To the Single Who Doesn’t Care About God’s Love

berries(Last singleness post for a while.)

There’s a part of me that has struggled to care about God’s love.

You probably know what I mean. We would rather things just go well than be forced to lean on him.

This week is a prime example for singles, especially. Valentine’s Day comes and we singles feel missed, not only by the season but by the church. My church has handled its singles with grace, but not every church does. Irritated by what it perceives as our self-pity, the church swings open its arms with a beatific smile and goes, “Jesus is your boyfriend! Singleness isn’t something to be endured; God’s love is all you need!”

You know they’re right somehow. You feel vaguely guilty. And you do care about God’s love. You do.

But…

“You don’t understand,” some part of you still says. “I’m tired of being alone. I’m sick of the 8,967th article telling me to be content while the church reserves its celebrations for weddings and births. I know you are able, Lord. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just gave me someone?”

Some part of us doesn’t care.

It’s okay to admit that. It’s not like God doesn’t know. Admitting it is the first step to fixing it.

As I’ve opined before, it’s okay to call singleness a legitimate hardship. Doing so diminishes neither singleness nor God. It just reminds us that even comfortable first-world Christians have their disappointments and that God is making us mature, and more fully his, through trial. The mature church should note this and keep striving for a balance of exhortation and empathy, so expertly struck by its Wonderful Counselor.

That said…

It takes little more than a glance at Facebook, or a day at work hearing people’s stories, to see that many Christian singles aren’t happy. Too many don’t know how to get there; too many leap from relationship to relationship, stuff their shelves with romance novels, or just settle into unfruitful funks.

I do not say this in judgment. I used to be full-on funky (not in the 60s way). Over the years, God has slowly gained sweeping victory over this territory of my heart, but it didn’t happen overnight. Every Christian, in some measure, is still somewhere on the trail to a prizing of God’s love above all.

For those still back near the trailhead, I would ask this: have you unknowingly agreed with the lie that God’s love is not enough?

You read my words and try to imagine seeking God’s love, only to come up with a monk-like existence up in the mountains somewhere while everyone else just goes out and finds happiness. I confess, I used to imagine that in my less patient years.

It is only more evidence of the lie infecting our hearts. We struggle to believe that his love is enough.

One of the Christian’s greatest challenges is believing in truths we haven’t yet experienced. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). That has specific application to Christ’s resurrection, but it could apply equally as well to many of the truths he taught. That is our path. We must do God the honor of taking him at his word, believing what he says about himself. He is risen; he is loving; he is enough.

Human loneliness is real. I won’t deny that for a second. Neither does God.

So if this is a tough week to find your spiritual fervor, try this: you’re going to need God’s love whether you want it or not. I’m just being honest. We really cannot get along without it.

For three reasons that spring to mind.

 

1. Marriage won’t save you.

A friend shared that she sometimes feels alone at parties even with her husband standing right there. Despite a long, happy marriage, there are still times he can’t put his finger on her ache. Another friend got married only for his wife to contract some bacterial deal that silenced her immune system for a year, leaving her in need of constant care. I remember grading a stack of papers one night, feeling bored to death, and as my mind naturally drifted to hopes of marriage, God broke in: “Your marriage will often look just like this. What will you do then?”

Well, I mused, a little taken aback, I’ll need a hobby.

And now I blog.

But more crucially, I realized that I was waaaay overdue in learning God’s love.

You think you’re invisible now, single? From what I’ve learned, marriage might leave you wishing you were. Singleness lets so many of our personal foibles and insecurities lurk beneath the surface, unseen by anyone. Marriage will expose it all. You’ll be loved in new ways, but also criticized, required of, and challenged in new ways.

I know what you’re thinking, for I’ve thought it myself: “I’ll ace that. Can’t be worse than loneliness.” I’m no longer sure we should assume that. Let’s be humble. The horror stories out there hint that we’ll need every ounce of God’s grace and strength we can get. (And then kids will come along.)

 

There is joy and happiness to be found, of course. “Those things you want in marriage? They’re there,” a pastor once told me. “It’s just that there’s much more that comes with it.” As in so many other dimensions of life, we find what we’re looking for only when we give it away, put others before ourselves, make God first. And that requires a fuel source outside the marriage.

 

2. What we believe defines us.

I’m not being New Agey. Truth is truth, but lies are also lies. We cannot wish a mate into existence, but what we believe does have enormous impact on our souls.

My dad once advised me to avoid things like calling my future wife “the old ball and chain” or joining in the subtle wife-bashing that we guys do. (Nazis and marriages alike are stopped by men in groups.) Not only is it wrong, he taught me, but we come to believe it more. The words leave our mouth, enter our ears, filter through a different part of the brain, and become belief – even if we meant only to joke.

With our minds and hearts connected in mysterious ways, speaking something can change us. It might be instructive that even Jesus quoted Scripture aloud instead of just thinking it. The spoken word has power in the Christian life – and over the enemy.

If you believe God’s love is enough, if you make your stand in that truth and profess it daily, your heart will turn. Like a ship tacking into the wind, maybe, but it will turn. The positive confession guys have one thing right: speaking Biblical peace over your heart can bring peace. Have you tried it?

It works the other way, too. Lies like I can’t be happy single become spiritual contracts against your contentment. Maybe you’ve never seen spiritual warfare in your singleness, but I’m telling you, that lie is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe it, well, it will happen. You’ll be miserable single.

And that’s a problem, because…

 

3. You don’t know when God will marry you off.

I once wondered why my pastor never just prayed that I’d get engaged that year. Would it kill you, man? Come on.

Then one day I was asked by a protege to pray for the same thing, and I found myself hesitating. I knew I couldn’t presume God’s will, couldn’t pray for something with bad timing, couldn’t get his hopes up. It occurred to me then that my pastor was fiercely committed to praying for the right thing at the right time for me, and nothing else.

So I will do the same.

Singleness is hard. But the honest truth is, it might be years or even decades until God pulls the chocks on your marriage flight, and there we may not have any say in the matter.

Look at how you’re currently handling singleness. Will it work for several more years?

If not, never fear. Something better is available.

Let’s give God’s love some credit. My testimony is that it can fill you, lighten your chest and shoulders, allow you to enjoy the fun happening right now. I really truly believe now that God’s love is my greatest need. Go God. My goodness, Christ died to make his indwelling available to you. Let’s swallow our pride and take advantage.

Don’t worry – you’re not committing to lifelong singleness. That’s another thing altogether. You’re simply repudiating Satan’s “Job 1:9 Lite Attack” and proving that God’s Word is truth.

He is enough, even as things are hard.

Even if it’s hard to care about his love today, his love cares about you.

Lord, give us a new revelation of your love. It’s so hard to hold onto. We know you care about our hearts deeply. We give this all to you – our longings, our frustrations, our questions. We surrender them to you. We trust you with it all. We invite you to initiate us on the journey towards the summit of your love. We believe you are enough. If it is your best, Lord, we ask that you bring us a mate now. But we trust your timing and your pick. For today, Jesus, help us discover what it is to lean into your presence, your peace, and your delight in us. Fill us with your Spirit. Establish us in your love. Help us to find life right now, where we are. In Jesus’ name, amen.

37 thoughts on “To the Single Who Doesn’t Care About God’s Love

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day, Brandon. God is preparing just the right woman to be your wife someday. She will be worth the wait❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A lot of good thoughts here.
    One of the most thoughtless attitudes toward singles I ever encountered was a congregation that was trying to bring together all their young adults (out of high school but not yet thirty), whether married or single. They called it Pairs and Spares. Argh! J.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brandon, being single myself, I concur with you on many of the points you have made. I guess the whole thing is “when is it our turn not to be single!”. That is my issue with God. It feels like it’s taking forever! I know I shouldn’t be impatient but I am just sayin’. You know I wrote a post about this very same thing some time ago and honestly, I think a part of me is feeling like – what is wrong with me? Why is this taking forever? Ok, enough of my rant but I am just saying that it is taking forever and you are right when you say that even if we were in a relationship, we would probably be wanting out lol. I guess this waiting game is the truest test of our characters if you ask me. Some of us could be impatient like moi, but I guess essentially, we need to know if we will respect the gift once it is given. Singleness is a gift, but sometimes it feels like a curse when we see all our friends in relationships and marriages leaving us single folks hanging out to dry. It just feels that way sometimes. I am just saying. Sorry for the rant but I do love your post. It was indeed refreshing for me to read and it is great knowing that I am not the only one feeling this way.

    Sherline. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Brandon. I will rant any day lol. I know the singleness is a gift, but sometimes, it feels like a curse lol. However, I appreciate other singles perspectives on this season of our lives 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I read somewhere recently “God doesn’t give you a wife to make you happy, God gives you a wife to cause you to grow”.

    Now consider that in context of the fig tree … the owner is ready to cut it down because it’s not producing fruit like the owner wants … the husbandman comes to its defense, prunes it back, digs up all around it and buries its roots in dung. Manure. Guano. Cow pies. Road apples. Yep. Marriage will serve you up a heapin’ helpin’ of that.

    I’m sure that’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for some believers, but there’s challenges in marriage that are really, REALLY, difficult to get through.

    Like the scriptural teaching to “leave and cleave”. Previous to marriage, most singles spend a lot of time with good ol’ mom and dad and their siblings. Celebration of holidays and family birthdays practically a sacred tradition. But with marriage, you now have to blend 2 families and all those traditions. How will you handle the conflicts that come up when the competing interests of the 2 families collide over you and your wife? You may not even feel like you’re in control of your own life – running from one home to another so as not to disappoint “mom” or “dad”. There’s no guarantee that will be a love fest, either. Chances are, you’ll love your spouse and have issues with your in-laws – where will your spouse come down in that – will they cleave to you and put their family in their rightful place – or will your spouse tell you to put up and shut up – thereby cleaving to their original family more than you – and that in turn, will enable and embolden your spouses family to disrespect and dismiss you.

    Brother, it can get bad enough, that the only solution is to pull up stakes and move, 2000 miles away – so you can truly “leave and cleave”. Believe me, I know all about this.

    That roots of the fig tree thing – every one of us is “plugged in” to someone or something that feeds us. And it may be that our food source doesn’t give us the nutrients to grow and produce fruit the way God wants. Hence digging up our roots – effectively cutting us off from that which we’ve always relied upon for nourishment – and then smothering us with the “dung” of life – real life – out of the comfortable container-life of home and into the trenches.

    I don’t envy young people today – what with all the connectedness of social media. Even if you do manage to put some miles between yourself and your family of origin, you wake up with them on FB, Twitter, text messages, Skype, and all that.

    When you are married and the day will come – there ought be just 2 people influencing your life – your decisions – the Son and your spouse – the rest are interlopers. It can be very difficult for parents to shift gears from parent to adult friend. And difficult even for you to seize your independence from parents. You may well have to salt them with a shotgun to establish those boundaries. That can be most unpleasant and be the kind of battle that lasts 20 years or the rest of your parent’s life! And just when you think you’ve made progress, along come the kids and now they’re grandparents fighting over time with their grandchild and trying to parent them through you.

    So if you really want to be married, plan on being shook up good. That is, if you really want to cleave to and be one flesh with your spouse.

    I’m 61 Brandon … and my wife and I are STILL working through these kinds of issues. Check out my post “How I (finally) forgave” for a taste. But let me tell you brother, it is SO SO worth it all. If you think you have victory now, just wait until you are cleaving to a spouse and the 2 of you together with the Lord square off against a common enemy. Such a marriage is unstoppable – that’s that 3 stranded cord scripture talks about. Strong! Unbreakable!

    Jack

    Liked by 3 people

    • Humility forces me to admit that marriage is probably far harder than I’ve assumed. I’ve gotten a taste of its difficulties from the married folks around me, but I’m sure there’s more.

      One person put it, “the struggles of singleness are different but equal”. But I appreciate your encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Still, it’s worth it, Brandon. Man, is it worth it. Marriage to a praying wife, together with the work of God in our lives, has turned me from someone I loathed, into someone I love. I hope that doesn’t sound uppity – but a good wife (Proverbs 31) and an even better Savior, are truly eager to show you, what they see and love in/about you. It will change your world. It’s just that the change can be very unsettling for a season. Until your roots are sunk into the stuff God wants for you and knows you need to really produce fruit.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Single people can be happy and complete, I liked how you wrote marriage won’t save you. I have been single now for over five years. I will not say that it has been easy and that I don’t feel lonely at times but I have grown so much in my relationship with Jesus. I like to think about Isaac and Rebekkah and how Abraham had sent his servant to find a bride for his son. Isaac did not go seeking a bride but when she was found and came back with the servant and Isaac first saw her and she him they were connected. God brought her to him. Scripture tells us if we seek God first He will give us the desire of our heart. God bless you Brandon for being faithful to God and not just settling for any relationship but waiting for your own Rebekkah.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for your thoughts Brandon. You are right, marriage won’t save you, fix you or necessarily make you happier. However, I also empathize with single people’s feelings of loneliness…..if I were single, I have no doubt I would feel the same way. I appreciate your wisdom and outlook, trying to be obedient and turn your focus to the Lord. That is refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is probably one of the most truthful and honest posts I’ve read about singleness, and something I feel like I needed to read, especially on Valentine’s Day. Thank you for posting. God bless

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember wanting someone “special”…and heard God answer, “To have someone special…you need to BE someone special.” Being a truth-to-myself-teller, I knew I had some distance to travel (sweetie though I WAS…).

    I finally met him when I stopped caring if I would. There’s a boatload of stories of those who screamed and clung to ideas of what they just HAD TO have…only to receive it once they didn’t NEED IT so much.

    I’ve been CRAVING to date my husband all my married life. Ya. I know. If I could just STUFF that longing somewhere where it wasn’t so loud, I’d probably be closer to getting it. [heavy sigh…]

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dr. Tony Evans is a black preacher that I’ve heard before. He has some good things to say to singles. In one of his his videos he said we had all the time to get to work for the Lord. I understand the need for a help mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Realism: Real Living Today and commented:
    If you’re single, this is worth reading because it may help you to live more contentedly. If you’re married, this is worth reading because it may help you to remember past struggles to help others. If you’re simply wanting to learn, it’s definitely worth reading!

    Like

  11. . You don’t know when God will marry you off…. what a great, encouraging post! As a mom who’s praying for the God-appointed mate for her kids, you have my respect and admiration. Well done! (It always helps to have a praying mother. My mom prayed my husband into my life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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