Finding Answers in Singleness
By Renee Skaer
No one needs to teach a woman how to self-analyze. We assess ourselves, often in comparison to where we want to be, and who we want to be, or who we want to be like. We care about others, but also care what others think of us. We are skilled in the art of imagining how people perceive us, and applying it as a filter to understand our own reality and value. This is no less true when it comes to evaluating our singleness.
When our marital status is different from our desired status, we wonder if there is something wrong with us. Even worse, we wonder if other people think that there is something wrong with us, and we play mental guessing games to figure out what that might be. Am I too shy? Or maybe too confident? Is that why I’m unapproachable? Do I fall in the weird chasm of being too ugly for some guys and too pretty for others? Am I too uptight or too laid back? Too independent? Too loud? Too immature? Too intellectual? Too goofy?Somehow we become the most complicated and unlovable creators within moments of our self-assessments.
The big question underlying all our ponderings-the thing we wish someone would just tell us already is this: Why am I single? It may hit us in different ways at different times. We ask it when things are going well and we wonder: I’m a pretty good catch, so why am I not caught yet? And we ask it when times are rough: Why can’t I have someone to do these hard things with?In our - shall I say, pride? - we feel like we deservethe companionship of a husband. And in our self-loathing, we are tempted to see singleness as our defining flaw - the thing that can’t be hidden. Everything is awesome except for the huge fact that I am unwanted, unlovable, and just hoping that no one notices or figures out why before me.
But the answers to all of our questions can’t be discovered by our most well-intentioned introspections or by revelations from friends and family. Here, our self-analysis fails. The answers to all our questions are hidden in Christ.
It is in Him we uncover all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). As we fix our eyes on Him, questions grow dim and the truth grows vivid. Yet, this requires us to be determined detectives of the word of God and Christ Himself. It is easy to create our own expectations and standards for life, but God graciously gives us wisdom from above when we ask for it (James 1:5). Take a deep breath and place your soul-searching questions on pause for a moment. Let’s inquire of God’s heart and ask that He give greater clarity. Allow His kind wisdom to wash over us and restore our pining souls to rest in the security of perfect Love.
I am single, but I long to be married.
Our brilliant Creator made us relational beings, to reflect His image in this world. But the type of love and relationship we desire does not always become a reality in a way we hope. When we want what we do not have, Satan seizes the opportunity to use our desires to lure us to sin. Since the Garden, he has been taking anything that appears good as an opportunity to make it appear moregood than God’s plan. We must take care examining the desires of our hearts and guarding against enticement that comes with unmet cravings.
God teaches us that our hearts, when not abiding in Christ, produce bad fruit, evil deeds, and sinful cravings. Therefore, our hearts often accuse and deceive us into unbelief and sin, leading us away from fellowship with the Father. Marriage is a good thing. But our hearts are deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Sinful hearts are good at twisting desires for something good (e.g. marriage) into a temptation to sin. So, here’s a new question to ask yourself: How is my desire for marriage leading me into temptations to sin?Examine your heart for roots of bitterness, discontentment, hopelessness, or jealousy. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see your temptations to sin.
Longings that are not met in the Lord, will tempt us to find shelter in another “savior’s” arms. As Charles Spurgeon put it, “Any form of love which divides the heart from Jesus is idolatry.” Are we doing this with marriage? Similarly, Timothy Keller warns that when we turn a good thing like marriage into the ultimate thing, we fall prey to idolatry. But we are not without hope!
Thankfully, the Lord searches our hearts, He knows the extent of our wickedness and how we idolize the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1). He sees how we long for things and people more than Him. But God gives more grace to the humble (James 4:6). As we confess, and draw near to God, He cleanses us, purifies our hearts, and teaches us in gentle wisdom (Psalm 51:6-10). Praise God for His steadfast love!
Returning to Our First Love
Through all our unmet expectations, and sometimes painful times of waiting and wanting, there is a glorious reason why God gives us desires. Desires move us towards something. Yearnings that move us toward Christ are all good. God wants to meet all our deepest longings, and He does this as we seek fullness in Him rather than the things of this world. Jesus came not only to give us life, but to give it abundantly (John 10:10)!
So we ask ourselves these questions: Has God placed this desire within me for a spouse as a pointer to the true and better husband, Jesus?How does God want to woo me to Himself, to know and love Him in more intimate ways? God fills the hungry with good things (Psalm 106:9), and the love of Jesus is good and pure and, oh, so satisfying. The purpose of abiding in the love of Christ now is not to prepare us for an earthly marriage that perishes, but to bind our hearts to the divine lover of our souls who will be our never-ending and ever-growing delight.
So consider your yearning for earthly marriage as an invitation to draw nearer to the One who will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He upholds all things - including our fragile hearts - by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). He has the power to fill your heart with greater joy all your days (Psalm 4:7). May we find rest from the self-analyzing questions and may our sweet Savior bless us with hearts captivated by His beauty. “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7, NIV). Count the ways He loves you sister, and be at rest.