It hasn’t been very long since I was single and a student at UCLA and to be honest, the thought of getting married soon after college never occurred to me until God changed the direction I thought I was going and made it very clear that I was heading towards marriage. Looking back, I realized there were areas in my single life I wish I had been a better steward of. And so, I am thankful and humbled to know that I can still learn from that period of my life. The following are not only things that I learned about my singleness, but also things I can continue to grow in now as a newly married person.
1. I had more time.
We often hear about how little time people have. “I don’t have time to meet today.” “How can it be 3 o’clock already?” “I need to manage my time better.” If these aren’t things we’ve heard people say, they’re certainly thoughts we’ve had ourselves. Time is the one thing we can’t earn back and it is an area of life I wish I had utilized more intentionally while I was single. Married life has not only been an outpour of blessings, but also a challenge of greater responsibilities, which naturally requires me to prioritize who and what gets hours out of my 24-hour allotment. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 clearly explains this reality better than I ever could. Paul tells us that a single person is “free from concern” or “free from anxieties” about the earthly needs of a spouse and therefore has a greater potential to “concern about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” As Ray and I strive to glorify our Lord by seeking to outserve one another, we know that marriage doesn’t prevent a faithful devotion to the Lord. Still, I know that my younger self (by only a couple years) had the potential for “undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35) and only encourages me now to be a more faithful steward of the time that God provides. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
2. I wish I started using a Bible-reading plan earlier.
After finishing the entire Bible on December 31st and now starting my reading plan again in the new year, I wish I began using reading plans earlier in my walk. How you choose to spend time reading God’s word is up to you, but I praise God for making me treasure His Word more and for giving me a greater view of who He is after reading the whole Bible in a year. After all, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). All Scripture—the Old Testament and New Testament—equips all believers. God is speaking to us with the whole Bible and, in light of that, a reading plan keeps me accountable daily.
3. I took my disciplers’ accessibility for granted.
Thinking back on my college days (wow, time flies) when I lived amongst my peers, I had convenient access to not just my small group leader, but also other believers—literally whole apartment floors full of them. So what I mean by taking accessibility for granted is the fact that my discipler and I had a number of opportunities to meet—in between classes, at any of the meals in a day, or even late in the evening because our bodies could allow it. I still remember the time when my small group leader opened up her apartment to me in order to serve me. She showed hospitality to me and was a living testimony of someone transformed by Christ when I was a non-believer. I see now how the ministry and fellowship that happens amongst the UCLA apartment and dorm community is so unique (even compared to other colleges) that I confess I lacked a thankful attitude while still a student. Since getting married, I’ve been convicted to utilize my time with believers (and non-believers) more intentionally because life naturally gets busier and there are things to be done for God’s kingdom.
4. I wasted too many trials.
The trials God allowed when I was younger—in faith and age—had less severity than the ones I experience now. God brings on the trials and suffering that He knows I can take on. That is why I had the trials I did when I was younger and the ones I currently have now that I’m slightly more mature. During those times of desperation, rather than remembering that God is a faithful God or thinking about what He is trying to teach me, I wasted an opportunity to “trust in the Lord with all [my] heart” and leaned on my understanding instead. (Proverbs 3:5) “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) And how great it is to know that “when you meet trials of various kinds… the testing of your faith produces steadfastness… that you may be perfect and complete.” (James 1:2-3). May trials, yours and mine, not be wasted and may they be opportunities to glorify God through our obedience to His Word.