Strength for Your Waiting Heart
by HEATHER COFER
Dear Single Sister,
I have been a married woman since the ripe age of 19.
So I’m not writing to you from the perspective of someone who has spent an extended season as a single person. However because many of my friends haven’t gotten married until their mid-to-late-20s (or 30s), that means some of my deepest friendships have been (and still are) with women who are single.
My husband and I have had the privilege of sharing our home with single women for over half our marriage (I believe it’s been 15 ladies in the past six years), and we are part of a church community comprised of many godly, unmarried women. Because of this, I’ve personally seen how God works so beautifully in and through those in a single season of life.
I’ve watched these women walk through various joys and trials in regards to singleness: contentment (and sometimes wondering if they should have a greater desire to be married), longing for marriage, the deep heart-sickness that comes from “hope deferred” (Prov. 13:12), grappling with how they fit within the local church, enjoying (or struggling in) their jobs, seasons of gratitude, wondering what will come next, and often a mix or variation of these.
Through these friendships and countless conversations, I’ve had an ever-increasing desire for single women to be encouraged and rallied around, especially by those of us who are married. So, if you are a single woman who is seeking to love, obey, and be satisfied in Christ, this letter is for you. I pray it will infuse hope and renewed vision into your current calling, serving as a boost where you are thriving or a comfort where you are struggling.
1. You are Needed in the Body of Christ
If you are single in this season of your life, that is not by accident. God isn’t sitting in Heaven wondering how He is going to use you. You are where you are on purpose to bring glory to God and advance His Kingdom on earth.
I know many single women struggle with feeling less valuable because of how highly marriage and motherhood are honored, particularly in conservative Christian circles. And while marriage and motherhood are beautiful callings, they are by no means what give a woman value. Being made in the image of God is what gives us value — married or single.
You, as a single woman, have a unique opportunity to serve and minister in ways that those who are married are far more limited. (Paul speaks specifically to this in 1 Corinthians 7:32–35.) I’ve seen this played out practically in our community as my single sisters spend their time and energy befriending exchange students on college campuses, loving on women in homeless shelters, teaching missionary kids overseas, or keeping an eye on little kiddos so their moms can participate in a Bible study once a week. I have a deep appreciation for these women who pour out in ways I currently can’t as I witness the Body working together in the various capacities we’ve been called to in order to further the Gospel.
I cannot count the ways I have personally been loved and cared for by dear single friends, whether it’s helping me clean my house, keeping an eye on my kiddos when my husband is out of town and I need to make an unexpected E.R. trip (true story!), or simply popping over to spend time with me. Just writing this makes me cry with humble gratitude.
My friend, I’m going to say it again: you are valuable and needed in the Body of Christ. Don’t let the enemy plant lies in your mind that tell you otherwise.
It is a wonderful (and vital) thing when married and single people partner together, supporting one another as we all seek to obey God in advancing His Kingdom right where He has us.
2. Our Fulfillment is in Christ
(whether single or married)
As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Whether we’re single or married, it can be easy to focus on what we wish we had instead of being grateful for what we do have. (Yes, married women with kiddos struggle with it, too.) But it’s not what we have either as single or married women that will bring us true satisfaction.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth saying a million times over: our fulfillment in any season must (and can only) be found in Christ. I can tell you with deep conviction that it’s not experiencing emotional or physical intimacy with a husband or bearing and raising children that brings lasting satisfaction. Yes, marriage and motherhood are good gifts, and ones that we as women are made to desire and receive with joy. But if we expect them to give us what we can find only in the Giver of these gifts, marriage and motherhood become a breeding ground for discontentment and disappointment.
You are meant to live a thriving, meaningful life in Christ today. God does not withhold any of Himself from you as a single woman. And if you choose to seek your fulfillment in Him while you’re unmarried, you will find that if, or when, God brings a husband into your life, you will receive the gift of marriage with far more gratitude, humility, and joy. Does this mean the longing for marriage is wrong or should go away? By no means! But when you are thriving in Christ, you will know where — or in Whom — to find comfort and entrust those longings.
One of the most stunning pictures of grace I’ve witnessed is when a single woman delights herself in Christ. And I’m not just saying that! The woman who delights in Christ puts Christ’s love, Christ’s sufficiency, and Christ’s beauty on display in a manner this world so desperately needs.
3. Your Friendship is a Gift
I hinted at this in my first point, but your friendship is an incredible gift (speaking specifically as one who is married). My life is far more rich because of the single women who have come into my life and allowed me to be a part of theirs.
As a culture, we tend to gravitate toward those who are in a similar season to the one we are in, whether that’s single, newly married, young motherhood, empty-nesters, or otherwise. However, I believe that we miss out on so much if we are not intentionally cultivating relationships with women who are in varying stages of life. As a young momma, I have received so much encouragement and helpful perspective from those who are not in my season. They are sometimes able to see certain aspects more objectively and remind me of much-needed truth from the outside looking in. And, in return, I have had the privilege of allowing single women to catch firsthand glimpses into the “good” and the “hard” of a young wife and momma, offering encouragement to them as they anticipate being in this season one day (Lord willing).
This isn’t to discount friendships in a similar stage — those are certainly life-giving and important. But we were not made to only interact with those who are going through the same things we are. This can cause nearsightedness or cut us off from much-needed insight, especially from those who are a few years down the road from us.
Now, I know this is sometimes easier said than done. Sadly, I’ve talked to a number of single women who have said it feels nearly impossible to pursue friendship with married women because they just seem too busy or uninterested. This should not be so. But, my friend, don’t give up. There are probably a number of contributing factors at play. A young momma often feels overwhelmed, exhausted, and concerned about what others will think when she feels like her weaknesses and learning curves are on full display. So continue to gently pursue them. Show them grace. Tell them you’d love to come spend time with them regardless of the state of their house or the noise level of the kids. Invite them out for coffee. Keep going back again and again. Remember, cultivating friendship and community doesn’t happen overnight. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom for what your part should be.
There is so much more I could say, but I’ll end here. Know that you are loved and valued by God and by others in the Body of Christ. Your presence and participation in the community of believers is vital. And you have been commissioned to advance the Gospel on this earth by the King of kings Himself. I am cheering you on, my friend, as you embrace all that He has for you in this season.