Last 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.
My 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.
If 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.
When Plan A is Not Happening, Go for Plan B.
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.
Each 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?