The holidays have arrived at lighting speed. And shockingly, my 40th birthday is right around the corner, as well.
“What happened to the time?” I ask myself. It seems like only yesterday I was tight-rolling my jeans in junior high and nursing a crush on my classmate, Tiffany.
Somewhere I blinked, and two decades later, I remain unmarried.
Christmastime can easily stir up discontent and insecurity in those of us who are single. As families gather during this season, they remind us of the lack of our spouse and children. Relatives ask about significant others and we have to smile and explain that there’s no one right now. It can be difficult to experience holiday cheer when the desire for other circumstances is so powerful.
Feel Free to Grieve Lost Time
This can be a gloomy season. Extended singleness feels like a loss for those longing for matrimony. Many of our hopes and dreams of intimacy and family are tied to this sacrament. It’s OK to grieve the lost time, instead of masking it with Christian platitudes.
Storm clouds aside, there are numerous opportunities a solo life creates. Education, travel and the ability to become financially stable should be taken advantage of while there is flexibility. Yet, these do not replace a spouse. You can earn a Ph.D. or travel the world and still feel lonely.
Thankfully, God can handle our pain and disappointment. I’ve shaken my fist at Him a few times myself in frustration. Yet Jesus loves us and desires our best—even when we struggle in this relationship tundra. Again, don’t be afraid to grieve, but don’t let the pain freeze your life.
Remember That God Wants You to Thrive
Maybe paradoxically, it’s God’s desire that we not only survive but thrive in our season of singleness. To do this, we must accept His timing for marriage, no matter what the clock says. Sometimes that means rewriting our life planner; other times, it means scrapping it altogether.
Some of us might end up being older parents than we originally thought, but that 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?
Look for a Spouse Who Will Make You More Christlike
Just look at Job in the Bible. He is Scripture’s poster child for perseverance. He was “blameless and upright” but God allowed him to be tested. After experiencing a tremendous amount of suffering, his trial finally ended. Then, after no real explanation from God, “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” (Job 42:12).
God’s blessings to Job weren’t part of some cosmic restitution He was paying him for suffering. Both the pain Job endured and God’s blessings were part of God’s plan for Job’s life.
If you’re struggling with being single, don’t waste your own trial. The Lord often uses the season of singleness to teach us virtues that hold value in this life and in preparation in the next. The importance of developing the Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) as groundwork for marriage cannot be overstated. Maturity will thwart many future 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. Now, instead of petitioning God to fulfill my consumeristic wish-list of traits in a spouse, I pray God will bring me a wife who can join with me to glorify God more than if we were both single, who I can serve and who will make me more like Christ.
I believe God will answer this kind of prayer.
Trust God’s Timing
While we wait patiently (or not so patiently) for a mate, we can honor God through serving others. When I fall into an emotional pit, I love to randomly text my friends words of encouragement. Some of those closest to me have lost children, parents, and are otherwise without any family to celebrate with this time of year.
Lots of people need our love.
This is a key to thriving during singleness: Love others at the point you want to be loved. Are you lonely? Be a friend. Need affirmation? Give encouragement.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Know That God Wants to Give You More Than You Imagined
Overall, we needn’t need to fret. God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). We can rest in faith, therefore. We should remain open to meeting people, but the Lord isn’t frantically running around shopping for our future spouses, and neither should we.
We celebrate Christmas as God giving His Son to the world. Let’s become giving people, as well. Even when our hearts are seemingly empty of romantic love, they can become a source of someone else’s blessing. In this process, God also refills our own spiritual wells. “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).
God may not give us answers to why we’re still single, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an amazing redemptive story in the making.
Job would agree.