I asked my wife to marry me on Christmas Eve. It's such a good memory. The kind that makes you smile when it comes to mind. For some reason, Christmas has always been a romantic time for me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because love is a gift.
Maybe that's why when a couple is in love, they are filed with a childlike joy. Remember when you were a kid? That feeling of trying to fall asleep the night before Christmas? It was torture, but the pain was so good! Love is like that. It's like Christmas time. And the wedding day is like Christmas morning.
Marriage is hard work, long hours, and it's anything but heaven on earth...but...it's a gift. That said, contrary to what you might think, the same is true of singleness.
There's a whole chapter in the New Testament written to people who aren't married. It's in 1 Corinthians, one of several letters Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. About halfway through, Paul starts fielding questions from the Corinthians. And guess what the questions were about? Loveology, the theology of love. There were questions about sex, marriage, divorce, and, of course, singleness. After all, the church was made up of followers of Jesus, and Jesus was single. This is interesting. As followers of Jesus, our agenda is to become more and more like Jesus. In light of that, should we get married at all?
Paul's answer is surprising. He writes, "I wish that all of you were as I am (Hint – Paul was single). But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that."
To Paul, marriage is a gift, and singleness is a gift.
You may want the gift, but not have the gift.
You may have the gift, but not want the gift.
You may have the gift for a time, but not forever.
Or you may be widowed or divorced and get the gift later in life.
The word gift is charisma in Greek, where we get the English word "charismatic." It's a drive, a passion to do something. And this language of charisma is used all over Paul's writings. It's a calling and ability to participate in God's kingdom in a special and unique way.
The "gift of singleness" doesn't necessarily mean you don't want to get married. We think Paul was a widower. Maybe he missed married life. Maybe not. Either way, just because you have a "calling and ability from God" to live single, doesn't mean you don't desire marriage one day in the future.
And it doesn't mean that singleness is easy for you. It may be challenging. I have the "gift" of teaching. I believe it's what God put me on the planet to do. But that doesn't mean it's easy. To be honest, it's the hardest thing I've ever done. But there's something deep in me that says, "I was made to do this."
Here's what you need to understand: singleness is a good thing. Honestly. It's not plan B.
In the church, sometimes we make people who aren't married feel like the JV team. Like they never really "made it." If you're in your 20s and single, the odds are people ask you all the time, are you dating anybody? Do you like anybody? Know anybody? And people are well meaning, but the subliminal message is, "When are you going to get married and actually start life like the rest of us?"
But life doesn't start when you get married. It starts the second you fold your story into the larger story of the Kingdom of God, and follow Jesus forward. And Jesus was single! So was Paul, the leading theologian in the New Testament. That's saying something.
So this Christmas morning, when you wake up and mosey on out to your Christmas tree – weather you're married or single – remember that life is a gift. All of it.