Element Church Blog

What if Singleness is Your Normal? Part One

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 I love my life. Truly, I do. However, my life does not look like the typical almost-forty-year-old woman’s life. There is no husband to love, no children of my own to nurture, and no goodnight kisses, prayers, or hugs. I know what you are thinking. I know, because I have been told...
 
 “Be thankful that you don’t have an abundance of dishes to do!”  
 
“Enjoy doing what you want to do; you don’t have to worry about anyone else!”
 
“Treasure those quiet, peaceful moments at home. If you’re married, you have to compromise ALL the time!”
 
“You’re so lucky you don’t have to get kids home to bed.”
 
Singleness is a gift that I have not always wanted. In my ordered scheme of things, I would be married with four children by now. As William Shakespeare might say in this context, singleness was thrust upon me!  God in his goodness, has taught me and shepherded me through this very, very long season of learning to navigate singleness. His rod and staff have guided me and comforted me. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a bit of what it means to live as a counter-cultural single, how I have failed, and how the Church can become equipped to love and value singles. Important to note: every single person has a different story. I am only telling the story that God has written for me.  
 
So, my story…
 
After college, I had two assumptions: 1) I’d get a job, and 2) I’d get married. The job came (albeit in Bakersfield!), but no husband. So...I did what achievers do and earned a Master’s degree. Feeling accomplished, I again assumed that God would send me a husband. After all, I had a house that I owned, an excellent job, two degrees, a solid knowledge and love of the Lord, and a pretty great personality! I was a twenty-six year old grown-up. My expectation was that God would soon partner me with someone with whom I could build a family, especially since my part of the “life equation” appeared in order.  During this time, God started to fan a different desire, one that had been placed in me as a teenager. On the eve of my twenty-ninth birthday, I was hired to teach at an international school in Albania. I sold my house, quit my job, and eight months later moved to the Balkans. 
 
Teaching overseas was an absolute joy. I did miss my family and friends, but revelled in the experience. My mom always calls my time in Albania, “the perfect storm.”  I was gifted with fellow adventurers.  Practically the minute I arrived, I met three other single girls who loved people, traveling, fun, wine, and food.  Our shared interests united us.  Here, my singleness did not ostracize me from community; it gave me community.  This was freeing.  Then, after two years, I moved to Ukraine where I was greeted with different community.  There were many Christian couples with small children.  The couples embraced me as a sister and the children loved me as an auntie. The burden of singleness was not so heavy with others to share it.  I am thankful that while I lived overseas God gave me opportunities to travel, work with orphans, share the Gospel, live in authentic community with other Christians, and truly love people who think and behave differently than me. He was expanding my heart and I believed I had found my life’s purpose.  
 
After teaching for two years in Albania and three years in Ukraine, God gave me a different call.  “Move home,” He said. A peace I never knew before surrounded me as I searched for jobs back home in California. I pictured myself in the Bay Area or Sacramento, surrounded by movers and shakers and ideal would-be marriage partners. However, God’s call was literal. I applied to over one hundred teaching positions in Northern California and no doors opened. I started questioning my decision to move home--whether I really had heard from God, or if it was just a wave of homesickness. By then, I was humbled enough to apply in Santa Maria just weeks after I had informed my mother, “I will NEVER move back to Santa Maria.”  (I didn’t have high hopes for life as an older single in a small town.)  Within days, of course, I had two job interviews lined up and then a solid job offer. I was home.
 
Next week I will be focusing on the points from Aaron’s Singleness sermon and how those points have shown up in my experience as a single.  Now you have the backstory.