Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride: Part 2

sunset-401541_1280Last week I shared my personal struggle with singleness. (Read it here.) Many days during that third year of dating I wanted to give into despair and call it quits. I had to depend on God each day for His grace to sustain me and keep me from being overcome with insecurity, anxiousness and frustration.  At times it was a moment by moment struggle. I had to continually guard my mind and heart to make sure all my thoughts were true, pure, just, lovely, honorable, excellent and praiseworthy. (Phil. 4:8) If one wasn’t it, I didn’t allow myself to dwell upon it and instead confessed it and renewed my thoughts onto something that was.

legs-434918__180My patience paid off. In God’s timing, I got engaged before we embarked on our friends’ engagement trip. One night during the trip, we gals sat in our room and chatted about engagements. As they admired my ring, two of us tried not to smile as another sighed wondering when it would be her turn. We could only wink at each other knowing the much desired ring would be presented the next day.  Looking back, I wish I focused more on these next points. My last year of singleness could have been less miserable and more fruitful.

Cultivate a Realistic View of Marriage.
Many women experience a period of loneliness after getting married. Such a change in lifestyle can be an emotional adjustment. It also results in less access to the girlfriends you had in your single years.  As a single, I thought marriage would be all the things I love in my friendship with my best girlfriends, plus the romance and love of a man. Nope, RUDE AWAKENING for me. Your husband cannot, nor should he be expected to, understand all of your emotions.  He is a man, therefore he thinks and acts like a man. You can imagine how that caused a little trouble. Silly me, I wanted to marry a man but expected him to think and communicate like a woman!  Chances are, you might be expecting the same thing.

friends-775356_1920If you find yourself thinking, “If only I had a husband I wouldn’t be lonely” tell your heart it’s a lie.  Some of the most lonely people walking the face of the earth are married. Marriage does not mean the absence of loneliness or sadness. Your husband will not always be able to “get you” in the way your girlfriends do. Make sure to relish and enjoy those gal pals now instead of wasting mental energy Longing for a husband. If you do get married, it’s not going to be like girl-time you have now. It will be different, but sweet in the way God intended.

Marriage becomes an idol when we start thinking (consciously or subconsciously) that a husband will be able to meet or satisfy all our needs and desires.  Only Jesus Christ can. We shouldn’t expect that from any husband, future or present (I know I did) –marriage won’t take away loneliness. Start with developing a realistic view of marriage now by not allowing yourself to think “If only…..then I wouldn’t have to deal with….” A more accurate view of marriage will helps us purge our idols and win the battle over loneliness and discontentment.

Practical Steps:
When Plan A is Not Happening, Go for Plan B.
sun-622740__180
When our first choice isn’t happening, resentment easily seeps into our hearts. However, we are in no position to harbor any resentment towards God! His grace in closing the door on men in your life is not to keep you from something good; rather it’s His hand of protection from what is not His will. His timing is perfect.

Now is the time to put off discontentment and ask: What am I passionate about? What hobbies or skills can I develop to bless others? Where can I serve the Church with my talents and interests?  Serving others utilizes our time in singleness, brings us joy, contentment, and guards us from being preoccupied with ourselves. Rather than waiting around for Mr. Right, focus on how you can glorify God with the gifts He has placed within you. Honestly, the struggle with singleness may never go away completely, but it can become less of a focus in your heart. A question to continually ask is: Am I focusing on what I don’t have or all that Jesus has done for me? Sometimes we have to translate this question into very practical steps, like listing all the things God has done for us and then be intentional about daily (or hourly) thanking Him for them.

bridge.to.unknownEach Christian woman has a distinct purpose in the Kingdom of God – this does not change based on your marital status. You are first and foremost a woman, then you are single, not a single woman. This is a distinct difference before the Lord.  Your unique femininity is needed by the Church and to be on display before a dark world that desperately needs Jesus. Within this context of biblical femininity, God has a specific purpose for you that involves skills He has equipped you to use today.  Pursuing ‘Plan B’ when marriage is not happening gives your heart a sense of purpose. You have an identity outside of “still single” that is larger than your dating status. As you pursue God’s leading toward specific passions in your life, you could bump into a man who is heading in the same direction. However, you have got to be moving!

Please Comment: What ideas have helped you cultivate contentment in your life? How do these points change your view of singleness, of marriage?

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3 thoughts on “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride: Part 2

  1. I know this might seem like an odd question, but I think that emotional loneliness (not having people understand what you’re feeling, treat you with kindness, or comfort you in the way you need) and physical loneliness (not having people immediately with you) are common feelings with or without a man and with or without girlfriends. I think your point about managing expectations and balancing the burden placed on a husband’s shoulders of having to comfort and understand and meet needs, ect. with finding support among other girl friends and with God is really important. How do you, in times of feeling isolated or lonely, find comfort in the Lord? When I think of emotional support, I think immediately of friends who care. But sometimes the closest of friends aren’t even available because of schedule or distance or their own difficulties. And sometimes in really hard times, people get tired of trying to encourage or comfort because it can seem like there’s just always a problem or it’s exhausting because the problem isn’t going away quickly. In every instance, we should run to God. In those instances, we HAVE to run to God. But how does God comfort us emotionally?

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    1. This is a great question that does not have an easy answer. Emotions tend to complicate and cloud our perspective. We can forget that emotions are part of being human but they are also fallen. Our culture puts too much emphasis on them. There is a balance that we need to keep in mind when we deal with our emotions. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how we feel about something. God is more interested in how we respond to our situations and circumstances than how we feel about them. And yet, God gave us emotions so they do play a role in our life. The can affect us positively and give us energy and also the opposite is true. I find comfort in God “emotionally” when I run to Him in worship and more specifically pouring out my heart to Him in singing and praying through Scripture or spiritual words of inspiration. When I am struggling with a particular issue that has got me beat, I get in my prayer closet and commit to spending time just adoring in Him in prayer and song. I always emerge refreshed and renewed. Our part is in drawing near to Him…and He promises He will draw near to us. James 4:8a. Hope that helps. 🙂

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