Oh relationships… there are hundreds of articles about the different aspects of it, self-help tips, and words of wisdom from others who have had so much experience in this realm. From singleness to marriage, there’s enough information out there to find whatever answer to your question you’re looking for.
I’m honestly reluctant to contribute to the world of singleness blog posts and I’ve read many articles about it, which is probably why I feel so hesitate to write about this topic. But continuous prompting from the Lord is the reason I type these words out. I know what His prompting means to me, and if I ignore it, I also know how it affects me.
What I’ll share is nothing profound, and it may not even be helpful, but these are just some thoughts and insight I have gained over the past few years through wonderful conversations with friends and observations from afar.
My life has not at all gone how I planned. Not even close. It all started with playing soccer in high school and getting an unexpected, painful injury my sophomore year which prevented me from playing in the first CIF final championship game my soccer team would ever see. And then I went to a Christian college just mere minutes from home where I experienced new atmospheres I hadn’t seen before and I wandered in my own confused ways. While there, I told myself I would never leave Southern California or travel the world. But the Lord showed great mercy and grace. A year later I found myself transferred to a college in central California, living in Spain, traveling to over 10 countries, learning how to play new instruments, and fast forward a few years, and here I am living in the East Coast with my black labrador puppy.
Nope, this is definitely not the life I had planned out. It is actually much better.
See, if things had gone the way I thought they would, I would have limited God’s power and ability to speak and move in people’s lives. I have been so focused on myself for many years, yet God still has graciously led me to places I never even thought I would see and I’ve met amazing people who have truly changed my life. It has been humbling to see the world from God’s perspective rather than my own limited view.
Then comes the part in the single articles where adventures and travels and doing whatever you want (as long as it’s for God) become the reason why singleness is a good thing.
Well, honestly, I don’t think those are reasons good enough to be content in singleness.
I’ve battled many years of coming up with reasons for why it’s good to be single in my own life. I’ve turned the focus away from growing in the Lord and looked at the material possessions that I could own and independent decisions I can make. It became about me. Personally, this takes away the purpose and call of the Lord. Which is to follow Him and obey His commands. If I would have known when I was 20 that I would still be single here at 3 years away from being 30, I still would have done the same things I have already done. Elisabeth Elliot explains the wrong approach to arrive at truth. She said:
“Most of those who try to find answers for these questions ask, ‘Who am I?’ ‘How do I really feel?’ and they assume that if enough people express their personal opinions on this subject we will all somehow arrive at the truth of the matter…There is, no doubt, a superficial sort of consolation and reassurance to be gained from sitting around telling how you feel about things. You generally find several others who feel the same way, or (what is even more reassuring and consoling) they feel worse than you do. But it is no way to come at the truth.”
The biggest thing I’ve learned in this journey of my temporary life on this earth is not to underestimate God’s power and His ways. I’ve learned to have a plan, but that my plan could most likely change at any given moment, especially when I give it over to the Lord. Being flexible is the best way to live in this life on earth. I’ve experienced seasons of bitterness in regards to comments from people about God’s plan for my life. The reason for the bitterness came, not because of the comments, but because those comments hadn’t come true in my life. I became reliant and hopeful in the words of others, treasuring the praises and “words of encouragement” when they said God had “something big” planned for my life. And when it didn’t play out the way I expected it, that’s when I became bitter.
But when we shift our focus to the Lord, we find all the answers we are looking for through Him. It may take some time, but the answers lie in the hands of the Lord. Elisabeth Elliot said:
“In order to learn what it means to be a woman or man, we must start with the One who made us.” -Elisabeth Elliot
How simple, yet so difficult it can be to start with the Lord first. As I look back, I see this “something big in my life” as happening in the moments right before my eyes. Every moment when I faced a new decision was the “big thing” God had planned for me. I was so fixated on the future and what was to come, that I took for granted what the Lord was doing before my eyes, even in the mundane moments! And I am so blessed that He took all my moments to make it into a collectively adventurous life. He has taught me to not only be a “hearer of the Word,” but also a doer of what I believe in Him to be true.
James 1:22 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
I have had to learn how to step out of my comfort zone and how to live alone and how to not drive myself crazy. It always seems so glorified and great in the movies when they show the characters having their big nice apartments to themselves and they live such exciting lives every single day. But in reality, life – whether single, dating, or married – is not really that exciting every single day. We all have seasons of excitement, but then there’s also seasons of kinda nothing really going on. I’ve observed friends in marriages and see that they actually have the same struggles I do, even though I am single. And I’ve seen that marriage is just as tough as being single!
I’ve also learned that people overthink relationships sometimes and put a big weight on it. The weight is so big that it honestly makes me glad I’m not married sometimes. But it’s all about perspective. I think relationships can be a lot simpler than we make them to be. In this world of online dating, it can be a challenge to decide whether to settle or not, whether this person is really who they say they are, and whether they should try it out or wait to see if someone better comes along. For me, that’s just way too much to handle so I personally stay away from those apps because I know it wouldn’t be beneficial. Now, I do know many people who have met godly spouses through it! I’m just speaking on a personal level and have learned how I am, so it just wouldn’t be good for me to get involved in that way.
I’m kind of rambling now, but what I’m trying to say is being single really isn’t all that bad…if you don’t let it be. The Lord can use anyone, single or married, and that’s not what defines who we are. When people ask me if I’m dating anyone, at times it feels like everything becomes exposed when I respond with a resounding “ummm no.” I feel that way because I know the next thing that comes is a plethora of questions, matchmaking offers, and “words of encouragement” as if I need/want to hear any of that. It’s like people don’t know what to say in response to my singleness. But no response is needed.
Jesus is in control and continues to do great work through many people. I am simply thankful to be a part of it. If I am blessed enough to live until I’m old, I pray that I’ll be able to look back on my life and see even more how God has been apart of this small story of mine. I can already see Him now a part of it. And remember, that He is part of your story too. You might feel like you’re struggling in the valley or maybe you’re joyful on the mountaintop. But in either scenario, He is there beside you. Jesus also struggled and was in horrific pain during His journey to hang on that Cross. He of all people knows the most how we feel in every circumstance. What a privilege to follow in His footsteps.
Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Proverbs 16:9 – “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”