I am eagerly anticipating the publication of my friend, Cameka Taylor’s book. She has been a great friend and her story will bless many. I am sharing an article that she wrote here to show a little of what her journey has been, the journey that inspired her upcoming book.
MAKING THE MOST OF SINGLENESS
I was at the age of 25 when I really began to feel the pressure from Christians and working colleagues to get married. For several months, hardly a week went by without someone asking me about marriage and about “the special someone in my life.” They generally assumed that I was in a relationship and usually expressed shock when I exclaimed I was not. Why would a beautiful, educated, Christian young lady like me be single? This was an abnormality. Now at the age of 31, I am still unmarried and not much has changed. I believe Evangelist Rattray asked me to write this article because I am unmarried and he assumed I was making the best of singleness but he never did ask if I was in a relationship. Fortunately for him, as it turns out to be, not only am I unmarried but am without children and not in a relationship. Singleness can be a dubious term. It may loosely be defined as being “unmarried” or not in a relationship. Therefore he is correct on both counts and might I note that my previous statements are no indication that I am looking for “hook ups” through this article. Having said that, it is important to know which group of Singles Evangelist Rattray wants me to address. Does he want me to address persons over thirty like myself, or the divorcee, the widowed, the single parent, the unmarried who are in relationships, single at heart or those who are single by choice?
In addition to defining the term singleness, other thoughts caressed my mind as I embraced the possibility of writing this article. How personal should this article be? Should I address singleness as a permanent state or a temporary one? What does making the best of singleness mean? Am I really making the best of singleness? Am I the right person to speak on such a matter? By personal experience and that of others, I know that when the deeply intense desire for companionship and connection with another human being eludes us, too often there is deep pain resulting in tears, sadness, low self esteem, loneliness and depression. Such loneliness and pain can drive single people to commit undesirable acts and is very often the reason for sexual immorality among Christians. So how does a single Christian make the best of singleness? Making the best of singleness here refers to the ability to take advantage of the state of singleness, overcoming or avoiding the negative psychological and emotional effects of singleness. It is being happy and fulfilled as a single person.
Therefore, this article is not intended to be a theoretical one but one based on lived experience and while it cannot address all categories of single persons and issues that face Singles, it is intended to speak to the single Christian and should provide nuggets that all categories of single individuals can appropriate to their lives. Making the best of singleness has a lot to do with one’s perspective on the state of singleness and one’s philosophy of life. Is it a temporary or permanent state? Is it a gift to be accepted or a curse to be shunned? Is there purpose in singleness? Can you be happy and single? I submit to you that making the best of singleness begins with having a healthy perspective on your present state of singleness. It involves living a life of purpose, pursuing your life goals and having a strong social network of friends and or family.
The Pain and Joys of Singleness
Tears streamed down my face as I listened to Whitney Houston’s song, “Where do broken hearts go?” Another broken relationship… what was I to do? Various friends said: “I really thought this was the one. This relationship looked really promising. I am so sorry Cam.”
Believe me, I know the pain of singleness. But I also know the Rock of my salvation and He gives the strength and the right perspective every time to overcome broken relationships and to make the best of my singleness. Over the past three years, I have attended quite a few weddings and in recent months several of my friends have gotten engaged and some got married. Even closer to home, my younger sister got married on December 17, 2011. Does it bother me being single? Have I asked when will it be my time? Yes, it does bother me and I have wondered when my time will come. But I don’t despair. I celebrate with every friend who gets engaged or married. I also have faith that my time will come.
Adam, it seems, was the first to experience the pain of singleness. God placed him in a garden with all the material resources he needed. He even had fellowship with God in the “cool of day” but he was lonely. Not even God’s presence or the animals sufficed. God understood and was sympathetic to this need. He, God, in response eventually made the provision to meet the need (which was His plan all along) – Adam could not be fruitful and multiply without Eve. His purpose and joy would not be complete without a fitting companion.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Be encouraged then single one. I believe for many of us singleness is a temporary state not a permanent one, and the longings of our heart are to remind us of that. Therefore don’t give up. Your Eve or Adam is coming. If renowned Jamaican Educator and Psychologist, Pat Eves, could marry when she was past the age of 50 and the Duchess of Alba (85) could marry Alfonso Diez (61), then there is hope for us Singles. Learn to enjoy the seasons of your life. I remind myself each day of this. Why get depressed over things I have no control over? If God who searches all hearts and sees every desire and every thought has not seen it fit to meet this desire of mine at this time, who am I to get depressed about it? God’s way is perfect. He knows what is best for me. I believe he causes all things to work for the good of them that love him and are called according to his purpose. Such a perspective enables me to make the best of singleness.
Marriage and Companionship
The institution of marriage is the context God established to meet the need for companionship in the face of loneliness. This is the era when many are cohabiting without getting married and there is a decline in the rate of marriages in most developing countries such as the US and the UK. One study in 2010 shows that only 20% of American adults 18-29 are married today and almost 40% of adults say marriage is becoming an archaic institution. “Britain is witnessing a surge in divorce rates among those beyond the age of 60, as, on reaching retirement many realise that they can no longer stand their husband or wife”. This is the spirit of the age which Scripture expressly forbids us to give into. The good news though, is that studies also show that approximately 61% of adults who have never been married would like to be one day.  I therefore urge you Singles, do not let the spirit of the age lead you outside God’s will. Do not fuss about your age or your biological clock. God honors those who honor him. No good thing will he withhold from those walk uprightly. Such a perspective enables me to make the best of singleness. It should assist you as well.
What if you never get married? Are you prepared for this? For some, singleness may be a permanent state whether by choice, as a result of a divorce, the death of a spouse, or it just has not happened for you. I submit to you that acceptance is the first step to making the best of it. The second step regardless of the reason for the state is to understand your overall purpose in life, setting your goals and striving to fulfil them. Our overall purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. What are your goals in life? What are the things you can achieve in this state that you may not be able to do as a married person? What are the advantages of your single state? The Apostle Paul tells us that the single person, not having to concentrate on pleasing a spouse is more concerned about the affairs of God. You are freer to do ministry. In a sense, you “rule your destiny.” You determine your agenda. In your state of singleness, consider the following: What are your three most important work related goals? What are your three most important spiritual goals? Besides getting married what are your other personal, educational and financial goals? Once determined, write them down, make a plan and get busy. In so doing, you will make the best of singleness. The pursuit of purpose is one of the keys to a happy life. View your state or season of singleness as a blessing and not a curse. Take heart from the words of renowned motivation speaker, Jim Rohn, who said the following:
Happiness is both the joy of discovery and the result of knowing. It is the result of an awareness of the full range of life experiences and goals. It is being able to explore all that life offers. It is found in options. It is found in receiving and sharing, reaping and bestowing. It is taking time to enjoy what you have already accomplished. Happiness is here and now. It is not the end result. Happiness is part of the journey. An old proverb says, “the road to heaven is heaven.” The happiness that you are searching for in the future must be found today.
I believe like my favourite motivational speaker Les Brown, that by actively pursuing your purpose and goals that you can extend your life and by that I mean the quality of your life. Life is too short and unpredictable to live miserably. Having said that, does it mean I never get lonely anymore? Of course not! But I am so busy walking in purpose that it bothers me less frequently. Yes there are those moments and occasions such as a wedding, a love song, a movie etc. that threaten to breakdown my defences and bring despair but then I reach for perspective and then the moment passes. I remind myself constantly that God is not withholding His best from me and thus make the best of singleness.
Social Support Network
“ Cameka, we’re coming to your place.” Shortly after this phone call, two of my girlfriends were in my living room. “We’ve come to take you out,” they told me. We don’t want you by yourself. Although it was unplanned and they had no idea where they wanted to take me, it did not matter because I knew they cared. We talked a while then proceeded to get some Chinese food. I often look back on these moments and smile.
My inner circle, as I call them, has been with me since my Seminary days. Three of us females are still single and three are married. I don’t know what I would do without them. We have been through the worst and best of times…literally in sickness and in health, ups and downs. Since making the best of singleness entails overcoming the negative, emotional and psychological effects of being single, a strong social network is vital. It is made up of family, friends and peers with whom you laugh, cry, play and turn to in times of need and persons who hold you accountable. The benefits of a strong social network have been espoused in numerous studies. These include a sense of belonging, increased self worth and a feeling of security. “Spending time with others wards off loneliness and reinforces the idea that you are a good person. It gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need them. It is comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in times of need. The Apostle Paul himself knew this when he said we should not avoid assembling ourselves together and to encourage one another daily. Besides, Singles need to socialize if they have hopes of finding a partner. Therefore Singles, I encourage you to find a good circle of friends, not energy drainers or toxic people. Find people who will inspire to you to greatness and to honor God. Find people who will become your bridge over troubled waters.
Singleness may be temporary or permanent. Whatever the reason for it, view it as a blessing not a curse. Having a healthy perspective of the state you are in is vital if you want to make the best of singleness. A healthy perspective includes believing that God is not withholding his best from you. It is learning to be content in whatever state you find yourself in knowing that God works all things for the good of them that love him and are called according to his purpose. It is enjoying the journey and not just the destination. Making the best of singleness is living a life filled with purpose, establishing your other life goals, be they educational, financial, social or spiritual and striving to fulfil them. It is living to honor God in every stage of our lives. It is developing and maintaining a strong social network which will inspire you to greatness and be your bridge over troubled waters. From my lived experience, this is how I have been making the best of my singleness.
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 Medical News Today. Just 51% Of US Adults Married Today, Compared To 72% Fifty Years Ago. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/239189.php. December 14, 2011
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