I recently got married to the love of my life, and I did it just a week shy of my 35th birthday. I adore my husband (as I write this I am flying home from a week-long ministry trip simply giddy that in a few hours I will get to hear his voice and kiss his face), and he was 100% worth the slightly longer-than-expected-wait!
And even though I am wholeheartedly in love with my husband, before I met Ben I liked being single. As a single woman, I travelled to far off places and saw a lot of the world. I took risks, even the ones that scared me. I worked hard and pushed myself to grow both personally and professionally. I built lasting and loving friendships. I made once in a lifetime memories. And yes, I also made mistakes, but I managed to learn the right lessons from them. Most importantly, I fell madly in love with my Savior and ran full steam ahead towards the plans God had for me. And when my heart got a bit bruised, and even broken along the way, I pushed passed my own pride to receive the healing and hope Jesus had for me.
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t always a walk in the park. There were the disappointing moments when blossoming relationships turned out to be dead ends. There were the frustrating moments when it seemed like everyone in the world was getting engaged and I was still going home at the end of the day to a lonely apartment. There were discouraging moments when my longing for companionship seemed to be battling against my sense of contentment. There were the depressing moments when I would do the math and realize it had been a very long time since I had been asked out on a date by anyone that I would be remotely interested in. I had my fair share of moments, and thankfully I had the comfort of the Holy Spirit and wisdom of trusted friends to keep those moments from sticking around long enough to rob me of my peace and joy.
To my single-and-ready-to-mingle-friends reading this, I’m not sure what your current relationship is with your relationship status. It may be strong and thriving, or boring and passionless, or rocky and turbulent, or even the dreaded “it’s complicated”. Whatever your current romantic reality may be, I hope you don’t let anyone or anything rob you of your peace and joy. You are extraordinary and so is your life. It deserves to be lived and marked by God’s goodness and faithfulness.
So today, dear reader, this one goes out to all my single ladies… I write, not as a relationship expert or a love guru or a matchmaker but simply as a friend– a friend who has felt many of the things you are feeling. I write as a friend who not only understands but who has a little bit of wisdom to offer- wisdom learned over the many years of checking the single box. My prayer is that my encouragement and advice would open your heart to new possibilities while you are currently waiting for Mr. Right:
- WRESTLE FOR YOUR PROMISE.
About 3 years ago, long before Ben, I was in a serious relationship headed to marriage. We had dated for close to 2 years, had gone to premarital classes together at church, had talked about wedding dates, and he was saving up for an engagement ring. Then to my surprise, and most people close to us, he abruptly ended the relationship. Hindsight is a beautiful gift, and I look back on that period in my life thankful that he had the courage to admit he didn’t want to marry me. I can see now that God had something so much better in mind for both of us. But I will admit, it was heart-breaking and humiliating when it happened. My heart was preparing for marriage, and it felt like this desire that had been awakened by the relationship had suddenly been stolen from me.
Soon after though, something extraordinary took place: I began to get very honest with God. I stopped trying to bottle up my frustration, disappointment and confusion. Instead, I got real and raw in prayer. I prayed: “Why did this happen? Am I ever going to get married? Or am I going to stay single the rest of my life? I need to know!”
I began asking real questions and expecting divine answers- in short, I began wrestling with God. In Genesis 32, an Old Testament hero Jacob finds himself in a very tight and precarious spot in his life. And Jesus in His graciousness, appears before Jacob:
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a [b]Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. 26 Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” 27 So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but [c]Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.” But He said, “Why is it that you ask My name?” And He declared a blessing [of the covenant promises] on Jacob there. 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel (the face of God), saying, “For I have seen God face to face, yet my life has not been snatched away.”
-Genesis 32:24-30 AMP
Jacob got to a place in his life where he knew he could not move forward without a blessing from God. Jacob was willing to wrestle for it.
And if you find yourself currently disappointed by your singleness or doubtful about your future, maybe what you need is a good wrestle with your Savior. Go ahead and pray honestly and openly, and wait for God to speak- to give you a new name, a future promise, and clear vision of what to hope for.
In the middle of my wrestling a few years ago, I got my blessing. Jesus showed me that His promises had not changed for my life just because of my circumstances, and that in His timing He would reward the desires of my heart.
Wrestle for your promise, and once you get it, build your faith on it. Let Jesus’ words to you in the wait become the assurance you need to gain hope, peace and joy.
- YOU’LL FIND IT IN JESUS.
Only Jesus can bring the human soul the love, joy, hope, peace, and strength that we all search for. Only Jesus can fully satisfy the heart.
If you look to another person to do in your life what only Jesus can do, you will always have a sense that “something is missing”. No relationship can fill the void that your Creator can. We can certainly try to find it in the attention of a good-looking guy or the company of another or the physical intimacy of a hook-up or a booty call or a one-night stand, but after the initial thrill, it will only leave us with disappointment and shame.
I’m grateful for the love and intimacy I have with my husband. It’s sacred and special, and something that is ours and no one else’s. But as a woman who has been single while desiring the love and intimacy of a husband, and who is now a married woman receiving that love and intimacy, I can tell you that nothing replaces the love of Jesus and the intimacy of the Holy Spirit. My husband will never be able to provide me with what my God can, because He wasn’t designed to. No one is. Friend, there is so much of the love of God for you to explore and experience, and I pray that you make it your pursuit to discover more and more the affection God has for you. I pray you discover in this season of your life and in every season of your life, that your relationship with God will satisfy the longings of your heart more than any other relationship ever will.
- MAKE GOOD CHOICES.
The choices we make matter. They are the seeds we sow for our future. So, friend, choose wisely what you focus on. If you find yourself discouraged about being single, then word to the wise: don’t go home and watch The Notebook while eating Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream for dinner. Don’t listen to Michael Bublé, spooning your pillow wishing it were a real, live man. None of these choices (and they are choices) are sowing seeds that will reap contentment… All they will do is plant seeds of discouragement and disappointment that will sabotage the joy and excitement you were meant to have in this season!
Choose to be around people who are maximizing the season they are in! Get around people who are passionate about Jesus and enjoying life! Avoid friendship circles that are simply support groups for discontented singles.
And while you are at it, get dating advice from people who have marriages you respect. You want to hear from people who not only care about you, but who can dish out needed advice from a place of practice and not just theory.
- DON’T SETTLE.
Read this very carefully, and then read it again, and then read it again out loud: You don’t have to forfeit the call of God on your life to marry someone. You don’t have to compromise your relationship with God for a dating relationship. And you don’t have to even entertain the thought of dating someone who doesn’t have a faith that inspires you.
Go ahead and have standards, girl! Date the kind of person who rolls up their sleeves and contributes to making their community, their church, their world a better place. Don’t date the guy who yells at the waiter or talks bad about people when they aren’t around or who always has an excuse as to why he couldn’t fulfill a commitment. Date the kind of man who serves, who considers others, who gets stuff done, who protects those around him, who treats you with kindness and purity. These men exist. They are not mythical creatures out of some fairy tale. And if you keep pursuing Jesus and the plans He has for you with your whole heart, a person of love and character and strength will take note of you. And listen, they won’t be intimidated by your passions or convictions, they’ll love you for them.
- LIVE YOUR LIFE.
Your life isn’t on PAUSE… it’s happening right now. Jesus proclaimed in John 10:10, “I have come to give you life and life to the full…” ..And Jesus didn’t say life would begin when you have a boyfriend or a husband or a home with a picket white fence and 2.5 kids!
This is your one and only life, and friend, you have a Heavenly obligation to live it!
Everyone’s story of romance is different. Whatever your story is- own it. Make the most of it. Hustle hard for the things that matter. Travel often. Take risks. Go on the blind date, even if it is a train wreck. Make memories. Laugh a lot. Serve others. Solve problems. Shape culture for the better. Stand up for justice.
These days you’ve been given are precious; don’t you dare squander them. And know this- you don’t need a man to make a difference or to leave your mark on the world. So, what are you waiting for, friend? The world needs you fully alive…