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Intersection of Life and Faith

Cultivating Contentment

  • Christianity Today Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 28 May
Cultivating Contentment
Going Solo

I never expected to be 46 and unmarried, but being single has given me flexibility. I made the most of now by moving to DC to complete a graduate degree in theology. Afterwards, I was ready to put down roots, so I moved back to my hometown to be near family (including seven nieces and nephews!).
Two years later, in an effort to live my life fully, I made a big leap and bought a house. While I often long for a partner to help with maintenance and improvement projects, I've been thrilled to decorate and garden, beautifying my corner of the world. Several single women homeowners live nearby, so we jokingly call ourselves the Single Women's Club block.
I'm more content than I've ever been, and Prince Charming hasn't even shown up yet! But because I've intentionally cultivated my spiritual garden and basked in God's presence, I'm beginning to see how precious I am to him. The journey here hasn't been easy, but I'm grateful for my present peace. And who knows what the future will bring!

A Matter of Perspective

In the grand scheme, the single season is temporary because our time on earth is temporary.
Contentment comes from faith rooted in the joy of a relationship with our Savior. Getting to this place of joy is a difficult journey, regardless of our marital status. Trials and suffering are frequent on this narrow, often lonely road. But reading, contemplation, prayer, and stillness have brought me inner peace.
The apostle Paul is a role model in contentment. Because he had an eternal perspective, he pressed on and found contentment despite his thorn in the flesh. Knowing heaven is our certain destination brings us contentment here and now.
–name withheld

A Servant's Heart

When I get frustrated I'm single, I serve in ways I'd be less able to if I were married. Recently, I drove an 85–year–old widow to see her sister for her 90th birthday. Despite living only two hours apart, the sisters hadn't seen each other for ten years. Watching these ladies giggle together like teenagers helped me find value in my present circumstances.

Get Busy!

I used to think my life would start at marriage. But over the past year, God taught me my life has already started—and I need to make the most of it.
Now I don't waste time sitting idle waiting for a mate. I'm involved in my church—singing on the praise team, volunteering in the nursery, directing VBS, teaching Sunday school, leading the Christian Education department, helping with the ladies' ministry, and assisting the pastor. God wired me with a passion for ministry in the local church, and while I'm single I can devote my time to this calling. To live a full, contented life, I make the most of every opportunity and use my talents to advance God's kingdom.

Basking in God's Love

I cultivate contentment by daily thanking God for loving me whether I'm married or single. I was married 14 years, and then my husband had an affair and divorced me. During that difficult time, I finally realized how much God loves me.
I'm no longer waiting for the perfect man. I'm content doing what I want. I can attend church Saturday night or Sunday morning or both if I want. I can choose where to go on vacation and pursue my own interests. I can give my time and money without consulting anyone else. Although my heart still breaks over the end of my marriage, I feel blessed beyond words.

Seeing the Glass Half Full

In an effort to be content, I make fulfilling, enriching plans. Instead of focusing on what's not in my life right now, I focus on what is in my life. I know I was a great wife and can be again. Until then, I keep my days full and my nights even fuller with the joy and love of family and friends. I take time for myself and stay involved in my community. Single life may have drawbacks, but, thankfully, it's drama free.

Random Acts of Kindness

Many years ago, I realized marriage might not be in the plan anytime soon. So instead of sitting around waiting for "life" to find me, I decided I'd find it. And I've discovered life is what you make it.
I had to find a release for the love in my heart. And since no one was sitting in my La–Z–Boy, I watched for opportunities to reach out. After realizing that little things, such as a smile from a stranger, a gift from someone anonymous, or a card from a friend, make me happiest, I started doing similar things for others. Out shopping, I held doors for strangers and offered sincere smiles. I received many thanks and smiles in return. I adopted an elderly lady and visited her, played cards with her, took her shopping, and ate out with her. I watched coworkers closely to see when they needed pick–me–ups. Then I sent encouraging cards. I wrote letters to old friends. And my favorite: I sent anonymous greetings and flowers.
A little gesture can turn someone's whole day around. And I think I've helped do so. A married person showers a specific person with love, gifts, and time; a single person can spread her efforts more widely. Like a flower girl throwing petals from her basket, I'm doing the same with kind gestures.

Giving Back

Because I always wanted to be married, I spent the majority of my 20s feeling inferior and wallowing in self–pity. I wanted God's best for my life, but was frustrated to think that meant I'd be single forever.
Reading countless books about living as a Christian single inspired me to pour out my desire to the One in control of my life and marital status. I read that contentment isn't eliminating my desires, but rather trusting God with my desires. I realized being angry or discontent with singleness was insinuating God made a mistake and didn't know best. That new understanding helped me seek contentment.
Now as I enter my 30s, I cultivate contentment by giving. I teach a Sunday school class and a women's Bible study, and I recently helped a young mother relocate. This fall I'm taking a mission trip to see if God wants me on a foreign field. I'm striving to live like Jesus, dedicating myself to God's mission and prayer. For the only way to be content is to give one's self completely to others.

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