The Boundless blog is a collection of unique voices addressing the issues young adults care about right now – everything from dating and faith to current events.
I walked past this quote every day during my sophomore year of college, where someone had posted it on the wall outside of my dorm room. It’s from Elisabeth Elliott’s (wife of slain missionary Jim Elliott) book Quest for Love.
“If you are single today, the portion assigned to you for today is singleness. It is God’s gift. Singleness ought not to be viewed as a problem, nor marriage as a right. God in His wisdom and love grants either as a gift. An unmarried person has the gift of singleness, not to be confused with the gift of celibacy. When we speak of the 'gift of celibacy,' we usually refer to one who is bound by vows not to marry. If you are not so bound, what may be your portion tomorrow is not your business today. Today’s business is trust in the living God who precisely measures out, day by day, each one’s portion. Those who long for the gift of marriage can find great peace in the words of Psalm 16:5, receiving one day at a time the divinely apportioned gift of singleness, believing that our Heavenly Father’s love will withhold nothing that is good for us."
I’ve come back to this quote often since my college days. I admit that I’m not always a glass-half-full kind of person, so sometimes I look to the future and all I see are more days of being single while longing for marriage. That thought only leads to a downward spiral, and before I know it, I’m picturing myself as an 85-year-old lady with a house full of cats and no husband to remind me to put my dentures in.
But I come back to God’s daily provision. Today He’s called me to singleness, and He will give me what I need to be single today. But tomorrow is a new day, and if He calls me to singleness tomorrow, then He will give me the strength, peace, joy, etc. for tomorrow.
I once heard Andy Stanley say worry was using tomorrow’s provision for today’s problems. And that’s really what’s behind my thoughts when I project today’s view on what I think tomorrow will look like: worry that not only will God not provide a spouse, but that He also won’t provide what I’ll need to be OK with that.
When we find ourselves in circumstances that last longer than we thought, it’s easy to doubt that tomorrow, or next month, or next year, will be any different. To the one who is stuck in a dead-end job and can only see more days of the same gray cubicle frustrations, remember that where you are is your assigned portion for today. To the one struggling with a diagnosis that makes the future uncertain, remember that today’s assignment is to trust the God who measures our portion day by day. To the one who watched yet another relationship end, making marriage just an elusive dream that can never be caught, remember that what may be your portion for tomorrow isn’t what you should concern yourself with today.
So when I wake up tomorrow, I’m going to remember that God has measured my portion today and will supply everything I need to live out today’s assignment. Maybe nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
You must be logged in to comment.
Sign In or
Ashley - this article is truly a gift to me as it is exactly what my spirit needed in order to be ok with my singleness in this very moment. With my 30th birthday quickly approaching and no prospects for a future husband in sight, it is easy to be derailed by thoughts of doubt and despair. Earlier today, I caught myself jumping ahead thinking about whether or not my relational situation would be the same a year from now. CRAZY, right? Psalm 16:5 reminds us that we are to take it ONE DAY AT A TIME.
I love how Elisabeth Elliott stated "what may be your portion tomorrow is not your business today"! So I got it loud and clear - it's NOT my business what tomorrow holds! Thank you for helping me to reshift and refocus "to remember that God has measured my portion today and will supply everything I need to live out today's assignment." God bless you!
Thanks Ashley :) great reminder.
--YES! I so agree with you, Ashley! While we certainly need to be active (not passive) in our waiting, it is a day-to-day calling to be surrendered to the Lord and His sovereign plan. I wrote about this topic once too. www.startmarriageright.com/.../today-i-am
I totally understand how you feel. Of course my issue is not singleness, but my husband's unemployment situation. He has had temp jobs on and off for the last year. Again he is out of work, and I feel discouraged, I feel like he will never find Permanent work, and it makes me want to despair. Is this situation going to be the same next year, ( I have this fear). Are we going to get to the point where we cannot pay all of our bills, that is my fear. It is so hard for me to just not worry about tommorrow and take it a day at a time, I really struggle with it. Our future is uncertain and i'am forced to take it a DAY AT A TIME.
--How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
That being said, there is STILL something, even now that I'm far removed from that season, that makes me want to throw my fist through the nearest wall when I read about the "gift" of singleness. :P
Why does everything have to be a "gift" or a "curse"? Can't some things just be because they are?
Today you are single, those are your circumstances, someday your circumstances may change. You are no more or less blessed because you are single than you are on any other arbitrary day. Are there things in your life that are gifts from God? Yes. and I think it cheapens those things to label something as a "gift" simply to make it more palatable.
--Good article and I appreciate the reminders, but this, this nails my own thoughts and feelings on the subject:
From Mrs Ashley (TOF) : "Why does everything have to be a "gift" or a "curse"? Can't some things just be because they are?
Today you are single, those are your circumstances, someday your circumstances may change. You are no more or less blessed because you are single than you are on any other arbitrary day. Are there things in your life that are gifts from God? Yes. and I think it cheapens those things to label something as a "gift" simply to make it more palatable."
Especially the "Can't some things just be because they are?"
'Zactly. It doesn't negate the fact God is in control or that He knows best, or the struggles, but I feel like there's a lot of emphasis in many circles on trying to make sense of everything around this topic instead of just letting it be what it is.
--"...before I know it, I’m picturing myself as an 85-year-old lady with a house full of cats and no husband to remind me to put my dentures in."
I'm sorry, but this made me laugh. Not so much about the cats, mostly about the dentures. That's just funny. I'm with you on not always being a glass half-full kind of person. Reminds me of a Thomas Manton a good friend sent me once (and thankfully keeps reminding me of it):
"Consider you must not interpret the covenant by God's providence, but God's providence by his covenant."
Also, here's Cowper's great hymn:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
I was just going to post one verse, then I couldn't decide. Great, great stuff.
--This is non-sense. Yet another article trying to explain away the fact that the majority of christian women won't be able to get married due to the lack of men in the church.
--I think that referring to singleness as a gift in this quote isn't meant to make it more palatable. We often speak of marriage as being a gift and a blessing, and in the same way if your relationship status is single, that too is a gift. No one seems to get upset when we talk about marriage as a gift, and from my perspective, singleness should be viewed the same way. Marriage and singleness both have their positives and BOTH can be a blessing. Each is a gift in that is has unique challenges and unique opportunities to serve God and shape us.
--Ashley, I understand what you're saying. Certainly, being single isn't just a bad thing, there are plenty of advantages there too. But that quote from Elisabeh Elliot is just plain weird. As almost always, I'm complete with MrsAshleyTOF on this one. Just because something happens to be the case today, it doesn't mean that it's a specific *gift* from God. You would never say that loneliness/unemployment/illness/whatever was a gift from God, would you?
--Ashley: I think I just plain disagree. You're born single, you're not born married. Singleness is your neutral state, it's no more a "gift" than your blonde hair and winning smile. It might not be all bad, but it's exactly what you make of it, nothing less, nothing more. I guess, unless you wanted to go all the way out there and say that life itself and all that is in it is a gift from God (which I suppose would be technically accurate) I don't think it's particularly beneficial to slate singleness on the same platform as things when scripture very literally calls gifts like the birth of a child, or specific callings in areas of spiritual strength because it is NOT the same thing. Not everyone has children, not everyone has the same areas of spiritual strength. Taking a wider view, what about salvation, That's deffinitely God's good gift to us, right? Do we get salvation simply by virtue of being born? Those things are gifts because of their uniqueness. To me, God's gifts often represent opportunities and are often defined by relationships.
Marriage, is a state specifically crafted by God to combat the *deficiencies* of the single state ("It is not good for man to be alone."). I'm not saying that singleness can't be fullfilling or that marriage is God's plan for everyone (which is clearly not the case), I'm just saying that "singleness" itself isn't the "gift" -- it's just a state of being -- we can recieve gifts from God in our single state, but the state itself is not the gift just like the destination is not the journey. The gifts from God in singleness are the opportunities that come up to bless others and serve and recieve blessing and be in good and right relationship with the people around you -- and really, marriage doesn't change those gifts of opportunity at all.
That being said, I think you could probably make a convincing argument that not all marriages are inherently blessings or gifts from God either. The state of "being married" itsn't the "gift" and your spouse is not a "gift" to you to do whatever you want with -- God's gift is the opportunity to live out a fantasic adventure with your best friend, which I think is a pretty stellar gift! There are plenty of people who don't consider marriage a "gift" because they're so focused on the "word" or the "person" that they're missing it.
A child is god's gift of opportunity to you to nurture and love and raise up *another human being* and holy cow, that's AWESOME. I mean, he grows another person and lets you care for them and love them and put them on the right life path. That's really, really cool when you think about it.
Your spiritual giftings are God's gift of opportunity to you to use those areas to reach and establish relationship and teach other people about the Gospel. The opportunity to be a part of his greater plan and the salvation of human kind. whaaaaat? :D Super cool!
And of course, Salvation is the gift of God's opportunity to spend enternity with him in heaven. :) an opportunity we must and should avail ourselves of.
Singleness certainly puts up in a position to avail ourselves of opportunities to recieve God's giftings, but no one wakes up in the morning and says, "Man! I hope God presents me with the opportunity to be single today!" (or maybe they do... but that's a whooooole different topic ;) )
--Elisabeth Elliott's quote targets the idea that singleness is a state less valuable than marriage. Calling it a gift not only combats that wrong idea, but makes complete sense. What is a gift, but something we've received? Ultimately, have we not received everything we have from the Lord? I believe we have.
To take it a step further (and to borrow from Piper) gifts are meant to be unwrapped and used or enjoyed. Explored. A gift is no gift at all if it is left wrapped on a shelf in the attic (Piper). In that sense, calling singleness a gift can be viewed as an invitation to open it and explore the goodness God has in store through that daily calling. Singleness is not limbo. It is not a waiting place. It certainly is not a neutral place, which brings connotations of ineffectiveness and idleness. Yet many people who long for marriage feel stuck in singleness and need to be encouraged in their daily walk.
This may seem a little out of place, but consider Isaiah 56:3b-5 - "...and let not the eunuch say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree.' For thus says the Lord: 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give within my house and within my walls a a monument and a name better than sons or daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.'"
There's a lot of giving going on in that passage, and though we're debating the idea of whether or not to consider singleness itself as a gift, let us acknowledge that God intends to bless his people through it. That being said, if singleness is not a gift, then neither is marriage.
--Once again, Mrs Ashley, you took the words right out of my mouth :-)
made with ♥ by Boundless