Liza Hartman, Art Director for Life Action, hosts a conversation on singlehood, mission, and the only thing that can really bring heart-level satisfaction.

It can seem daunting and, frankly, utilitarian, to expect singles to be the ones risking our lives on the front lines simply because we haven’t found a spouse. Are we the expendables? Voiceless pawns in a cosmic chess game?

Dedication to missional living is not a big enough vision to sustain satisfied, risk-taking singleness. The reason we are alive is to be in glad relationship with God, to get to know Him and His heart, to take delight in His love. Intimacy with Christ is the only thing that can hold up under the weight of unfulfilled longings.

We were not created to be alone, no matter how single we are. Jesus offers true love and companionship. In fact, marriage is only a picture of this deeper reality, not the other way around. As singles, we have a unique privilege of glimpsing this all-sufficient reality, right in the tedious “everydayness” of our lives. That’s a vision big enough to risk your life for.

LIZA: Friends, how do you use your singleness to cultivate a close relationship with God?

MEREDITH: I’ve found incredible value in setting aside a couple of hours one day a week to get alone and cultivate closeness with God. I go sit in the park by the water or by myself in a coffee shop—somewhere I’m not distracted. I spend that time journaling or reading Psalms or just venting to the Lord about current circumstances. These concentrated hours are some of the sweetest times of quality connection and realignment.

Mostly, I find I just have to make the choice to step out of the natural drift, turn off the TV, stop mindlessly scrolling, put away the novel … and make some space for Jesus.

SANDY: There was a time in my life when I came to the stark realization that my relationship with God is the only one that is secure. Understanding this made me determine to invest in that relationship so I could know Him more and more. There is no other friend who knows me intimately. In reality, even marriage can’t satisfy that longing.

I cultivate my relationship with Jesus by getting into His Word. It is there that I sit, listen, and learn about Him. Sometimes I write out Scripture; sometimes I am in a Bible study that involves digging into God’s Word and trying to understand His ways. I try to think of Him as a friend that I want to get to know. The more I approach the relationship by just wanting to be with Jesus, the more it becomes a privi­lege rather than a duty.

NATHAN: God has given us a spiritual family so that we’re not alone and so we can be constantly challenging each other to grow closer to Christ. I am in a small group at my local church, and I’ve also found that meeting weekly with someone and working through a book is incredibly helpful. God has surrounded us with fellow brothers and sisters to challenge us in our walks, and when we leap into Christian community with them, our spiritual growth can skyrocket.

LIZA: God has made it abundantly clear that His plan and provision for us in any stage of life is to be in authentic relationships—with Himself, but also with other humans. Without marriage vows, it can be challenging to find friends who will press through the inevitable challenges of being known and loved unconditionally, but it’s important to pursue committed, consistent people in your life who really know, love, and challenge you.

In looking for these relationships, I’ve noticed that we as singles tend to gravitate toward homogeneous community. Why should we and how can we intentionally put ourselves in multi-generational relationships?

SANDY: If I am always with single people, my view tends to become selfish. Single people often talk about themselves and their activities. My world can be pretty narrow at times, so spending time in multi-generational relationships affords me the opportunity to learn about others’ struggles, faithfulness, challenges, joys, and sorrows.

Being with older people makes me feel young, and children remind me not to take life so seriously. We all have wins and losses in our past, and sharing those and learning from each other is important.

NATHAN: Participating in a mixed small group is a valuable opportunity for singles and married couples to learn from each other, and the shared wisdom that comes from the different walks of life represented is helpful.

LIZA: As we talk about the kind of community that runs deeper and lasts longer than our earthly families, we are so grateful for the provision of the local church. What is one thing your church has done that was really helpful to you as a single?

SANDY: I appreciate it when pastors and leaders consider their audience and do their best to include and give application questions/examples appropriate for the different types of people in their audience, remembering that singles are actually unmarried men and women. I’m grateful when we aren’t lumped generically into “the singles group.”

NATHAN: I agree, Sandy. I recently read an article that showed a church website segmenting their adult congregation into men, women, and singles. Without meaning to, they defined singles not as people, but as a status. It’s refreshing when the church just treats us as adults and doesn’t strive so hard to put singles into their own little group.

SANDY: Also, when a handyman checks in to see if there are any home/car projects I need help with or advice on, I am so thankful and wish it would happen more! Often it’s hard for me to ask for help, so when others come forward first, I feel loved, cared for, and protected.

LIZA: What is the most challenging thing about being single at church, both on Sunday mornings and throughout the week?

SANDY: It’s challenging to come and go and sit by yourself. It’s challenging when people are segregated by marital status—as an “older” single person, it leaves me feeling like a misfit.

NATHAN: It’s a bit discouraging that those chosen to be leaders in the church are usually married, leading us to conclude that singles don’t make good leaders.

MEREDITH: Yes, and allowing singles to serve in places of leadership validates them as an individual and doesn’t feed the myth that they haven’t quite arrived.

SANDY: I appreciate it when leaders ask singles to take on significant responsibilities, because it demonstrates to me a belief that godly singleness can be a tremendous asset to the body of Christ. In other words, godly singles can do more than just watch children.

MEREDITH: In Christian culture, there can be an underlying, pervasive idea that marriage is the goal. Therefore, the expectation is that when singles keep themselves pure and love Jesus and embrace contentment, then they will reach the goal of marriage and family. We are constantly fighting culture’s lies about a relationship completing us, and it’s hard to have to fight that in the church as well.

SANDY: In processing this whole topic, I’ve always been helped when I remember that in heaven, there will be no marital status. Our purpose on earth is to make Jesus known by learning to love, trust, and serve Him. Church can be that dress rehearsal for heaven as we learn to be in community with different people in different ages and stages of life, including marital status.