Every year, Wesley does a series on dating, marriage, and romantic relationships. This year is no different! This series is called “When You Know, You Know”, and is a two-week series on the importance of making godly decisions when you’re either desiring a romantic relationship or you’re in one and trying to take your next steps. And while honoring God in dating and marriage relationships is important, it is just as crucial to honor God while you are still going stag or third-wheeling. In these seasons of being single, God can actually prepare you more for dating and even marriage than if you were actually dating someone.
There are three main points to being single that we tend to gloss over. It is much easier said than done, but inviting God into your singleness will allow you to better prepare for loving not only your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse better, but also your classmates, friends, and co-workers as well. These points are allowing God to increase faith in your identity, knowing your boundaries as a single person, and learning to love yourself through the Holy Spirit.
Allow God to give you faith in the identity that he has given you as His son or daughter.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
Romans 8:15-17 ESV
When Jesus was raised from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit, then we, by faith, were raised with him as well. That means you no longer belong to sin, death, or the enemy! You’re free! How amazing! And you also have the power of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit! That’s awesome! You’re free!
However, because of this, you are also called to fight the battle of spiritual warfare. That’s scary, but it’s also the chance for God to show you how he has called you into sonship and daughterhood. Most of the time, this journey is difficult, and involves God sending us into places where our faith in who he is as a Father has to be unshakeable. Sometimes, dating can distract you from this realization of who you are made to be. And If the gospel is rooted in love, which is all about sacrificing something you could keep for yourself, then it is necessary to learn who you are in Christ before shepherding a significant other further into their relationship with Christ. How can you give that which you do not have?
Know boundaries with yourself and other people.
Intimacy and vulnerability are very important in romantic relationships because together they serve as a foundation to help us love one another better. However, even in places of profound intimacy and vulnerability, there must be boundaries between you and the other person. These can be physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual, but one thing remains: boundaries actually are found in seasons of singleness. Some of these boundaries are avoiding fake dating, respecting emotional differences between the opposite gender, and being clear about your status as a single person. These aren’t developed overnight, but committing to them over time will help you develop healthy commitment with your significant other or spouse.
God shows us that he loves us by taking us through a process one day at a time. He does this because he knows we are human and limited. He created us! Our boundaries are a learned response that teach us how we can better be loved by other people and ourselves. They also give us more of a glimpse into who God created us to be.
“'And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. '”
Exodus 23:28-30 ESV
God, through his kindness, doesn’t rush us. He goes at our pace. While we are single, God shows us that we can work on practicing to respect boundaries with less risk and less consequence. Also, being single gives us practice to deal with conflict in our friendships and families so that we have a better idea of how we can honor our significant others in dating and marriage.
Learn to love yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Psalms 139:13-14 ESV
While we are commanded to love others and God, we are also called to love ourselves, as Jesus says for us to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves. For some of you, a way to love yourself could mean sacrificing your desire for a relationship while Jesus heals your heart and shows you parts of himself you could never find while dating or married.
Additionally, while in a season of singleness, allow God to help you surrender any sin and shame you might be dealing with regarding any form of relationship, whether it be a friendship or a significant other. This looks different for men and women alike, but it’s in being honest about shame, regardless of it being physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, that God gives you more of his presence to show you what your real identity is - his son or daughter.
The more you surrender to God, the more the power of the Holy Spirit will dwell within you and help you to walk in freedom. With that freedom, the Holy Spirit will use the same love he used with you, a beloved son or daughter, to have more capacity to love your boyfriend, girlfriend, and/or spouse in the future! And even better, that same relationship will be able to invite other people into a relationship with Christ. All because you were able to say yes to Jesus.
In the TV show Once Upon A Time, the character Regina Mills, who is our world’s version of the Evil Queen, struggles to find redemption from being a villain in the fairytale world as she desperately seeks to find her own “prince charming”. However, as she decides to support and love her friends while she is waiting, Regina actually learns more about who she is and actually chooses to secure her own happy ending through being faithful to her friends and living out of her real identity: a headstrong leader who is incredibly compassionate, strong, and loyal. The same is true for you through the Holy Spirit with more! Love where you are and be patient with the process! Singleness is a gift from God to learn more about yourself so that when it does come time for you to be in a relationship, you can love your significant other and spouse out of the identity that God created you with.
Author | Brad Schiebel