“See you in another year and you will still be single.” Is the sad thought I hear echo in my heart every year on my birthday.
Through God’s grace I have been able to move to a place of contentment in singleness when I once was a jealous, desperate, sappy romantic mess. Through my hard journey of God softening my heart towards tenderness to this season I felt the call to advocate for living full in the season God has called you to.
Single is a term used to define a relational status, but it is NOT a scale of worthiness.
So I started stepping out in faith talking about the beauty of being single, and a little fear snuck into the corner of my mind. “If you stand up for singleness you probably won’t get married for a long time.” That thought scared me a bit. It was a FEAR placed into my heart to frighten and quiet me, and sometimes it works. Lately, with my birthday nearing in, I have been wrestling with this thought more seeing my resolve for contentment tested and wrestled with.
Discouragement is natural.
Yeah, not my favorite statement either. My little perfectionist heart says I should just be over the struggle not having to re-evaluate and fight again. In singleness, a large part of overcoming discouragement is understanding it.
If God has given you the desire to be married you will get discouraged, and that is ok!
The key is that it is a desire, and the desire to be married is good! Now, we can idolize it, and put it on a pedi-stool which can cause sin, but we see it in Genesis 2 where God says it is not good for man to be alone. Ya’ll, it is ok to want to share your life with someone. To be able to tell someone for the rest of your life for better or worst I choose you! To have someone to laugh with, cry with to share victories and losses with. In the New Testament we see often the beautiful analogy of Christ and His bride, and that exemplifies a beautiful relationship of man and wife through Christ’s perfect example. In working on discouragement and discontentment the first step is understanding the very natural desire.
The next step?! Let’s recognize our other feelings. I spent FOREVER trying to convince myself that if I just didn’t feel anything towards singleness I would be able to find contentment. I quickly discovered this wasn’t a fool proof plan when I had days or seasons of loneliness. I thought to myself, “God, I feel like I have found contentment, but yet I still FEEL.” Ugh! But on a walk with God one evening when I was really struggling with loneliness I heard, “Carissa it is OK to feel lonely.” Loneliness is an emotion. Us, as created beings in the image of God, were designed with feelings in His ultimate wisdom He gave us loneliness. You know why loneliness is good? We recognize we can not do life alone, it shines a spot light on our pride where we desire to say I AM ENOUGH. It reminds us of our need for God (Psalm 73:23). This emotion challenges us to find community. To find your tribe as the 21st century basic blogger, your girl over here, puts it. The Bible says we, together, are the body of Christ , two are better than one, iron sharpens iron, care for and carry each other’s burdens and to love one another. This is a commandment not just for the married, but for all Christians. We can understand that loneliness is part of the desire of marriage. When I started to admit my emotions to God, especially those in regards to marriage, I found so much freedom in how to keep those emotions from turning venomous to my thought life. And on those days when I feel lonely I tell God, and give those thoughts over to Him. I encourage myself to spend time with Him. The One who loved me when I was yet His enemy.
Another lovely little emotion that triggers discontentment and discouragement?
Anyone else feel the heart stab just by reading that word?! Yeah, I’ve been there. The prideful, self righteous thoughts of I deserve it, why did she get to meet her husband, she struggles with this particular sin and I don’t… Whoa see the plank in your own eye much, Carissa?! This emotion is real and it’s dangerous. Phew, I am going to be transparent here. I have come dangerously close to wrecking relationships because of this toxic thinking, and have deeply wounded friends because of jealously. Daily I have to fight to remember to show myself grace even now thinking back on these event. My heart so desperately hopes you can learn from my mistakes, and learn this lesson as early as possible. Let go of the speck in your sister’s eye, my sweet friend, and look at the plank in your own. I am just saying it, this is not a pretty shiplappy rustic beautiful Joanne Gaines kind of plank I am afraid to warn you. I see you girl, I know you’ve circled the Hearth and Hand collection at Target more times than you’d admit; but this one is ugly and not at all aesthetically pleasing. After being torn up emotionally by my sin and the mess I made because of my actions, I started working on this with God. I told myself this little phrase over and over.
“Your time will come, in this moment, celebrate with your friend.”
Love one another. This commandment drives the previous thought that echoed in my mind. If I loved these girls I would rejoice that God has brought them the sweet gift of marriage! Treat others as you want to be treated. I thought, would I want a friend to be jealous and spiteful if this was my story? Wouldn’t that hurt? If your friend couldn’t see past her own hurt and jealous to celebrate with you? Ohhh it wrecked my heart. I wanted to celebrate with my friends. What a sweet and wonderful seasons they are in, and to rejoice in God’s faithfulness! I mean what’s not to love about love?! I love love! I am not trying to sugar coat it. This is hard. Our flesh is strong, but day by day in victories and losses give it to Jesus, and give yourself grace.
Next step in overcoming discouragement is recognizing expectations. When I was younger I thought with out a doubt I would be married at 18 to the up and coming youth pastor and everything would be perfect. Well with only one relationship in high school (if you even want to call it that we knew each other for all of three weeks and “dated” for two of those weeks) it wasn’t looking hopeful. So then I started thinking, ok God by 25. 25 at the latest God. Year 25 was last year, and I struggled this time last year. I joked about having a mourning party for my dreams. Slightly dramatic much?
And then I had a thought I hear every year ” See you in another year, and you will still be single.” Every year this sad little thought creeps into my heart, and discouragement sets in. I am now 26 and not married or even close to marriage. To add to my expectations not being met this year; I had to see a house I fell in love with get snatched before I could lock it in. I actually told God when I was in the initial hours of trying to let go of this house in my heart I said “Well if you aren’t going to give me this house could you at least give me a boyfriend?!” I’m like hello God my priorities! I heard a speaker say once “It’s like I am trying to tell God, you are going to agree with me on this one right?!” We often ask God to agree to our plans and timelines and His doesn’t always match ours, but we still give it a good try still.
In talking to a friend about this I was reminded about the key to this… gratitude. I have so much still to be grateful for. I have had another year around the sun. I had another 356 days to experience God’s grace and mercy. I had hot showers, a job, friends, my little pup and so much more to be thankful for. When our timeline doesn’t fall into place like we pictured it, remember to give thanks. If I got married when I was 18 I probably wouldn’t have been able to study abroad. I might not have had the fierce faith building year that it was or meet the two women who have become my closest confidants. I might not have been able to travel as much as I had or been able to adopt the same little dog I have now. (I was struggling with extremely loneliness in an apartment on my own and I had the strong need for a little nugget in my life.) I have had so much to be thankful for, and you do to. I’m not saying life is all honky dorry, but you have air in your lungs and a God who loves you!
The key to defeating the struggle of discontentment?
It all goes back to God. At the root of it all give it to God. He has your best in mind, and knows the desire of your hearts, and the more I walk with Jesus the more thankful I am to wait for His timing. I have never regretted waiting on God’s timing. So to sum it all up…
Appreciate the desire, recognize and understand the emotions and fight the expectations!
“Life is best served with a hot cup of coffee and a whole lot of grace!”