Eugene Cho

Singlehood is a gift, too. Your future doesn’t begin once you find a “significant other”. It’s happening now.

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It’s that season that some call Valentine’s Day and as such, it may be an occasion of celebration or an occasion of some anxiety. Or maybe neither. Maybe it’s just another day.

Or maybe it’s somewhere in between…and so, I thought I’d shared some unsolicited advice about singlehood, marriage, and the in-between.

I ain’t no expert on anything but over the years of being single, being married, and being a pastor to both single folk and married folk, here’s some advice for those who are single – whether dating, engaged, interested in marriage, or not interested in any relationship.

Our ultimate identity.

Our ultimate identity is not as single people or married people.  No dating status defines us. No person can complete us. No human relationship defines us. Saying or believing anything else is dangerous, unhealthy, unrealistic, and borderline idolatrous.

That _____ relationship is not the answer to your life.
Marriage is not the cure-all to the longings of your heart.

How do I know? Because I’m married…and it’s not the answer. I’m not dissing my wife. I love her…dearly. And my wife is a marriage therapist in Seattle and she’ll tell you emphatically that I am not the answer to her deepest longings. Darn. To say that a relationship, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, or a wife, is going to be the answer to our lives and our deepest longings is simply just not fair to that person. And unrealistic and unhealthy for you.

God’s grand purpose for our lives … umm … is not for us to get hitched and married. Nor is it to be single and sexy. God’s purpose for our lives is that we be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s purpose is that our ultimate identity and mission are formed as daughters and sons of God…

Singlehood is not practice for real life.

Your life does not begin when find your significant other. Nope.

Your life does not begin when you get engaged. Your life does not begin when you get married. Your single life is not rehearsal for the real deal, for real life, for married life, for parenting life. You don’t become an adult or become a grown up when you have a ring on your finger. Nope.

No…your real life began yesterday.
Don’t believe otherwise.
And most importantly, don’t let others tell you otherwise.

Your future is not contingent on finding a “significant other”. Your future doesn’t begin once you find a life partner. It’s happening now. Don’t wait for tomorrow what God is calling you to do today. Live into your passion, vision, and mission. Your future is happening now.

Singlehood is a gift.

Singlehood is not a curse.
Singlehood is not a sin.
Singlehood is not purgatory.
Singlehood is not transitional.

Just as marriage is a gift, the season of singlehood is a gift. And as such, it must be embraced as so. It may not be a long season or an eternal season but nevertheless, it is a gift.

And if it is a gift…then gifts are meant to be enjoyed. Embrace this season. Embrace and enjoy all that you have you in your season of life. While we’re all tempted by that which we don’t have, take the time to enjoy this season. Embrace the possibility that you have more time in this season. Embrace the likelihood that you have more financial resources and as such, you can invest in yourself, in others, and live more generously.

Cultivate your friendships.
Build your community.
Invest in your passions.
Discern your convictions.

Remember, just because you’re single does not mean you’re half-human or not fully human. Life fully, deeply, and courageously now…

Get married only if you are called into the covenant of marriage.

For us as believers, there should be no other reason why you should get married. Not for convenience. Not for economics. Not to please parents. Not to follow the status quo of societal expectations or pressure. Just as singlehood is a calling, the covenant of marriage ought to be a calling.

In short, be purposeful.

Be the right person.

From here on out, only read on if you’re not called to the gift of lifelong celibacy or singlehood. If you feel led or called into marriage, this is important.

Like really important.

Breaking News: No one is perfect but if we’re not careful, we spend so much time thinking, dreaming, wishing, imagining, praying, and hoping for that perfect or near-perfect person…and in the process, we forget about ourselves.

Stop worrying so much about the other person.
Stop obsessing about finding the right person.
Rather, focus on you.
Focus on being the right person.
A healthy relationship and future healthy marriages involves a healthy you.

Been there. Done that. Learned the hard way.

Marry the right person.

This is so important that it’s worth  a post by itself in the future but that’s for the future. But for now, know that there is no such thing as a perfect person. I already said that earlier but some things are worth repeating.

Notice I didn’t say the perfect person since they don’t exist but marry the right person for you. Marry your soul mate. Marry someone that resonates deep with your heart, soul, body, and mind.Please. Do not compromise. Let me say it again…do not compromise. Don’t forget that there must be a resonance and convergence of Passion, Vision, and Mission. A healthy marriage involves a healthy partner.

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32 Responses

  1. Long time listener, first time caller here. (Always wanted to say that.)

    As a single, I really enjoyed some of your points. Regardless of your marital status, we all should be focused on our ultimate identity and becoming the right person. I know for me that has meant God bringing people and relationships in and out of my life. Being single can be a gift if one chooses to embrace it and make the most of it. (Loved your comment on generosity. You can have so much fun giving.)

    As someone somewhere in between, as you stated, this kind of article just make me cringe. Before reading it, I had a bad taste in my mouth from other horrible (“good intentions”) articles about singleness.That is not your fault but I think its important to know what you’re getting into when leaping into this genre of post.

    My thought is this: write to us not at us. Make it just on the perks of being single. Don’t compare it with marriage. We compare plenty on our own. Remind us of all the great things we can do because of where we are in life. Leave marriage to the married folks on Valentines Day.

    First time caller here. I’m a big fan. Love the show.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      “Long time listener, first time caller…” – I like that. A lot.

      And thanks for the comments. Good thoughts.

    • M.B. says:

      IMHO the treatment of the Church to single people has been nothing short of shameful. Especially true if you are an older single, 30s-40s and up. Many just want to berate you as to why you are still single. Many assume you are a closeted homosexual or some kind of swinger. You are always viewed as an outsider to Chuch life in general. This has been my experience. Am I painting with a broad brush, sure, but I know many agree with me. End of Rant, Thanks.

      • I also beg to differ about second best. in this world we are second best, because this is the world. The WORLD is about family marriage and the like, if you are less of the world you will be not be considered. Also there is a kind of looking down married people have on those who are unable to produce in this area #keepingitreal that is hard to bear.

    • thanks i have to say its very difficult to hear about singleness from a married person. sorry it is. Because unless you have desired your singleness, meaning you didnt wish you were married your fulfilment has come, singleness brings with it a longing they will never be realized and it really is upsetting to singles and least me when married ppl try to comment, only because they know fulfilment in areas that we cannot. There is no fulfillment for me, its a blessing denied. Please remember we cannot experience the legacy of children so there is really no comparision. If it wasnt important God would not have addressed Abraham and his concerns. So there are things we simply do not get to do or experience. It can be a time of grief as well. also ’embracing; this ‘gift’ is difficult especially when it isnt exactly perceived as such many times its more of a consequence, sometimes even a curse as lack of children is considered sometimes a curse from God. Sometimes its simply a consequence. not a choice so i mean please consider this when commenting.

  2. Jane says:

    Thank you so much for voicing this so eloquently and honestly. Many many MANY people need to hear this. Ptl

  3. Eddie says:

    Singles rule! Some of us are not meant to get married. And we are happy just the same. I’m glad someone wrote that.

  4. Jeanne Sales says:

    I agree with what you have said. However I am celibate, and have been for many years. I would love with all my heart to find my significant other who would share my passion to be a Disciple of Lord! If I did would I still be welcomed at Quest?

  5. dianeemiller says:

    Eugene… always appreciate your perspective. This is one that is needed more in church world, where marriage is still made an idol in many ways and singles are made to feel not so complete in Christ without a spouse. I’m especially sensitive as I did not marry till 40; and, also have many Christ-completed fabulous 40+ single friends!

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Diane: I’m learning…and that’s been possible as I seek to take a posture of listening. Plenty of “single” folk at Quest have shared their frustration…and so, I’m trying to listen and care well for them.

  6. brettfish says:

    great stuff Eugene – think Singleness is often something missed out by the church as we focus on marriage and families and a lot of people end up feeling on the fringes or left out – i have some amazing stories on my blog of single folks [some who want to be, some who desperately don’t] and how they have learned contentness in the situation while some are still striving or hoping for something more http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/taboo-topics-singleness-intro

    keep on
    love brett fish

  7. Daphne says:

    I preached a sermon on that; “Single is Not Second Best.”

  8. jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Pastor Eugene!

  9. Karen Jucutan says:

    Thank you for writing this, Pastor Eugene! 🙂 –Karen (Philippines)

  10. Bruce Strom says:

    Always appreciate your insights. I would add that if you are married and think you didn’t listen to Eugene’s great advice in why you got married, its not too late. Your advice still stands. Christ mercies are made new every morning and He is about making all things new – even tired, difficult marriages. I know your wife knows that. I am blessed by my soul mate but we were not always on the same page. God had to radically transform my heart. But he did. As a result we have been blessed with 24 years and look forward to the next 24 and beyond.

  11. Reblogged this on Jackie Lea Sommers and commented:
    “Singlehood is not practice for real life.”

  12. […] Singlehood is a gift. Your future doesn’t begin once you find a “significant other&#8221… […]

  13. jenthigpenn says:

    Reblogged this on Ordinary Becoming Extraordinary and commented:
    This is definitely one of those considerations that pops up around Valentine’s Day, though for those of us that are single, it is a daily awareness. I am thankful, however, that there are pastors that remind us that all of the seasons of life – single, married and in-between – are important to the Kingdom of God!

  14. Jane Lynn says:

    I agree Sinlehood is a gift and is a calling. Only God can guide you and give you this special gift to enjoy and be at peace. Marriage is a mission that
    God put two very different people together ,learn from each other, to love
    Honour,and trust. It is not easy at times.
    It require works and true love from hearts. If the marriage truly based on God and He is the centre. No one can
    Break it .

  15. Kathy L says:

    Hi Eugene,
    I’ve been a widow for almost five years now. At first I did not think I could go on alone. But God has been with me every step of the way and guess what? I’ve really learned what I like-and don’t like- about myself. I’m still here. I’m still loved by God. And having a boyfriend/spouse is not my number one topic of conversation anymore! I praise Him for that! So you’re right. It’s all good in the Singlehood! I’m using that as my new phrase from now on!!

  16. Eugene, While I couldn’t agree more with working on yourself and don’t make marriage your goal, but becoming who your supposed to or called to be your goal, I’ll believe the “Singleness is a gift” meme when the church believes it. As someone who is 57, has tried to follow Christ for most of my adult life. I’m tiered of hearing from pastors who’ve never spent a day of their adult lives not either in a relationship or married tell me about my gift. If the church really believes it’s a “gift”, they would hire some pastors who are adult singles. I’ve yet to meet ONE. Count me as jaded, I avoid singles ministries and lately (in the last year or so) avoided church because there is no place in my life I feel more alone while I’m sitting alone getting bombarded by the importance of raising families for Christ.

  17. Jo Ann says:

    While I agree that there are aspects of singleness that are a gift, there can also be great pain associated with it. As the “season” of singleness in my life extended into my 30’s and 40’s, I’ve had to mourn the absence of young love, growing up with someone, going through the stages of adulthood with a partner, giving birth to children of my own. Not all singles mourn these things, but many of us do. To be told over and over again that singleness is a gift to enjoy somehow seems to cheapen the deep spiritual wrestling match that it can be. Yes, singleness has many amazing benefits, not the least of which is silence and solitude. Yes, as singles we should stop longing for some idealized image of marriage. But please be sensitive to the broad range of experiences that define singleness and the loss that can be associated with it.

  18. Sonya says:

    I like your comment about ” Resonance and convergence of passion, vision and mission.” Very few do this however IMO. Not really. Couples learn this through difficulty and death to self to achieve it. There are couples who do well and are very prepared and the Holy Spirit actually brought them together but again this is rare….

  19. JC says:

    Reblogged this on Here We Go Again and commented:
    I am not defined by a dating status, but rather my identity lies within God, as a daughter of the King most high.

  20. jonah says:

    this is good stuff! thanks eugene!

  21. Humphrey says:

    Thanks man for speaking on this, I love being single for the rest of my life

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One Day’s Wages

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Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
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#northwestisbest Took a train to Busan. Did not encounter any zombies but I was ready just in case.

Busan. First visit to this city (couple weeks ago) and was blown away by its beauty. Also, shocked that it has become the fifth largest containment port city in the world. That's a lot of import and export.

#MyAttemptToBeTheBestSmartphonePhotographer 
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  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 13 hours ago
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  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 4 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 4 days ago