Six ways to start the year off right.
The new decade is underway, and there's nothing like January to make a person itch for change.
According to usa.gov the most popular new years resolutions include losing weight, getting out of debt, finding a better job, gaining more education and volunteering more. That's just part of the list.
From personal experience, I know many singles have an additional list, which includes: increase physical attractiveness, get out more and find a girlfriend or boyfriend, already! (These are purely hypothetical, of course.)
But seriously, a new year inspires hope in what could be and gives opportunity to reflect on what might need to change. Here are six ways to get the new year headed in the right direction:
1. Throw Out Bitterness. It's not a new concept. The Bible talks about it: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (Ephesians 4:31). But the problem is, it's not easy. Singles are especially prone to bitterness when the feel that their lives have somehow veered off course.
It can be tempting to look around at what others have and feel that God has somehow been unfair. But bitterness is a highly unattractive quality that pushes people away. It is even spoken of as a kind of prison: "For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin" (Acts 8:23).
I have an older friend who never married. Each time we talked about singleness, her "it-will-never-happen-for-me-I-missed-out" attitude sent me into depression. I can only imagine how this came across to men who might have been interested in pursuing her.
Ridding yourself of bitterness may take some concentrated effort. Start by praying and asking God to reveal to you areas of bitterness. Then ask Him to replace bitterness with godly fruit.
Ephesians urges: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). This kind of spirit is attractive, because it is the Spirit of Jesus.
2. Get Plugged In. Two of the best things you can do to start the year out right is regularly dive into God's Word and get plugged into Christian community.
Many of us plan to adopt healthier eating habits this year. But what our minds and hearts consume is even more important. God cleanses us by "the washing with water through the word" (Ephesians 5:26). Feeding daily on Scripture is essential to keeping your spiritual life on track and having a proper perspective.
Community is the second important ingredient. God uses community to protect us from the enemy's schemes. Being connected with other Christians also provides opportunities for meeting likeminded singles.
In "Finding a Husband," Candice Watters writes:
Until recently, marriage enjoyed culture-wide support. It was, for most people, a primary purpose of life. Friends and relatives were willing partners in helping singles meet the eligible bachelors in their lives. That's why it was beneficial to know people of different ages. If we only spend time with peers in the same season of life, the competition for available men will likely be fierce. But if our friends span the generations, it's probable they will know or be related to eligible men. And if these friends are believers in marriage — and they know you have marriage as a goal — they can be helpful allies.
3. Look Good. Christians are big "inner beauty" people. And we should be. Consider the classic passage — Samuel 16:7: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (Ironically, we later learn that David, who is being referenced here, was very physically attractive.) Clearly, God cares much more about what is going on inside than what a person looks like. And Christians should follow suit.
But there's another issue at stake here. If I feel good about my outward appearance, it shines through in my confidence level and how I interact with others.
You've probably heard the phrase "work with what you got." Well, do it. Adopt healthy eating and exercise habits. Wear clothes that flatter your body. Find an attractive hairstyle. Wear a little makeup. Select cute glasses. For me, making the small adjustment of running and eating healthier allowed me to lose weight and feel better about myself.
But remember to keep physical appearance in its proper place. In the end, it is about inner beauty. From "I Kept Looking":
I didn't stop trying; I just stopped obsessing. I continued to wear my hair in a flattering style. I took up running for exercise. I focused on good skincare. But I also accepted my average, not-skinny weight and imperfect skin, and quit comparing myself (as much) to other girls. Accepting my outward appearance gave my inner beauty a chance to shine more brightly.
4. Try New Things. Trying new things leads to meeting new people. If you feel stuck in a rut, find something new to do: Join a club, take lessons, volunteer. Several years ago, one girl I know attended a Christian single's mixer (endorsed by Boundless). Several guys wanted to get to know her better, and she ended up marrying one of them.
Speaking of trying new things, maybe you've toyed around with the idea of online dating. Several of my friends met their spouses in this way. The challenge can be finding an online service that operates with integrity (and safety). Boundless recommends ChristianCafe.com.
5. Take a Chance. This advice is often directed at men, relating to asking girls out. But I want to encourage the women here, too. This year, throw out your "list" and really pray about the kind of guy God might have for you. It may be someone you don't expect.
Ask God to separate your superficial expectations from the things that matter to Him. Then act with courage when potential suitors appear on the horizon. Lack of ungodly fear — about where a relationship may or may not lead — is a beautiful thing. And as believers, we have a substantial reason not to fear: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deut. 31:6).
6. Give Trust a Bigger Place in Your Life. A few years ago, I wrote some blog posts about trusting God with relationships. My conclusion was the following:
For the everyday pain singles face while they're waiting for a spouse, I am reminded of two principles for living. First, regardless of whether God blesses me in this way, I am called to trust Him. In a very painful and confusing situation, Job said: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15).
Second, God is all powerful and my lack of a spouse has nothing to do with His ability to provide. Not only that, but He wants good for me. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:9: "However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.'"
... I must choose to live in the life-giving joy of Christ. The truth is, the Lord is worthy of my trust even when I don't see how He's working.
On the flipside of marriage, I see even more clearly how trustworthy God is. But trusting Him when I can't see His plan can be intensely rewarding. These moments have provided some of my most joyful, intimate moments with Him. When He urges, "Just wait and see what I will do!" — and I expect only the best from Him — our relationship soars.
And that kind of trust brings total transformation. Happy New Year!
Copyright 2009 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.