Pursuing Your True Identity in Both Singleness and Marriage

BCC StaffFor Those Seeking Hope7 Comments

Written by BCC Counselor Theron St. John

Editor’s Note: As we’ve been discussing premarital counseling, this post reminds us that our primary identity is not found in our relationship status, but in our relationship with God.

“Sweet and sanctifying.” This is my typical response to people who ask me how my first year of marriage to Esther has been.

Marriage has been the sweetest as I have been blessed with a godly and beautiful wife. I have experienced intimacy on the deepest level. At the same time, marriage has been sanctifying because it has exposed my heart and revealed indwelling sin and issues that need to be addressed.

I am thankful that in my singleness I sought to pursue holiness, display humility, live honestly, practice hospitality, and value humor. However, I was surprised how one of those characteristics showed up in my marriage.

Honesty and Identity

I knew as I prepared for marriage, I would need to be committed to holiness. My relationship with the Lord needs to be first and foremost. I also knew that having a relationship meant displaying humility, admitting when I was wrong, and asking for forgiveness. To enter this most sacred covenant, I knew I would need to open my heart in hospitality and not take myself too seriously but laugh too. Yet, one unexpected turn I took was understanding what living honestly truly meant.

In my singleness, I viewed this characteristic of honesty as being truthful in the words I speak and transparent in the life I live. I have seen that played out in marriage. If I am asked a question about how I feel, I need to give an honest answer. If my conscience is bothering me over a rude comment I’ve made to Esther, I need to confess that to the Lord and my wife.

However, there was one element of living honestly I had not considered and found to be the hardest to speak to my wife about: my insecurity.

It began as my wife and I were talking about past relationships. I started comparing myself to some of the other brothers in Christ we were discussing. I’ve jokingly said, “My selling point was never my looks; it was my character”. Yet, it was that sentiment that led me to struggling with insecurity with my looks. Being around some of those brothers in Christ, it was hard not to see how my insecurity was coming to the surface.

Even in the covenant and commitment of marriage, I found myself struggling over how I stacked myself up to these other guys. Each time, my wife could tell something was up, and I faced a moment of truth. I could either admit my insecurity or I could make light of it. The former would be good for my marriage. The latter would hinder it.

The problem of insecurity is, among other things, an issue of identity.

I not only saw this in relationships but with work. For the first year of our marriage, my wife and I both worked. In the Lord’s goodness, He provided my wife with a full-time job while I was working at a part-time job with nearly full-time hours. When the news came we were pregnant and expecting our first child, my wife shared the desire to stay at home with the baby.

I knew the responsibility God had entrusted to me to provide as the leader of my home (Genesis 2:15; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). I could not abdicate my role and excuse any passiveness with “God is sovereign and will provide” with this new season approaching. God is indeed sovereign, but rather than using that truth to neglect my responsibility, it was an encouragement to trust God’s providence in all situations and depend upon Him. God had purposefully placed my wife and me in a position where I was being called to be the provider He had called me to be.

That is when my desire as the husband to be the provider rose in my heart. That desire led to intense job searches and interviews. With each empty search or ended interview, I was discouraged by the kind of provider I was being to my wife and baby boy.

In that time of insecurity, a friend reminded me that while my biblical responsibility as husband is to be a provider, my primary identity is found in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 3:8-9), not in whether or not I am a sufficient provider by my own standards.

Identity in Him

My friend’s reminder is a good piece of advice for single and married people alike. I was surprised to be faced with my insecurities in marriage, but I shouldn’t have been. Why? Because those were the same type of insecurities I brought in from my singleness.

I remember the rejections and feeling like I was not nice-looking enough or good enough for the godly woman I was trying to pursue. I can recall the times when my heart was either high with joy or low with depression over whether or not there was a prospective relationship at hand. My problem was that my identity was focused on a relationship with a woman rather than on my relationship with the Lord. Such is idolatry and must be confessed (Exodus 20:3; 1 John 1:9).

One of the biggest struggles as a single person is to place your identity in whether or not you have a significant other. The lack of a romantic relationship includes feelings of insecurity, of not being good enough. That is why many unmarrieds see singleness as a season of survival.

When unmarrieds take counsel in God’s Word and see their insecurities do not define them, then they can see clearly that their identity is not who they have as a potential spouse, but their identity is in their Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. When singles see their identity in Christ, they can rejoice in the midst of their season of singleness because it provides them with undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).


The friend who encouraged me is an unmarried man who has taught me much about admitting insecurity and living honestly. His piece of advice is the counsel I give as a newlywed to singles: your identity is primarily in Christ, not in who you are romantically involved with.

Whether you’re single and constantly facing rejection or married and wondering if your significant other is truly committed, insecurities will come. It is important to be honest about them. Cry out to the Lord, be honest with yourself about them, and confess them to your significant other as appropriate.

Don’t expect insecurities to leave once you get married. You’ll still need to remember the truth that your identity is found in Christ.

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7 Comments on “Pursuing Your True Identity in Both Singleness and Marriage”

  1. This was great! It ministered to me in the midst of an insecure time and pointed out m own idolatry. Thank you so much for your transparency.

  2. “When singles see their identity in Christ, they can rejoice in the midst of their season of singleness because it provides them with undivided devotion to the Lord.” While over all I agree with this piece, the above statement bothered me a little. What if God hasn’t called them to a season of singleness, but to a life of it? Calling it a season may leave older singles with a feeling of failure because they haven’t gotten married or found that special someone. I think this is one area the church consistently fails in. Possibly that’s because there aren’t a lot of never been marrieds in our congregations, but we need to learn to be more sensitive to the reality that some people are just going to stay single and that’s okay.

  3. Nice Job in bringing the vertical relationship with God and our identity in Christ as the necessary focus of any successful marriage. So many times pre-marital and marital counseling make the horizontal, the couples relationship, the main topic of counsel.

  4. What a well-written article! I shared this with one of my counselees immediately as we had been discussing this subject!

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