This past month has been rough. I recently got out of a relationship, and the breakup was probably the toughest I’ve been through. It was my first “serious” relationship and cutting ties with someone I really care about hurts. I struggled with not having him to talk to all of the time, not feeling wanted by him, and singleness in general. The breakup was consuming my thoughts and I was letting it take over my life. I was falling behind in my studies and becoming unhealthy both physically and mentally.
I’ll admit that I was mad at him, myself, and even God. I thought things were going well and I didn’t understand what I did to deserve this. I ranted to a bunch of friends and most of them told me the same thing: I could do better. Although this may be true, it didn’t help me much.
However, I told one of my close friends at Florida State about my situation, and she responded differently. She is going through a very similar thing and sent me a video of a sermon that helped her through her recent breakup. The sermon was given by Michael Todd, the lead pastor of Transformation Church. The sermon series was called “Relationship Goals” and this particular sermon discussed singleness (the link to the video is at the bottom of this post).
The message really opened my eyes and taught me so many things.
I learned so much about what the bible says about singleness and it’s purpose. The topic, as Todd pointed out, is often avoided, but it is a crucial “prerequisite” for a good marriage.
One of the first things Todd brings up is Matthew 22:36-39. In these verses, Jesus is telling the people the greatest commandment. He mentions the obvious one: love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. However, He also says that loving your neighbor as yourself is equally as important. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard that verse a million times growing up in the church. I always focused on the “love your neighbor” part and interpreted the “as yourself” piece as treating others how I want to be treated. However, God is commanding us to love others in the same way that we love ourselves. Todd then posses an important question: If God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves but we don’t love ourselves, how do we know how to love others?
“…[Y]ou can’t figure out how to love somebody else in a relationship if you have not figured out how to love yourself in singleness.” – Pastor Michael Todd
I never looked at this verse this way. Sure, I had heard the phrase “you have to learn how to love yourself before you can learn to love others,” but I never thought there was any real biblical backing to that statement. Turns out there is. Not only that, but this logic makes sense. How do we expect to know how to uplift others if we are too insecure to accept a compliment? How are we supposed to love others fully and truly if we pick ourselves apart all the time?
As a child, time and time again I was told that we as Christians were supposed to love in this order: Jesus, others, and then yourself (JOY). To a certain extent, this is true. We should put others before ourselves when it comes to serving and being selfless. But in the realm of romantic relationships – or any relationship in general – the order should be Jesus, yourself, and then others. When you learn to love yourself, you become whole and content. Then only afterward can you fully love another.
When you love yourself, you won’t focus on your partner’s “flaws.”
If you don’t fully love yourself, you tend to pick at your insecurities and “flaws.” The same is true for when you are in a relationship that you believe will “complete you.” Todd mentions that a lot of times, the first thing an insecure person does in a relationship is to pick out the flaws of the other person to make them feel better about themselves. Makes sense, right? If that is what we do to ourselves, the person we are around 100% of the time, then why would it be different for another person we are investing in? For Todd says, “You can only love your neighbor at the level that you love yourself.”
We often look for validation in others, when we shouldn’t need validation when the creator of the universe crafted us.
Psalms 139: 13-14 says, “For you created my innermost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” If the Bible, God’s living Word, says that you are beautiful and wonderful, then it’s true. I know I am struggling to believe that still, but in my singleness, I am going to make an effort to love the way that God made me.
Another point Todd made was that there is nothing wrong with the season of life God has you in right now.
Christians are often expected to find a partner and marry young in life. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Whether your 21 or 41, singleness is never a bad thing. If God has you in singleness right now, it’s for a reason. However, I understand the pressure. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to accept that right now you aren’t meant to be in a relationship. Being a college student, culture has taught me that this is when you really start seriously dating. I know that, although that would be fun, God has me in this season of singleness to grow as my own individual and to grow in my relationship with Him.
You don’t need marriage to fulfill your purpose.
Contrary to popular belief, you can live out your purpose without a partner. *Gasp.* I know that may be common knowledge for some people, but it may not be for others. And even if people know this, it is still a hard pill to swallow. Many of us dream about living out our Godly life with that “perfect” guy or girl by our side to help us along the way. However, it is the individual’s purpose for a reason, that being that we can fulfill it without a spouse. We can use our singleness to make it our primary focus to serve God and others. When we are single, we have no one to focus on but ourselves. Therefore, we have a great opportunity to use this time to grow spiritually.
Singleness is the foundation of a good marriage.
A lot of times people go into relationships thinking that their partner will make them a better person. Although your partner can hold you accountable and push you to spend time with God, they aren’t going to better you. Todd says “Marriage is only as good as your singleness,” and I love that because its true. Your spouse isn’t going to improve you, but instead uncover all of you, even some things you don’t want anyone to know about. Eventually, your spouse will uncover those things and you will be exposed. However, if you use your singleness to work on yourself and your relationship with God, you’ll go into a marriage already “improved.”
Building off of this, we shouldn’t strive to “fix” others. Knowing that marriage won’t improve you, you should understand that you won’t be able to improve your spouse. Instead of settling, you need to find a spouse that is on your same level in his relationship with God and himself. Todd uses an analogy that really put it in perspective for me personally. He said, “[If] you take two eggs, and one of them’s rotten, and you cook them together, the omelet’s still bad.” In other words, if we settle, we will never get the most out of that relationship. It will hurt and could even push you back from where you are in your relationship with God and yourself.
Don’t search for “the one”; focus on your purpose from God and get to know yourself. One day God will point out to you someone who is in the same place.
Todd put it like this – if life is a race, you should run it to the best of your ability. Your singleness is a great time to dig into God’s Word, serve, learn to love yourself, and so much more. However, if we are constantly looking for “the one,” we often slow down in the “race” and can go off track. We get distracted, and being on the lookout consumes us. Instead, we need to run the race at our pace. Maybe one day God will point out a guy or girl who is running right alongside us, but until then we need to look forward.
Its okay to be single, but not good to be alone.
Todd drives home this sermon with this important point. In today’s society, we associate being single with being lonely. However, they are quite different. Being single is not having a romantic partner or spouse. Being alone, however, is not having a good social support system to turn to. God did not create to be in a relationship all the time, but he did make us social beings. He didn’t create us to live alone, but instead with one another. Although it’s okay to be single but friends and family who support you are important. We need our churches, friends, family, youth leaders, pastors, and others to have our backs. We are wired to be connected to others. If we aren’t, it can affect our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Surrounding ourselves with the right people is crucial.
These statements are not easy to live out.
Every day I have to actively remind myself that being single is okay and that I need to run my race looking forward. I have no idea what God’s plan is for me pertaining to marriage, and I won’t know until it plays out. Until then, I have to trust that He will guide me. I am so excited to use this time of singleness to learn more about who God is crafting me and shaping me to be. Being a single college student is an amazing opportunity to explore who I am and what I can do to serve others. I can learn more about my purpose and what I want to do in the future.
If you’re struggling with the concept of singleness, or even if you are in a relationship, I highly suggest checking out this video. It is so insightful and I don’t do it full justice by explaining it briefly in this post.
Single, Not Alone: Relationship Goals (part 2)