Being single myself for almost three years now, I have learned quite a lot through my past experiences. In fact, I never had a GF until I was around 21 years old. I wouldn’t trade the pain I experienced for anything in the world because I realize now that God provided wisdom through it that could not be bought or gleaned from any book. Even this article itself will likely not be sufficient to imprint the lesson upon your heart. You will have to learn the same way as I did. What I hope to do in this article is not to change your heart, but to help you recognize the signs when you experience it. A part of me would love it if I could spare you of all the stupidity and pain that I went through, but even if I had the power to, I would not do it because no article or power could teach you what experiences teaches you. Wisdom is priceless; it cannot be bought, it can only be acquired by walking in the Spirit. You have to do something; you can’t just sit there doing nothing. I hope then at the very least this article can serve as a supplement to your experience.
Keep Yourself Available
By “available” I mean don’t close the door to the possibility that the Lord has someone for you and pursue opportunities that may come your way. Sometimes I hear Christians say, “I don’t need anyone. My focus is on Jesus!” As noble as this is, more often than not it feels as if people are just reading from What Christians Should Say handbook. I cannot help they’re either deceiving themselves about their desires, or they’re denying those desires because it seems like the godly thing to do. After all, didn’t Paul say that it is better to be single? Well yes, but he also said that if you have a desire for marriage, then you should marry. Not everyone has the gift of singleness, and you need to evaluate yourself honestly to see if you truly have that gift in you. The proper attitude to have is not to brush aside the possibility of marriage but to say, “Honestly Father, I do have a desire to get married, but if that’s not what you have in store for me, then I will submit to your will.” Jesus didn’t say at the garden, “Yeah I really want to be tortured and crucified right now! Hallelujah! ” He was honest with the Father, asking Him to remove the cup if possible. He even told the disciples how overwhelmed by sorrow he was (Mark 14:34). Be honest with God and others.
If there is someone who interests you for the right reasons, then pursue that interest. It may not go anywhere in the end, but at least you know that you did your part. Do not be like that person who asks God for help in the middle of a flood, but rejects various help that God sends along the way (a rescue boat, a helicopter, etc) because they’re waiting for a supernatural rescue. Take the opportunities that are in front of you as long as you do so with discernment. Do not jump the gun and go with just anybody. Finally, sometimes God commanded Israel to fight a war, only for Israel to lose that battle. The same may also happen to you. You may feel led to pursue an opportunity, but it happens that this opportunity fell through and it left you in pain. That’s all for your gain. You must understand that every battle may leave us wounded, but it is through those wounds that God forms our character and gives us wisdom. The more you break, the more unbreakable you become. We may not win every battle but we will certainly win the war.
Do not Despair
It’s easy, however, to fall into a pit of despair. This happens all too often with people who are desperate or perhaps insecure about their own self-worth. They value woman too much such that if they are not desired by them, then this means that they’re somehow less valuable than the guy who looks like Brad Pitt. This is idolatry, with a bit of worldliness and pride put into the mix. Never should we despair to the point of losing all hope. That’s sometimes what happens when people start taking pride in their single life. They’re trying to compensate for a void in their life by filling it with themselves – at least for non-believers. For Christians, it takes the form of “singleness for God” type of thing as mentioned above. All of this is just detrimental to our well being. When we value the idea of having someone too much, we put ourselves in danger of going the opposite extreme by hating the idea of relationships or we just lose hope, which is really the same as having your faith weakened.
Remember that a woman is not going to solve your problems, and sometimes she’s going to be able to hurt your self-worth right where it hurts the most. Your tongue is equally capable of doing the same to her. You need to be at a place where your satisfaction and self-worth is in Christ alone. Relationships should never be something you place your happiness in, they should only be something you share your happiness with because only God can be your source of happiness. And He will of course use marriage to be a means of increasing that happiness, but it must never be your source or else it’s idolatry. And you know it’s idolatry if you become spiritually lukewarm with her, are hopelessly depressed without her, and you’re willing to compromise your faith for her. Don’t get me wrong. Feeling a sort of grief in your heart over not having someone is okay. This is a consequence of your natural desires not being fulfilled. If you didn’t eat food, your stomach would crave it. Similarly, without a partner as your compliment, your soul will ache. But my point is that you should never let this grief turn into hopeless despair, no matter how many years go by. If Abraham and Sarah had to wait decades to get the child of promise, you can do the same as them. Remain vigilant in faith, and it will be done for you according to your faith (Matt 9:29).
Be picky with who you choose to date. Do not be mismatched with a nonbeliever (2 Col 6:14). Why? Because if they don’t love Christ, how can they love you, an imitator of Christ? Sure, they might sincerely love you the same way some claim to love Christ as a prophet, as a wise man, or some other such thing, but they don’t love Him as He truly is: the Son of God. Similarly they can’t love you for who you truly are: a child of God. Against all probability, you might make your relationship “work” in a loose sense, but it will never flourish. Anything not of Christ can’t flourish but must perish, for there is no life outside of the vine. Choose a wife that can compliment your life’s purpose: to glorify God. She can compliment your personality, your preferences, or whatever, but if she does not compliment your identity, your purpose, then you are not growing together, you’re just living together. The fact is, you walk in Christ, she walks in darkness. Find someone who can walk with you. If you feel you’re flourishing with a non-believing girl, it’s probably because you’re not flourishing with Christ.
Believe it or not, it possible to be mismatched with a believer! Be with someone who has such a radical love for God, that it inspires you to be more in love with Him. Evaluate their maturity and their faith. Do not fall in love out of desperation but out of admiration for their walk with God. Wait on Him. The more desperate you are for love, the more blind you become. Desperation leads to compromise, compromise makes you lukewarm, and the lukewarm get spit out. Some people will find this word very hard to accept. After many years, you may finally find someone who reciprocates interest and then you will say, “Being picky will make me single forever! I have to choose this girl or I’ll never have the chance to feel love.” But this is deception. You may think you can flirt to convert, date to save, but none of this is God’s way. When God told Saul to destroy all of the animals, Saul justified his disobedience by saying, “But I kept them alive in order to sacrifice the animals to you!” Despite knowing that we shouldn’t start a relationship with a girl, we justify it by saying that through our love she’ll see the love of Christ. That’s possible, yes, but that is completely unwise. It is far more likely that you’ll become consumed by love for her that when it becomes clear that she is in tension with your faith, you’ll be unable to break the strong ties that you developed with her. Or perhaps you become so blind that you’re just incapable of seeing how weak your faith has become. Don’t let this happen to you.
Either way, you need to picky. God warned the Israelites to stay away from foreign women. Look at what happened when they disobeyed. Do you want the same to happen to you? You must be willing to sacrifice your desires for God. You must be willing to be patient, faithful, and long-suffering as Christ has been for you over all the years of your sin and ungratefulness. Be available for someone to come along, just don’t become vulnerable to desperation. Wait for the Lord. Don’t say, “I am doomed to be alone forever!” For who are you to declare what the Lord will do? Instead, say this with Paul: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself in.” (Phil 4:11). Whether in singleness or in marriage, be comforted in this: the Lord is your joy. Paul suffered more than most. He was shipwrecked, naked, starving, homeless, and despised but despite all of that, he still found contentment. Contentment does not mean never feeling any agony because Paul suffered. Rather, it is knowing that you are suffering for a purpose and that all of this will result in your good. Contentment is therefore being able to find the light of joy even in the darkest of nights, or the greatest of plights. You can do this because the Holy Spirit lives in you. Endure what you must, and as time goes on, experience will teach you wisdom. You have not nearly suffered to the point of death as Jesus did, so how can you lose faith now over a mere human being?