Forty is approaching at lightning speed, and I’m often confronted with uncomfortable questions like, “Why are you still single?” or, “Is singleness your calling?” or, “Is there a woman who got away?”
I honestly have no idea why I’ve lived in this seeming “singleness purgatory” for so long—I wish it weren’t the case. It might be the result of me being a product of Generation X; we initiated the trend of marrying later in life. Or maybe it was the past wound of my parents’ divorce that kept me from committing. Or maybe I should have pursued Tiffany in the seventh grade.
I believe it’s God’s will that I find a spouse. It’s also my heart’s desire. Since God usually reveals His plan to us piecemeal, I needn’t worry about having all the puzzle pieces. My responsibility is to stay close to Him, live by faith, and act courageously when my heart is prompted.
Moreover, I’m not sure there’s a particular lass that got away. Sure, there might be a lady or two I wish I would have pursued with more oomph. But I don’t like to dwell in Regret Land. My experience has been that if a relationship never began (or it failed), then it was probably for the best.
Grieve the Loss
Inquisitions aside, I mostly struggle with feeling alone. The circle of friends who surround me is amazing. But the hollow feeling from a lack of marriage companionship will only be filled by my future wife.
This relationship hole creates a sense of loss. Why? As holidays return and families gather, they remind me of the absence of my own family. It’s difficult to be satisfied with the present when the desire for the future is so powerful.
It can be a gloomy season. This is because many of our hopes and dreams of intimacy and family are tied to marriage. We must grieve the lost time instead of masking it with Christian platitudes. Well-intended advice turns into discordant noise when Blessings of Singleness is the only song we hear.
Storms clouds aside, there are numerous opportunities that a solo life creates. Education, travel, and the ability to become financially stable should all be taken advantage of in this season. But these do not replace a spouse. One can earn a Ph.D. or travel the world and still feel lonely.
May I be the first one to say that’s it’s OK to struggle with being single?
Thankfully, God can handle our pain, frustration, and disappointment. I’ve shaken my fist at Him a few times myself. Yet I know Jesus loves me and desires the best for me—even though I don’t understand this relationship tundra.
It’s God’s desire that we not only survive but thrive in our singleness. To do this, we must accept His timing for marriage, no matter what the clocks says. Sometimes that means rewriting our life plan; other times it means scrapping it altogether.
Being almost forty, I’ve also had to accept the reality that I’ll be an older husband and father. Hopefully I won’t have arthritis by the time my son or daughter wants to play ball!
And just because some of us might be older parents, it doesn’t mean an amazing spouse and family aren’t waiting for us in the future. In the meantime—when the situation looks bleak—can we still praise God? Just look at Job in the Bible. He was “blameless and upright” but God allowed him to be tested. After experiencing a tremendous amount of suffering, his trial finally ended. Finally, after no real explanation from God, “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” (Job 42:12)
I’ve also learned to be grateful. What I’ve lost in the years of not having my own family, I’ve gained in focused character development. The idea of gaining virtues during singleness cannot be overstated. God has taught me greater patience and perseverance that will hopefully eventually thwart many relationship problems that are caused by immaturity.
My greatest internal revolution has probably been the change in the type of person I seek. I have jettisoned the notion of finding a perfect wife—she simply doesn’t exist. Stories of knights and princesses might sell movie tickets but quixotic fantasies don’t exist outside of our pedantic expectations.
Now, instead of petitioning God to fulfill my consumeristic wish-list of traits in a wife, I pray God will bring me a wife:
- Who with me, will glorify God more than we would if we were single
- Whom I can serve
- Who will make me more like Christ
I believe God will answer this kind of prayer.
Overall, I like my life and I don’t want to trade with anyone. I’ve learned to accept its switchbacks and unforeseen curveballs. Contentedness is a journey, not a destination, so thankfully God doesn’t judge us when we temporarily fall into an emotional pit.
It’s also encouraging to remember that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20) We can rest in faith, therefore. And if God isn’t frantically running around wondering who we’ll marry, then neither should we.
The next chapter in our lives has yet to be revealed to us. Let us live with hope. The Lord may not give us answers to our many why questions, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an amazing redemptive story in the making.
Job would agree.
Copyright 2015 Eric Demeter. All rights reserved.