They Do Exist.

Being Single: How We Waste It.

Editor’s Note: Today, Max Dubinsky (my husband!) writes on being single, and how important it is to have a healthy mentality (and reason) for being single. No matter how long it feels, singleness is a relatively short period of life for most of us – and it’s so, so important to live it fully. Max blogs at MakeItMAD.com tweets at @MaxDubinsky. – Lauren

I haven’t spent much of my life being single. But I wouldn’t call it having a girlfriend either.

“Single” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind.

It was keeping the opposite sex around to keep me comfortable. Because I thought that’s what I needed to be happy.

I needed women, in one way or another, to be content. To be satisfied with my life.

Being “single” was easy. I made the most of it. I went on all the dates I could fit into my schedule. Flirted with every woman I saw. I used pornography regularly, and I didn’t have to hide it from anyone. Being single was great. I may have been on my own, but I never had to be alone. I could be with anyone I wanted. Whenever I wanted.

Unfortunately…

You’re not making the most of being single if you’re still having sex outside of marriage.

You’re not making the most of being single if you’re using pornography.

You’re not making the most of being single if you’re fantasizing about someone else.

You’re not making the most of being single if all you can think about is finding a partner, and asking God why you DON’T have one yet.

Making the most of being single means being on your own. It’s just you and God. Being single is about discovering who you are, setting personal boundaries, knowing your likes and dislikes, your passions, and the desires of your heart.

If you don’t know these things about yourself, you’re going to date the wrong person. You will end up living a story that is unintended for you.

God will never give us anything we cannot handle. We always assume this means loss and suffering and sickness. You know, the “bad.” But sometimes God knows we aren’t ready to handle the “good” yet. Fame, fortune, and yes, even husbands and wives. His timing. Not ours.

It’s not your fault you want someone so badly. It’s natural. It’s how our hearts are wired. God made Adam. And God realized that it was NOT good for Adam to be alone. Men and women are meant to be together. We are meant to have someone to do life with. But Adam didn’t just GET Eve the moment he wanted her. Adam received Eve when God saw that Adam was ready. When God saw that it was NO LONGER good for Adam to be alone.

Are you ready? Truly ready?

The church has glamorized marriage. With all these good-looking, young couples around us marrying at 19 and 21, talking about how much sex they are having and how good it is to be married to their best friend. We want it, and we want it badly – who doesn’t?

But just like anything else, the enemy will take what is meant for good and use it to distract you from where God wants you to be.

The enemy loves that you so desperately want to be married, that you’re crying on your bedroom floor begging God for a boyfriend or girlfriend because you can’t handle being alone. That your attention is focused on finding someone to marry. He loves that you don’t think you will be happy until you find “the one.”

Because that’s right where the enemy wants you: so distracted with a desperate need for a relationship, you CANNOT live the life God has called you to while you’re single.

The way we build the Kingdom as single people is different from the way we build it within marriage.

And if all you’re praying for and thinking about is a future spouse, you’re missing the life God planned for you as a single adult. God sees His plans through to the end. He’s not going to give you “the one” until He’s completed the good work He intended to complete in you all along as an individual. It could be tomorrow, in a year, or ten.

He is a jealous God. He wants you for Himself, and he wants you to keep your life centered on Him.

Finding someone to spend the rest of your life should bring you an unbridled joy you’ve never experienced, but he or she cannot be your true source for happiness. Your future spouse–that very man or woman you fell in love with and thought could do no wrong–will fail you. This is why God needs us to practice keeping Him as our life-source before we bring another human being into the picture.

Making the most of being single is putting all your hope and trust in God. So when that person does fail you, they will never let you down. Because you’re hope is not in them to bring you happiness and a better life.

Because God is the only unfailing thing in this world.

Making the most of being single is taking the opportunity to become completely content in your relationship with Christ.

Making the most of being single is being 100% okay with being single.


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40 Responses

  1. Liz

    This both challenged and inspired me. Thank you for the words of conviction. I am EXCITED to be single because of these words, so that should encourge you.

    September 19, 2011 at 1:30 am

  2. Christabelle

    I appreciate all these posts, and particularly this one on being content in singleness and using the time as God-given and ordained, but I am hoping that there might also be a post in this series about being intentional and taking healthy steps towards pursuing marriage Biblically in this time, and how to position ourselves as Good Women to be 'found' by Good Men. Perhaps what would also be helpful is how we can honor an support the institution of marriage and be pro-family while being single. Thank you Good Women Project for all the insight into pursuing righteousness in singleness.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

  3. This is so humbling and inspiring. Thank you for your words of truth! such an amazing reminder to pursue my God and my King ALL the days of my life.. not just my married ones, or my single ones.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

  4. Ruthie D.

    Very true! As a woman, I waisted so many hours and days longing for a relationship. Marriage is wonderful, but I often think about the "what ifs" of marrying the wrong person. What if I didn't wait for Mr. Right because I was so desperate to get married? What if I didn't move to China because I was so scared of missing out on a relationship? My husband also wrote on my blog about this very topic: http://ruthiedean.com/2011/07/15/god-im-still-not

    September 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

  5. Andrea

    I agree with so much of this, but sometimes i'm less inclined to believe that God gives us the right person when we're 'ready.' I understand the context of what you're saying, but I don't like it when people emphasize that 'the reason you're single is because you aren't ready", as though getting married is some sort of reward that is earned by doing good works. This view also hurts people who remain perpetually single, as though they will never be able to be good or ready enough. If being completely filled by God always and being ready was really and wholly the only two reasons we get hitched, then marriage becomes more of this 'happy ending' rather than the start of something. When we have rough parts in our faith, we don't get to walk away from our marriages in order to 'find ourselves', and these hard times happen! We are never completely ready; there is always growth happening to those that are striving after God, single or not. Marriage is not a reward for doing well, it's a way God blesses us to show us how much he loves us- hard times, selfishness, apathy, and all… those are just my thoughts, but please correct me if I'm wrong! :)

    September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    • Amen, and Amen.

      I agree with this. And while I understand the point Max was trying to make, I have been one who has turned this idea of not being "ready" into believing that my singleness was somehow punishment for an unknown or hidden sin in my life. I thought, "There must be something wrong with me." I found myself begging God to "fix me". Not only because I was single, but because I hated the idea of anything being wrong with me.

      A few months ago, kneeling in my backyard, God spoke to me so clearly saying that there is nothing innately "wrong" with me that He must "fix". That I'm not in some kind of contest or race to be "perfect" before I am found. Yes, I agree that there are definitely some things that only God can heal, and that He should heal before a man comes into my life. There have been seasons in which I know I was not "ready" at all. But I don't know that I will ever be fully "ready" and "prepared" for marriage.

      2 months ago I thought I was "ready". But then I got into a relationship (a very, very good, God-honoring, Whoa-there-are-men-out-there-like-this?! relationship) and God has used it to humble me, and show me just how insecure and unsteady I am. I'm discovering that I'm so much more messed up than I ever dreamed I was, and it took actually BEING in a relationship to show me that. But I'm walking it out. And finding out that I don't have to hide my brokenness. God is continually healing me through this in ways that would not have been possible if I were single.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    • You took the words right out of my mouth!

      September 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    • I.P.

      I saw Max's use of the term "ready" in a different sense. I took "not ready" as meaning that God was not ready for a particular person to enter marriage- that he had other things that he wanted purposed in that person's life at that time – not that somehow the person had not done enough good works to be rewarded with marriage. Jesus was single, and who did more good works than Him? Many married people have not done any good works at all; some have, but there is no automatic link between good works and marriage. There are many single people who have all of the relational and spiritual skills to have a Godly marriage but who are simply tasked by God at the moment to fulfill another purpose. Marriage is consuming and sometimes cannot exist in the same space with other endeavors, depending on what those are. I believe people who desire marriage and remain open and in constant prayer can meet and marry – it just may be on God's timeline and not ours.

      March 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

  6. enhudson

    Wow, Max, you nailed this issue. I've never heard it put in such practical terms. I used to be this person, but now I THOROUGHLY enjoy being single.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

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  8. OMG! This is the best ever explanation of singlehood I have ever read. I stopped going to singles ministry events long ago because most of them never dealt with the realities of being single like you did in your article here. Most only told you to WAIT on that person but never discussed what we should be doing while we wait and what we shouldn't be doing. I hope that just as many men as women read this because it goes both ways. I think people feel like something like this should always be directed at women alone, but no, single men need this message as well.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

  9. (My comments continued because apparently it was too long the first time around) LOL. Lastly, married couples also need to make sure their single friends know they have your support in their experience of being single. The worst thing ever is for married friends to not engage their single friends with other single friends so that, oh hey, they might meet each other or better yet, be influenced by a great single couple. I can't tell you how many times I have heard married women say "oh you don't want to meet any of my husband's friends, they're losers or players". Well, why the heck are they your husband's friends? Just as single people need to get their mind right about being single, so too should married men (and women) get their minds right about who their single friends are and their walk in life.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

  10. Bushlings

    Wow! Very interesting read. My whole blog is centered on being single… and not on dating. Good to see something else out there that hits some of the same points.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    • MCH

      I was trying to find your blog Bushlings but couldn't find it. It just brought me to comments you've written on this blog. Anyways you can share your like, if it's not private?

      September 22, 2011 at 6:34 am

      • Bushlings

        Hi! It is Singlestreaming.com. The blog began as a personal experiment – I resolved to write an entry every single day that has nothing to do with dating. It was to map a personal journey. But it has fast evolved into something else – a series of "Every Single Woman Needs…" And "Every Single Woman does NOT Need…" Entries. Welcome to drop by!

        Every Single Woman needs to know her God is coming in the next few days. Just want to get it right so taking my time.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

  11. "You will end up living a story that is unintended for you."
    Whoa that resonates with me.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm

  12. Kelly

    easy for you to say now that you're married and will never have to be single again

    September 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    • kip

      but maybe he will have to be single again…there is no guarantee that once a person is married it really will be forever. sometimes spouses die, sorry to be blunt but that's just truth. if a person isn't ok with being single before being married, i can imagine he/she would be totally scared to lose that relationship. so yeah, i dont think this is all that easy for him to say.

      September 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm

  13. MCH

    I am so with you, though I'd like to express that this is soooo hard at times. When you are 38, it's just not easy being single. I never get bored with just me, that's not it. And I have a social life but in the end it gets really tough, the longing, the trusting, the knowing what to do, am I responsible, is God. The longing at this age is not an easy one, like you said: I am made to long for my husband.

    September 22, 2011 at 5:44 am

  14. Bushlings

    Hi! It is Singlestreaming.com. The blog began as a personal experiment – I resolved to write an entry every single day that has nothing to do with dating. It was to map a personal journey. But it has fast evolved into something else – a series of “Every Single Woman Needs…” And “Every Single Woman does NOT Need…” Entries. Welcome to drop by!

    Every Single Woman needs to know her God is coming in the next few days. Just want to get it right so taking my time.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:57 am

  15. Brilliant post and so true. Sadly this realisation is not something you can switch on or off very easily – I have so many friends who are miserable about being single and my telling them this stuff really doesn't help…because I now have a boyfriend who I hope to marry. They forget I waited till I was 24 to meet him and spent most of the previous years happily single :) I'll keep encouraging them though! Thanks for the great writing, I enjoy following you and Lauren's posts when I get a chance :)

    September 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

    • Kiki

      "They forget I waited till I was 24 to meet him"…oh honey, that isn't waiting.

      January 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

  16. thisismynewmoon

    Thank you. I needed this. I am going to read it again later, when I have more time. I am learning to be single after two years of going from man to man just because that's what everyone else had.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm

  17. Shirlee

    LOVE THIS! Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom!!!!

    September 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  18. Ohmygoodness. This is the best post on being single that I have ever read. It is fantastic. I am bookmarking this one. Wow. Thanks, Max!

    September 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm

  19. Frances

    I really enjoyed this! Thanks so much for sharing!

    September 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

  20. stephindialogue

    Thanks for this. I'm a newlywed, and the summer before my husband and I got married I chose to spend it serving at a hostel ministry in Amsterdam. We would be long distance for a year, starting then, until our marriage, and it would be difficult to be apart, but I knew that it was probably the only chance I would ever get to do something like that again. I knew marriage would prevent me from this kind of overseas ministry I had my heart set on, and I did want to make the most of that time. I have no regrets that I did.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm

  21. Sara

    There is lots of profundity here, but I really am inclined to agree with Andrea. The idea that being married is 'better' than being single and in some way a badge of holiness is deeply offensive to those of use who aren't married. It heaps shame on us from within the church, when the church could be affirming single people as following incredibly holy role models, like, say, oh I don't know Paul or Jesus… were these men not ready? Was God still working on Jesus to prepare him for marriage? I think not. We are all on a journey of restoration and healing through all our relationships and Jesus is either enough (whether married or single) or he isn't.

    It's also a little patronising to suggest that everyone who is single is permanently languishing on their bedroom floor and angry with God. These moments may come and go, but through them God is often teaching a deeper reliance, a profounder revelation of who he is.

    We all need to take our need for God's mercy, grace and intervention in our lives seriously, whoever we are and whatever our marital status. We need each other, we were made for relationship – see how God uses Moses, Aaron and Miriam, David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi, not just the marriage relationship. Christ justifies me and works in me by grace, regardless of whether you think I am 'ready' or not.

    September 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

  22. itsasecret

    Thank you for pointing out that God has a plan for each of our lives that is far greater than our relationship status. I desperately needed this reminder that life is about serving HIM first and foremost.

    September 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm

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  25. mrssays

    More people need to have it broken down just like this. Singleness definitely has its benefits and is NOT a step down from marriage.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm

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  27. Geren

    this is a great post! but I must say that being single and 24 is something I enjoy, but at the same time, I look forward to the days of married life. I read this post and immediately was offended because I thought it was saying that we shouldn't be eager for a relationship, but that is not the case. I was like this at one point – angry, frustrated, and maybe even desperate for a girlfriend. but then I realized how wrong I was, and took Jeremiah 29:11 to heart. God knows who you're going to marry. If you know you have a burning desire to be married, then there is someone out there, but also, like Paul said in the New Testament, it is a gift to be single! And I think about it like this… what if I knew who I was going to marry? If God told me, "You're wife is _____. She's this age, lives here, and she's the one for you." How would that change your life? If that were me, I honestly feel that I would be cheated out of dating. It's like when someone tells you how a movie ends… you don't need to watch the movie anymore! That would be terrible if God did that, so let's enjoy singleness and the road God will take us on the path to marriage or singleness. We may not know WHAT the future holds, but we know WHO holds the future. That should be good enough!
    Thanks for making me think Max! God Bless you!

    November 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

  28. SHaron

    OH my God…. I really loved this. I am so glad that someone out there is actually having the same definition of "single" as I do. I know lots of people out there claim to be 'single' but go for blind dates, one nights and dating around and will BOAST about being single. ANd then they 'mock' me for being a 'divorcee', who was actually abandoned by my husband within one year of my marriage., I hardly tasted marriage, what more a happy life. I endured the pain, carried on with GOD, regard myself as a single and never have been in a relationship since my husband left me 5 years ago. I do not have random dates or have fun with the opposite sex and yet, the 'singles' think that i am not worthy. What a world to live. Yet, I never give up. I am glad that I belong to Jesus. I live alone in the eyes of people but I know I have HIM.

    it's true I have yearned for true love, a partner in marriage and to settle, but thanks to telling me that I AM NOT ALONE In this. GOD sees the heart — the heart of a clean person and am happy to stay single.

    December 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm

  29. philip

    max, great article- insightful perspective and arguments with teeth.
    It would really help if you had some references tho, verses, other books, something … you have to ground this good stuff somehow.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm

  30. GuestGirl1

    What if we AREN'T crying for a significant other? What if we don't WANT to be attached? I don't like being around people. i don't like having to compromise and do stuff that I don't enjoy. I like the fact that I don't have a boyfriend around. I don't want one. I don't crave one. I don't like attention. I don't like having to spend time with someone. Not everyone is hardwired to want someone else.

    April 1, 2012 at 1:27 am

  31. Yana

    There is no blessing at being single. Period.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm

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  33. girl.

    this post…is so good. SO GOOD. maybe it defamiliarized the familiar for me? I don't know, but whatever it did–the Holy Spirit used it in me.

    May 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm

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