Singleness is not God's Consolation Prize (and Marriage Isn't an Upgrade in His Goodness)

Katelyn Gannon

by Katelyn Gannon

Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.



As a young girl, marriage was one of my greatest dreams. The movies my girlfriends and I watched growing up portrayed the serendipitous moment when you would meet “the one.” I couldn't wait. The possibility of not marrying never crossed my mind.

However, into my young adult years, at times I wondered, “is marriage truly something God has in mind for me?”

Elisabeth Elliot famously wrote, “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” This became my prayer: in singleness, I did not want my longing for marriage to inhibit my ability to live in the present.

One line from Psalm 23 came as a particular challenge to my beliefs about living well, whether single or married. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” writes the Psalmist in verse 6. There were lessons to learn here: it did not say “surely goodness will follow a wedding.” God’s promise is for every season and status. So, how could I fully see God’s goodness and mercy in singleness? Or in the everyday living of marriage beyond the honeymoon?

God’s Goodness + Mercy in Singleness

The Gift of Self-Directed Service and a Distraction-Free Yes

In my single years, I experienced the joy of obedience to God’s voice. I picked up and moved to Texas because I heard him say go. With nothing or no one holding me back, it was an easy “yes.” I remained available and accessible. God’s gift of goodness was that I could be single-minded in my priorities.

The Gift of Learning to Trust Jesus as my Refiner

Who refines you when you’re single? Who is that person in your life with whom you can have complete transparency? In singleness, with the absence of a partner to hold a mirror up to me about my daily habits, I first learned to look to Christ for my refinement. While it’s true that the Holy Spirit remains our ultimate sanctifier in every season of life, singleness was a great place to start the process of looking solely to him.

God’s Goodness + Mercy in Marriage

After many years of singleness and some dating too, I met my husband and six months later we were married! In our newlywed season, I gained a fresh awe and wonder for the Lord as I realized that in his kindness, no season of singleness was wasted. He loves us too much to not fully prepare us for what’s ahead. I was being prepared for who I needed to become before stepping into the next role of “wife.”

The lessons in marriage have come at a fast pace! Here are some ways God’s mercy and goodness are following me in marriage:

The Gift of Self-Sacrificial Service

Contrary to the freedom of my single-minded years, one of the blessings of marriage is the privilege of learning to live others-centered. As a wife, it’s a joy to serve and submit to my husband. When there's complete trust and honor for the other, submission is neither a chore nor a pain. I’ve found that the more I serve my husband (with no hidden motive), the more I feel fulfilled.

The Gift of a God-Given Refiner in a Spouse

Accountability provided by a spouse is new for me. It’s different and humbling. I see the ugliness in myself quickly and have been surprised at how evil my flesh really is.

Yet, there’s so much mercy available in the refining process: both in receiving it and learning to extend it. Just as God has mercy for me to come to him as I am, with all my flaws and limitations, so should that mercy be extended to my spouse. Mercy is always synonymous with forgiveness.

Goodness + Mercy Throughout

Whether we are married or single, God’s goodness and mercy pursues us. I am learning that the role of a wife is just another dimension of God’s mercy and goodness I get to experience.

God’s goodness and mercy do not change with my marital status, because they are first and foremost tied to my adoption status. My identity is first and foremost as a daughter. Knowing we live as God’s beloved children is the key to fully embracing and enjoying any season. Whether we wake up alone or in a shared bed, we have a father in heaven who daily wants communion with us. Regardless of the season you’re in, there’s room in his presence to dwell there forever.

Goodness and Mercy

When I was in my wandering and when I was in my doubt
goodness and mercy were there
When I was questioning your plan for me and losing hope
goodness and mercy were there
When I was finding love and discovering the new
goodness and mercy were there
When I was saying goodbye to a place I thought I’d plant roots
goodness and mercy were there
When I was reciting vows and exchanging wedding rings
goodness and mercy were there

I think I’ve found the secret

That when I dwell with you -
whether I usher words of thanks, deep cries of pain, or love songs to you
goodness are mercy are there
because you’re there too

- by Katelyn Gannon



Katelyn Gannon is a writer from Columbus, OH. Whether it’s poetry, songwriting, or devotionals; she loves expressing God’s heart for people through words. You can follow along at @underthecanopyonline.