At 24, I’m not really at the age where I should be worrying about “feeling single”. It feels like I just graduated yesterday, and it hasn’t even been a year since I started working full-time. I’m still very young!

Or so I tell myself. Because the reality is that time is ticking away. One by one, my peers are getting attached and married. One of them is awaiting the birth of her first-born in a few months’ time. She’s my age!

Suddenly it seems like we’re all not as young as we thought. And I’m beginning to feel like I’m falling behind in this trajectory that everyone else seems to be on.

Where is my Mr Right? Should I start bracing myself for a lifetime of singleness?

Tick tick tick tick tick.

When everyone around you talks about marriage as if it’s a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow, it becomes easier and easier for someone who is single like me to feel as if I’m missing out on the full and complete package life has to offer.

Frustrated that I was being stereotyped as the single Christian (whose life seems to be going nowhere because she is single), I resolved one night that I was going to consciously embark on a journey of seeking contentment in my singlehood.

I decided I was going to take ownership of my singlehood. I needed to learn to be content living in my current state of singleness. Of being just myself. Of being on my own.

Here’s what I’ve come to learn: Singlehood is not a second-best. If single is what I am right now, then it is God’s best for me right now!

We’ve mixed up singleness and loneliness. But they’re not the same thing. One doesn’t have to come with the other.

I’m beginning to see that singlehood is a gift (1 Corinthians 7:7). It does not have to be a pit of bitterness. While it may not be a gift many would choose for themselves, we do not choose our gifts. We are given them by a divine Giver who knows the end from the beginning, and wants above all else to give us the gift of Himself.

We’ve mixed up singleness and loneliness. But they’re not the same thing. One doesn’t have to come with the other.

Singleness becomes loneliness when I wait for that someone to come into my life and never leave again.

Singleness becomes incompleteness when I wonder if and when God will bring my “significant other”.

Singleness becomes self-pity when I saw that I seemed to be lacking something unlike others.

No one in Christ has to ever wait for joy. We may have to wait for a spouse, or for a job, healing, reconciliation. We may have to wait for all those things and a thousand things besides — with no guarantee or promise that these things must or will come to pass. But Jesus bled and died at Calvary to ensure and promise that we never have to wait for joy and fulfilment.

Psalm 16:11 does not say that in marriage (or a new job, or a healing miracle) there is fullness of joy.

Instead the psalmist says, “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Joy and fulfilment can be found right now, wherever we are, whatever the marital status.

Someone once shared with me that understanding and embracing the gift of singleness is understanding the relationship between worship and joy. When a life is devoted to the worship of a holy God – worship not just in the singing of song, but in the complete giving of ourselves in praise and surrender in all circumstances – there is joy. When joy is found in the presence of a holy God, worship will overflow.

When worship and joy collide, the room in my heart for discontentment or loneliness gets crowded out. The gaze of my heart is turned outward and upward.

When joy is found in the presence of a holy God, worship will overflow.

While it is still occasionally awkward to sit through courtship and wedding (and, increasingly, birth) announcements, deep down I know that God knows what He’s doing with me. There are still some days when I really want to be like everyone else. But on the many other days, I don’t. And I’m happy about it.

When service to Christ and joy in Christ are married within me, I am then able to see that every gift He gives is good. Even when it does not come in the shape of a marriage proposal.