“She’s been single for eighteen years,” My coworker said with awe in his voice to the girl folding clothes beside him.
I braced myself. I had been waved over from my post in the fitting room to join a conversation two of my coworkers were having about dating. Usually, I could handle the frequent comments about my lack of experience with love in good humor. Tonight was just not one of those nights.
He looked over at me. “I actually respect it so much.”
It was my turn to be surprised.
My absence of a significant other through high school, and my determination not to date until I am ready for marriage, has been met with a variety of attitudes from amused to complete disbelief. I am a teenager in a culture that worships dating young, dating often, dating casually, and dating for selfish purposes. And I have chosen to remain single.
I wanted to say that I love my singleness. And on many nights, that would’ve been true. Singleness as a high schooler has kept me free from the anxieties and worries and burdens that many of my peers in relationships face. I have been freed to focus on my relationship with Jesus, spend extended time in His Word, and invest heavily in people around me. It has been a gift in my life and one God has used mightily for His purposes. I genuinely believe I would not be the person I am today if I had dated through high school.
But in all honesty, this was not a night in which I was treasuring singleness for its beauty. I have not always viewed my singleness as a joy, or as a means to glorify God. There have been hard moments, and lonely moments, moments of heartache, and moments when I’ve wondered if Jesus could ever really be enough. I’ve said no to potential relationships and cried quite a few tears and wondered how much my singleness really says about Jesus to the people around me. For those of you who think that choosing singleness as a teenager is trying and difficult, I’m right there with you. It hurts. And that night, I was hurting.
Yet in that moment, I realized that God has used my singleness, in all of its mess and pain, to reveal a beautiful truth to those around me: He is supremely, absolutely, and gloriously satisfying.
I believe dating to be, primarily, a pursuit of marriage. As a fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year old with a heart genuinely desiring to follow the will of the Lord, I prayed through what it would mean to date as a high schooler and came to the conclusion that to date in high school would not ultimately be a pursuit of marriage. I refused to settle for anything less than God’s wonderful design.
I choose to remain single because I see that Jesus is supremely satisfying. Because I am broken, my heart often runs to lesser gods to find satisfaction. I know a relationship could tempt my heart towards idolatry right now. I know that Jesus is enough. So I choose the greater thing. I choose Jesus.
I long to be married one day. I’d love for that to be in God’s perfect plan for me. However, I also know that God wants more for me than just marriage. He wants me to have abundant joy in who He is! That doesn’t mean life will always be easy, or perfect, or what we desire and pray and long for. But this I know: whether I am ever married someday or single forever, Jesus is supremely, absolutely, and abundantly enough for me. He always has been. He always will be.
May the world see my joy in Him and give Him the glory.