Seasons of Life
By Kim Houck
Singleness has played a significant role in my life and it is a stage of life that I value highly.
This season in my life was hard in certain ways and wonderful in other ways. I am so thankful for the singles who faithfully serve the Lord at Bethany and I believe they are vital to the church. As I continue to have conversations with folks who are single and reflect on that season of my life, I hope to dispel some myths and share thoughts that are encouraging and helpful. Of course, I am not an expert, but I hope these insights will spur on all women in the church to love each other well even if they are in different life stages.
Myths about Singleness:
Myth #1: There is a magical verse somewhere between Proverbs and Song of Songs that says God will bring you a husband when you are fully content. Interestingly, marriage is not treated as a reward for good behavior in Scripture. Marriage is highly valued and points to God’s unconditional love for us but it is not counted as a reward. Christ is always the reward that is spoken about. (Phil 1:21) So we have to be careful not to elevate marriage as if it equates to spiritual holiness.
Contentment is certainly an all-encompassing command in Scripture often challenging our love for money and comfort. But this command is just as much for married women as for single. I know many content and godly women who are not married and many married women who struggle with discontentment. In whatever stage of life we find ourselves in, married or single, let us follow in Paul’s footsteps in Philippians 4 when he said, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Myth #2: You must marry someone who has every characteristic on your Top 50 list of qualities. Scripture says you must marry a Christian and be equally yoked. (2 Cor 6:14) But sometimes we can make things complicated and stressful. And sometimes our lists contain things that would build our personal image and kingdom rather than God’s. Seek the Lord and godly counsel as you are in relationships. Follow wisdom principles from Scripture. But be encouraged that God knows us well and He knows what we need.
I have discovered that my vision of the perfect husband was someone who allowed me to remain at the center of my world. God has helped me to see His purposes in marriage by marrying a man who does not allow me to rule my life but instead helps me to surrender deeply held beliefs that were actually part of the Gospel of Kim, rather than the Gospel of Jesus.
Myth #3: Singles are to be pitied until they find a husband. 1 Corinthians 7 says just the opposite! A life set apart wholly for Christ is a thing to be valued. I particularly think of the blessings our youth ministry experiences because many singles sacrificially give of their time to serve as youth leaders, attend school activities, etc. Additionally, some of my deepest friendships at Bethany were forged during my single years. I can also think of sweet friends who have invested deeply in visiting missionaries and going on missions trips as well as discipling multiple young women in the church. Every season of life has great joys and great challenges. A single woman faces distinct challenges that married women may not face, but she also experiences unique blessings.
Myth #4: Singles have it much easier because they don’t have a husband and children to take care of. There are definitely some cares that singles do not have to be burdened with. (1 Cor 7:32-35) But there are other areas of life that don’t get to be shared either. If the lawn needs to be mowed, the snow shoveled, the lunch packed, the meal delivered, the bills paid, the laundry done, it always falls on one person. And singles must typically go outside of their homes to find companionship rather than getting to invest in their family in the comfort of their own home. It’s not easier; it’s just different.
I believe so strongly that every stage of life has unique joys and challenges. As Jimmy and I prepare for our first child, I am acutely aware of the challenges that will come in the form of evenings at home rather than being with friends. I’m already thinking of sleepless nights and countless unappreciated sacrifices of my time and energy. But I am also anticipating the joys that come from watching a child grow, learn, and explore. I am looking forward to small battles won: seeing small steps of obedience, accomplishing the great task of potty training, watching God mold the child’s heart and personality. And I know the joys and struggles will change as my children grow up and when they leave the nest.
So what should we do to love and encourage women in a different life stage? Value the joys and have sympathy towards the challenges that the other woman faces. Sometimes I cringe when I hear someone say, “You think things are hard now; wait until ____.” This phrase can diminish the current struggle even if it is vastly different and perhaps less significant than another struggle. I remember hearing those kinds of phrases when I was starting in jr. high. “Just wait until you get to high school.” “Teachers will be much tougher in college.” “Once you finish college, then you are finally in the real world.” I have experienced God’s gracious blessings in each new season of life even though there have been hard things too!
I am so thankful that circumstances do not need to determine my joy. God provides us opportunities to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:1-2). And 2 Corinthians 1:4 says God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” We can offer God’s comfort to anyone even if we have not experienced the same struggle.
My hope is that we will be a church known for loving and valuing women in every life stage! This might mean going out of your way to get to know your child’s single Sunday school teacher or youth leader. It could mean opening your home for holidays to those who don’t have family nearby. It could mean just talking to the woman sitting by herself in your row at church. I believe that committing to loving women in different life stages will be a tangible example to the world of John 13:35. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
Kim Houck has been attending Bethany for seven years and has been married to Jimmy for nearly two. They are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child, due at the end of the summer. Kim enjoys meeting new people and making new friends at Bethany and is looking forward to watching the Summer Olympics in August!
***This article was adapted from a talk that Kim shared at the Student Ministries' Purity Conference in April.