The Path of the Single Person
John Townsend Ph.D.
There is a paradox in the spiritual growth arenas regarding singles, both never-married and formerly-married. At least half of the population is single, and yet there are proportionately very few resources for singles. This gap neglects a great many important needs of a great many people. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the spiritual and emotional path of the single person, so that you can put some sort of structure into your particular life context. Henry and I both married later in life, so we have a lot of experience and identification with the single journey.
1. Understand your singleness from God’s perspective. Whether you are single by your choice, another’s choice, or by the circumstances of your life, God is intimately involved in your state. He does not consider you as being on Plan B. In fact, many of His own, for example Jesus and Paul, who did wonderful things in his name were single.
2. Person first, single second. First, though singles have unique problems and struggles, you are still more alike married people than unlike them. God designed humanity with certain basic needs and aspects that we call character (Rom. 5:1-4). These character issues are universal to all, such as needs for relationship, freedom, responsibility, living in reality and the like. Don’t get sidetracked into thinking that singleness is a condition that separates you from the lives of others.
3. Find life in the Body. Find a church that either has a singles ministry or is aware of singles issues. Many good churches provide a lot of opportunity for both growth and service.
4. Get connected to families. It is easy for singles to feel detached and alone in their lives. They need to be around others who may find that easier in their own contexts, such as families. Find families that you can develop deep relationships with, and spend time with them at meals, outings, with their kids, etc. This is also a challenge to families: adopt a single person and bring them into your everyday lives.
5. Deal with the roots of your singleness. If you want to be married, yet it hasn’t happened for you yet, your single state may be due in part to unfinished business within your soul. For example, there may be basic trust issues, fears of intimacy, a tendency to allow others to control you, or perfectionism. These issues affect not only singleness, but one’s entire life. Get into the spiritual growth process and begin to uncover the personal struggles that may have kept you single longer than you wanted. Ask God to help you heal and repair. Our books Changes that Heal and Hiding from Love are good places to start.
6. Resolve passive tendencies. Some singles struggle with waiting for God to change their lives, or that special someone to call them on the phone. Spiritual growth is not like that. Rather, it is a co-laborship with God, involving initiative and responsibility on both our parts and His (Phil. 2:12-13). Take risks, get hobbies and passions, become actively involved in life.
7. Date God’s way. Dating can be a confusing or even hurtful experience. We believe that dating is fundamentally a good thing. However, you need to approach it in a way that preserves spiritual growth. Deal with issues such as trying to resolve loneliness through dating, adapting to another person instead of being honest about yourself, and others. Our book Boundaries in Dating is a good resource here.
8. Enjoy singleness. Finally, we hope you will have fun as a single person, whether it be a temporary or permanent state. You have more freedom than married people. Use it to grow, experience God’s life to the fullest, and serve Him and others.
Copyright © 2000 Cloud-Townsend Resources, All rights reserved.
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