As we approach the Lenten season, we have the beautiful opportunity to prepare for the celebration of the risen Christ on Easter Sunday. Many choose to prepare by giving up or fasting from a particular habit, practice, or activity. Singles have a dynamic opportunity in that they can refrain from unique things that those who are married or in a relationship cannot. The season of Lent for singles could be one where their relationship with Christ can flourish in many new ways.
1. Dating or Dating Apps
Lent can be a wonderful time to place dating apps or dating in general on hold in a time of fasting. It is important to do this with peace and permission from the Lord; you do not want to go against or counter His will for your life, but it could provide a very beneficial time for your walk with Christ. Instead of swiping through dating sites or talking to other singles, take the time to grow in knowing Christ intimately. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and therefore, God has already given us His very best spouse in Christ as we are the Church. When we take on that understanding as the Bride of Christ, we realize that the most important relationship we will ever have is with the Lord. God may not incline your heart to cease dating, but a curious opportunity awaits when you devote the time you would for a match to time with your Maker.
2. Complaining about Being Single
Paul encourages us in Philippians 2:14 to refrain from complaining, “Do everything without complaining,” which can be a habit to work on breaking during Lent. When you are single, it can be easy to fall into the trap of complaining about what you lack, what your heart aches for, and what you see others enjoying while you seem to wait endlessly. Instead of complaining, shift your phrasing to be positive and full of gratitude. It may take the entire forty days to do, but working on not complaining about being single and, even further, not complaining about your life can change it for the better. To start this practice, align yourself with the words of 2 Corinthians 2:15, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Remember that you are not in this alone; you can ask the Lord to help you take those thoughts captive and bring them to a place of hope in what awaits.
3. Weak Boundaries
The forty days of Lent can also be a time to give up the practice of weak or non-existent boundaries. Boundaries are never meant or imposed in malice to be hurtful or harmful; instead, boundaries foster respect between you and others. Perhaps a boundary is no texting anyone of the opposite sex after 9 PM. This boundary can help you refrain from any late-night conversations that may not be appropriate. Other boundaries could include distancing yourself from those you know in your spirit not to be good influences, to be people who cultivate temptation in your life, or who encourage you in ways that damage living in a godly way. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you set proper boundaries and keep them so that you may walk in the abundance God has for you.
4. Social Media
Social media is an excellent choice to abstain from during Lent. As much as social media gives us the opportunity to connect with old friends, watch encouraging videos and posts, and perhaps provide a laugh or two, it can also be a distraction. It can be mentally and spiritually beneficial to take a breath from the apps to open your mind to other things. Perhaps you will spend more time in the Word, prayer journaling, or listening to sermons via Podcasts or YouTube. Taking these apps off your phone will also free up time and lessen your screen time daily. Taking a social media break can reset your focus. We often find social media stirs up anxiety, and it can also lead us to compare our lives with those around us. When we remove the constant stream of content, we can free up our minds to other things, things better for our hearts.
5. Spending Sprees
When surveying singles, one of the common practices or “bad habits” they share is the spending spree. For some, this is buying too much on Amazon or filling their closets with items they rarely use. Consider putting yourself on a spending freeze for Lent for anything that is not necessary. This would include eating out when you don’t need to, as well. It allows you to find your source of joy or dopamine-providing experiences outside of over-spending. You might just find you don’t need all those material things after all!
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6. Streaming Services
Another place we often find ourselves when seeking dopamine or distraction is streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, or regular TV. Unplug for a bit and pick up some other ways to spend your free time. Reading or listening to music can take you to other places just as binge-worthy shows do, but in a way that executes the usage of other parts of your brain. You may even try writing or playing your own music, which is a worthwhile skill to work on. Turning off the TV can open your eyes to a world you forgot existed.
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Perhaps one of the hardest things to “give up” for Lent or, in general, is the need to control a situation. When you are single, it can be easy to set goals, such as finding someone to date long-term or controlling what is happening around you. Instead of constantly setting goals that may or may not happen, let God hold the pen. For the next forty days, simply place your life at the throne and take your hands off everything going on around you. This can be one of the scariest actions you will ever take or offer up in prayer, but consider who you are handing the pen to. You are handing your life over to the Creator of all that was, is, and will be, the One who made your life. Is He not worthy of your trust and your timeline? Consider that if you knew all He knows, you would agree that His timing is always right. Take the initiative to let God have this season of Lent, and if you find yourself trying to take control back, relinquish it yet again. Remember that you are deeply loved, known, and seen by God. These next forty days may just prove to be remarkably life-changing in the best of ways, and it all came by allowing Him to take control. Take Him at His Word that He is a Good Father.
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Originally published Monday, 12 February 2024.