Answering the Awkward “Why are you still single?” Question

Usually when meeting with my English as a Second Language students they will ask me questions about Religion, life in the United States, or a controversial subject in Australia, But today one of them (a married woman) asked a question that made me stop and think for a moment; She wanted to know if I was married (I told her no) and then asked pointedly “why not?”  Maybe it was just me, but the room seemed to get really quiet after she asked that, as if it was something they all wanted to do but where afraid to.

The time I took to collect my thoughts was only a few seconds but it felt like an absolute eternity as seven pairs of eyes anxiously awaited my answer.  Eventually they where informed my challenges where twofold…first anyone in a relationship with me must be willing to leave their family, friends, and way of life behind in the States which is incredibly hard.  Second being a minister in Melbourne means I won’t have an extravagant or hugely successful life by the worlds standards (women don’t marry Missionaries for their money).

This is fine by me since the truly important thing in life is making a difference for Christ, yet there can be no doubt my calling makes having a relationship hard.

There was a time when the “why aren’t you married?” question would lead to a night filled with eating ice cream while watching You’ve Got Mail for the thirtieth time and listening to sad Country Music while wearing sweat pants.  (Editors Note:  Not really, I don’t like sweat pants/ that’s trackies for our Aussie readers).  But this morning I was able to explain how the Lord’s calling on my life made it hard to be in a relationship (find someone with the same calling) but He was able to give me strength in times of need.

How did I from watching hours of television while depressed to using it as an opportunity to talk about God’s Grace?  The last five and a half years serving in Melbourne has taught me God is faithful to meet my needs, as I remain committed to Him.  This doesn’t mean I have completely given up on a relationship (not quite ready for the fifteen cats and rocking chair yet) but am confident that the Lord will give me the grace to be single if that’s His Will for my life.  The important thing is not allowing a desire for companionship to overwhelm the calling God has given me.

It’s easy to view a calling from God to Missions or command to be separate from the world as a bad thing when it comes to relationships.  I like to jokingly explain it this way…for unsaved people there is an ocean full of fish (they can date anybody)…Christians have a lake (smaller number)…..Missionaries have a lake with two fish in it (those truly called by God to Missions).  Yet the differences or challenges brought into our lives by obeying God’s commands are nothing compared to the blessings of His presence.

I haven’t given up on a relationship because the Lord hasn’t told me too, and even if he does I am fully confident He will give the grace to die single.  Just do me a favor…if you come by the house and hear You’ve Got Mail on the television don’t come in.  I am not sharing my ice cream with you.

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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