Jesse Hoyer didn’t set out to live a single life. Like many women, she loved children and wanted a husband and kids of her own.
But when she experienced serious health concerns that ultimately led to a hysterectomy in her mid-30s, she realized God’s plan for her life might look different than she had imagined.
“I can’t say that my desire to get married just went away [after the hysterectomy], but certainly my perspective on it changed,” Hoyer told host Maggie Evans during a recent TAB Amplify podcast. “And I knew that if I were to meet somebody at that stage in my life, if it started to get serious, we’d have to talk about the fact that I couldn’t have kids.”
Hoyer has spent much of her 61 years pouring into the lives of children, and views herself as the official “grandma” of Iron City Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I do not have any biological children, but I have children all over the world,” she said. “And God has given [me] the unique gifting to love other people’s children.”
Grace Thornton, author and TAB special assignments editor, realized in her mid-20s that many of her dreams hadn’t worked out the way she planned. That’s when she began to learn that following God wasn’t about receiving what she thought she should have, but about following Him for the sake of receiving Him as the prize.
“That was the very beginning of the whole, ‘What does it look like to be an adult and be single?’ and ‘What does it look like to follow God and trust Him if He doesn’t give me the things I thought He should give me at that point in time,’” Thornton said during a second TAB Amplify podcast on the topic.
After a difficult breakup Thornton came to terms with the possibility that she might never marry, and worked through a difficult season wrestling with feelings of anger, hurt and confusion.
Other believers came alongside her and modeled a deep faith in Jesus. With their help, Thornton said she was able to gain a focus on how big and worthy of praise God is.
“It was like my whole life [was] driving toward God and anything that [was] going to keep me from having more of Him, I wanted to cut that away,” she recalled. “And anything that He [could] use even if it’s not what I choose, then that’s what I wanted.”
The shift didn’t happen overnight, Thornton acknowledged, but through years of grappling and relearning about God, placing her own dreams into perspective with His greatness.
“It became, ‘Ok, God, if what You have for me is singleness for right now or forever, I want to be in a spot where I [can grow] because of this, to [let singleness] be something that helps me have more of You because I lean on You more,” Thornton recalled.
“But also, if more people can know You better because of this reality in my life, I don’t want to choose what I want over that.’”
Demetrius Hicks also didn’t plan to “do life” as a single man, but in his mid-20s he began to fully understand the importance of being a healthy single and healthy believer.
During a third TAB Amplify podcast on singleness, Hicks said he enjoys the freedom of singleness and, as Paul asserts in 1 Corinthians 7, recognizes the beauty of serving God as a single adult.
Now he helps other singles find contentment in their singleness.
“I’ve learned to embrace singleness and the gift that it is,” Hicks said. “I think a lot of times [people] have compared the negatives of singleness to the positives of marriage. But after really studying the scriptures and understanding the gift of singleness, I’ve come to appreciate it. And I find myself now mentoring and shepherding people through it.
“You can really be fulfilled and content as a single.”
‘Christ is sufficient’
Not everyone will marry, Hicks noted, and churches can encourage singles by helping them focus on contentment at whatever stage of life they’re in.
“I think that is so important for all of us to know that Christ is sufficient. We have more than what we need when we have Christ,” Hicks said.
“One of the biggest lies of singleness is that you will never have family,” he asserted. “The Bible says that [God] places the lonely in families, and you have some married couples who feel lonely. When we really learn how to relate to each other as the family of God, we find ourselves really entrenched in this beautiful, diverse family.”
For more on the topic of singleness, check out the TAB Amplify podcast series “Talking singleness and all of its complexities” at thealabamabaptist.org/podcasts.