I’ve been meaning to write something on this topic for a very long time, but every time I started to write this post it never seemed authentic. Writing about it felt forced but then this happened…
Half-term at my house and some how my relationship status was the topic for discussion… and my 12 year old cousin procedes to ask “Sister Layide*, do you have a secret boyfriend?” With a half-perplexed-half-annoyed look on my face, and with my eyes darting at her through my lenses, I shot back and said: “NO! Why would I have a secret boyfriend? If he was a secret I wouldn’t tell you and if I was with someone I wouldn’t keep it to myself! I would tell you! I would tell everyone!” I thought my answer would suffice and encourage her to ponder no more about my lack of a secret boyfriend, well it did, not before she used her right index finger to tap her watchless left wrist to indicate to me that my time was running out. SHE IS 12! (I don’t think she even knew what time she was referring to… *sigh*).
And that is what got me so bothered. Why should my 12 year old cousin ask me this? How could she ask me this? Well, it’s because others have asked me too doing so when she’s around. She has now been recruited (she’s only a temp though, I’ll make sure of it lol).
There is nothing wrong with being single. I’m not entirely sure which culture has instructed this, but by now, culturally, I should at least have a boyfriend with whom marriage should be occurring in our near future. Sorry for culture oh!! This is not the case for me.
“Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me [Paul]—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.” 1st Corinthians 7 verse 7 – The Message Version
As friends get proposed to and get married there’s this somewhat off-key chorus of “Layide! It’ll be your turn next [year]!” or “Layide your own is coming!” or “Layide. Who is he?” – I’m sorry, who is who? Plans for my fast approaching no-boo-yet-wedding have begun and when matter-of-fact statements are being made about my wedding all I can do is chuckle and mutter “Amens” when I’m told to. Dear future boo – don’t worry, thankfully much of the planning has only been vocal, nothing has been paid for yet.
I know all this excitement is coming from a loving place and I understand that concern is a fitting response for some, but concern has no place in the matters surrounding my singleness. That being said, I can’t help to think – when people pray for the single people they know do they ask that their singleness be God-honouring or do prayers for single people come from a place of pity?
My issue is this – marriage has been portrayed as greater than singleness, when in actual fact that’s not true. True Biblical Marriage as with True Biblical Singleness are both equal in God’s eyes, as both circumstances should mirror who Christ is and what His Word says – it should reflect what a real relationship with God looks like, which informs how our relationships with other people should also look like.
Marriage comes with it’s hurdles, I’ve seen couples successfully jump these hurdles, some have fallen flat on their faces and have picked themselves up while others have [unfortunately] walked off the race track due to false starts. Everybody wants Layide to be Mrs-somebody, but I’d like to be taught (by men and women) what marriage is really like after the Gangan* stops beating and the wedding guests have left. The fact that the reality of marriage is rarely spoken about is a more appropriate area for concern than my singleness.
“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life…“ 1st Corinthians 7 verse 17 – The Message Version
Don’t spectate my singleness with pity, instead celebrate it with me and encourage me in it. With the same enthusiasm you use to question me about my singleness, pray for me instead. When I do get married, pray all the more harder, celebrate with me in marriage and encourage me in it.
Rejoice with me when I rejoice with others on their proposals and marriages before you ask me if a guy has expressed interest in me, or if I met a guy at a wedding or about my secret boyfriend (I don’t have one).
Teach me to aspire to be a godly wife and not just to aspire to be a bride for the day. Most importantly, request from God, that God Himself will be my only satisfaction and that my marriage will be a reflection of this.
Pray for yourself. Pray that God will heal and flourish your own relationships, be you single or married. Pray for yourself. Pray that your desires for me to be Mrs-somebody to Mr. “Who-is-he?” will come from God’s very own heart and desire for me.
Pray that I be known as a woman who honoured God with her life.
I’m genuinely enjoying where God has me right now and know that I’m not upset or frustrated, I’m just concerned that my singleness is a concern for some – but be assured that God has me! He knows what’s good for me.
1st Corinthians 7 verse 25 – 38 The Message Version
“The Master did not give explicit direction regarding virgins [the unmarried], but as one much experienced in the mercy of the Master and loyal to him all the way, you can trust my counsel. Because of the current pressures on us from all sides, I think it would probably be best to stay just as you are. Are you married? Stay married. Are you unmarried? Don’t get married. But there’s certainly no sin in getting married, whether you’re a virgin or not. All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible.
I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple—in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.
If a man has a woman friend to whom he is loyal but never intended to marry, having decided to serve God as a “single,” and then changes his mind, deciding he should marry her, he should go ahead and marry. It’s no sin; it’s not even a “step down” from celibacy [singleness], as some say. On the other hand, if a man is comfortable in his decision for a single life in service to God and it’s entirely his own conviction and not imposed on him by others, he ought to stick with it. Marriage is spiritually and morally right and not inferior to singleness in any way, although as I indicated earlier, because of the times we live in, I do have pastoral reasons for encouraging singleness.”
P.S., References & Clarifications:
- Note that I’m not anti-marriage, I will get married one day.
- “Sister Layide.” One may consider this to be my nickname. It’s not. It’s a Nigerian “thing”.
- This podcast by Rich Perez really helped me to understand and enjoy my singleness and pray for and pray about the right things regarding my own marriage.
- A Gangan is a Nigerian (Yoruba) drum also known as a “Talking Drum”. This man is playing one and yes when you beat a Gangan you must make faces.