5.10.2012

Thoughts for Thursday: Singleness Stuff

I have a lot to say about singleness.  Oh boy do I ever.  And you're not allowed to discount it, thinking, Easy for her to say-- she's married.  Because I've been there, done that.  And I remember it very clearly. 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to some lovely girls at my church's Crossroads discipleship for women.  Most of them were single, though with varied backgrounds.  I was nervous to speak, because I didn't know many of them very well, if at all.  Would they care what I had to say?  Would they discount it because I'm married now and they didn't know me when I was single?  But I knew God had brought the opportunity, and I took it.  Turns out, it was as much a blessing for me as it was for anyone else.  Reviewing my struggles as a single woman reminded me of God's faithfulness in my life, and I needed that.

But I know there are other single women out there who weren't at that little meeting a few Sundays ago.  So I thought I'd include a condensed version of "singleness stuff" here for you, if you want it. 

It's still my goal to someday write a book on the journey of singleness I took and what it taught me.  Because I firmly believe that up to this point in my life, it was the one thing God used most to change me.  Maybe that's where you're at, too. 

Here goes:

Starting with some verses, here are some you should never forget, as a single person, married person, widowed person-- whatever:

Proverbs 16:9: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."
Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."
Psalm 27:13-14: "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord."
Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things."

With that established, in no particular order, here are my thoughts:
  • Be where you are.  Don't waste your time.  You could waste thousands of brain cells and minutes thinking about what you want and what could be and how you're dissatisfied/discontent.  Not worth it.  Your life will pass you by.
  • Be faithful to the Lord wherever you are, and trust him to provide what you need.  Think of Ruth, who trusted God in a foreign land to take care of her and her mother-in-law.  She was faithful to do what God wanted her to do-- take care of Naomi-- and she was singularly focused on doing what he required.  She was where she was supposed to be, faithfully working for the Lord.  And God caused Boaz to notice her.  She wasn't looking for anyone or any attention.  But God opened Boaz's eyes and worked it all out.
  • Study the character of God to love and trust him more.  When you see more and more how faithful, good, just, trustworthy, and loving God is, it will make it easier to trust him.
  • As you learn to love God more, grow your relationship with him.  Delight yourself in who he is and what he's done, and as promised, he will give you the desires of your heart.  This doesn't mean he'll give you what you want; this means his desires will become yours.
  • Know what you want in a future spouse and don't compromise.  As a sweet old lady who always called me on my birthday said, "Don't settle for second best."  It's true.  Don't ever get in to the settling mindset, like Liz Lemon and Wesley Snipes (the Brit, not the movie star)... that's for you "30 Rock" fans.  But seriously, pick three things or so that are the most important to you, and do not even consider dating someone who doesn't match up to those.  For me, it was that he'd love Jesus more than anything else, be able to make me laugh, and I'd find him attractive.  There were other things that were important to me, too, but those were my non-negotiables.  Yes, it's possible one could grow to find someone attractive, but I was convinced God wouldn't have me be with someone I ever found to be unattractive.  Just saying.
  • BUT, as Hband reminded me, "you won't find Jesus."  So remember that even your dream guy will be a human sinner and will have flaws.  Maybe lots of them.
  • If being single makes you sad, let it out.  Then move on.  Seriously, cry if you need to.  God gave us tear ducts for a reason.  But do move on.  Maybe journal and leave it there, but don't wallow in your sadness or it becomes self-pity.  How do you move on?  Remind yourself of the truth in God's Word.
  • Do your future husband good ALL the days of your life, as Proverbs 31 says.  That means even before you meet him, you should be conducting yourself in a way that will do him good.  Don't mess around with other guys.  Don't do embarrassing things and put them on the Internet.  Learn skills that will help you do him good later, like cooking and cleaning.
  • We don't live in Hollywood land, the land of rom-coms.  Don't expect that.  Your relationship and any part of it will most of the time not match up to a Nicholas Sparks movie.  He probably won't say the right thing most of the time.  He probably won't bring you flowers or sweep you off your feet enough to be leading man material.  The list goes on.  Appreciate him when he comes for what he is: a friend and someone who loves you and wants to push you closer to Christ.  Who is also very good looking.  What could be better?!
  • Dating/marriage is not an if/then situation.  I hated when people would say "Once I submitted my will to Christ, I found the man I was going to marry!"  As if God's will was contingent upon something they did.  No.  God's will doesn't work like that.  Yes, submit your will to Christ, but don't expect it to be a magic potion.  Don't think, "If I do ____________, he will finally come into my life!"  Wrong motives are not exactly blessed by God.
  • Your story is unique to you and perfected by God.  Don't want what someone else has, because your story is just yours.  I read somewhere that comparison kills contentment.
  • If you have prayed that God make you content and take away the desire to be married if it's not from Him, and that desire remains, then it is probably God-given and you will probably be married someday.  That was a wonderful encouragement from my pastor once when I was really struggling.
  • Be content where you are.  You'll never have this time of singleness again-- a time to be fully-devoted to ministry and travel and do whatever you want to do without being accountable to anyone but God (and I guess the government).  Enjoy your singleness.  Don't just endure it.
  • Don't even think about dating anyone unless you could consider marrying them.  Why waste your precious time and emotions, or risk getting serious with someone who won't bring you closer to Christ?  
  • Be encouraged!  Be excited for God's plan for you-- be excited for the future and what is to come; it will only get better.

And remember this: much of the advice I have for singleness also applies to marriage.  Never, ever think that marriage is a fix-it, or a cure to any kind of problem.  Whatever you struggle with before the ring, you will struggle with after, and maybe even more so, because now you've brought another person into that struggle.  The only thing that changes when you walk back up that aisle is you've got a ring and God sees you as one.  Otherwise, you're the same person.  Marriage doesn't fix anything.  It's just a blessing that takes work. :)

xoxo, A