There are many changes that come with graduating from college. It is a radical life-change going from the sheltered academic life to the real world. Along with the obvious changes that come with graduation, such as beginning a career, moving away and (for some) true financial independence, there was a change I didn’t anticipate: the majority of my friends getting married.

I could have sworn there was something in the water in Gainesville, Florida. In a six-month period all I heard about was engagements and wedding plans, which left me (who wasn’t dating anyone, much less thinking about marriage) feeling like the only person who was not invited to the cool party.

[DEALING WITH DIFFICULT EMOTIONS]

As the number of my single friends decreased, I had to face a barrage of conflicting emotions. While I was ecstatic for my soon-to-be-wed friends, I found myself battling jealousy, self-pity, loneliness and anger. I secretly flipped through bridal magazines in the supermarket, wishing I were planning my wedding. Watching my girlfriends marry wonderful men, I wondered why no one wanted to date, much less marry me. I grew fearful of losing my friends as they embarked on a new stage of their lives and I was especially fearful of growing older and still staying single. Most of all I was just angry with myself for feeling all these emotions. I changed from an independent and content woman to a moody wreck seemingly overnight. Hadn’t I read Lady in Waiting a dozen times?

I wanted a relationship, but I soon came to realize that I was pursuing the wrong kind of relationship. God in His perfect design created relationships to support and fulfill us. The relationship between a husband and wife is a wonderful creation, but God also created friendships, familial relationships and the mystical relationship between Christians everywhere who form the body of Christ. While all these relationships are good in and of themselves, they will never satisfy you the way the ultimate relationship between you and Christ can. All relationships are just a shadow compared to the joy of knowing Him. I slowly came to realize that I was focusing on the wrong kind of relationship. No relationship, not even marriage, will fulfill me like the relationship I have with Jesus.

[I DON’T WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY]

If you find yourself depressed over your single status, you are not alone. Many people have struggled with remaining single longer than they had anticipated. However, while it’s natural to feel jealousy and loneliness, it’s not healthy to stay in that state. The most important thing that you can do is strengthen your relationship with God. Be honest with God about your emotions and ask Him for the peace that He promises in His Word. I admitted to God my fear of being single for a long period of time and I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you.” God’s plan for my life is good and His timing is perfect. There could be various reasons for an extended state of singleness. Perhaps you or your future spouse is not ready for marriage. Maybe God has a ministry planned for you that you could better serve if you are single. Ask God to increase your faith and trust in the promise that He will work all things for good in your life.

Another tool God has shown me to combat self-pity is to count my blessings. Thank God for the blessing of family, friends, church or a job. Appreciate and continue to cultivate your relationship with your married friends; their relationships can help prepare you for married life. Also, seek out friendships with fellow singles who can help you with and empathize with your struggles. My friendship with my single girlfriends is a blessing. They know what I’m going through. We dance together at weddings and hide when it’s time to toss the bouquet.

If you still find yourself depressed after a long period of time, you might need to seek pastoral or psychological counseling to help work through the issues you struggle with.

Singleness is more than just a phase of your life to be endured. It can be a time in which God does great things through you. While you may go through periods of loneliness, God in His mercy provides us fellowship through His Son. And what relationship is better than that?

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