Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Contentment in Singleness, with Charmaine Porter

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Learn more about You Can Trust God to Write Your Story.

Dannah Gresh: As a single woman, Charmaine Porter noticed that sometimes she was scrolling through social media and becoming envious of her friends’ photos and announcements. So she developed a strategy.

Charmaine Porter: I have learned to become a fan of God’s glory. Wherever I see His glory happening, I choose to celebrate that! That may not always be my instinct, but I get to choose how I respond when I see my friends on Instagram or I see them on Facebook. If God doesn’t define me by my relationship status, then why should I?

So wherever I started to see God’s glory, I’ve started to choose to celebrate: “God, be glorified—all the glory out of this vacation, all the glory out of this baby, all the glory out of this relationship.” Then I start to become a fan of that.

Leslie Basham: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for September 13, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You may be aware that most of my life has been spent as a single woman. For the first fifty-seven years of my life, the Lord gave me what the apostle Paul would call a gift of being single. Then in November of 2015, the Lord gave me a new gift—the gift of marriage!

Each gift, by the way, comes with both its blessings and its challenges. I am truly deeply grateful for this new season . . . so grateful for Robert Wolgemuth! But I remember well a conversation I had with a single woman just before I got married. She said to me, “Don’t forget your single sisters.”

I haven’t forgotten my single sisters, and here at Revive Our Hearts we never want to stop being a voice of encouragement and hope for you. We’re here to tell you that, yes, you really can trust God to write your story no matter where that leads, no matter what it looks like. You can trust the mysteries of Providence.

Yesterday we heard the first part of a conversation between Dannah Gresh and her friend Charmaine Porter. Charmaine is a single woman in her early thirties with a passion to glorify Christ with her life, whether God gives her a family or not.

Charmaine has served together with Dannah in ministry with True Girl, and she now works with young people in Georgia. She’ll tell us more about that today. If you missed yesterday’s program you can listen to that at ReviveOurHearts.com. Let’s hear the rest of that conversation between Dannah Gresh and Charmaine Porter. 

We’re picking it up where they’re talking about the gift of singleness in 1 Corinthians chapter 7.

Dannah: Some people would say, “Singleness . . . that’s the gift I want to return! Where do I go? Where’s the Return Department?”

Charmaine: Yes, exactly! “How do I give this back to Him?!”

Dannah: What has God taught you about that verse particularly, the concept of the gifting of singleness.

Charmaine: I really like Bible study. I really like word study as well. So I did a word study on this. The word “gift” (that’s the word in English) in the Greek is “charisma.” (And please forgive me if you’re a Hebrew/Greek Bible scholar out there and I’m pronouncing this wrong!) It’s charisma

There are two types of charisma in the Bible. First Corinthians 12 speaks about charisma—or gifts—that are categorized as spiritual gifts. We talk about that a lot. Paul says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts like serving, teaching, prophesying; these are functional, ministerial gifts that the Holy Spirit has given His church to run smoothly.” (see vv. 1–11).

If we don’t have a distinction between spiritual gifts, then when Paul says, “I wish that you were all single like me, but each man or woman has their own gift: singleness or marriage.” (see 1 Cor. 7:7). If we don’t make a distinction between those two gifts, or those two charisma, then we can start to assume that the gift of marriage or the gift of singleness is a spiritual gift.

I don’t think, if I’m understanding this right, that is what Paul is saying. I think he’s saying that all gifts, charismas, are given from God for His purpose and His glory, and they come with the promise of the Holy Spirit. But in the case of an objectionable gift, if you will . . . We have the gift of eternal life. Either you have eternal life, or you don’t have eternal life.

That’s that charisma that Paul’s talking about in 1 Corinthians 7. You have the gift of singleness or marriage. Either you have the gift of singleness or you have the gift of marriage.

Dannah: It seems to me that the common denominator of all of those things is, if they’re not powered by the Holy Spirit, you will suffer through them rather than thrive and have them be useful for God. Right?

Charmaine: Yes.

Dannah: Because even those spiritual gifts, things like teaching and mercy and helping (all that stuff) . . . I know people who have those gifts, and they kind of suffer through them. They haven’t said, “Okay, Holy Spirit, I’m happy to serve, empower me.” And so, would you say that inviting the Holy Spirit into your singleness has changed the way you experience it?

Charmaine: Oh, yes, for sure! Inviting the Lord into the gift . . . I’ve chosen to open up the gift. I’ve chosen to do that. I’ve chosen to say, “Lord, it’s not just a gift for a gift’s sake. There’s a tool inside of it, and you want to use that tool for me to bring You the utmost glory.”

That’s something that I learned at Cedarville. “Where can I be placed?” I’m asking the Lord to place me in places where I can bring Him the most glory and maximize the glory out of my life. Again, it’s realizing that’s what I was made for. I was made for the glory of God. I was made for His pleasure. I was made to make Him look good, and He’s going to use my singleness to do that.

And then, also on the other side, it’s not just like, “Oh, I’m a champion for singleness, singleness, singleness” to the point where I disparage marriage. It’s not that at all. My prayer is that if it is the Lord’s will for me to get married, that I would get married.

I mean, I want to be in love with my husband, want to be attracted, all those things. But even greater than that, I want it to be that the Lord has said, “Charmaine, you’ve given me all the glory that you possibly can as a single woman, and now for you to continue to bring Me the most glory, you need to partner with this man. That is why I want you to get married, because that’s how you can bring Me the most glory from this point on.” 

And then if my husband ends up dying before I do, then I’ll go back to being single. Then the Lord says, “Alright, that was the time that I had for you to bring Me glory with this man, and now it’s time to be single again, so you can bring Me the most glory.”

We’ve got to have that as the foundation!

Dannah: That reminds me of Jim Elliott (it could have been Elisabeth Elliott) who said, “The reason for marriage is that two people glorify God better together than apart.” 

In fact, he put the brakes on his relationship with Elisabeth because he wanted to ask God, “Will this slow me down in glorifying You, or is it going to catapult me?” And, of course, we know how the story unfolded. 

He needed not just any woman, but that woman. He needed Elisabeth so that when he was martyred by the Auca Indians, she had the character built in her to go back and complete the work of glorifying God among those people.

Charmaine: Right, yes. I love that example! I’m so glad that the Lord brought them together ultimately, but I’m glad that they took that time of, “I need to figure this out! If I was made for the glory of God, could it be that He wants the most glory out of my life and therefore I’m going to be single . . . or is it to be partner with you?”

We throw this around a lot, especially in the church: “I want to marry someone that loves Jesus more than they love me.” I want that! I hear that all the time, and I say that as well. But what would happen if we meet someone and they’re like, “No, I really do love Jesus! I love him more than I love you. I’ve fallen in love with you; I would love to marry you. But I feel like as I continue to pursue the Lord, as I’m in my relationship to Him, talking to Him, I feel like He’s telling me that we need to hold off on marriage. I’m not making any guarantee to you. I love Him enough to say I think He’s asking me to still be single . . . even though I would like to marry you.”

If I’m understanding Jim Elliot’s story correctly, that’s almost what he said to Elisabeth. “Yes, I do love you. I’m hoping that eventually this may turn into marriage, but I’m not sure right now. I’m willing to say ‘no’ to marrying you to say ‘yes’ to the glory of God.”

Dannah: So what you’re saying is that, really, we’re not valuing singleness when we embrace it, but we’re valuing the ability and the opportunity to glorify God. Singleness is the avenue through which we do that.

Charmaine: Yes! I actually gave a talk on singleness a few years ago, at a master class that you were hosting, Dannah. The Lord gave me the image of a tree. He was like, “Charmaine, remember the tree! Healthy roots of a tree produce healthy trees; healthy trees produce healthy leaves.”

I think a lot of us are trying to get a leaf that looks green, but we haven’t touched the root yet. A biblically healthy view of God and His glory will produce a healthy view of relationship statuses. Biblical, healthy views of relationship statuses are what we should strive to teach, because they will produce God-glorifying marriages and singles.

Dannah: Charmaine, here’s the thing that I’m thinking right now. You’re sitting here as a single woman, not only encouraging the single women, but encouraging the married women.

Charmaine: I hope so! I honestly really do mean that. I hope so!

Dannah: My mind is going through the checkpoint of, “How are Bob and I glorifying God together? Are we glorifying God together? What do we need to do to push the reset button on how we do that well?” Because, if we do have the gift of marriage, it should be for that purpose.

Charmaine: Yes, I love that! I even love “the gift of marriage.” Sometimes we only hear, “gift of _____ and you insert here singleness. But marriage is also a gift. It is a gift! You and Bob have got to open that up and ask, “What are these tools that we have, and how do we use them together to glorify God?”

Make God’s glory the purpose. Make that the aim, make that the goal, because that’s why you were created. Before I was of marrying age, my purpose was to glorify God. That was why I was born. That’s why He made me, to make Him look good. So He’ll use whatever avenue as a single person, whatever avenue as a friend, whatever avenue as a sister, whatever avenue at my job. When I go to Kroger. He’s like, “I’m just about My glory!”

Dannah: Yes. You sound so confident, and you’ve thought through this theologically. You’ve found some peace in it. But does that mean that the loneliness and the ache and sometimes the hard nights aren’t a part of your life anymore?

Charmaine: Oh no, no, no, no, no! I definitely still have those, for sure! I know this sounds cliché to say it, because we talk about it all the time . . . but the scrolling on Instagram. Right now people that I went to college with, people that I went to high school with, they are married and now on like kid number two or three. Sometimes that’s hard. I’m not going to lie to you.

But I have learned to become a fan of God’s glory. So wherever I see His glory happening, I choose to celebrate that! That may not always be my instinct. But I get to choose how I respond when I see my friends on Instagram or I see them on Facebook or I hear like some other person’s in a relationship or this person got a new job. 

It’s not just about the relationship status. It’s also about, “Oh, you went on this awesome vacation . . . and I’m here at work.” But if God doesn’t define me by my relationship status, then why should I? 

So wherever I start to see God’s glory, I’ve started to choose to celebrate: “God, be glorified—all the glory out of this vacation, all the glory out of this baby, all the glory out of this relationship.” Then I start to become a fan of that. Now, like you said, that doesn’t mean that it’s easier, but as I’ve gotten to know the Lord, He’s like, “I want you to talk to Me about that stuff. Invite Me into that.”

I’m a full-blooded woman, and my hormones work. Praise the Lord! He’s like, “Invite Me into that, when you feel that, when you feel those pangs of loneliness and those pangs of wanting to be with someone. Tell Me about it; talk with Me about it. You can!” You can. Jesus died and rose again for us to have that opportunity.

Dannah: So don’t deny it.

Charmaine: Don’t deny it. Absolutely not!

Dannah: Say, “Jesus, come here with me.”

Charmaine: Yes. Psalm 42. I am reading out of the New Living Translation. The psalmist here starts off,

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me (vv. 5–7).

All of this is saying to me that the psalmist is very much aware of what’s going on inside him. He’s seeing what’s happening. He’s aware of what’s happening, and he’s like, “This is how it’s affecting me, and I’m talking to God about it. I’m inviting Him into my experience of life.”

And then he says in verse 8: 

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me [hope.] 

He chooses where his focus is. He may not be able to change what he’s aware of, but he does get to choose where he focuses. And he resolves within himself, 

I’m praying to the God who gives me life.“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?” (vv. 9–10).

This is showing me that he’s real with the Lord. 

He’s very, very honest! “Why have You forgotten me? I’m living my life for you. I’m telling you that this is going on, and it just seems like You’ve forgotten me. What’s going on, God?!” He’s not afraid to be honest with the Lord with what he’s feeling.

Then, the very last verse, verse 11, he repeats what he said in verse 5: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” He does some self-reflection. He asks himself those questions, and then he resolves to remember.

“I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” Again, he chooses his focus!

Dannah: He chooses. 

Charmaine: All of this shows me that God wants to be involved in my experience as a single person. He wants to hear about when I’m scrolling through Instagram and I start to feel those pangs. He doesn’t want me to deny them. If I’m feeling jealous, like, “God, I’m feeling jealous! This really hurts to see right now!”

If I see someone going on vacation . . . whatever it is, like, “God, why don’t I have that? I feel like I’m walking with You and serving You, and I think I still want this other gift that’s out there. Why don’t I have it?” He’s okay with me asking Him that.

Dannah: But what I hear you saying over and over again is, “I choose to embrace my singleness. I choose to glorify God. I choose to say, ‘Thank You, God.’ I choose to be grateful for the gifts other people have,” instead of feeling sorry for yourself. . .

Charmaine: Yes.

Dannah: And that really is ultimately choosing to trust God to write your story. Right?

Charmaine: Yes, amen!

Dannah: So, let’s turn to this: what are the reasons why God would give someone the gift of singleness? What have you been able to do to glorify God that you couldn’t have done if you hadn’t been single? That’s what you’re saying the purpose of your singleness is

Charmaine: I think that I’m able to focus in a way that if I was married and had children, I wouldn’t be able to. The work that I do right now, I get to live on campus with the students.

Dannah: Tell us where you work right now.

Charmaine: I work for Impact 360 Institute out of Pine Mountain, Georgia. It is a gap-year program where students from the age of seventeen, eighteen to about twenty-one get to come and understand, “Why do I believe what I believe? I say that I’m a Christian, but why do I believe that?” A lot of them come right in-between high school and college.

Research shows that kids who grow up in church a lot of times abandon the faith. They leave the church once they get out of their parents’ house.

Dannah: We’re losing them in that first or second year out. You’re providing a way to solidify their faith rather than just complacently letting them go. So you’re able to live on campus. 

Charmaine: I live on campus. We do life-on-life; I’m one of the disciplers/mentors, that whole thing there. I live on campus with the students, but my counterpart (his name is Chad) is married. He has a family. His wife actually just had a baby this past year. I’ve watched him live so valiantly and pursue God, pursue his family, and pursue the students that are on campus.

I don’t think he would mind me saying this: it’s been hard! It’s been hard for him, and it’s been hard for his wife. I’ve seen them do it very, very well, but they’re juggling . . . whereas I’m not.

Dannah: You have the freedom. 

Charmaine: I have the freedom to focus.

Dannah: How do you focus? 

Charmaine: I have to learn boundaries just like anybody else. Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I’m just like, “Here’s all my time in the world!” I told the students, I have an “open-ear” policy. Because I live on campus, I don’t have an “open-door” policy, because I also need that space to be with me, to have my own friends.

The students have been so wonderful in respecting that, and helping me even keep that. But I don’t have to juggle. That’s the obvious answer. I think another thing that the Lord has really challenged me with some of this is because of my own personal story. As I mentioned earlier, my mother passed away when I was eight years old.

So I have had the opportunity to understand what spiritual family looks like. I have spiritual mothers, and you’re one of them. You’re one of my spiritual mothers. The Lord has given me family that isn’t biological. I’ve even asked Him (this is a few years ago), I’ll be honest . . . I told the Lord, “Lord, I think I want to be a mom more than I want to be a wife.”

I didn’t know where that was coming from. I didn’t know where it was leading to, but that’s what I felt and so I told Him. And it’s been so interesting that through this job, I have some spiritual children that I get to pour into. He has even confirmed that gift of spiritual children in that discipleship kind of relationship that I have with the students that I have this year.

Last year the students called me “Mama Charmaine.” This year they call me, “Char-mama.” They just came up with it. I didn’t ask them anything. They’ve asked me before, “Is it okay if we call you this?” I haven’t been able to share with all of them, but if they ask I tell them. 

This is actually a confirmation of a prayer that I think the Lord gave me of, I don’t know if I’ll ever have biological children, but I know that my spiritual family is just as important and just as powerful, and can push me to bring God glory, just as much as my biological family can.

Dannah: Yes, and in that respect, the Lord has honored the desires of your heart. He has fulfilled them.

Charmaine: Yes, He defined them. I had to ask Him, “Lord, You define those desires of my heart,” because if my desires are still marriage and all those other things, then I’ll continue to be looking over there.” I would actually miss that He has answered and given me the desires of my heart—according to His definition, not my definition.

Dannah: One way that I’ve gotten to have a front row seat to seeing you spend your singleness for the glory of God is as the lead teacher for True Girl. We do about one hundred events around the country a year, bringing moms and their daughters closer to each other and closer to Christ. We live in a tour bus for nine months. Well, I don’t! I send you out to live in a tour bus for nine months. 

Charmaine: You show up!

Dannah: This is something, really, that a married person can’t do. That’s why I don’t go with the team. That’s why I fly in and check on things, and then I go back to tend to my marriage. I don’t have children at home anymore, but at one point it was to tend to my children.

Charmaine, you did that for three years. You couldn’t have done that if you were married. This morning I texted my team and I said, “I just wonder under Charmaine’s three years of leadership for True Girl how many little girls made first-time decisions to follow Jesus.” Do you want to know.

Charmaine: Yes. (Am I going to cry?)

Dannah: 2,641!

Charmaine: It makes it worth it! (I appreciate that.)

Dannah: Charmaine, I think people who have been encouraged by your story are also going to be encouraged by You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence. It’s Nancy’s new book, and she has an entire chapter devoted to trusting God when you long for a mate.

What I love about it is, she takes us into some of her own journey as a single woman, and I think it will really encourage you. In fact, I’m going to give you a copy today.

Charmaine: So awesome!

Nancy: A passion for God’s glory in her singleness: that’s Charmaine Porter in conversation with Dannah Gresh. I think what she said about learning to become a fan of God’s glory is so right and so important! The book Dannah was referring is one that I’ve written with my husband, Robert, so I can’t take all the credit for it.

Again, the title of that book is You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence. During the month of September, we’d like to send you a copy of this book as our way of saying “thank you” for your gift of any size to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Your donations help keep this ministry on the airwaves and online. 

In order to give you can visit us as ReviveOurHearts.com or call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you make your gift, be sure and ask for Nancy and Robert’s newest book. Thanks so much for your support!

Are you ever tempted to worry about how you’re going to feed or clothe yourself or your family? I think moms spend a fair amount of time thinking about menus and wardrobes for all their kids. Am I right? Well, on Monday we’re going to take a closer look at God’s providence. And, yes, we’ll look at Jesus’ words where He told us not to be anxious about what we’ll eat or what we’ll wear.

Be sure to join us next week for Revive Our Hearts.

Helping you become a fan of God’s glory, Revive our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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