Let’s have a girl talk moment here, because I think we need one. We need to start identifying ourselves as women instead of “porn addicts”, “freaks”, or “damaged goods.” First and foremost, we’re women (well most of us are), so let’s have a girl chat. No porn, no lust, just life.
I’ve been asked a lot of questions about relationships lately, which is funny because I’ve never technically been in one. So, in a way, I feel like the teenager giving someone parenting advice, or the know-it-all married-at-21-year-old trying to tell a single 27 year old how great it is to wait until marriage.
I am honored that people are asking but feel completely ill-equipped to answer. I am, however, a budding expert in the art of singleness, which may be better labeled as a discipline, because it is a state that necessitates a large amount of self-control the older you get.
Let me get real with you about singleness for a second.
Don’t get me wrong. I like my independence and being able to do what I would like without having to clear it with the hubby. But it’s hard. I’m not talking about the waiting to have sex part (thought that is hard- but oddly, getting easier). I’m talking about the people treating you like there must be something wrong with you part.
Everyone has an opinion.
Everyone and their brother’s mother’s great aunt Sue has a word of wisdom for you, and it takes a lot (and I mean a lot) of grace, not to tell them to take a hike. The older you get, the more you hear about how you should have gotten married younger. The older you get, the more your friends offer sympathy for your single state, as if your pet goldfish just died.
The older you get, the more you grapple with choices. The more you wonder if you’ve done it wrong. The older you get, the more you question your own desires and the more people try to set you up with their 50 year old single nephew who lives in his mother’s basement and hasn’t seen the bright side of the day in 20 years.
The older you get, the more people want you to settle, and the more they criticize you for not settling. The older you get the more articles you will read about contentment, marrying young, and pursuing marriage, and, if you listen to them, you will be confused, frustrated, and probably still single. The older you get the more people will apologize, as if you’re hopeless, and try to speak on God’s behalf, “Well, if this is how God wants it…”
The older you get, the more you’re going to want them all to shut up and stop labeling you as discounted merchandise like you’re a chipped piece of fine china.
So, how do we approach singleness, and live a life of one, without going for jugulars?
Well, we need a spirit of graciousness- a spirit that extends grace to others. Here’s how we do that:
Love God Like Your Life Depends on It (because it does)
Contrary to how you may feel at the moment, your life does not depend on whether or not you get married. Making marriage your first love will likely result in a frustrated and broken heart. That, or you will be very confused reading all the different handbooks and articles. There is nothing wrong with you, or His plan for you, so stop treating singleness like a disease in need of a cure.
Follow His Lead
Have you seen how many different types of love stories there are in the Bible? There are arranged marriages, there are blind marriages (Isaac and Rebekah). There are marriages that started off all kinds of wrong (David and Bathsheba). So if we’re looking for the Biblical formula for dating/courtship and marriage, there isn’t one. There is no book of the Bible that details how to ‘find’ marriage. We’re told it’s a good thing, and we’re given guidelines for personal purity, but there is no part that states how long you must date or if you should date, or how long you should be engaged.
We have a wide collection of authors with different opinions on the topic- you should pray for a husband/ you shouldn’t pray for a husband. It’s OK to date online/online dating is of the devil. Do not pursue/ it’s OK to pursue. Get married young/ wait until you finish your career. Read them all and listen to them all and you will end up in a cave somewhere with no outside contact waiting for God to air-drop a man to you.
Our God is a creative God, and I think it’s time we stop telling Him where He can color and where He can’t. We could be missing out on so much because we insist on shoving Him inside our box of man-made mandates for dating/courtship and marriage. Instead of letting Him take control, we steal the road map and drive ourselves, and it leaves us frustrated and disappointed. It’s especially harder when we have a gaggle of backseat drivers telling us which way to turn.
For whatever reason, this is where God has you right now, and it’s hard. For most of us, it’s not where we want to be, and believe me, the older you get, the more weddings you attend, and more friends’ babies you hold, the louder your biological clock clangs in your ears. There is an element of trust that has to be involved even though it hurts. The world around you will offer you advice, opinions, and sympathy. You know what you do?
You listen, and then you take those advice and opinions to God and ask Him for His thoughts on the issue.
When we stop looking to man for the answers, we find the way clearer (not necessarily easier, but clearer). Knowing who is ultimately in control gives us the ability to take ‘advice’ with grace. The most important thing is that we look to Him.
As one of my good friends says, “Life is so much easier, and much less of an equation if you believe in a God who leads.”