“Single,” Not “Incomplete”

At work yesterday, I ended up on a bunch of different church websites. Many had Meet the Staff pages, some with interview-style questions and fun facts.

On one church’s site,  ”How I met my spouse” was the second question on each staff bio. Not a bad question.

One of the staff had listed, “When I find her, I’ll let ya know  .” A clever answer to what could be an awkward, painful question.

I don’t know any of these people, and I’ll likely never meet them. Maybe this guy is 100% content in his singleness, every single day, and was looking for a chance to use his clever answer.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the placement, and am a little oversensitive about this because I went to a wedding recently, and wrote of how doing so brings up a lot of emotions.

But the “How I met my spouse” question being listed second seems to suggest something about how the church views marriage, and in turn, their single staff member. “How I met my spouse” appears above “Spiritual Gifts” or “How you got into ministry” or “Favorite Bible passage.”

But I think it points to a larger problem within Christian thought: Why is there often a subtle implication that we are incomplete until we can answer the question, “How did you meet your spouse?”

There are days I feel incomplete due to my singleness, but that does not make it true. Using the Bible as a guide, I find nothing that implies that I am somehow less, or my life has not yet begun because I am not married.

Paul writes of marriage and singleness in I Corinthians 7, ending the chapter with, “But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.”

He seems to be saying here that though the Spirit of God can be found in marriage, it can also be found in singleness. There is nothing in the chapter, or in the way that Paul lived his life, to imply he was somehow incomplete and less effective as a servant of God because he was not married. Paul also does not condemn the idea of marriage, nor do I intend to–if I could plan my life, I’d be married right now, or at least in a relationship that was strongly headed that way. In any of the versions of my life I have imagined, none of them have included being single for the rest of my life.

But just because I am not married yet does mean I am incomplete.

The church whose staff pages I mentioned is probably a wonderful church. When they created those pages on the website, they probably didn’t give much thought to the arrangement of the questions…which is kind of the problem. Having “How I met my spouse” as the second question, when one of the people does not have an answer to that question, seems to imply he is missing an element that is crucial to complete his profile. Even unconsciously, Christian circles often subtly imply that singleness implies incompleteness. I strongly disagree.

I’m not anti-marriage. From what I’ve seen, heard, read, and more, marriage is an incredible gift that will, I hope, someday teach me more about love, sacrifice, struggle, relationships, and God than I thought possible. In some ways, I imagine it may complete a part of me I didn’t know was possible–but I don’t think that means that right now, a piece of me is missing.

Maybe marriage brings about another level of completeness; a different kind of completeness for those who are supposed to get married, but not completeness in a sense that something is missing for those who are not. As Paul says, “I think that I too have the Spirit of God.”

I am single, not incomplete.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What do you think? If you’re single, do you ever feel that it’s implied you’re “incomplete”? If you’re married, am I completely missing something here?

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12 thoughts on ““Single,” Not “Incomplete”

  1. God has a sense of humor because it is so funny that you would write about this today Brianna because this very same topic has been on my heart in a big way today.

    I am the youngest person that works in my office (by many many years) and I feel like coworkers and people from church, whenever they talk to me about someone my age who’s getting married, or having a baby yadda, yadda, they do it with this self-pitying tone, like, “Oh, its ok Amy, you’ll have that someday…” And to be honest I hate that. Even if they mean well, its just so hard to stomach sometimes. And its not because I’m sad that I’m single (and there’s not so much as a boyfriend prospect in sight at the moment), its that, I’m content! I love what Paul says in that same chapter: “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you…” Wasn’t it also Paul who talked about learning the secret to being content in every situation (I can’t remember for sure)?

    I hope to be married someday. When I was 18, 19, 20, 21, I was SURE I would be married by the time I was 25… well that didn’t happen. And I think it was around that time that I realized I should probably not try to create a timeline for my life. And the funny thing is, like I’ve said in pretty much all my other replies, I’m not where I pictured I would be at 27, but when I am completely honest with myself, I just can’t imagine myself married right now. Not to say that I don’t hope to be married someday because I would love it, but I just don’t see it [marriage] the same way as I did when I was younger, you know?

    Back then I didn’t REALLY think about what marriage meant beyond, “Ooooooo, what colors do I want for my wedding??? HMMMM!!!!” And as far as a guy went, I had like this whole list of what I wanted and… Oh boy, young Amy, how silly you were, ha ha!

    But the truth is, there was a moment that God really used to change my life when my parents were up in San Francisco for a few weeks (my mom was there for surgeries to remove some of the cancer) and I was just having a really tough week and my brother and I were at a family friend’s house and I was just about to explode. I was upset and angry and confused and I distinctly remember saying, “You know, if I had a husband that would just make this thing so much easier!” And God just spoke to me (it wasn’t like a James Earl Jones moment or anything but I guess about as close as one could get) and said, “No it wouldn’t. I am the only who can make this better. I am the only one who can fill that hole in your heart.”

    I guess after that (well, not immediately after that,because Lord knows I still went looking for love in all the wrong places after that) my life changed. My out look on love and marriage. And even my singleness. I am not defined by my singleness, its a part of me, but its not me, and if its God’s plan, I won’t be single forever. Whatever happens, I know there is a time and a season for every activity under heaven and I apparently now is a time for singleness and you know, its not that bad 🙂

    p.s. Thanks for reading my mini-novel (sorry, I tend to do that sometimes)

    1. Your mini-novels are great! I can relate to much of it as well. Even the most well-intentioned things people say can get under your skin a bit, especially when it comes to a topic like singleness, which can be a sensitive one anyway. You sum it up so well, “I am not defined by my singleness.” Some days I feel like I let it define me much more than I should, but overall, it is not who I am. Thanks for reading!

    2. Amy,

      I had to reply to your comment because something similar happened to me the other day.

      I was watching TV, and a commercial came on – it began with a cute couple buying vegetables at an outdoor market. The woman was on her cell phone, and she turns to her adorable husband and says that the bank called to tell her their credit card was stolen and is being used in another country. Then it shows them sitting together across the desk from a banker who’s telling them what the next steps are to get their card back, and the husband reassuringly puts his arm around the wife who smiles at him.

      Normally I’m relatively happy in my singleness, but as ridiculous as it sounds, I became very bitter at the relationship the TV couple had, and jealous that the woman had a loving man to help her through the whole process of getting her card back. I began making sarcastic, hateful, cynical comments to the TV.

      Then, just as God spoke to you when you were angry, I heard, or felt a message from Him which was something along the lines of “Kaity, you can, and have handled hard situations like that in the past in your singleness. I didn’t leave you. I don’t love them (the couple) any more than I love you.”

      Brianna, thanks for your post, and Amy, thanks for sharing your comment. I belief that God puts people in singleness for a season to grow closer to Him and to do His work in ways we wouldn’t be able to if we were married.

      If someone happens to look at you in pity because you’re single, I would gently remind them that being single is transcendental as well. (1 Corinthians 7:34)


      Kaity

      1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Kaity. I love this: “I don’t love them any more than I love you.” Such a good truth that I occasionally lose sight of.
        Thanks again for reading!

    1. It it is a difficult truth to accept, you’re so right, but it’s so important! It’s a lesson I’m sure I will have to continually be reminded of over and over again. Thanks for reading and taking the time to say hello!

  2. I think this was stated wonderfully. I’ve never been more discouraged than when I’ve tried to find a thriving singles ministry that was focused on living life single, not one that just put people into a holding pattern until they could get married. This is even more difficult for me as I’m a rather strong introvert. After 23 years I’ve learned a lot about how I’m wired. It will likely take God’s divine hand to get me hitched, and if that’s the only way it will happen that’s how I’d like it because then the marriage will have His blessing. But now I’m content to have a wonderful family that doesn’t put any pressure on me, an introverted sister who feels my pain, and to be in a church who invests in singles for a bigger purpose. I can also be honest in saying that until recently I was no where near ready to be in a relationship emotionally or mentally. Now that I feel like God has brought me to that point, I don’t so much as have a clear cut crush. And if I don’t have a clear cut crush, I don’t have a crush. Simple as that. But that’s a blessing, too, because in 8 months my internship ends and my life gets so fluid I can’t begin to predict where or when I might end up.

    1. It can be frustrating that sometimes the church, which should be the most welcoming place for ALL people, is sometimes the place that makes single people feel more out of place than anywhere else. Thanks for reading, Ben.

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