‘Tis the season for gift giving, gift returning and gift exchanging.
As we prepare for the upcoming holiday parties, the traditional white elephant gift exchange comes to mind. I’ve had my fair share of white elephant gift exchanges. Some that ended pretty well and others that resulted in me leaving with the dreaded can of tomato soup, the lovely four pack of toothbrushes and … wait for it … the single roll of toilet paper. Yes, it’s happened.
But despite leaving the party with the craziest gift in the bunch, I always enjoy the process of seeing how everyone chooses their gift.
Each party host has their own version of how they think the gift exchange should go. For some, the gifts are opened as you go, allowing you to scope out the gifts in the room before selecting one of the open gifts or choosing to brave the mystery of the unknown. At these kinds of parties, I love to watch the “strategic second-steal anticipator.” You know who I’m talking about. They are the ones in the room who are all too familiar with the three-steal rule and plan accordingly. They will strategically select a gift they suspect someone will steal from them, thus giving them the option of stealing a gift on its final steal and ensuring they lock it in so it can’t be stolen again.
Then there are the parties where you select your gift by the size and packaging alone. Unable to open your gift until the very end, selections and steals are made without actually knowing what the gift is. At these parties, we have the “twinkle in the eye, big box grabber” who selects the biggest box in the room, hoping for something wonderful. Or the “process of elimination chooser” who will choose what obviously looks like a gift card, knowing they have some idea of what they hope to leave the party with.
Think for a second about which type of gift selector you are. Are you the strategic second-steal anticipator? How about the analytical process of elimination chooser? Or are you the twinkle in the eye, big box grabber?
For the big box grabbers reading this article, I want you to think about something. As intrigue and excitement mount, you anticipate what you think is going to be a great gift, only to find it’s not exactly what you built up in your mind. Those around you begin opening their gifts and you realize the gift you once held in your hand was far better than the one you traded it for.
Sadly, many singles take this same approach to their singleness. We don’t recognize the value our singleness has and we scope out our options, eager to trade it in for something else.
I’ve seen many singles attempt to exchange their singleness for things like busyness, pseudo-relationships or a season of selfishness because they aren’t satisfied with what they’ve been given. Friends, I hope to restore your faith in your season of singleness and remind you of the wonderful potential you have during this season of your life.
Singleness keeps the door of unending possibilities open. Want to spend a few weeks serving on a mission trip in Cambodia? Go for it. Thinking of moving overseas to work and pay off debt? Choose a destination and start moving forward. Dreaming about writing a book, starting a nonprofit, or using your talents to teach others? Now’s the time. As long as you’ve included God in the planning process, your plans are sure to be fruitful.
Singleness gifts us with extra time. A few years ago, I was not a diligent steward of my time. I filled my schedule with busyness. I worked late hours, attended multiple Bible studies, participated in a competitive tennis league and attended as many social events as possible. As long as I was out staying busy, I didn’t have to sit in the quietness of my home, reminding myself it wasn’t currently being shared with anyone. I was giving in to as many distractions as possible to avoid feeling alone. But now I see the benefit of this wonderful gift of time. Instead of spending every weekend night at a social event, I dedicate one weekend night to leading a Bible study or spending time alone with God, digging into the Word or praying. I’m being more diligent with my time and expanding my knowledge of Scripture. Looking back, I may have missed opportunities to meet new people, but the intimacy I’ve felt with the Lord by dedicating that time to Him has been well worth the sacrifice.
Singleness broadens ministry opportunities. For my married friends, their primary ministry is their spouse and children, and everything else is secondary. But for singles, our ministry can be the inmates at the jail, the homeless men and women in our city or the junior high kids who need mentoring. We’ve been gifted with a season to pour into others with as much us as we are willing to give. We are able to serve the Lord without distraction, to have an undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:35).
Singleness is a beautiful blessing. I know it may not always feel that way, and in those moments of not knowing its value, it is easy to be eager to exchange it for other things. I pray that you will ask the Lord to reveal to you the value of your season of singleness. Ask Him what He wants you to partner with Him on during this season, and make the most of this wonderful gift you are holding right now.