"While you are waiting, become the best spouse you can be. That way, when you find the 'one,' you'll be ready."
I can almost guarantee that any single Christian over the age of 22 has heard some version of this advice.
And look, I get it. You (the advisor) are not evil for saying this, you are trying to look at the positive side. You are trying to focus on something else other than the "tragic" fact that we (the advisees) are single. But the problem is that you are still completely focused on marriage. And this is terrible advice.
I was reading a book the other day and one character said about another, "It would be a travesty if she never got married."
Because that's the message I'm receiving. I do sometimes struggle with feeling like a failure at life because I'm not married. Every sermon I've ever heard on singleness is about how to date biblically, how to wait for your spouse, how to prepare yourself for marriage, and how sermons on marriage can apply to you too! I've said this before - and I'd still really like to hear a sermon about how to do single life as a Christian without regard to marriage or dating.
It is really hard for us to accept the idea that God might ask us to be single. We aren't made to be alone, that's true. But somewhere along the way, we decided that this means we aren't supposed to be alone romantically.
Well hot noodles! Please show me the passage in the Bible where God promises every person they will get married and have babies. Oh, wait . . .
Do you believe that getting married is the only way to be happy?
Ask the woman who is growing old with no family around her who decided to make wise choices even though she never got the chance to get married. Ask the young man who decided to be celibate for life even though the world tells him he has the right to love whomever he wants. Tell that to the widow who lost her husband of two years and has to learn how to be alone again.
Can you be happy without being married? Is it impossible to have joy if you are single? Is my life any less significant than my married siblings? Does it mean less, is it incomplete?
I think (and hope) that you would answer no to these questions. But for some reason, when we hand out advice to singles, we don't connect these ideas to the advice we give. And singles can just as easily tend to forget that there are good things about being single as well as being married. So we wait for what we want to happen, instead of living in the here and now.
But why should I spend years of my life waiting for something that may never happen?
Cue the "oh, you'll get married, don't worry" line.
Um, can I borrow that crystal ball of yours? Here's the thing. Yes, it is possible that God could ask me to live my life without getting married and having kids. And if that happens, I need to be okay with it. And if I focus my life on trying to become a good spouse, I'm not going to be okay if I never get married.
What am I trying to say?
If you are single, don't try to become the best potential spouse you can be. That puts all of your focus on getting married and being a spouse. You aren't one, so don't try to be one. This also implies that your work will be done once you get married. Ask ANY married couple you know, and they will tell you that not how it is.
Instead, live your life. Start trying to be the best PERSON you can be. (Notice I said person, not spouse). Everyone should do this, whether they are married or not. It's something you will work on your whole life, not just while you are "waiting" for your life to start. (Hint: Are you breathing? Then your life has started. It has nothing to do with marriage). The better of a person you become and the better relationship that you have with God, the better spouse you will be, if you ever become one. But that's not why you are doing it. You're doing it to have a better relationship with God. And to enjoy your life. (Also, sitting around waiting for a spouse is not really an attractive trait. Just saying, it can't hurt to be a little more interesting.)
Now, I'm not saying that you need to stop doing things to find a spouse. By all means, go on dates, sign up for internet dating, go to singles groups/outings/events. These are not bad things to do! The problem comes when you focus your entire life on that aspect. When you are waiting for your Prince or Princess Charming, it makes it seem like your life is incomplete until they show up. And this can lead to dating the wrong people just so you don't feel lonely and unlovable.
Just don't be Rapunzel, sitting up in her tower, waiting for her prince to come save her. Instead, tie that long hair to a bedpost and climb down it yourself. You might meet your prince along the way, but if not, at least you aren't stuck in a tower.
To be continued . . . .