One of the great struggles of singleness is the feeling that you are alone. Now I know that even if you are married you can still feel that way, but it is almost a guarantee that if you are single for any length of time you will feel it.
It can be made even harder by the fact that we live in a culture that has become more and more individualized. Not all of that is bad, we have more freedom to move different places, explore different options and take different opportunities. But there are a lot of unintended consequences. One of those is that we end up switching friends all the time and not really going deep. And this can lead to feeling alone or to for all intents and purposes, actually being alone.
We end up not really knowing how to have real community. But we need it, whether we are single or married.
In Genesis, God creates Adam and then says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” You see God was not alone. He has always been in perfect relationship as the Father, Son, and Spirit. And He created us in His image, which makes us relational beings. It is critical that we get this.
In our world we are told that it is all about the individual. It is all about you, making your way and doing what you need to do. It is about self advancement. Even in the Church it can become about my relationship with God, my ministry, my spiritual growth. Now there is truth in that. You and I have an individual role to play in the story – but heres the key – we are not THE story.
I think one of the many reasons we have more single people than ever in history is that we are more alone to begin with. We get used to operating on our own and going after the stuff that helps mainly us. We are not used to working stuff out in community, let alone with another person that I have to be with every single day. It’s hard work and even though we are made for it, we are resistant and we’ve been trained to be.
It’s gotten to the point where it is just kind of accepted. “I’m on my own.” But you are not supposed to be. Even if you are called to celibacy (to be single and not marry), you are not called to be alone.
People who are truly called to celibacy typically get this. Priests and nuns are typically less alone than us. Throughout time, they’ve typically lived in community. They get that the call to celibacy is not a call to aloneness. (By the way I learned more about the call to celibacy and marriage and the difference in about an hour sharing a panel with a priest and nun than I have in 20+ years of being in the protestant church – but I digress.)
The point here is that we are not created to be loners. My pastor spoke on this last week and he brought it perfectly at the end. He said, “What if you didn’t have to navigate your marriage alone. What if you didn’t have to navigate your singleness alone? Or your parenting? Or your career? Or your wounds? Or your success?” Exactly!
We need people in our lives who know us. People who know our story – both where we’ve been and where we are trying to go. Yes I’m talking about accountability, but more than that. Yes I’m talking about meeting together, and sharing together, but more than that.
Marriage is not the only covenant relationship available to us. If you get married it is the number one covenant relationship in your life (behind Jesus) but it doesn’t have to be the only one. It’s all over scripture. Look at the early church. Look at Aaron and Moses or Jonathan and David.
But it takes work and more importantly it means making a decision to be in it no matter what. This kind of community doesn’t “just happen”. If it can “just happen” then it can just as easily “unhappen”. That doesn’t create security, trust and unity.
I think one of the huge traps as a single person is that we can, over time, become more and more independent, to the point that we are actually alone. And alone is bad. We are not meant to carry our burdens, sins, decisions, fears, dreams, and celebrations alone. If we are indeed called to be married we will be way more prepared if we have real community that we have had to work at. If we are called to celibacy then it is just as critical so that we don’t become isolated.
Do you have real community? Who knows your dreams, fears, sins, successes? Who knows your heart? Whose heart do you know? Are you single, or are you alone?