thoughts on singleness
I started writing and I rolled my eyes. Another single, Christian girl writing on singleness. in a coffee shop. typical. Yet, we all like to click those links, don’t we? If you came up to me one day to ask me how life was, how it really was, this is what i’d say: Life is full, busy. Jesus is still teaching me about my heart and my need for Him. Jesus is still teaching me a lot through singleness, and quite frankly, I didn’t think it would take this long to still be learning from it (hello, pride!).
disclaimer: this post is coming to you from a recently-turned-eighteen year old homeschooler currently immersed in nearly 30 hours of work a week, with one foot in high school, and the other in college. it’s also coming to you from the chick who’s never been in a relationship, never been kissed, never held hands with a boy, never had someone seem remotely interested in pursuing me. (i’ve had the occasional person look at me twice, ask my age, and perhaps initiate a conversation further than “how are you?”, but the only boy who ever seemed to “like” me back was one who couldn’t even look me in the eye.)
A kind, sweet lady I met up with asked me if I ever struggled with loneliness as a single person. I squirmed a little in my seat, nervously laughed/sighed “Ahh yes,” My heart ached. Who hasn’t? “but it’s okay. completely okay”. These past four/whatever years have been rough on my heart. aches, sorrows, and unanswered questions…and yet in the midst of that, I found the tender and faithful kindness of The Lord extravagantly woven in and as evident as ever. I’m seeing how the Lord is absolutely gentle and gracious in all of his dealings with me.
For so long, I whole-heartedly believed that what I needed was marriage. I was sure that marriage would be the thing to sanctify me, grow me, and satisfy me. And so often I would forget that Christ is indeed, “the deep, sweet well of Love”. My heart is so fickle. I started to try and find my worth and base my happiness on the hope and expectation of a some-day husband. Although I would never say that I deserved a husband, or that it was my right to become a wife, my heart would daily declare otherwise.
I frequently found myself questioning and doubting The Lord’s timing, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His sovereignty. Oh yes, with my head, I knew the perfection of His timing, the sweetness of His goodness, the richness of His faithfulness, and knew I could rest in His sovereignty, but sometimes, I think it takes a while bit longer for your heart to catch up to your head; it takes sometimes a bit longer to taste the truth. I found myself questioning His doing and His purpose. I forgot that I was the clay and that He was the potter (Is 45:9).
I often wondered if (and concluded that) I would remain single in 10 years. Anxiety described my days. I saw myself wishing life away, refusing to savor the present and the daily gifts of mercy in front of me, yearning and hoping for what was to come. I regularly lacked trust and patience and joy, wondering what I did to repel boys away, and what I was doing wrong- how that girl could get a boyfriend, and I couldn't? Was I simply not pretty enough or too quiet? Too obnoxious or not fun enough, perhaps? I tried manipulating situations, strategically trying to position myself in the best corner to talk to someone I was interested in, or staying a little longer with hopes one might talk to me. I’ve even asked others if they thought one might return some sort of affection. But that’s not what the Bible says. Jesus commands us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Matt 16:24), not cling to the fleeting joys and mundane things of this world, but to the cross, to Him. He commands to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). To not be anxious about tomorrow (Mat 6:25-34). To be rooted and grounded, loving others deeply, and sincerely (Eph 3:17, 1 Pet 1:22). To trust and to be glad for today (Ps 118: 24, Ps 62:8). To, in all things, give thanks (1 Thess 5:18) because He is sufficient and He is good. (Ps 145:9, 2 Cor 12:9) My desire for something good and God-given grew more than the desire for the King Himself. I clung and treasured the thought more than the One who saved my soul. I failed to count everything and all things as a joy and failed to ask for wisdom and grace in this area (Jas 1: 5-8). Wretched, wretched heart! And yet “He gives more grace”? (Jas 4:6)
I searched for fulfillment, and happiness, and yearned to feel wanted. My heart had to change. Surrender, and gratitude was the call. I dare not forget the advice married ladies would share with me (almost always word-for-word the same): “You have so much TIME, so much opportunity in front of you: to serve the church and those around you, to grow spiritually, to do all sorts of crazy things. Singleness is AWESOME! Just TRUST God and WAIT.” Although those words were said with much love and sincerity, sometimes it felt like a slap in the face? “But you’re alreaaaaady married!” were my thoughts.
But God saw it fit to slowly chip away at my heart, inclining it to seek those opportunities, to invest time in loving others and serving the church. Humility. My heart needed time to see how his “severe mercies”, as Elisabeth Elliot puts it, are indeed mercies all the same…to understand how his refusals are absolutely kind, right, and just; how I am where I am meant to be. To surrender my desires, my longings, and be broken. From my knees, cry out, “Lord, yet not as I will, but as You will”. To see that, yes, what is certain is this: that He is very very good, far sweeter than all the rest. Far sweeter than the fleeting, earthy joys (Ps 34:8).
I became even more aware of the sovereignty of God (Ps 115:3, Prv 16:9, Prv 19:21)…that I am not single because I refuse to follow the trends of the Christian, homeschooled community, or that my standards are too high, or that I’m not serving enough, or that I’m too quirky, or that perhaps I’m not pretty enough…I am not single because I’m just not content/trusting enough or because I’m not doing XYZ or perhaps because I am doing XYZ. I’m not single because I’m doing something right or wrong. I am single because it has been sovereignly ordained before the beginning of time by God Himself that this shall be my current state, right now. I am single because “with mercy and with judgment, my web of time He wove”. and therefore, I must rejoice in thanksgiving and praise. And yet, I dare question and doubt Him, wondering and fretting about the mundane in comparison to eternity. i forget that if cares for the sparrows and the lilies and can number the stars and remember how many hairs are on my head, surely He cares for my heart and soul all the more (Mat 6:25-34, Lk 12:7)? This good, God-given desire for love had become twisted. twisted into an idol.
I think, how often words of comfort are similar to, “I know God is just preparing you for that guy,” or “God will give you a husband once you really give your heart to Him” or if-then statements as if God needs me to do something, then in return I will get my heart’s desire for marriage. While there are hearts of kindness and aspects of truth in those words, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because, never does the Lord promise to give me all that I ask for. The Lord never guarantees me a husband. He may just have given me this desire with the intent of leaving it unfulfilled. And He would absolutely right, kind, and just in doing so because “aye, the dews of sorrow are lustered with His love”. Girls need not words of sympathy and comfort and empty promises, but words of truth and encouragement. We need words pointing out the deficiencies of our love for the Gospel and the hope we claim to believe yet fail to embrace. We need others’ pointing out our need for absolute satisfaction in the Gospel, in Christ, no matter the state because Christ is worthy of our trust. Allowing the motivations and hopes of the one-day husband shape the way we live life is dangerous. This is not to negate that sometimes the Lord, out of his kindness and grace, grants desires, but sometimes, He doesn’t. The Lord answers “yes”, “not now”, or “no”, and we should not try to answer for Him.
I find striking, how easy it is to presume that I indeed deserve a husband after shabby attempts to justify it with all my worldly accomplishments or with how “spiritual” I supposedly am. I find it easy to fall to the assumption that someone is being prepared just for me…that he’s “out there”, and I deserve Him. This is far from the truth. I deserve judgment, as a result of my hell-bound race. I don’t deserve yesterday, today, or even tomorrow. I don’t deserve forgiveness or grace or mercy, and yet, Jesus extended that to me through His death on the cross. He saved my soul. He saved my soul. And still, I fail to remember that He is enough. I fail to remember that all things work out according to his purpose, for my good (Rm 8:28). Contentment doesn’t come overnight; despite my wishing it would. But with a lack of contentment in this season, how would there be contentment in the next?
So, here i am, in a coffee shop, still very, very single, following the stereotype of the Christian girl in a coffee shop who blogs (I don't even like coffee). I’m still learning much. I’m learning contentment and comfort in Christ’s being, and to give thanks in this season, realizing that He alone will satisfy my longings. I’m learning much about humility and my great need for Him. I’m seeing fuller how it is no mistake that I am where I am meant to be in the midst of this uncertainty and flood of questions, because of His sovereignty over every detail of my life. I see how Jesus is undeniably using my current state for my good, and His glory, according to His own good pleasure, to bring me closer to Himself. And, although some nights my heart sighs, I’m finding richness and the joy, too, because His faithfulness abounds. I’m certain of His dealings with His children being always tender and gracious and kind. I’m certain that He who began the good work will carry it onto completion (Phil 1:6). The Lord in His mercy, forgave us of much. Should that not that be enough?