It some ways it seems hard to believe, but within just 3 short weeks’ time, Katie and I will have been married for a year. Given the title of my message this week, that could feel a bit like I’m rubbing it in, but please trust me and keep reading. You see, in approaching this milestone, I’m reminded to stop and think about some of the things God walked me through and taught me as a “single again.” Perhaps chief among them or certainly near the top is just how important it is to recognize ourselves as “individual before the Lord” and, in doing so, to build and grow a unique and personal relationship with Him.
I think I first began to see and understand this concept at a deeper level through the teaching of the late Dr. Myles Munroe. Dr. Munroe was known to pretty much get right to the point, as when, in his rich Bahamian accent he would say, “You may feel a deep need for a mate, a partner or a companion to ease your loneliness. But be patient. Now is not the time. First, you must learn to be single.”
“You don’t solve loneliness by getting married,” Dr. Monroe would say. “Some of the loneliest people in the world are married people. Nothing is worse than being lonely in a marriage because you’re trapped.”
Dr. Munroe says God originally designed people to be single. But his definition of being “single” does not refer the world’s concept of singleness, but rather being complete and whole in Christ (rather than needing another person to complete your identity). “People walk around with a tremendous misconception of what it means to be single,” he explains. “Singleness, in its basic definition, means to be separate, unique, and whole. More specifically, to be single means you are separate from everyone else, and you are unique in yourself – which means you recognize there’s no one like you, and you have worth within yourself. To be single also means you are whole; you don’t depend on other people to make you somebody. Until a person is completely single in these three areas, his or her relationships will always be a problem.”
Have you come to the point where you know you are separate, unique, and whole as a person? After you consider each of these three areas in your life, think about the longings and worries you have and the emotions you sometimes struggle with. Learn to recognize areas of your life that need work, and avoid new relationships with the opposite sex until you are completely single. God has a purpose for you in your singleness – you don’t want to miss it! Dr. Munroe also taught that not only do people misunderstand what it means to be single, but they also misunderstand what it means to be alone. These words are not synonymous. Let’s consider what being alone means.
“In Genesis 2:18 God says to this man, ‘It’s not good for man to be alone,’” states Dr. Munroe. “God never said it’s not good for man to be single. You must understand that singleness is not a problem to God. As a matter of fact, God encourages singleness. He wants you to become unique, separate, and whole. He sees you as an individual, imbued with many gifts, skills and talents to serve and share with others along with a custom-designed personality. And He wants for you to see yourself this way also. According to Dr. Munroe, “’Alone’ is what God saw as the problem. That word literally means isolated. God was saying He doesn’t want a person to be isolated in him or herself.”
“Loneliness is a terrible thing; it’s like a disease, he would say; it actually grows out of a poor self-concept. It’s a product of people who don’t believe that they are worth being loved or that they are important, so they feel isolated (or they choose to self-isolate) from participating in group activities. That is a sickness. God says He doesn’t like that (even in times of quarantine.) He doesn’t want that to happen to anybody. Aloneness is the source of that.” The enemy can use our days of singleness to try and bind us to loneliness. But once again, we must remember that God can use our singleness for a good purpose and He reassures us that, when we have a relationship with and trust in him, we are never alone.
We do ourselves a great service when we can muster up the courage and creativity to find ways to stay connected with others. Even Jesus, while He would frequently go off by Himself to pray, would do so to be in communion with His Heavenly Father and ultimately return to His “Life Group.” God does not want you to be alone, but He does want you to be single—separate, unique, and whole. Take a moment to think about where you fit in Dr. Munroe’s definitions of single versus alone as we consider the following passages from Scripture:
Psalm 25:16 (The Message) “Look at me and help me! I’m all alone and in big trouble”
Hebrews 10: 24-25 (NIV) 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10, 12 (NIV) 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Matthew 18:20 (NIV) 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV) 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Romans 1: 11-12 (NIV) 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
So, you see, while it’s important that you consider yourself single, individual and whole, it’s also vital that you surround yourself with friends and companions so as not to isolate or withdraw. People are better off when they have friends to help them with the challenges of life. In fact, the more difficult life is, the more valuable friends become. There is strength in numbers. And if God sees fit for one of those dear friends to become your romantic partner and ultimately your spouse, you’ll be the second to know…just as it should be.
Almighty God, You have created me for a purpose that only I can fulfill.
I am unique, special, worthwhile and whole in you.
Teach me to be single
But never to be alone.
Right here with you,