A few years ago I wrote about singleness. That article, Last Year I Was Unmarried—Now I’m Single, has remained one of my most-read.
I didn’t plan on it, but for a while I became a kind of poster-boy for singleness. I’ve never enjoyed the spotlight, but I was grateful for the opportunities I had to encourage people who were on a similar journey.
Well last year I was single and now I’m engaged, so I guess it’s time for an update. Not just about my life-stage, but also my thoughts on singleness and relationships from the other side.
“For a while I became a kind of poster-boy for singleness.”
Angie and I met last November through mutual friends. I promised myself I’d never go on a blind date. Now I’m so glad I broke that promise.
Angie is an absolute joy to be with. She’s full of energy, hilarious, resilient, enterprising, prayerful, and intuitively selfless. I’m beyond blessed to be on the receiving end of these qualities of hers every day.
Like many who’ve walked the relationships road, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in love. But it is the first time I’ve known wholehearted love in return. I know I’m adored by Angie—and that’s a new and amazing experience.
“I’m beyond blessed.”
Angie has been an avenue of God’s healing in my life. Through her, I have a newfound clarity about my past, and in the present a big relief that a long wait is over.
But I also want to be clear about a few things. Angie doesn’t complete me. I haven’t ‘graduated’ from singleness. My life isn’t suddenly perfect. And I don’t expect marriage to change that either.
Three things remain true in my life, even as I’ve enjoyed the ride this last year.
Singleness is better than misery
Speaking about relationships and marriage, a wise mentor once told me, “It’s better to wish you were than to wish you weren’t.” He’s one hundred percent right.
When I dated in the past, I lost count of how many sleepless nights I endured, and how many problems my prayers just wouldn’t erase. As well-intentioned as a relationship might be, the reality is that some people just aren’t compatible.
One simple test for compatibility is 2 Corinthians 6:14. God says that people who follow Jesus aren’t compatible with those who don’t. Many Christians compromise on this, believing that singleness is misery. But they pay the price later, whether through irresolvable difference or their own fading faith.
The harder lesson I had to learn is that not even all Christians are compatible—and not all Christians are easy to be with.
“Find an Angie. Like me, wait 15 years if you have to.”
So if you’re still waiting patiently for the right person, don’t rush in where you see problems, hoping that love will fix them. Trust me, it won’t.
If you’re intent on a relationship, save your love for someone who will truly reciprocate it. Find an Angie. Like me, wait 15 years if you have to. Until then, stay single, serve God, and enjoy your life.
In my original post, I said that singleness is awesome. I believe that as much as I ever did. One thing’s for sure—it’s far better than the misery of a relationship that just won’t work.
Like it or not, God is in control
If you haven’t seen the video below called Stuff Christian Singles Hear then you need to—for a laugh, if nothing else.
Christian singles hear a lot of stuff, mostly from married people, and I’m sure it’s comes from a sincere heart. But I’m not convinced that one person’s experience can be packaged into a rule for others to follow.
Well-meaning people told me almost everything in this video in one form or another, but none of it changed my situation. I believed that I would one day marry, yet I remained stubbornly single.
I could try to explain that in a hundred ways. Maybe there were lessons God was still teaching me. Maybe he was still preparing Angie. Either way, exactly what God was thinking wasn’t available to me—then or now.
“I believed that I would one day marry, yet I remained stubbornly single.”
All I know is that I had very little control over my situation. And fortunately, the same was true when I met Angie last year.
So here’s the story. I’d been serving as the youth and young adults pastor at my church—a role that I loved. But I also had a growing disquiet that stayed with me for over a year, a sense that God was soon calling me on to something else.
I faced some big challenges last year. After speaking with my mentors, I knew the time was right for me to discover God’s ‘something else’, having no idea what it was.
I handed in my resignation, and within a few weeks, I met Angie. I was also offered a new job, one that was online. This would enable me to travel to America to meet Angie’s family and friends, and also to take her to meet my second family in Indonesia, all of which we’ve done this year.
“God’s wisdom and kindness are far greater than ours.”
I’ve long sensed a call to Indonesia but I still had my doubts. I had an inkling that God would confirm that call to Indonesia by sending someone into my life who felt the same call. It turns out that Angie has been a fulfilment of this too.
There’s no way I could have predicted or planned any of these events. I don’t tell my story with the assumption that anyone else’s will look the same. I share it as a reminder that, like it or not, God is in control.
And that’s a good thing, because God’s wisdom and kindness are far greater than ours. Consider the words of Tim Keller: “God will either give us what we ask for in prayer, or he’ll give us what we would have asked for if we knew everything he knows.”
Contentment can be found in every life stage
What all of this means is that we need to learn to be content in every life stage.
We live in a culture that thrives on the exact opposite of this—namely, discontentment. Social media reinforces it. Advertising depends on it. Politics has perfected it. Our whole economy is built on it.
And we don’t help each other when we continually ask about the next big life event. First it’s, “When are you getting engaged?” and then, “When’s the wedding?” But it doesn’t stop there. “When are you having kids?” “When’s the next one on the way?” The questions continue on into retirement.
“We need to learn to be content in every life stage.”
Maybe we all just need to slow down and enjoy the present. If we can’t learn contentment in one life stage, it’s unlikely we’ll experience it in the next.
Finding the person I want to marry has been incredible. This last year has been the best year of my life. But it hasn’t solved all my problems—it’s solved some and introduced others.
And now that we’re engaged, Angie and I have a thousand plans for the future. Even now, in such a fun season, it can be easy to get frustrated at how slowly they’re all coming about.
“Contentment isn’t found in the next life stage.”
But the key to contentment in every season is God himself. Proverbs 19:23 says that, “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”
Contentment isn’t found in another person, or the next life stage. It’s found in God. This is as true for a newly engaged couple as it is for anyone.
So I’m going to enjoy this time with the beautiful Angie as we prepare for our wedding. But we’re going to enjoy it with God at the centre, knowing that he’s the source of our contentment.
We can be sure of this because God is love—and even the best earthly love is only a shadow of the perfect love God has for us.
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