Since the launch of TrueLoveDates.com at the end of March, I’ve had the honor and privilege of hearing from hundreds of men and women across our country and world, with messages of gratitude, relationship questions and stories of hope and healing.
While I personally read every single email and do my best to respond to each one, there are times that the same question or concern keeps coming up over and over again, which prompts an article response. This particular time, it’s the topic of discontent in singleness.
Before I get into this, let me first address those of you who see singleness as a gift to be enjoyed, and a season to be savored … good for you. I say that with just a tiny hint of sarcasm, because contentment with singleness was always a personal struggle of mine. But for the most part, I am thrilled for your contentment. I look at men and women like you and I am truly happy that, by God’s grace, you have received eyes that are able to see past your relationship status and a heart to enjoy the life that you’ve been given. Like a very deliberately placed sign in my office reminds me, “Life is not having what you want; it’s wanting what you have.” I seem to need that reminder often.
Now, for the latter group.
This is the group I would have been a part of during my time as a single woman. If the myth were true that God only blesses you with a spouse when you learn to be content in your singleness, then I would never have gotten married, because frankly, I was not okay with a lifetime of singleness. I wanted to be married!
As I look back in hindsight, that longing was so good. It was part of God’s design for me, a sign that I longed for a deep and intimate connection with another human being.
But for so long, because of the mixed messages I received from people around me, I was secretly ashamed of that longing. I talked myself into believing that it was wrong—that I was weak, and it was a sign that I just wasn’t as close to God as I should be. Maybe I didn’t love Him enough. Maybe I didn’t trust Him enough.
Looking back, those were all lies from the pit of hell. Lies that were meant to guilt me, to shame me and to keep me paralyzed. Lies that were bent on destroying me and keeping me still. And at times, they did just that.
What I wish someone would have told me then, is that it’s okay to be “discontent” with singleness.
It’s okay to have a constant longing for marriage because you were made in the image of a God who is desperate for connection, and who understands. It is a struggle that we are allowed to have, and one that can draw us even closer to a God who longs to connect with us through it.
I don’t believe that the condition of our hearts should EVER be measured by our emotional struggles, but rather by what we do through those times of struggle. Feelings of discontent, loneliness and depression through singleness don’t mean that we have been defeated. They simply mean that we are human. But ceasing to live our lives because of those feelings … that is a sign that we have allowed the enemy to paralyze us and keep us from moving forward.
It’s okay to struggle through singleness, but it’s not okay to stop living life because of it.
It’s okay to be discontent through singleness, but it’s not okay to let that discontentment rob us of our very lives.
There is a huge difference between a struggle and a stronghold. A stronghold is when we’ve allowed our relationship status to define us, instead of the very God who made us to be defined by Him.
There’s a huge difference there, and the two should never be lumped into the same category.
So for those of you who have been struggling with the discontent of being single, look around and ask yourself: Are you still living? Are you still dreaming? Are you still hoping? Are you still moving forward in the life that God has called you to live (whether or not you always love that life), or have you started to feel paralyzed by your fear?
Is singleness a part of your struggle, or has it become a stronghold? The answer to that question will either free you from guilt and shame or challenge you to begin the pursuit of healing: redefining your identity and rethinking your purpose.
No matter where you are in your struggle, you have the opportunity to live life and to live it well. May God give you the strength to do so … even through the struggle.
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