I want to tell more than just my stories on this blog; I want to get stories from other people – men, women, dating, single, living at home, living not at home, etc. So I recruited some guest bloggers. I’m excited to share Anne’s story with you today.
She came up and put her arm around my shoulders: “That’s so annoying when they do that isn’t it?”
“What?” I asked.
“Try to set you up with someone. I mean, you’re 30 and not dating, it’s pretty obvious you don’t ever want to get married.”
I was shocked! How could she assume just because I don’t have a boyfriend or start drooling when someone mentions they know a single male that I don’t want to get married? Sadly, prolonged singleness is becoming more common. As I age and wait for God to bring a man into my life…and struggle to understand His “no,” I’ve learned four lessons to not simply surviving, but thriving in the “wilderness” of singleness.
1. You are NOT living God’s plan-B!
The fact that you are still single is no surprise to God…neither does it mean He’s unloving. He has determined what life circumstances are best for your soul…and He’s actively working that for your benefit. 1 Peter 1:3, and Psalm 84:11 say God gives us everything necessary for life and godliness…and that He withholds no good thing from His children. So regardless of how you FEEL, God has determined that your current relationship status is good for your soul.
I’m not talking about a hopeless cosmic determinism. Not at all. I’m talking about seeing the beauty of God’s sovereignty. When we understand His sovereignty, we can find joy in our present circumstances.
As God’s child, He loves you and only seeks your best. Look no further than the cross for evidence. If He loves you such that He poured all of His wrath, for all of your sin, on His beloved Son in order to save you from your bondage to sin and self, how can His keeping you single be UNLOVING?
2. Don’t assume your single status is because of something wrong with you.
I used to think I was never pursued by men because of my weight, but then I’d see Godly overweight girls pursued and married…and think, “Why them and not me? Maybe if I were more Godly and unselfish…then a man would find me attractive and pursue me.” This thinking sucked me into a spiral of despair and works-based “holiness” wondering why no guys pursued when I was “doing everything right.” (When you step back and examine my logic…I was trying to earn a husband through holiness—sounds pretty silly now, but that’s what I was doing.)
If you think you are still single and/or never pursued because of:
• Your weight
• Your looks
• Your “lack” of spiritual maturity
• Your personality
Then you are falling into the trap of placing your value in what others think of you.
When you understand your identity in Christ, and can accept HIS value of you, then your view of the world, others, and your situation changes. Because you know you are of value to Christ, you can face the “rejection” of not having men pursue you. You can walk through the botched setup (that HE/SHE backed out of last-minute) with grace because you know your value has not diminished even though the guy/gal didn’t give you a chance. You can experience the hurt of having family and friends match-make your sibling(s)…but never glance sideways at you. You can even face the injustice of someone at church telling you that it’s “OBVIOUS” you don’t ever want to get married.” You can suffer all this without devastation because your worth is rooted in who CHRIST says you are. Remember, He sacrificed His own Son for you—you are precious to Him.
3. Understand the true definition of Contentment
Ever heard well-meaning older singles (after they get married) say: “When I learned to be content with my singleness, that’s when [John Doe] came along…”? That implies contentment = “Stop wanting to get married, then God will drop the right guy in your lap.”
That “formula” is WRONG. Contentment in singleness does NOT mean you are resigned to a life of singleness…or that the desire for marriage is diminished or removed. Contentment can be had IN THE MIDST of the desire—even a very strong desire.
Contentment is choosing to believe that your current state is God’s BEST for you. (Psalm 16:6 “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places, indeed I have a beautiful inheritance”)
The key isn’t striving for contentment itself as a thing to be attained, but striving for Christ Himself. Striving for contentment takes our eyes off the goal. My priorities are misplaced when I seek to “walk in Him” without seeking HIM! I love the way Lydia Brownback states it in her book “Fine China is for Single Women Too”:
Contentment goes hand-in-hand with the Christ-centered life…If you actively pursue a Christ-centered focus in all you are and do, you will find your mind and heart being transformed to desire Him above anything else…As your heart for Christ grows stronger, your contentment will deepen because you will be receiving the desire of your heart. King David wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
When you seek Christ and draw close to Him, and offer up your desires for marriage with an open hand, asking that He would fulfill the yearning of your heart, He will take that desire, and mold and fashion it to become something beautiful. He will place desires in your heart for things He desires, and you will become a reflection of Him to those around you.
4. Cultivate Gratitude
Hand-in-hand with understanding contentment is cultivating gratitude. In the Old Testament, Israel was constantly told to “erect pillars of remembrance.” Gratitude is erecting a pillar—of sorts. It comes from remembering all God has bestowed on us and acknowledging it comes from Him. I have been blessed with so many things: savings that keep me afloat while I search for a job; a home of my own (albeit a small condo…but still…); a church that teaches truth; a family that is (mostly) close by…etc. Thanking God for what He HAS given, puts the proper perspective around things He has not given. Furthermore, gratitude to God cultivates a peaceful and joyful heart. “Return to your rest, oh my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with thee.” (Ps 116:7)
Singleness—especially when prolonged—often feels like a parched and barren wilderness, but remember that God created the wilderness; therefore, it is good because HE is good. There is abundance to be had in the wilderness; you just have to know where to look.
– What aspects of singleness are you struggling with the most right now?
– What aspect of God’s character most delights and comforts you?
– Do you agree with the definition of contentment?
– How will you erect pillars of remembrance and gratitude in your current season of life?
Anne is a follower of Christ and lover of life and all things crafty. She graduated in May 2010 with a B.A. in Linguistics. She is joyfully pursuing Christ in the path He has established for her. She does not know what her future holds, but she knows the One who holds her future.