Having been married only two years the joys and struggles of single life are still fresh in my mind. Looking back it amazes me how God had prepared me for married life during my time as a single person. I may tell my story if I find the time (and/or the courage) but for now I will offer just a few pieces of advice that I picked up during my reflections on singleness. After all, why was the internet if not to offer unsolicited advice to total strangers?
Learn how to build relationships – For some reason I had this odd idea in my head that the ability to build and sustain a relationship with a spouse would be just magic. Real relationships take work and commitment. If you wish to grow to be able to sustain a loving relationship in marriage, you must practice. Family, friends, and those in your community are the keys to learing how to build relationships. Practice, practice, practice.
God is teaching you in your singleness – Perhaps the hardest lesson to learn is that whatever your current state is in life is the one that God is teaching you in. Your current vocation regardless if it is permanent or transitory is the one God wants you to be in right now. You have things to do and God is leading you to Him in your current vocation. If you are finding yourself preoccupied with what your future vocation is then perhaps it is time to reacess one’s priorities (this I had to remind myself constantly). Which brings me to the next point:
Trust in God – Ok I was wrong. THIS is the hardest lesson to learn. Let’s be honest for a moment. Our society and world teach us that we are in control of our lives. That true freedom comes when we dictate how each moment of our time spent is determined by us. It is a lesson so ingrained in our psyche that we don’t even think about it. It is also a flat out lie. True freedom comes from trust in God. He knows what He is doing and He wants what is best for us. For me single life was the way to teach me that I had to put my trust completely in Him. It can feel like walking off a cliff to try to focus on what is at hand and not what I want my future to be. But God loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves.
Your struggles will follow you into marriage – Whatever you struggle with before marriage, that struggle will follow you into marriage. This is not to say that marriage does not have things that you are looking for. Why would you sign up for it otherwise? But most likely the things you struggle with the most, that which keeps you up at night, and the temptations that follow from those struggles will be present when you are married.
This last point is a bit depressing so let me point out that you do not have to be perfect to get married. I mean any institution that has me has a pretty low bar to begin with. The point is that marriage is not a silver bullet to your personal problems. It is a great and wonderful vocation. And like all vocations, it is a path in life to get you to God. And finally,
Marriage is a vocation – It’s not about you. It’s about God’s path for you to Him. It is a life of service and commitment. These things you can find in the single life. Joy and hapiness is found in surrendering to Him and allowing Him to work in your life in the capacity He chose for you. But we must be ready to surrender to Him if we are to find the true nature of the marriage vocation.
Remember that God is always with you in your struggles and joys. He will be there for you in single life and the married life. As a single person, take the time to get closer to Him. You have a wonderful opportunity to grow in the love of Christ during this time. This advice is simple not easy. It will be a struggle (as you probably already know) but so is married life. Struggle is a part of life. Marriage doesn’t fix that. But God can. And He is your ultimate destiny.