Now in my mid 40s, I’ve been single longer than I ever expected. And I do not by any means have the “gift of singleness” that so many have politely attributed to me. Hearing that always cracks me up and makes me wonder where I can return that kind of gift.
I have the desire to be married, and through the years, I’ve struggled with it -- fought it, cried about it, prayed about it and been vocally angry with God about it. I was engaged once and close to being engaged twice. When those relationships ended, I was devastated.
But as time has passed, I see the grace of God protecting me from what would have been truly bad situations had any of those relationships led to marriage. Through these years, I’ve found peace in my singleness, while still desiring to be married, and I’d like to share with you how I came to this point.
“But everyone is getting married,” you say. It often feels that way, I agree. But as the years have passed, I’ve watched many of them get divorced as well. And then some even remarried and divorced again. The grass isn’t greener over there. The truth is: we need to find contentment right where we are. Embrace this time while you have it. Being single gives you the time and energy to focus on the abilities God has given you. The more you reach out, giving to others while leaning on God for your support and love, the stronger you will become. I’ve learned there is contentment and joy found in this.
“This is painful. It feels like suffering.” I think this is just outright true. It’s painful at times, and it is definitely a suffering of sorts. I believe God made Adam, and then Eve, because He knew Adam and Eve needed one another. That unity in marriage was designed by God for us, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Things have changed dramatically since the Garden of Eden. Sin didn’t do us any favors, and now that we live in this time when women are working side by side with men, waiting to get married and waiting even longer to have children, the dynamics of our society are changing dramatically. And all this can lead to feelings of loneliness and suffering.
“So how do we get out of this suffering?” Well, stay with me here… I don’t think we do. And this is the hard part. The only way I’ve found through this is just that: you gotta go straight through it and actually sit in the middle of it, quietly trusting Him. Personally, I’ve fought it, tried to work around it, become angry and bitter and more.
Finally, I stopped and realized this fight to change my course wasn’t working. I couldn’t be praying for God to direct my path and then fighting Him on the direction He was choosing. It seemed kind of comical, actually, when I finally got to that point, because I realized the futility of that disconnect -- praying for His guidance and then living for my own.
Once I truly became quiet in my heart and told Him, “God, I don’t like this. You know that. But I know Your way for me is the only way I want. I don’t know what’s best for me. Only You do, and I trust You with my life. I don’t like being single, but I can do this because obviously, this is where You want me right now. This is painful, and it hurts. But I know that, if this is my suffering in life for right now… I accept it. In fact, I can’t complain; I know I am so very blessed.”
I said that prayer while sitting in church by myself one Sunday morning, and just as I finished, I opened my eyes to see a girl about my age walk in by herself, carrying a chemo bag over her shoulder that was attached to her body. She introduced herself and sat next to me. And there we sat: me with my burden of singleness and her with her burden of cancer. My stars... there isn’t much I can say. I just sat there and heard loud and clear the lesson God was teaching me. And I looked down, smiling humbly in my heart, and told God, “Yep, I hear You, and I totally get it. Thank You for Your many blessings Lord. I trust and rest completely in You.”