Single, professional, female … And under pressure to find someone

by Wong Siqi // November 7, 2018, 3:35 pm


I sat down with Charissa Cho, who has previously held HR positions at Ernst and Young and Singapore Tourism Board, to talk about what it’s like being single at 30.

Right off the bat, Charissa said she had always wanted to get married, but past relationships didn’t work the way she thought they would. She gave me an example: “There was one specific guy where we went for three dates within a month and then it was just radio silence.

“My best friend would tell me things like, ‘He’s just an idiot. Don’t waste your time and energy on him’. But in my heart, I always thought that there must be something wrong with me, what else would explain this trend across my entire life where people drop me off like that?”

I could hear the hurt behind Charissa’s voice. I think it’s natural to want to blame yourself, especially when you are the common factor in the equations. Charissa said that not being chosen ate at her identity for a long time, but she eventually realised that she had actually been waiting for a guy to complete her – and that was a mistaken view of how relationships work.

“I cannot constantly be on a lookout for my potential partner, you know? It’s draining and I’m not able to accomplish anything – I’ll forever be in this ‘half-empty’ position.

“Anyway, if I cannot find that fulfilment in God, I will not be able to find it even when I’m married!”

Charissa told me that in one of her life’s lowest moments, God showed her He had given her opportunities to serve Him in ways that would have been impossible were she attached.

Charissa’s mission work in Cambodia is one example. She has been an active missionary to Cambodia’s rural areas and has had the opportunity to witness the growth of the church firsthand.

“I’m really learning how to count my blessings. Being at the precipice of a revival about to break out in Cambodia? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

In Cambodia, Charissa was learning what 1 Corinthians 7 really meant, where Paul described singlehood as better than marriage – a notion she didn’t agree with previously.

“If God says that singlehood is the most effective and best place for me, then I will obey Him – even when I don’t fully understand. Is it difficult? Yes, because marriage is still on my heart and I desire to have my own family.

“But I have also learnt that God is never late. And He really knows what’s best for me. So that’s where I am right now.”

Charissa explained that while she’s trusting in God, there are still times when friends and family inadvertently make her journey a little difficult to walk.

Charissa shared that those around her are well-meaning in trying to find her a partner, but small things like emphasising the relationship status of an acquaintance she just met can be pressuring: “What if the guy in front of me thinks I’m some desperate person and that my entire mission in life is to get married? I have an entire clan trying to set me up!”

Charissa was smiling but there was tension behind her words. “When relatives and friends try to matchmake me to any breathing human who isn’t married or attached, I have to remind myself that I am loved by God and that this is the season I am in – singlehood is right where God wants me to be!”

God is never late. And He really knows what’s best for me.

When asked whether she thought singles in the church are being equipped to face singlehood well, Charissa’s answer was a straight no.

“The church doesn’t celebrate singleness. For example, it’s common for churches to release a blessing and pray for all the singles to get married. And even when there are young adults events, it’s always revolved around some matchmaking thing.”

Charissa said the church has good intentions, but the underlying message it may send to the congregation is that it’s better to be married than to be single. According to Charissa, there isn’t enough conversation in the church that also celebrates singlehood – singles need affirmation too!

Instead of always praying that singles would find someone soon, Charissa said that unmarried believers also need affirmation and acceptance from the church about their life stage.

“Growing up, I remember single Christians, especially ladies, who talked about their singlehood and how God is using them … but then they would always look very sad.

Charissa said such testimonies seemed to lack excitement and a real internalisation of 1 Corinthians 7: “A lot of these testimonies have to come from people who, like myself, are still walking the journey.

“Like, I’ll tell you every opportunity I get, that you are amazing the way you are and if God brings someone along then great.

“But if He doesn’t that’s great also.”

Charissa said she is thankful to be walking through singlehood, because now when she ministers to people facing the same issue, they know she isn’t just speaking holy fluff: “From the way I live my life, to the conscious choices that I make – I can encourage them and God can use me to show them that life can be equally exciting!”

Instead of always praying that singles would find someone soon, Charissa said that unmarried believers also need affirmation and acceptance from the church about their life stage.

Charissa shared a few things she learnt in her journey with singlehood. First, she emphasised the importance of vulnerability.

Charissa once felt struggling with singlehood was trivial as compared to real problems like millions dying from starvation.

“But God has been reminding me that I need to share so that my friends can help carry the burden with me. My best friend has been making an effort to remind me of who I am, and sometimes in the midst of that subtle struggle, when you read a word of encouragement, it just snaps you back to reality that I’ve got people who believe in me and see me the way God sees me,” she said.

Of course, Charissa also had to receive the affirmation. In the past, she would just brush it off as just nice words. But when she really took the words to heart, God used them to bring life and hope to her.

And finally, in the face of frustration, Charissa shared that worship is the solution.

“A lot of the times when I start to sink, it always stems from feeling inferior. I have to intentionally remove myself from that position and just start worshipping.

“There have been times when I’m half an hour into worshipping, still feeling like the worst human being on earth. But I remember the Bible’s call to unconditional praise and thanksgiving, and do just that – then the whole atmosphere lifts immediately.

Charissa found it beneficial to take time to just sit with God and ask Him why He made her life in such a way, for such a season: “It really solidified my understanding and conviction that I really am in the best place I can be for this season. It was a great investment because it completely shifted the way I saw my life.”

She concluded: “No one else is able to give you that kind of revelation except God. So take time out to ask Him why you’re in this season, and everything else will fall into place.”

About the author

Wong Siqi

Siqi often loses her footwear in the office. She is also known for her loud sneezes, huge appetite, and weird sound effects. Happens to be a writer too.