There was nobody standing in line. That metaphorical line of men waiting to date. Zilch. Nada. I couldn’t even pay someone. It hurt. I would drive home from a wonderful party with friends and cry the whole ride home. So many times I would pull out a little box I nicknamed my dream box. It had some pretty baby clothes, a series of letters i had written to my future husband, my purity ring, and other special things inside it. I would pull it out and cry. I would weep into the baby clothes, with a deep ache of regret that I may have lost my chance to ever have a child. What did I do wrong?
I learned some things during that period. Firstly, God is still God whether I am single or not. Thank the Lord his love and grace is not dependent on my being married. He is sovereign. I am saved. No matter what happens neither of those two things will change.
I should seek a spouse that God wants, not that I want. Too many times I got caught up in ‘The List’. It’s easy to do when you are so desperate to be with someone who loves you for you. I had a list of things my spouse had to have, be, do, look like, say. It probably bordered on ridiculous. He had to be Mr Darcy, Mr Sully, Prince William, Charles Spurgeon and Mr Miyagi all at the same time. No wonder he didn’t exist. Two years ago I felt my singleness pressing down on me in a big way. I was really burdened by it. I remember taking a walk to the beach and crying into the sunset. Then I took out a notepad, wrote down everything I wanted in a spouse, and then tore it out. I prayed for a long time. Then, I ripped it into hundreds of pieces and held the torn pieces up to the wind. I wrote later in my journal ‘I’m not going to be bound by a list anymore. I know that you will bring him to me, Lord, and that we’ll know each other when we meet.’ It changed me. To let go of that burden I’d been carrying around. Those moments of fear at His silence. To trust that God knew what I needed even before I asked him for it.
I also learned that Singleness is tough. Those who say ‘Things are so much less complicated when you are single’ would make me scoff. If only they knew, I wanted to say. It’s tough being alone. Maybe some people can enjoy it. But I’m not one of them. I would be glad to have sole reign of the remote. Yet, long to have someone to share it with. I would be glad that I didn’t have to clean my house every day to impress someone. Yet, long to have someone help me clean. I would sigh happily in the quietness of my house after a demanding day of fulfiling other’s needs, yet long to have someone break the silence. It seemed I was constantly pulled in two directions. Glad to be standing on my own two feet, yet longing to have someone stand beside me. I was working full time, serving in church, helping my family, trying to have a social life, looking after children, doing extra work and the list went on. Some days I would fall into bed exhausted. Wake up exhausted. Continue to wear myself out, mostly to hide the emptiness that always snuck up on me. It was tough. It was also hard to fight temptation. The temptation to think that you can do it all yourself, that you don’t need God.
I also learned that God’s Grace covers us. There’s not one portion of grace for the married people and another for the singles. God’s Grace is for everyone. Freely given, because we trust Him. And if God’s grace covers us, and it is freely given, it means my identity is found in Him. Not in me. Or Mr Darcy, or whoever else came across my radar. My identity is in Christ. And that changes everything. It gives you joy in the here and now, even when you feel the pain of loneliness. Your heart might be deeply scarred by past relationships you really counted on. But when you find your identity in Christ, He gives you the strength to stand. I find that comforting. Those moments I was paralysed with pain, unsure if I’d ever be able to ‘walk’ again, He came through. He always does. He took my hand and guided my every tiny faltering step. And I found peace. New hope. I found life again.
But eventually I reached a crossroads and a dilemma….
(continued next post)