Is it Really Possible to Thrive in Singleness?
Do you ever feel like you’re in a waiting room?
You know, the one where you sit until some guy enters the picture and sweeps you off your feet so your “real life” can start?
I know the feeling.
I have always been the kind of person that wants to be in a relationship, and so for most of my life I found singleness to be intensely painful.
Do you know the kind of pain I’m talking about? It’s the kind that makes your heart ache as though it misses someone it’s never even met.
Sometimes, when it hits, it’s hard to believe that you can thrive as a single person.
This kind of pain will convince you that nothing is as important as finding something (someone?) to ease it.
What this post is and is not
This post is where I’ll tell you how I eased that pain.
I’ll tell you how I found freedom from the idolatry of men and the discontentment that went hand in hand with that pain.
That said, if you’re looking for a guide on how to prepare for your future husband, this really isn’t it.
This isn’t a case study of how Jenna scored a boyfriend (I’ll mention the boyf a couple of times to illustrate the fact that these 5 tips will not only bring contentment, they will also strengthen your future relationships. But it’s not a blueprint for finding him.).
It’s also not where I’ll divulge the secret of how to become completely apathetic about finding a future husband. I believe that humans are wired in such a way that they will instinctively look for a significant other until they find one, and so I can’t tell you there’s a magic formula to no longer desiring that.
This is your guide to getting up and walking out of the waiting room.
Because he truth is, God doesn’t put His children in waiting rooms. Real life begins once we start following Him.
About a year ago God started working in this area of my heart. As strange as it may sound, He was coaching me in how to be single. I want to share with you some of the things I did that helped the process and made my future relationship better at the same time.
1) I didn’t make a “list.”
“What do you look for in a guy?”
I’m not even sure how many times I either asked or was asked that question during high school and college. It seems harmless enough—a girl can dream, right?
The flip-side is that the person we are describing when we answer that question does not exist. We are creating them in our minds like a book character.
I stopped making these lists because God was asking me to completely trust Him that a) He would allow me to meet someone someday and b) that his person would be someone I would like (God wants us to like our spouses and significant others!). He’s used Matthew 7:11 more than once to remind me that He had something good in store for me:
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
My “list” eventually came down to two bullet points:
- Someone who loves God
- Someone I am attracted to
Without a list, my boyfriend didn’t have some abstract concept to live up to, and I didn’t have some fictional character to compare him to. I can just love him and appreciate him exactly the way he is.
2) I got rid of my “grass is greener” mentality.
There’s a lie running absolutely rampant in the Christian community, and it’s the lie that being in a relationship only has pros, and singleness only has cons. You know what people who are married or in relationships don’t always tell you?
Doing life with another person is hard.
Sure, it’s great, but it’s so much harder than only having to take care of and accommodate yourself. Sometimes another person’s dreams conflict with yours.
Or maybe certain things about their personality conflict with yours.
Sometimes they even…gasp…hurt your feelings.
I had a friend who was willing to divulge the more difficult parts of her marriage to me, and I will always be grateful to her for that. It helped me get away from my “grass is greener” mentality.
God once put a question in my head that stuck with me: What if the grass doesn’t ever get any greener than the grass I have you in now?
He wasn’t trying to steal my hope; He was opening up my eyes to the lush greenness of where I already was.
More than anything, He was letting me know that if I was discontent in singleness, I was going to be discontent with a guy.
Contentment is a lifestyle, and so is discontentment.
Striving to live a life of contentment has allowed me to see how truly great my boyfriend is. It has allowed me to see the beauty of our relationship rather than compare us with other couples, and it has allowed me to look back at my time as a single person and be truly grateful that it happened…not grateful that it’s over.
3) When I felt lonely, I prayed.
I did a lot of praying for my future husband. Of course, I didn’t know for sure that I was going to get married, but statistically it was likely, and so I prayed for him. Eventually I made a pretty smooth transition from praying for a faceless guy, to praying for my “friend,” to praying for my boyfriend. When we started dating, I was already in the habit of praying for him. It felt so right that I feel I would be amiss not to recommend that you try it out.
During these prayer sessions I didn’t stop there. I prayed for everything I could think of: friends, family, myself and my own future. Each time I also made sure to include a prayer for contentment and fulfillment exactly where God had me.
I started praying for contentment right around the time singleness stopped feeling painful.
4) I went all in with other areas of my life.
I dedicated time to building up my friendships and getting better at my hobbies. This was right about the time I got serious about my blog and about writing in general.
Aside from being a more interesting person to be around, pressing into your friends and hobbies will make life more enjoyable.
Every time I talk about singleness, I feel like I’m not done until I use the word “stewardship.” Around a year ago I became very aware that I had more time (since I wasn’t dedicating any to a relationship) and I needed to steward that time well.
I highly recommend stewarding it by doing big, crazy things for God, since you don’t have anyone you’re responsible to. While I was single I applied for my dream ministry internship (which I got!), did missions in a foreign country for a summer, and started planning a future that was all mine, free from anyone else’s input.
I figured out what I wanted my life to look like, at least vaguely, and from there I was able to keep watch for someone who might be able to keep up! And when I found him, it kept me from making him the only, or at least most important, thing in my life.
5) I prioritized Jesus.
While I was single I focused on getting to know Him and His love better. I grew in my prayer life, learned about the Bible, and devoted myself to the things He was calling me to. It got to the point where I only wanted a guy in my life if he enhanced my feelings of closeness with God.
When I finally found that, it was the sweetest thing in the world.
Something I had to learn the hard way is that a relationship with another person—no matter how awesome that person is—will never completely satisfy. It can’t. We have a God-sized hole in our hearts, and it is unfair to expect another human to fill it.
The only thing that can satisfy the human heart is the One who created it. He loves, satisfies, understands, and cherishes like nothing else can, and He is the only One who will never, ever disappoint.
He is extending to all of us the opportunity to go on a wonderful adventure: the adventure of knowing Him. All we have to do is say yes.
And that is more important than anything else in this world.
I write about singleness a lot.
But it’s only because singleness doesn’t have to feel like a waiting room.
I see so many Christians crippled by singleness. I hear their complaints; I know their pain.
I’ve felt it.
I understand the cry of the human heart to be intertwined with another.
But I also know the fullness of life with my Father, the feeling of being swept off my feet by the Lover of my soul, and the lightness of the joy the Holy Spirit carries.
And let me tell you, it could sustain anyone.
My advice? Press into it.
Until next time,