When Singleness Gets Ugly

treeI’ve been getting a little mail from Christians struggling with singleness.

I have a heart for them. Long-term singleness is a delicate, heartfelt matter. If my journey has taught me anything, and if I may be honest with you today, even the Kingdom’s best singleness teachings are…lacking. Rarely deep enough. Or they’re written by people who married at 21.

I may not be John Piper, but I am a single Christian, and you know what they say: write what you know.

Okay. For some believers, singleness is…a jonesing. A longing. They could use encouragement. But that’s as far as it goes. It’s not really their foremost trial at all.

For others of you…it’s something more.

You find yourself thinking about it a lot. It’s what you usually mean by phrases like “unspoken prayer request” or “I’m just struggling”. You used to take comfort in having plenty of time before you reached the age of the married people you admire. Then you look around and they’re all your age. And then younger. Perhaps you’ve ground through three or four committed relationships (that wasn’t in the manual) and wonder what it will take for one to finally stick. Or you haven’t had a date in ten years.

This stuff matters to you. And I don’t believe in looking down on you for it.

It’s not about just your “plans” (which is how the church often responds), thank ya kindly. You wanted this. Some people don’t want to vacation on their own. They just don’t. We want a witness to our lives, someone to share a ministry or thunderstorm, a Netflix series or an ominous newscast. We want someone waiting at home, to laugh and cry with us, to know our favorite words. Just getting to say “we” instead of “I” sounds amazing.

Instead, your faithfulness seems unrewarded. Singleness involves rejection. In what universe is that not supposed to sting? After a while, singleness feels like less of a season and more of a statement. This is beyond campfire cliches. Anyone who’s carried a hope deferred for a decade or two qualifies for better spiritual aid. (Truth be told, even college students can feel this ache keenly.)

Singleness landscapes life. You’re walled out of cliques and ministries, less sought after by married friends who still love you but want to celebrate and grow with others in the same season. You realize families have a bigger footprint at church. Ever noticed how couples can make friends just by swapping stories of their kids? You don’t have that. Depending on the crowd you run with, it takes a greater effort each year just to stay on their radar. I doubt that’s what Hebrews 12 meant by “run the race”.

Some judge you. They’re annoyed to see someone struggling with something so “minor” and “escapable”. They assume some dysfunction or immaturity that’s driving all your dates away. (We even assume this of each other.) Or they might just not know what to tell you anymore.

I know singles who no longer wear their old purity ring. Chaste though they remain, it’s long ceased to be a promise and become only a reminder.

At the end of the day, it is a profound test of faith. We don’t talk about it anymore because it never changes anything and others are tired of listening and we’re secretly wondering whether it should be this big a deal, but honestly…nothing else seems as hard. Wisely or not, some of us staked large parts of our hearts – even the question of God’s goodness – on the dream of getting married. We feel blindsided by how bumpy and lonely and ordinary life has turned out instead.

There have been long nights, tears, clenched teeth, or abandoned purity. You’d be amazed at how often someone leaves their faith and some failed romance (or no romance at all) shows up on the autopsy. Honestly, depending on who you are and you handle things, the season can be hazardous, debilitating, and ugly.

You’re welcome on this blog. You’re not nuts. You’re not pathetic. You’re a child of God (or can be), target of his patient love, beneficiary of his endless strength.

We could all use a “hey – I get you”. This is the journey I took (though thankfully not the abandoned purity), and I can tell you this – God has not run out of things to say. Even if the church has. We have only just begun to tap into the depths of all he has to offer. When he offers to lift us through any trial – well, I have much to tell later about what that looks like. The deliverance…it’s real.

For now, simply come back to this: he still loves us. He still pursues us. He is still for us. He has not left our side; he still knocks on the door of our hearts, hoping to share a meal. No new teaching is better than that. Despite the disappointing weight of the years, it’s still true.

 

I’m glad you tuned in today. If you consider this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!

His Peace Must Be Chosen

jordanEver heard psalmists and David Crowder sing unabashedly of God being “everything they need” and wondered, What on earth are they talking about?

Me, too.

One of the chief comforts of Scripture when we are disappointed, discouraged, or heartbroken, is that the Christian’s highest goal is not that dream or achievement or milepost you’ve fallen short of, but knowing God. Making him your peace, your joy, your contentment, your soul’s richest food and water. He, the Bible tells us repeatedly, is the only thing that will truly ever satisfy.

But you might have noticed it doesn’t just drop in with the mail.

Where is it then, God? Where are you?

Or as a friend put it recently, “Why can’t I appropriate for myself what God has promised me?”

We know God is faithful. His side of the deal is inerrant and unfailing; there is no lie or failure with him.

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