I just saw that Jerry Bridges has a book out now called Is God Really in Control? And I kind of groaned to myself, yeah I wonder? Because here I sit, 33 and still single, wondering what in the world am I doing wrong. Why in the world has it not happened for me yet? I feel as though I have done everything I could do to prepare myself for marriage, to put myself in places where I could meet "the one" and I have prayed so much that there must be bloody prints on the pearly gates from me banging on them trying to get answers or relief or a husband!
And I am getting scared and doing hasty, desperate things like contacting an old boyfriend that wanted a second chance after he came to his senses that he pushed me away out of fear, but I only did this hours after I found out that the guy I have been dating for the last four months told me he is not sure if he ever wants to get married.
Do I give the old "BF" another chance, do I continue to be friends with the "four-month guy" and see if our continued friendship leads to love? Do I start from scratch with another round of match.com or something like that?
The root question is: Is there a predestined man for me or do I just get to choose from the possibilities that come my way? I'm really spinning my wheels trying to figure this out because if there is a "one" for me no matter what I do I can't do anything to make it happen. And if it is a matter of just making a good choice on someone who happens along then I am terrified that I will make more bad choices. I just can't seem to settle this in my head to the satisfaction of my biological clock. And if prayer really changes things, why hasn't it changed my singleness to married-ness?
And I am just scared and God is so silent.
This is from my New Year's Eve prayer:
... We are living among emotional landmines and all the time being blown to pieces. Thrown all over the world of hurt and then we get ourselves a little bit back together and go back for more. Hoping maybe next time we'll make it through without getting killed again. That maybe next time you will answer our prayers. That you will bring us to him or him to us before it's too late. Too late to have kids. Before we have no strength left and are overrun with bitterness and resignation. Before we decide to become an agnostic after all.
Thanks for writing. You've raised lots of questions — even more than I have space to cover in this column. I'll try to answer the most pressing ones.
Is there a "one" for you or is it just a matter of making a good choice among the options that present themselves?
Good question. I think this is something lots of single women ponder. And honestly, I don't know if there's only one for each of us. I think, theoretically, we could make a good life with a variety of husbands — if we're willing to do the work necessary for any good relationship. The only real requirement Scripture gives for a marriage partner is that we be equally yoked. Beyond that, it's mostly common sense and hard work.
Of course you should look for the confirmation of friends and family that the man you've chosen is a good match. And you should be better as a couple than you are apart: emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Finally, since Scripture commands wives to respect their husbands, you should choose a man you admire and are able to respect (even when he doesn't deserve it).
It's tempting to think there's one perfect man — a "soul mate" — for each of us. It's certainly a romantic ideal, but not very practical. And this ideal carries a host of dangers; the most obvious being that if you think you've found "the one," how do you explain the difficult times that arise — and they will — after you say "I do"? Even perfectly matched couples will encounter trials in their relationship. The Bible promises as much.
The answer to the question is there just one? remains a mystery. But you can know for certain that once you are married, whomever you've wed becomes the one. At that point you are committed for life. Period.
Assuming that choosing a mate is about making the most of the opportunities you encounter — or in the manner of olden days, choosing the most eligible man in your village — you then worry that you "will make more bad choices." This fear is why I believe so strongly in the importance of Christian community, including a Bible-believing and teaching church, a group of Christian friends and mentor relationships. Proverbs 13:20 says, "When you walk with the wise, you will be wise." Good advice. Keep seeking wisdom from fellow believers and especially older women (Titus 2:3-5). These are the relationships that can help save you the pain and heartache of "more bad choices."
Given your age and what you've described as a less than stellar track record, I think it's time to try a new approach. Obviously the traditional dating route isn't working. Rather than go round two with the old boyfriend, or continue on as is with the "just friends" guy, why not consider courtship as described by Scott Croft. If the old boyfriend is a godly man with high character, I don't see why you couldn't give him another chance, if you go about things in a new and different way. This time around, start by asking him to express his interest in you to your dad (if he's available to play that role) or a trusted Christian couple in your church.
Similarly, if you decide the "just friends" relationship is what you want to pursue, require the same courtship approach of him. Don't let either man (any man for that matter) have access to you without the oversight of older, wiser counselors.
I believe you would benefit greatly from the protection such a structure supplies. And it's not just emotional protection, though that's essential, but also protection of your time.
Finally, about your desperation and spiritual anxiety — your temptation to bitterness — I would encourage you to read a response from my friend Carolyn McCulley to a letter very similar to your own. I think her spiritual wisdom will encourage you.
I pray God will not only answer your prayers for a husband, but for a deeper, more mature understanding of Him.
Copyright 2010 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.