The Single Space
It’s been a little over two years since I gave my life to Jesus. Aaron Cavin said once, “when you give your life away, you don’t get to decide what God does with it”. . . It has been an incredible two years. Jesus brought me to the other side of the world, on my first mission trip to Myanmar. I’ve opened up my home and shared it with 5 amazing roommates, women in all different stages of their lives. God has done great work in my life, transforming my relationships, and changing my behaviors. But, there is one area that I have continued to struggle with. . .
I do not want to be single.
I want to be married. I want to meet my Prince Charming. I want to live happily ever after. And over the last year, I have wrestled with God in my heart in this area of my life. I wrestled a little with writing this post. I do not want a singles ministry. I do not want to be a spokesperson for single people. No, thank you, Lord. I am in my 30’s. I’m supposed to be married with at least one kid on my hip by now. . . That was my plan.
“God will give you the gift of singleness to secure an undistracted devotion to the Lord” 1 Corinthians 7:35.
There have been times, when my heart has been so violently resistant to the idea of being single, that I could physically feel it. Oh please do not categorize me as “single”. Again. I’m just “not-yet-married”. I am “actively dating”. I am “currently searching for a mate”. Searching online, searching in church, searching on the T. This was my idol. I protected it. I worshipped it. I wrestled with God over it. . . And this is how He is working me through:
Last year, our church reconfigured life groups, based on physical proximity. Which one did I land in? The Hough’s Neck Group, of course. The life group where small children grossly outnumber adults, and married couples abound. At one point, I was the sole single person in the entire group. I deeply love my community, and I love every one of those kids. But there was a part of me that was resentful. Seriously, God? How am I going to meet anyone when I’m in a life group with all married people?. We were just starting to grow together as a missional family, God was teaching us how to love one another, and there were times I was really lonely. I wanted to withdraw and turn away. . . Then there were the engagements. First a good friend. A surprise 30th birthday, turned out to be a surprise engagement party. My heart tightened with jealousy (because I am sinful and selfish). A few months later, one of my roommates got engaged, in my house. As I watched her love story unfold, from my front row seat, my heart asked God, Why not me?, When is it my turn?. I fought bitterness (because I am sinful and selfish). I love my friend, and I wanted to be happy, but my heart was fixed on my idol and it was painful. . . Also this year, God allowed me to experience a brief relationship. A valuable learning opportunity, my first “Christian” relationship. I convinced myself that this was finally the blessing that I deserved. I ignored red flags, and my gut telling me it didn’t feel right. I convinced myself this was it! I won’t be single anymore. And when it ended after a few short months, I choked on the disappointment. I was angry at God. My heart was totally misplaced. My idol had let me down again.
Always faithful, my God never left my side. He stayed right with me the whole time, refining me, comforting me, and leading me. In early summer, I felt God prompt me to a start weekly fast. I fasted one day a week, until September. I gave up solid food and turned to God to fill me up, seeking Him by reading scripture and through prayer. Initially, I thought it would be a fast to be in prayer for my future husband, to lift him up, to prepare his heart and mine. And partly it was that. But truly, this is when God was able to start working on me. This is when He really started to change my heart, and He showed me a few things I wanted to share, to encourage those that may be in a similar place:
• God is Great (so I don’t need to be in control).
I wrestled with God, because I didn’t really believe the gospel in this area of my life. I was fighting God for control. I want to be in a relationship now. God, make it happen. Please! I did not trust Him, that He is in control of my life, and that He knows what’s best for me. . . What God told me was this: I SEE YOU. I haven’t forgotten about you. I hear you. I hear your prayers. I am your Father, I love you. . . God has my phone number. If He wanted me to be married right now, I would be. Right now though, that’s not what’s best for me. He’s teaching me to trust Him, and I need to submit to Him (Proverbs 3:4-7). He won’t withhold any good thing from me (Psalm 84:11), so I can loosen my grip, let it go, and rest in the freedom that comes from letting Him have control. He’s got this. It’s written. I can rest. Thank you, Lord.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16
• Jesus is the Best Example.
Jesus was single his whole life and ministry. He lived with 12 guys. I’m sure that got old after a while! Jesus isn’t asking me to do anything He hasn’t already done himself. He knows exactly what I’m going through. He knows what it is like to be lonely, to be disappointed by His friends, to be rejected by His community. Thousands of people abandoned him. Realizing this, my love and appreciation for Him grew even more. When I’m struggling with being single, I can come to Him with my grief and pain, and He can empathize with me. He’s been there!
Wait on the Lord.
God is working on my patience during this time. I really hate to wait. . . “Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord”. Psalm 27:14. . . God wants me to learn what it means to wait on Him. He’s not always going to give me everything I want, especially when the things I want are not good for me. But, that doesn’t mean I have to sit at home, by myself, waiting to the phone to ring. I am actively waiting on the Lord. I will wait believing in His goodness. I will wait with strength and courage. I will wait, excited, anticipating all good things. I will wait, praising Him in the hallway. I will wait, and pursue ministry for His glory. I will wait, and go on adventures. I will wait, and serve. I will wait, and grow my relationship with the Lord and others.
• God Gives us Community.
God created us for relationship. Relationship with Him, and with others. That’s how we grow and get our needs met. Being single can be lonely, but if I let myself dwell there, it can quickly lead to isolation, depression, and sin. Instead, I pressed in to my community, and I told them how I was feeling. And it was there that God gave me freedom. No one could read my mind. But when I opened up and was vulnerable, that’s when they shared the gospel with me, they shared Christ’s love and grace (2 Corinthians 12:9). I also began to realize that biblical community can meet my needs, and it’s where God is sharpening me. In my life group, I have the opportunity to spend time with married people, and their kids. I see what gospel-centered marriages look like, how a godly husband and wife act towards each other, and how they parent their children. What an awesome opportunity to prepare me for what God may have later on for me. Thank you, Lord. There are people that pray for me in my community. People that are generous with their time and talents to help me fix my laundry room floor. There are people that I can have coffee with. The truth is, I am not alone, unless I chose to be.
There are still times where my heart struggles to believe. But, Jesus has gracefully led me to a place where I can embrace this season of singleness, with all the gifts He has to offer. And I haven’t given up on being married some day, but I want it to be in a way, at a time, and to a man, that gives all the glory to God.