Monday, August 11, 2014

When Singleness Doesn't Feel Like a Gift

By Caitlin Williams
Something has been bothering me. 
That something is the subject of singleness. The term, itself, bothers me. It sounds like some kind of condition or disease…

Lately I’ve noticed an increasing trend in single Christian women (myself included). I’ve had too many conversations with women who feel discouraged in their singleness. On top of managing the sometimes-not-so-awesome-side-effects of desiring marriage while being single, there is a sense of guilt or inadequacy for feeling the way they do. Why is that?

I think I’ve discovered part of the problem. Most of what I hear from the pulpit and in Christian literature promotes singleness as this extraordinary gift—full of freedom and opportunity to serve the Lord—a wonderful season of life that God has called us to.

But, what if it doesn’t feel wonderful? What if I would gladly exchange all of this supposed freedom for a husband? What if my heart aches for marriage? The message in what I’m hearing is that there must be something lacking in my relationship with the Lord. I’m hearing that my faith is weak or immature. I’m hearing that I should think being single is fantastic. I’m hearing that this ache should go away.

Hear me say: I don’t think that is the intended message. However, that’s what I and many other women are hearing.

So, what is true and what should be communicated to us? How should we feel about it? Here’s the truth of the matter as I believe it—for myself and for any single woman who desires marriage.

I believe in Christ’s love for me.

I believe, therefore, that the Lord’s will for my life is perfect and His plans for me are good.

I believe Scripture and that nowhere in Scripture am I promised marriage or motherhood.

I believe that, if I am seeking the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart. That is, He will guide me to what my desires should be (Psalm 37:4).

I have a deep desire for marriage and motherhood. I’ve asked God to take that desire from me if it is not in His plan to fulfill it. So far, it still stands. That being the case, I’m called to remember that there is purpose in this single time, however indefinite it may be. I am to be content and to praise God for the life that I’ve been given.

And this is what I, and every single woman, should be hearing: It is okay to feel longing, sadness, and loneliness from time to time. Experiencing those emotions does not indicate a lack of faith or strength or spiritual maturity. I can feel those things without giving in to bitterness or jealousy.

When those from-time-to-times happen, I can pour my heart out to the Lord (Psalm 62:8). Hannah did. Tamar did. All the Marys did. The Lord was near to them (Psalm 34:18). He did not expect those women to have a superhuman ability to mask their heartache, or to be able to self-help their way out of feeling what they were feeling.

In Philippians 4:6 when Paul writes that we should “in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving” bring our requests to God, he means everything.

In 1 Peter 5:7 when he says, “cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you,” he means all of them…all your cares. …even when you’re bummed beyond what ice cream and Netflix can help because three more of your friends got engaged in the last 48 hours. It’s not silly. The Lord wants to know what’s on your heart, whatever it is.

I love the first part of Hebrews 2:17-18: “Therefore He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest…” Jesus was like us in every way. He got lonely. He longed for things. He is able to pour mercy on us and intercede for us in the most intimate way because he felt all the same things that we feel. Yet, he never sinned in any of those feelings. That tells me two things:

ONE: Christ understands why my heart aches sometimes, why I get lonely even though He is ever-present in my life, why it’s sometimes hard to rejoice in this single season.

TWO: He doesn’t find fault in me for any of those things.

So, what’s the take-away? If you are single and your heart longs for marriage, it’s okay. Feel whatever it is that you feel, wrap it up…or dump it out in a big pile of mess (my usual method)...then take it to the Lover of Your Soul. Repeat as needed

Lord, For us to whom you have given a desire for marriage but not yet fulfilled it, give us patience. Give us hope in your perfect will and in your plans that promise good. Give our friends, families, and church leaders sensitive ears and careful mouths. When we are overwhelmed with sadness, loneliness or desire, choose those moments to reveal pieces of your purpose and your plans. I ask for these things out of the grace and mercy that are mine in Jesus.

Amen.

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