Because You are Single: A Letter to my Younger Self


I once was an “expert” single person. After five years in China, I knew how to travel across the world with 100 pounds of luggage, stay in hostels alone, barricade myself on bunk beds at night on 27 hour train rides, and cook for one. 
 
Sometimes it was fun, but often it was lonely. 
 
At 32, I did end up miraculously getting married to a man I wouldn’t have picked at a time I wouldn’t have planned. But that is another story.

Ten years later, I write this to my 26 year old self who had just sold her car and possessions, quit her job and left all her prospects for marriage to go live in the middle of nowhere (only four foreigners in the entire city and an eight hour bus ride from an airport) and obey the call of her Jesus. 

Dear Younger Self,

I know you are scared of being lonely.  The following may not assuage your desire for marriage, but it may help you to see the value of this season on the days when you just want someone to rub your feet and listen to your day.
 
First of all, because you are single, God is going to meet your needs in very tangible ways.  This is hard to accept, but sometimes God purposely leads you into the wilderness.  Loneliness can be His means of grace in your life.  He has demonstrated this through the heroes of the faith who have gone before you and in your wilderness, He wants to:
 
~ Tell you that He sees you and wants to give you something to quench your thirst as He did for Hagar (Gen. 16:7-11, 21:17-21).
 
~ Bring you to the end of your own strength so that you will rely on Him alone to give you the nourishment you need for the journey ahead as He did for Elijah (1 Kg. 19: 4-8).
 
~ Provide for your very basic needs through His daily provision of manna as He did the Israelites (Exodus 16:1-36).
 
~ Simplify your priorities when you have been stripped down to only what you really need like John the Baptist (Mat. 3:1).
 
~ Test your faith in Him as He did Jesus–and then send angels to minister to you in your need (Mat. 4: 1-25).
 
Married people feel lonely, too, but when you are single, you must rely on God alone to provide for you in your wilderness.  Some days you will find yourself face-down in a dusty field, wondering what you’re doing and why you’re doing it–alone.  It is those who are the most thirsty who are most ecstatic over the provision of water.  God will see you, provide for you, hold you and strengthen you.
 
Because you are single you will have the opportunity to go deeper in your relationships more quickly than married people.  I know you don’t want to hear this, but you have the gift of time.  Time to wander the markets, time to accept spontaneous dinner invitations, time to visit new friends at their homes in the countryside, and time to study language.  A married person doing marriage well will just not have the time that you have to delve into relationships in your new culture.

You are also more likely to have more satisfying relationships with other singles on your team and in your organization than you would have if you were married. 
 
There will come a day when you will miss the sweet friendships you naturally developed with other women just because you had to share a room with them at your yearly conference or eat meals together because the families on your team were all busy.

Because you are single, you are going to fall in love with Jesus in ways you might not have if you were married.  Those times when you are bumping along in a crowd, with families on your team or eating a delicious meal that you cooked and ate alone, you will feel that twinge of self-pity and longing, yet you will also have a deep sense that Jesus, Immanuel, is there with you. And He knows you to your core.
 
If you so choose, you will have hours to seek, find, hear His voice and know Him. You will not only sit at the feet of Jesus, but you will lean on his chest. Yes, you will have guilt that you just binge-watched an entire season of Gilmore Girls instead of spending time with Him, but the minutes you spend in His presence will create a reservoir that you will one day, especially if you do marry, draw from daily.

Finally, because you are single, you will be called (forced?) to come to grips with sacrifice. You feel like the greatest sacrifice you are making in going overseas is surrendering your desire for a husband. Like the article you ran across many years ago entitled “Chastity: Love Wasted on God,” about the woman breaking her jar of precious perfume on Jesus’ feet, you, too, will feel that you have so much love to give that is being “wasted.” 

All I can tell you is that the joy, peace and pleasure of Christ Himself that will wash over you as you pour yourself out for your first love will sustain you. And don’t be ashamed when you leave your gift at the altar only to run back and scoop it back into your arms again. He is a loving Father. A kind Father.  A forgiving and giving Father. 

He does not give His children gifts of rocks or snakes, but only the best gifts are reserved for those He calls His children. 

And nothing we give Him is ever—EVER—wasted. 

Keep handing your desire over to Him. 
Keep walking. 
Keep living. 
Keep learning. 
Keep loving. 
Keep growing. 

It is not too hard a thing for the Creator of the earth to bring someone into your life if that is His plan. He brought Eve to Adam in his sleep, after all.

And I know that you know this, but if you are not content now in your singleness, you are certainly not going to be content in your marriage. Nothing can fill the true longing in your heart for intimacy like intimacy with Christ. 

Not even a man.  

In His thirst-quenching, never-changing, always fulfilling love,

Your Older Self

Related Post~Serving Single in China

Next Post~When Marriage is Viewed As Selling Out

Linking up with Blessed But Stressed, #InspiremeMondays
#Write31days
and
Velvet Ashes



Check out my #Write31days series: Re-Entry: 31 days of Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock

I write this to my 26 year old self who had just sold her car and possessions, quit her job and left all her prospects for marriage to go live in the middle of nowhere (only four foreigners in the entire city and an eight hour bus ride from an airport) and obey the call of her Jesus.

18 Replies to “Because You are Single: A Letter to my Younger Self”

  1. Leslie, I resonated with this, living 8 hours from a big city as a single in Southeast Asia. Really beautiful! (popping over from the Velvet Ashes link-up)
    Sarah Hilkemann

  2. Sarah, Thanks so much for reading (and commenting!). I definitely could relate to your post as well. In fact, I feel like that could have been me writing a few years ago. The comment about the guys 10 years younger than you was definitely my life for a long time. I don't feel like I came to a place of true surrender until I was about 30 years old. I met my husband soon after (don't you just hate when married people say that?), but then I had to surrender what felt like everything else: my "call," my love for China, my relationships there and my identity as an overseas worker. God is greedy when it comes to our hears, isn't He?;-)
    Sarah's article: (http://velvetashes.com/dreams-on-the-altar/)

  3. Hi, Leslie! I also found your blog from Velvet Ashes. Thanks so much for writing this! I am that 26 year old single, and found so much encouragement from your post. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.

  4. Oh wow. I'm going to send this link to my daughter who is in her first week in Guatemala serving her God in a language she's not fluent in! God takes us all on trips, and while the route is different, the eternal destination is what matters. Thanks for this great letter!
    PS From your neighbor in Inspire Me Monday.

  5. Beautiful. My heart aches for a few of my single friends — not because they need (or want) my pity, but because they long for marriage and family and wonder about this path God's got them on. This letter is so encouraging. Thank you for sharing. <3

  6. Thanks for reading! This post definitely came out of many years of struggling with the desire to be married, so I would love for the Lord to use my struggle to encourage others! Pass it along! Leslie

  7. I'm not sure why I'm just now reading this. But I feel like I should print it out and post it ALL over my apartment. These are all truths that I know and have felt/experienced many times over the past few years, but I forget so easily. So so easily. Thank you for these words. For real … I'm printing this out! haha!

  8. Jenna, I'm so glad you resonated with this. This post is dear to my heart because it prompted me to start blogging. I'm praying these truths stick with you, sister!

  9. Thanks for sharing.

    I was in my late 20s when I gave up the dream of marriage as a Christian. At the time I worked out the statistical chances of me finding someone suitable (at the time) and compounded by the fact that there are far fewer available Christian men than there are Christian women, I finally came to the conclusion that I was unlikely to find anyone worthwhile to marry. Don't get me wrong – I'm not ruling it out, but I'm not counting on being a part of my life.

    Sure, at the time I could probably have rushed off and found some loser who wouldn't understand me or who would be abusive, but I wasn't willing to settle for a marriage that wouldn't be good in God's eyes… that was just going to lead to major problems within the marriage and cause me further heartache than I was already experiencing. So, I was able to give up on my dream and God has provided more compensations then I could have imagined.

    If you're wondering, I'm now 52 and still happily unmarried.

    I'd love to share your story some time – I'm the Editor of SPAG Magazine which is a quarterly, electronic magazine for Christian singles (www.spagmag.com)

    Here's a related article I shared in the first issue of SPAG Magazine: https://spagmag.com/articles/article-where-is-my-soul-mate/

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