A dear friend and mentor of mine called a couple weeks ago. She brought up Proverbs 14:1 and wanted to know my perspective on the verse, specifically in regard to singleness. We talked for a bit and I told her that I would do some research and praying and get back to her with more thoughts. This blog is the result of those two weeks (and all the years before). I don’t often write about singleness but loved what I felt the Lord revealed, reminded, and highlighted.
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (ESV)Proverbs 14:1
Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home; Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick. (The Message)Proverbs 14:1
Home definition – one’s place of residence
House definition – a building that serves as living quarters for one or a few familiesMerriam-Webster
A few years ago, I realized that I wasn’t aware of many Scripture verses that pertained to “singleness.” If I look it up in my Bible concordance, only one verse is mentioned. 1 Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” Come on, Paul! Give me something to work with! I then looked at the concordance in the back for verses on marriage. There are 11 of those. Already starting to feel small and out of place.
Maybe the Strongest Concordance will be shed more light! Fleeting joy… there are 24 verses listed under “single.” Then I realize that most of them have to do with a single item rather than a relational standard. Just for the record, there are 142 verses with a form of the word “marriage” in this same concordance.
Why the discrepancy? It makes sense why many churches don’t talk much about singleness. If there aren’t many clear verses on it, why would the Church teach on it? Isn’t that how it often goes? Sermons are often taught on the clear passages of Scripture, and the not-so-clear are often swept into the choir robe closet. This reinforces my feelings of being a second-rate, overlooked Christian. I have one verse telling me that it is good to remain single and nothing more. A little help please!
The Lord kindly took me by the hand and pointed out Psalm 68:6a (God settles the solitary in a home). Home is such a sweet word to me. And yet if you go off the definition above, it is just a place that you reside. But it is so much more! This got me thinking. Strongest Concordance has 186 verses dealing with “home” and 1,188 verses with a form of the word “house.” Now granted, some of these verses are pertaining to the structure rather than the individuals inside, but it’s still a good starting place.
I also started looking at the cultural structure of family when the Scriptures were written. There weren’t singles living on their own as is the culture today. They lived with family until they were married and sometimes even after that. So maybe all the home, house, and family Scriptures pertained to me and I never realized it!
This revelation lets me see verses, such as Proverbs 14:1, with a new light. I think most people in the Church consider it a verse for married women, but nowhere in the verse does it actually say that. It actually isn’t referencing a relational status at all. It is talking about a wise woman.
So how, as a wise single woman, can I build my house?
1. Put down roots – This is a big one for me. I’ve always been a person who craves stability and security. In the last 10 years, the Lord has called me to move states six times and start six different jobs. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried out to the Lord asking for the stability of marriage and a husband (if that’s even a thing). Because in my head, that is what stability is: a person who has my back, someone I come home to, a husband I am anchored to (in a Biblical marriage). The Lord has continually told me that I am to flourish and be rooted in my “pot.” A plant can grow and become very anchored to its soil even in a moveable pot. He is the Master Creator and Gardener and has shown me that I can put down roots in His chosen soil and yet still be moveable. He calls me to be fully present where He has planted me. Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
2. Plan for the future – This one is hard. How do I plan for a future that might or might not contain another person? I don’t want to make hard decisions on my own. There are so many financial and retirement questions that I don’t understand. My nature is to always have another sounding board when I make decisions, but it’s different when the person giving me counsel isn’t invested in the same way that I am. The life decisions I make won’t impact them as their family. But I still need to plan for the future even tough it is hard. I still have to think about investing and retirement. I still must wrestle with buying a home and all that it entails. I still must pursue a legal will and all the other things that go along with that. James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For the person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
3. Seek wise counsel – This goes along with #2. Regardless of relational status, Scripture is clear that I must have wise counsel in my life. People who will call me out on sin. People who will rejoice with me and weep with me. People who will give loving guidance and the hard Truth when needed. Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
4. Take care – I often hear that as a single person I have more time to serve in ways that married couples can’t. In some ways, this is true and in others it is not. What I have found for me personally is that I can run myself into the ground physically, emotionally, and mentally for things that I think I should be doing. When a marriage is healthy and God-centered, the couple balances each other out and cares for each other. I am the only one who is looking out for me. I must take the Lord’s lead on when I am to be involved and when I am to rest. For in taking Sabbath, I am more fully able to be involved where He desires me. Mark 6:30-31, “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
5. Fight the lies – Often times I can feel adrift and unchosen. Is that even a word? When the Church doesn’t teach on singleness well, it leaves a lot of room to believe the lies of the enemy. I am unwanted. I am less than. My needs will never be met. God has forgotten me. These are the times, that I look for Psalm 68:6a, “God settles the solitary in a home.” Or Isaiah 42:6, “I am the Lord…I will take you by the hand and keep you.” Or Isaiah 43:1, “But now thus says the Lord…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
6. Rough edges – It can be very easy to just focus on what I don’t have or to just think that I have it all together as there are not people in my home to rub my rough edges. By actively working to soften my rough edges, one of two things will happen; either my future family will be thankful that I did this work before they arrive, or I will be a much more joyful single person. 🙂 Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
7. Sexual purity – In a world that is so sexually charged, being single can have it’s own challenges. I believe it is a proven fact that because of the physical connection that married couples have, they usually live longer and less-stressed lives because they have a physical release. So what am I supposed to do with that? I still don’t have a clear answer on that one. Other then I walk day-by-day with the Lord and ask Him to meet me in those needs. Some of Scripture is very clear – no sex outside of marriage, but it doesn’t change the fact that I am created to be physical and to desire that connection. Only the Lord can soften those desires for me. 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
8. Open-handed – I’m learning how to have a new posture, to hold my hopes and desires open-handed. To be honest with the Lord in my desires, but also not drown in them. To trust that the Lord will fulfill all the desires that He has given me, but maybe not in the way I expect. I can get lost in all the “I shoulds” or “what ifs.” I must anchor myself to Him so that He can show me which way is up. I continually must open my hands to Him. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
9. Be ok alone – I’ve learned that there is a great gift in learning how to spend time by myself. I often have friends who struggle to spend an evening or weekend by themselves. Some of this is just my natural introverted self, but there is something about being ok in my own thoughts that is a gift that I am learning. Luke 5:16, “But he [Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
10. Get out there – Most people will think this is in regard to dating. I mean it more in the sense of figuring out how to do this singleness thing. Learn about taking care of my car and finding a good mechanic. Focus on ways to navigate retirement and home ownership. Figure out how to research which candidates to vote for in my area. Seek a home church. Invest in others and allow them to invest in me. 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
11. Heaven – I‘ve realized that because of being single, I long for heaven in a different way than some of my married friends. They want to see their kids grow up. They want to hit certain milestones with their spouse. These are all wonderful things that to desire. I don’t have those desires right now. I more and more long for heaven. The place where my Groom awaits. The place where my focus isn’t split. The place where I don’t have to figure things out on my own. The place where I get to just be my true self and be with those who love me and whom I love. This longing and desire is a gift of my singleness. Philippians 3:29, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I can do this singleness thing well (“builds her house”) or I can do it in an unhealthy way (“with her own hands tears it down”). Prayer, relationship with Christ, and being anchored in Scripture are the only way to do this single life well.