My Journey to Loving Singleness
By Amy Rasmussen
Contentment: being so pleased with your current situation, so satisfied with what you have, that you desire no more!
I love this definition of contentment, and I’m so happy to say I’ve experienced this the majority of my days as a Christian, but especially the past five years or so of dating (and marrying) no one! I have become so pleased with who God is to me, what He wants for me, and what He has given me, that I can honestly say I desire no more! It’s been a journey to get here, though. There is one verse that really helps to explain much of how God has brought me to this wide-open place of contentment.
“Let your life be free of the love of money [covetousness] and be content with what you have.” – Hebrews 13:5
The opposite of contentment is covetousness.
I want to start here because Jesus taught in Luke 16:10 that if we are faithful in the very little things of money or earthly possessions, we will be faithful in more important things. I know that God has used practicing being content with money and possessions to help me learn the contentment I need to thrive as a single woman.
Letting my life be free of covetousness is a very proactive choice.
One that we all, whether in a relationship or not, must make over and over again.
We have to be willing to say: “I don’t need ___”
- I don’t need to buy ____.
- I don’t need to keep ____.
- I don’t need to think about ____.
- I don’t need to know ____.
- I don’t need to watch ____.
- I don’t need to listen to ____.
- I don’t need to have _____.
Our hearts and our culture work hard to get us craving more, but God wants us to rest in what we already have unconditionally: Him. Whenever you feel subtle self-pity creeping up on you, or restless discontentment, bitterness, offense, or resentment, remember this comes from our hope being placed somewhere other than Christ.
He is the reason why we can all be content.
“…For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Or as the Amplified Version renders it:
“I will never [under any circumstances] desert you
[nor give you up nor leave you without support,
nor will I in any degree leave you helpless],
Nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”
Because God is with us, unconditionally, we can be content.
No. Matter. What.
- When other people have someone to love and take care of them.
- When your friends make way more money than you just because they are male!
- When your friends all get married off.
- When you get nothing for Valentine’s Day or your birthday.
- When you’re always a bridesmaid, but never a bride.
- When your opinion isn’t valued as much because you’re single.
- When most of your friends are married, having kids, going on family vacations.
- When your parents visit your sister more because she has kids.
- …grandkids trump single women every time, I agree!
- When you have to pay all the bills AND take care of the jungle…I mean yard.
When you parent,
God’s presence, that fills heaven and earth, is so much more than these moments. He brings a measure of joy impossible to contain when received and impossible to ignore when witnessed!
As long as my eyes are on Him, contentment comes easy. There was a point in my journey that God clearly showed me that His character is the unchanging foundation of my gratitude and joy. Picture a tree—that tree is Christ, God’s character graciously revealed in human flesh. He said we are the branches, so other Christians are a gift to us to be grateful for, as are the seasons of life with whatever they may bring. The gift of the Spirit, who makes us fruitful is one of the supreme gifts we should be thankful for each day. The Spirit is the One who constantly reassures us of God’s nearness to us and the One who shapes God’s character in us and grants God’s wisdom to us. But the roots of our existence are in God’s character and our purpose and joy are found primarily there! In His love, goodness, holiness, justice, mercy, compassion, generosity, sacrifice, patience, joy unspeakable, peace beyond understanding…
A few exercises I use to help me dwell on His character are:
- Going through the alphabet describing God in praise
- Singing to Him
- Sharing answers to prayer with others
- Looking for His character as I read Scripture
- Joining Him in loving intercession for others—especially when I am down
- First in prayer, then in action. Have you experienced this? How prayer (loving in word) naturally leads to action (loving in deed and truth)? If you don’t act on behalf of others, it is difficult to keep praying sincerely.
These disciplines of fixing my eyes on Him not only breed contentment, but also generosity! Generosity is the natural product of a truly grateful heart! A generosity of thought, of speech and of action. The capacity to rejoice not only in my own wealth in Christ but in others’ blessings, privileges and opportunities—even when they may never be mine to enjoy! Enjoying not only the good gifts God has given me but also getting to provide for the needs of others. We can join God in providing for others through our love, our presence, our time, our words, our energy, and our money. If you listen, He will lead. If you trust, He will provide.
It is ridiculously good to live in this fullness.
Abundant life? Jesus meant it.
So the hard part of contentment? Abiding (or remaining) content. Keeping my eyes on Him. It’s so easy to look away!
This is where contentment practice has really helped me. Years of laying down my will and my wants…first to my parents, then eventually to God Himself.
I was blessed to be born into a family rooted in Scripture, so my parents instilled in me the importance of giving to God, others, saving up (practicing patience!) for bigger things, as well as appreciating and taking care of what I had. These values being instilled early gave me a great foundation to work from as I grew older, more independent, and more responsible for my own state of being. If your parents taught you any of those values, be so grateful and utilize those skills the best you can! If you grew up getting whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it, God can make up for lost time if you listen closely and are willing to obey radically! Remember how Jesus gave the rich young man the chance at a fresh start? “Sell all you have and give to the poor” (Mark 20:21). That’s generosity boot camp for sure. However much practice you’ve had at being content without what you think you want or even need, it’s never too late to start looking to God for wisdom and strength to be a good steward of what His gifts—especially the gift of His presence. And parents (or future parents!), you have the great responsibility and privilege of helping your children learn how to practice contentment, find joy in God instead of things, and experience the delight of a generous life!
Looking back on my own journey, God had me start consciously practicing contentment as soon as I gave my life over to Him. The first thing I had to learn to live without was my high school boyfriend. He had been everything to me until God revealed my heart’s dark and selfish desires and replaced them with a hunger for Him and His Word. Every day at school I had to inwardly fix my eyes back on God as the guy who had been my best friend and first love tried convincingly to get me back. God taught me to yield and to pray for this guy that I loved. Instead of clinging to him, I learned to keep him in God’s hands, which turns out to be the most loving thing we can do for anyone! It was one of my life’s greatest joys to watch God move mountains in his life.
Meanwhile, I was also undergoing a separation of my heart from material things and love of entertainment. I gave up shopping and television completely for six months as God rewired my desires. He was teaching me how to give my money and my time for His kingdom. I remember distinctly the many times I would go through a drive-through and not purchase any food or walk in a store only to walk back out as the Holy Spirit taught me how to say “I don’t need anything” time after time. God developed in me a heart for my community and for missions. I went from spending all my money however I thought best, to seeking God’s wisdom for its best use. I went from allowing a relationship to consume my time, thoughts, emotions and energy, to genuine surrender of my complete self to God.
I have learned and grown so much through my relationships with guys and the times in between, but I can say I am truly thankful that I didn’t marry. Here’s why. It is hard to abide, constantly content. It is hard to love being ‘alone,’ because men and women are quite literally built for connection! But when we are truly content with God alone, we can shine His goodness in a way that no one can deny! Sometimes the hardest things bring forth the most beauty! Think of Christ!
God’s will for Jesus was hard for Him.
He didn’t have a perfect group of friends that He loved to be around or could depend on. He didn’t have a cozy home to call His own. He didn’t have the comfort of a wife or the blessing of kids that inherited His DNA. Could it be that all His lack, what would cause Him to be seen as “less than” in society, could it be that the practice of doing without and being content prepared Him for the garden of Gethsemane and the Cross?
God’s will for many, and perhaps most, people IS to be married. But how many people have settled for financial and familial security through the ages by marrying outside of God’s will for them? What could God have done with them if they had said, “All I need is Christ. Where He goes, I will follow.” We must get to this point, even if God does have marriage in our future. We must cherish Christ so dearly that we are willing to follow Him even to a cross of life alone, without earthly riches. We must stand on His promise to be with us.
“All other ground is sinking sand.”
The last relationship I was in brought me to a point of decision: whether I would cling to the desire to be married and loved by a man or truly find my all in God, whatever hardships that included. God’s patience and humility were so strikingly beautiful to me at that moment. That He would endure so many of His creatures choosing His creation over Him made me want to choose Him over all creation, at any cost. This can be true for married people as well. But for me, that was the end of that drawn-out hope and relationship.
God has a grand purpose for our lives. Part of that purpose is to experience complete contentment. Christ is our great treasure and reward. So let’s repent of covetousness as often as we need to. Reject it when tempted to look away from Christ. Let’s practice contentment, gratitude and radical generosity. Practice in the little things like earthly possessions so you will be able to do it in your significant relationships. Become more and more givers rather than consumers. Grow in sacrificial love so that no matter our situation, whether single or married, whether extending generosity out of a place of plenty or of simplicity, we can say:
“I don’t need anything more than this. I have Christ!”
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