I’ll never forget the New Year’s Eve after my 30th birthday. Like every New Year’s Eve before, I was single. I’d gone to a party hosted by a few of my single friends, but the celebration, while fun, only highlighted the unfulfilled longing to celebrate with a family of my own. When I returned home that night, I snuggled under the covers and shed tears of sadness over this unwelcome reality.
I was recently having a cup of coffee with a friend who verbalized some of the same feelings I had that New Year’s Eve. “I’m just weary,” she said.
Weary of handling home projects on my own.
Weary of having no one to share my successes and sorrows with.
Weary of carrying the burden and disappointment of unfulfilled longings.
I think many unmarried folks can relate to our experiences. On good days, I understood how much God had blessed my life, even though I had no spouse to share it with. On bad days, I felt lonely, discouraged, and even betrayed by the Lord.
I knew I was delighting in God; wasn’t He supposed to give me the desires of my heart? What was the holdup? Was I unworthy of a spouse? Had God forgotten about me? Were the married people I knew living more godly lives and thus deserved this blessing I desired? In quiet moments, these kinds of questions flooded my mind and plagued my soul.
The weight of weariness
After nearly a decade of unwanted singleness, I was over it. I was living the first part of Proverbs 13:12 which says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” but I was ready for the second part: “a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
As I’ve contemplated this idea of singleness fatigue, I think God’s Word has a lot to say about the topic. Here are a few principles to consider:
Discouragement comes to us all. Whether the source is unwanted singleness, a difficult marriage, caring for a sick child, or enduring a toxic work environment, discouragement is a constant part of human existence. King David of Israel was often discouraged. Seeking to make sense of these feelings he wrote, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 43:5).
Discouragement is not reserved for those who are flying solo. Neither is hope reserved for those in a relationship. Regardless of your relationship status, you will experience both emotions at times. The question isn’t if you’ll experience discouragement but when. And the antidote is always found in the hope of a risen Lord.
God is worthy of our trust. When Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to a golden statue of King Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. Before they faced the flames, the young men memorably said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not … we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
While being single and longing for marriage doesn’t have the same life-or-death stakes, it does require sacrifice and trust in God. The three Hebrew young men believed that God could save them, but they had made up their minds to honor Him even if He chose not to.
As a single woman, I had to make this same choice regarding my singleness: Would I honor God’s commands for my sexuality, believing His ways were best, even if He never gave me the spouse I so deeply desired? Doing this would cost me; I would have to surrender my own desires and look foolish to the world. I decided that “even if” I never married, I would honor the Lord. I didn’t always do this perfectly, but it was my intention to do so. Whether single or married, part of my calling as a Christian is to deny myself and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
God works all things out for our good. This is easy to say when a friend is struggling, but it’s much harder to accept in my own day-to-day struggles. Still, imagine what would change if you and I truly believed this amazing truth. In seasons of discouragement, this promise may not feel true; but it is. I’m sure the angst I experienced over my singleness would have been greatly reduced had I truly believed that God was working for my good.
At the same time, one of the most tiresome parts of singleness is when those around you minimize or even glamorize your situation. People used to try to help me “look on the bright side” by telling me how hard marriage and children could be or by trying to convince me I was better off single. Those sentiments, while they may have been well-intentioned, never made me feel better.
Lament is an important part of walking through pain, including prolonged singleness. I appreciated when a friend would say, “I see how hard this is for you and how much you desire to be married. Is there any way I can help? Can we pray about this together?”
When God decides it’s time
Just a month after my New Year’s meltdown, I began getting to know my now-husband, Kevin, through a church small group. Our relationship blossomed quickly, and we married later that year. During the next eight years, God blessed us with four children.
I don’t share my story to rub it in or propose a formula, but to show how quickly the Lord can work when the time is right. Before I met Kevin, I had seasons of weariness and deep discouragement, but I had already made up my mind about my singleness. I believed God could provide a spouse for me, but even if He didn’t, He was still good, and I would follow Him.
Copyright 2022 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.