

We can accomplish this, he continues, by considering 5 key attributes – pillars of singlehood, we might say, that we can learn to emulate from the example of the apostle Paul’s New Testament life:

  1. Mission
    1. Sometimes the best way to figure out how to do something is to watch someone else do it well.
    2. In addition to Jesus, the apostle Paul serves as an extraordinary example for us.
    3. The final portion of Paul’s letter to his young protégé Timothy, written from prison, shows us a key element of what a single life lived well looks like.
    4. Read and consider 2 Timothy 4: 9-12.
    5. In this letter, Paul was helping to direct ministry.
    6. Paul invested in the next generation, mentoring young people who, in turn would use their lives to help others.
    7. Make the decision now that nothing in life will keep you from fulfilling the purposes God has assigned to you.
    8. Whether vocationally or as a volunteer, your mission isn’t complete until God calls you home.

…want to learn more about this?  If so, leave me a note through the link below and I’ll be happy to continue to share the other 4 pillars of exemplary singlehood in next week’s post.  Until then, let’s pray:

Father, may we be people who truly grow to recognize the purposes to which you have called us. Please help us to continue to understand that, while you have created us as single individuals, with you, we will never be alone.  Grant us patience in our wait and wisdom in our walks that help us to find and fulfill our missions.  Place people in our paths who you work through us to serve and to bless so that they may go on to serve and to bless others.  In all that we think, say and do, dear Lord, may we bring Glory to Your Holy Name; for it is in Jesus’ name we ask it.  Amen

Here are some questions for you to think about and work through this week:

  1. What pursuit(s) other than Jesus, are you tempted to focus on because of the freedom found in the phase of singleness?
  2. Have you seen or experienced the thirst spoken of earlier in people who were looking to satisfy themselves with something only the Lord can satisfy?
  3. What does an unhealthy thirst look like in the context of a relationship?
  4. What can you do this week to take advantage of your freedom as a single person that you won’t have as a married person?
  5. Have you been able to identify and become involved in the mission to which God has assigned you? How might your season of singleness change if you loved and invested in people as Paul did?

Right here with you,