Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lessons from the Valentines Day Blues (part 2)

E.A. Creative Photography
Welcome back!  If you missed part 1 of my Valentines Day Blues lessons, check it out {here}.  If not, please... do continue :)

# 2... Successful Singleness

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines success as:
a : degree or measure of succeeding
b : favorable or desired outcome

Don't you love it when the dictionary uses a form of the word to define the word (heavy sarcasm here)?  

The definition of success is pretty straight forward and I think we could probably come up with many examples of people who have succeeded in many different areas.  A few that come to mind are Steve Jobs and Apple, Billy Graham and evangelism, or Bill Gates and...well, money (among other things).  Their success is well known pretty much across the board.  I don't think that success has to be broadcast for it to be success though. 

So, what is successful singleness, then?  In my humble opinion this question can be answered with (or maybe through) another question:

If you're single, what do you do? 

Now, I'm not asking what your job is.  I'm not asking what your hobbies are, either.  I'm not even asking what you like to do for fun.  What I am asking is, what is your life about? How you answer that question tells a lot about what you hold valuable and what you'll sacrifice for.

Think about it for a second - as a single person you answer to no one but yourself.  You make your time schedule, you spend your money how you like, and you have a certain type of freedom that's unique to only single people. When you think of it that way, you can see that being single is a huge blessing, but also a huge responsibility. There is a large area of leeway because you're technically not answering to anyone. Then how do you "succeed" in singleness?
 
I believe you can succeed in your singleness by not making it about YOU.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others
[Philippians 2:3-4]
These verses have impacted me so much recently.  As I have thought through the implications of them not only in a church perspective but as a personal directive to me, I've realized that the success of my singleness hinges on what I make my life about. Or maybe I should say who I make my life about.
>I'd wager this is the case for all, not just singles ;)
 
Some practical things for us singles...
 
Time.  We have it.  No - don't go trying to tell me you're busy with this, that, and the other.  Despite the busyness in life that we singles face, we still have time to devote to other things.  I think if we were to be 100% honest with our time allotments, we'd find we spend more of it on ourselves than we'd like to admit (I'm lumping myself right on in there too!).  So the real question becomes, how do we spend our time?  
 
Finances.  Whether or not we are working full-time or trying to make ends meet working several jobs, we still need to be a blessing with our finances as well.  In fact, I'd say now is the best time to learn to be generous because habits that are formed now can be established and can grow as we grow in the Lord and in age. 
 
 Focus.  What are we focused on?  Is this time of singleness a time we use to do what we want, or are we using it for growth?  Do we open up our lives to those who are older and wiser so that they can speak into our lives?  Are we seeking to establish good habits with the Lord now - or are we believing the lie that "once were married" we'll suddenly wake up early, study the Bible for an hour before work, pray all the time, and learn to serve in the church? (And no, that won't actually happen...)

These are just a few areas where we can assess our success as singles but there are many more.  The last point about focus hits closest to home for me.  I want to make sure that I'm not placing my hope or expectations on or in anything other than Christ. 
 
As Valentines Day approaches, take time to check out the success of your singleness.  It's not about doing a lot of things, but it is about being purposeful.  It's time for us to stop using our singleness as an excuse to do what we want, but to instead use it as a means to accomplish what the Lord wants for our lives.  I'm excited to be reminded of this myself, and to ask the Holy Spirit to enable me to better serve in this extra freedom I have. 

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For you ladies out there, Elizabeth Elliot has written some fantastic books for women dealing with singleness and life in general.  To me, she is the epitome of a woman who's focus is on the Lord, no matter the circumstances.  If you don't know her story, you should look into it! Two of my favorite books from here are Let Me Be A Woman and The Path of Loneliness