When “Not Good” is Very Good

When we were young, our parents said “no” to save us. No, you can’t stay up all night watching scary movies. No, you can’t have that sucker that’s bigger than your head. No, you can’t hang out with that gang of boys reenacting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles down the street. (Wish I’d listened before I got a nunchuk to the head.)

But there’s also the sense that parents say no simply to teach us that this ain’t Burger King and you don’t always get it your way. We all know what a kid becomes when he’s given whatever he wants: a spoiled brat. As a teacher, it wasn’t hard for me to spot the kids who’d never heard a “no” in their life. It was more often the “denied” students who exhibited respect, work ethic, and people skills in the classroom; it was those who’d been given less that actually had more.

And I like what I’ve become through my singleness.

We singles often think that God calls us to singleness mostly to help us dodge bad matches. That’s part of it. But let’s be honest: God could bring us a compatible person at any time. That he does not, suggests another purpose. (Sound Biblical theology is silent on the question of “one match for everyone”. As Steven Furtick has pointed out, such theology would require one who misses their match either stay single for life or marry the wrong person and thus cause a chain-reaction dislodging of God’s will for the entire human race.)

I want to say loud and clear: I don’t necessarily believe all singles are being kept there by God. Some are single because they choose it, or because they rarely groom themselves. But it’s undeniable that God has called some to this track. And when we see his hand in such a way, we have an opportunity to uncover an uncomfortable, but powerful, truth.

Like a coastal shelf carved by waves, sometimes God says no simply to refine our character.

And I like who I’ve become through my singleness.

Not that I’ve liked singleness itself. I’m not the type. Even if I was, it was God who said…

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

I think he was serious. Despite the Christian literature that keeps trying to diminish marriage hoping to make singles feel better (talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater), singleness is hard. It’s been one of my life’s greater struggles. And I don’t think it whiny or unspiritual to say that, for it’s given me a testimony that glorifies God. If we acknowledge singleness as legitimate trial even as we surrender it to God, it becomes another conduit of all the benefits God promises through trials.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)

Waiting is transformative.

I know. It’s hard to care about transformation.

Especially this month.

But when I try to envision the kind of guy I’d be without this trial, I realize I wouldn’t want to part with what I’ve gained. I like who I’ve become through my singleness (and other trials).

Being in need of compassion has taught me to offer compassion to others. I’ve had to turn to Scripture to learn the path of the Cross. My emotions used to be a loose fire hose, flopping about in all directions. Not good marriage material. Now, through repetition and years of Spirit work, I have joy and peace.

Would I have learned to pray fervently without this time alone?

Would I have had the chance to teach math at a remote school (and I mean remote – thirty miles to the nearest gas station), where God met me on the prairie and changed my heart?

What would I be without the wait?

I don’t want to know.

And still, almost every week it seems, comes some other lesson of incredible value for the future.

Whatever you believe about the cause of your singleness, know that God will not waste a struggle that is surrendered to him. He is willing to do great stuff with it, if you’ll let him. I admit it’s easier for me to say that having walked the road longer than some, but hey – I don’t know when it’s going to end for me, either. (Any day now, God.)

But…

Faith in God means faith in his timing.

Yet another place where my “not good” can make something very good.

17 thoughts on “When “Not Good” is Very Good

  1. Before I became a Christian, I settled and was in many bad relationships. It is regretful. It is good that you have always been strong and patient. I wish I had been. Now, I truly believe that there is no forcing it. If there is someone out there for me, they are one in a billion. The only way I will ever find them is if God directs it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Lord allowed me seven years of singleness after my first husband left. I wrestled against it some days, honestly, and bumped into some pretty awful situations as a result. But, I look back now, and I know it was a refining time. Keep letting Him shape you. There is always purpose in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Waiting for the “right” one is best. The day will come when it may happen and all the things you’ve waited for will be quality things. You’re learning lots of stuff for the future. God’s blessings in your patience. We’re all works in progress

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  4. Brother, this was good. Not looking forward to VDay as a single again obviously though. But this was exactly what I needed to read today (All glory to God, He is so amazing). Being single can be hard but God always knows whats best for us. Lately I’ve been pushing myself to grow in different ways, mostly emotionally and spiritually in order to become the man that God desires me to be. Also for that special someone 😉 But yeah man, this was so needed. Thanks. God bless

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brandon, I enjoyed reading, as always. From a different generation I can relate, not to the singleness (Jerry and I have been married 55 years, enduring many trails) but to the whole concept of “waiting” ~ waiting on God for whatever He has planned. Through the trial of waiting three years for Jerry’s healing ten years ago, we learned that Waiting is Not a Game. Even as it is good in one respect, it is good in all, that we wait patiently on the Lord. You have discovered the secret already of the blessings that are in Christ, to those who wait. Blessings for the week. ~ Fran

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your writing is so very true and God-inspired, I believe. I have a 19-year-old son whom I believe God is keeping single as He builds character for the one He may have waiting for him. Though he is only 19, he really has not had many girl friends over his teen life, and the ones he did try to befriend were not God’s choice evidently. Thank you Father. 😉 I have shared many of your thoughts here with my son. Keep on keeping on young man. God knows. Thank you for your spirit-filled words.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Waiting is transformative.” Brilliant. I have found this to be so true in my own life, and am learning so much in the waiting as well. I am thankful for how God uses our circumstances, good and bad, to refine us and allow us to become more and more like Him. What a gift.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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