Editor’s Note: This article is a part of our annual Rooted Student Series, where high school, college, and graduate students share their voices, wisdom, and experiences in learning to be disciples of Jesus. This entire week (and a few more times though the month of August), we will share articles from students to encourage parents, youth pastors, and fellow students in their own walks with Christ.
The Oxford Dictionary defines an oxymoron as “a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.” Some common examples are jumbo shrimp, civil war, or bittersweet. However, there is one example that stands out amongst them all: “Will Leitner, dating article.”
Singleness is certainly not a glamorous topic, and it has truly been one of the more difficult areas to navigate since I’ve been in college. I go to a large SEC school, which means I have been engrossed in the “ring by spring” culture for three years now, where LOTS of people get engaged the spring of their senior year. I mean, it feels like everyone gets engaged. I know guys my age who are prepping for engagement right now, and it doesn’t take someone who goes to a large southern school to know the themes of marriage and dating are widely popular in our culture—especially among Christians.
The most popular music, TV shows, and movies are full of idealized romance. Have you heard of the new John Legend song about being content while single? Yeah, I didn’t think so. (I love you John – don’t take it personally). But for real, culture tells us Rachel needs a Ross and Jim needs a Pam. Outside of the great philosopher Beyoncé and her anthem “Single Ladies,” there is little to no attention for single people. It’s just not fun to talk about. Especially in the church, how many times have you heard sermons about marriage or dating as opposed to singleness?
And yet, God calls all of us to seasons of singleness in various points of our lives, and as a result, the church needs to do a better job preparing and encouraging students in this time. Though singleness is rarely on top of people’s “Must Do In College” list, God can use it as a time to grow and change us. Here are two lessons I have learned while being single in college:
Trusting the Sovereignty of God
I make everything in my life more complicated than it needs to be. However, God is Sovereign. He is totally, absolutely, and sufficiently in charge of every little detail of my life. My singleness is not a result of my inability or my lack of charm, but God’s plan. Psalm 112:7 has been a huge help for me: “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”
The Psalmist goes into detail about the righteous man, and he is one whose heart is not easily swayed by the bad circumstances of life. He knows God is in control; therefore, he is not afraid of bad news. For the Christian, there is always light in darkness because not only is God in charge, but He is for you and your joy (Ps. 118:6-7). We can take comfort in God’s sovereignty because He loves us, and He is able to accomplish His purposes (Is. 46:10). We can’t screw it up! He works all things for our sanctification, to make us look more like Christ. So even when we might not choose the path of singleness for ourselves, we can be confident that we are in a divinely ordained season of being made to look more and more like Christ.
Yes, I know there are many fish in the sea, but it is great news that I am not the fisherman! He closes doors because He wants to, and He closes them because it is what we need and what we should want. I love what Tim Keller says, “If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what he gives.”
Finding Contentment in Christ
I’ll never forget when a friend looked at me and said, “Will, you are someone that always needs to be charming a girl.” This hurt so much because she was so right. I live in a southern culture that tells me if I have the perfect spouse, job, home, and a decently regular relationship with Jesus, then I will have everything I need. But what I have learned is that if you do not have Christ, your life is nothing. Absolutely nothing. A relationship with Christ is the greatest gift and is the only ultimate satisfaction. Listen to Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Our relationship with Jesus should be the deepest treasure of our souls, so much so that we are willing to throw everything else away in joy.
Now don’t get me wrong, desiring a godly relationship for marriage is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great thing! Those are beautiful, God-glorifying desires. However, if those longings for a relationship exceed our desire to love and be loved by Christ, those good desires can become the “weight that easily hinders” us on the race for our souls (Heb. 12:1).
John Piper echoes this sentiment saying, “Romantic love is a wonderful gift but a terrible god.” Only Jesus Christ and His salvation can provide the rest and fulfillment our souls need. Let us fix our minds upon the truth that God is holy, and we are not. We once were separate from Him because of our sin; we had no hope or access to God. We were deserving of eternal, immediate damnation. But God, who is rich in mercy, sent His Son to take the form of flesh and die on the Cross. On the Cross, the Father poured out His divine, just, and awesome wrath on His precious Son, and after death He rose again to bring eternal life to all those who believe in His name.
He died for all of my sinful discontentment and for all of yours. Therefore, I pray Christ alone to take His rightful place on the throne of my heart. As often as I worship the creation over the Creator, I have learned His grace is sufficient on the Cross, and He is tremendously worthy. I pray that as single Christians, we could learn to be like Peter and say, “Lord to whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life” and not like the man who has gained the whole world but lost his soul (Matthew 16:26).
Being single in our culture can be very difficult, but through this time the Lord has taught me so much that I needed to hear. To all the “singles ready to mingle,” let us not be driven to despair, worry, or sin because of what the world tells us and what we find on social media. Let us use this time to grow in our faith and obedience to God. The Lord will provide and equip His flock for whatever we need, and one day, for many of us, that will include a godly spouse. In the meantime, let us wait faithfully, trusting Him when He has called us to singleness, and moving forward in wisdom and courage when He opens the door for something new. Let us pray for the Spirit to help us treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as such, let His will be done, and let Christ be enough even if we die tomorrow.
Follow Rooted’s annual student series on the blog this week and throughout the month of August, and check out all our student series articles from over the years here.