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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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