In my final post of my February romance and relationships series, I would like to address a question several of you have been asking: “What if I’m doing everything right — taking all of this relationship advice — and I’m still coming up empty in the romance department?”
Well, my advice to that question would vary person to person. It’s not the type of question that can receive a one-size-fits-all answer. But I can tell you that I’ve been there. I began reading (and writing for) Boundless in 2004. Boundless reshaped my thinking on relationships, convincing me to be intentional about my desire for marriage and above reproach in my interactions with the opposite sex.
Commence five years of romantic wilderness. Though my hopes were raised here and there, those moments were outweighed by the disappointments.
I asked myself, “What’s wrong with me? Why are so many others finding someone while I remain on my own?” Truth be told, this is not a bad question. If there are no romantic possibilities in sight, a careful self-examination is probably the best thing you can do. With the help of godly friends, mentors and even a counselor, you can delve to the bottom of issues that may be preventing you from forming the kinds of relationships that lead to marriage.
But I also had to come to terms with the fact that I could be a healthy, godly individual and still not have the relationship I desired so badly. I wrote about this in “7 Myths Single Women Believe.”
I recently spoke with a friend in her 30s who casually said the reason she was not yet married was because evidently the Lord had decided she was not “ready.” Whether they say it or not, many single women believe that procuring a spouse is somehow performance based. If I were just godly enough, the Lord would give me a husband.
Not true! There is a danger in equating marriage with spiritual maturity. God teaches us to depend on Him as singles, but these lessons are not reserved for the mate-less. All of us are sinners, which means we are all constantly striving to crucify the flesh and be more like Christ.
When I came to this realization, the Lord gently convinced me of the truth: I was single because that was what He was calling me to at that time. Sure I didn’t always like it, and I sometimes questioned if God had forgotten me. But He had sweet ways of reminding me that He was still deeply involved in my life. For example, the words of Tony, the shuttle driver at my local auto repair shop, who prayed: “Thank you, Lord, for preserving her. Thank you for preserving her purity. You have set her aside for a purpose. She is a vessel of honor.”
We all have crosses to bear, and no amount of self-fixing will get you out of the pain associated with following Christ and living out His plan for you. But there are also moments of joy. The secret is to embrace the abundant life God offers you right now — even in the waiting.
Yesterday at church, the pastor asked how many present were waiting on the Lord in prayer — praying for something that they had not yet seen God’s answer for. Almost every person in the room stood — teens, singles, young marrieds, empty-nesters. Waiting on the Lord is a lifelong challenge.
So here’s my answer. Do what you can to remove things in your life that may be potential barriers to being the best husband or wife you can be. Then trust that the Lord is working on your behalf for His glory and your good. Following the advice on Boundless isn’t going to hurt you; in fact, it may better prepare you for your future marriage relationship (it certainly did for me). But in the end, God is the One who controls your life and writes your story. The good news is, the stories He writes are the most beautiful kind.
Copyright 2011 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.