I honestly don’t know how many articles, books, videos, sermons, talks, and coffee-in-hand discussions I’ve consumed that have something to do with the topic of singleness-in-preparation-for-marriage. But I can definitely tell you it’s a lot.
I can also tell you that my personality lends itself to obsessing over things in my darker times – and therefore I have spent many hours thinking and praying and worrying and overanalyzing and self-deprecating on a myriad of topics associated with my singleness. From the hopelessly arrogant “How come they can’t realize that I actually am Mr. Darcy’s personality type?” [INTJ, by the way] to the sinfully presumptive “I’ll just do my own thing and not look around at all until God just sticks her right in front of me.” The only trouble with those two thoughts is that first, Mr. Darcy is a fictional character dreamed up by Jane Austen, and I am hardly worth ten thousand pounds a year. Second, I am trusting for God to provide a wife, true… but I am also trusting that he provides me food, and I don’t just pine away on my couch waiting for him to plunk down a pot roast or some oreos and milk (… mmm, oreos). I go out and
hit up the drive-thru get some food from the store and cook it at home. Anyway, I could go on and on, but that’s not the point here.
A Few Thoughts and Questions
My reflective times in my single life haven’t all been dark times and brooding – I have had the joy of many cups of coffee with dear friends who seem to be in basically the same boat, and I have derived much encouragement and been sharpened in many ways from those conversations. I’ve seen quite a few common threads that weave in and out of those conversations, and thought it might be good to air out a few thoughts and questions to see what happens. Feel free to comment, post a question, or respond with some thoughts of your own.
The first thing that I think is just awkward at its core is the plight of the single person in church life. From the questions (“so what’s it like being single?”) and backhanded compliments (“I just can’t see why someone like you is still single…”) to the awkward setups (“hey, I know this great single girl – you two should meet”) and seriously just about anything in between (my personal favorite is the usually unsolicited advice: “bro, you just gotta give up on getting married and then you’ll meet her…”), I must say that church circles are where this awkwardness is in its finest form. And I’ll be the first to say that it isn’t born out of a bad desire or malicious intent – marriage is a holy pursuit, a high calling, a huge responsibility, and a precious grace that God has given us. But for some reason there’s an extra dose of awkward that’s dealt out to someone who’s single. Am I wrong on this?
Another thing that I’ve tried my best to delve into is the desires of my heart as I fly solo for now. How can I keep my longing to be married in check and not let it corrupt the way I see the world, yet still engage and interact in an intentional way? Or maybe to say it differently, how can I be both a brother and a potential husband without forsaking one for the other? But the weird thing is that those two aren’t mutually exclusive, but I somehow tend to make them that way. And another question – how can I miss someone that I haven’t ever met (that I know of)? Does this betray some idolatry in my heart? Am I idolizing a figment of my imagination, or is it a holy desire that God will bless someday? As I’ve grown in my walk with Christ and my understanding of a man’s role in marriage, I’ve gone from merely wanting a wife to truly desiring to be someone’s husband. That was a big paradigm shift for me, and I’ve seen a lot of fruit from it. But I still have this nagging thought that I want to be a husband because it means I’ll finally get my wife. Which is jacked up. But so am I.
So I’ve found that I’m waiting ‘patiently’ – I’m not asking for numbers from everything that moves, and I’m not on dates every weekend… I am not looking to be married tomorrow, and I know that God’s grace sustains me. But if I’m honest, I’m really being impatient because there’s a constant nagging thought, an ache that comes and goes when I’m in various situations making me wonder when it’ll be my turn to pick out my groomsmen or wish I’d eloped or taste test cakes (…mmm, cake). I’ve discovered that there is a subtle sin in good, everyday desires. Just like Israel who wanted meat along with their manna and didn’t realize that God was miraculously providing for them already, I take for granted the fact that I have a wonderful job, a host of dear friends, and a church family that I dearly love… because I want to get married too. Those things are great, but I want more. I like that God provides what I need, but I also think that he should provide what I want, too. And what I’ve discovered is that God is so good that he denies me what I want so that I’ll understand that it’s him that I’m needing, and him that is providing everything that I have. And even if he doesn’t provide for me, he is still holy, worthy of my worship, and sovereign over all creation. Why do I take for granted what God so freely gives, and long for what he (thankfully for my sanctification’s sake) withholds? And do you like cake as much as I do?
Where I’ve Landed… For Now
The best I’ve heard it said on the issue of being single and wanting to be married is that I’m “content but not satisfied.” That is, I’m okay with where I’m at and the progress I’m making and where life is at for now, but I long for more out of holy desires. So I’m okay with being single – honestly for now I am. But I don’t want to stay single for the rest of my life. I want to be a husband and lead a family and make some really awesome girl a momma, and pastor my home and disciple my kids so that they’ll know Jesus and worship him. I want to preach the gospel with my marriage and my children, and I want to glorify God with that precious calling he’s placed on my life. And though that is not my reality for now, I pray that it is one day.
If you’re still reading, thank you for your patience with my rambling. And know that my questions and thoughts come from a deep faith in Christ Jesus that far outweighs any doubts or circumstances that confuse me for the time being. This season of life is but a season, and God has taught me in years past that I must not doubt in the dark times what he has revealed in the lighter times. So I must remind myself that my self-worth is not in a ring on my finger or a girl’s opinion of me – rather my worth is found in Christ and him crucified on my behalf. I am significant because of his sacrifice and God’s immense, unmerited love toward me.
Join me as I wait… not for a bride walking down an aisle, but for our Bridegroom’s second coming when he makes all things new. Come Lord Jesus!