I recently stumbled across a hilarious meme on facebook with Napoleon Dynamite on his bike pulling his brother, Kip, behind on rollerblades with the meme saying, “Me and my buddy leaving Bible college without a wife” and Kip saying “well that place was a rip off”. Although it's easy to laugh at Kip and Napoleon, many of us have actually felt this way. It is easy to believe these types of lies before about our singleness.
As a woman who did not get married until two weeks shy of being 36 years old, at times, I struggled to believe the truth from God’s Word in regards to my singleness and God’s plan for my singleness. Just like Kip, it was easy to feel like life was a rip off... I watched all my friends and family play the dating and marriage game while I sat on the sidelines and lived, what felt like, plan B for the Christian life. I thought that if I was a good Christian who did what God wanted, that he owed me a husband or at least would give me what I desired. I had believed that once I reached a certain level of godliness or contentment that “Mr Right'' would come along and we would live happily ever after. I was told that I was too picky or that I needed to make myself more available to men. I struggled to believe lies such as “God is withholding good from me” or “Life begins once I get married." These lies began to affect my thoughts and everyday life.
Sometime in my mid to late twenties, I had a friend tell me that she thought I was idolizing marriage. Although offended at the time, after much consideration, my friend was right. That was a turning point for me in my relationship with God and my understanding of Him. I began to stop waiting for life to begin once I got married, as though the abundant life I was hoping for was going to be found in a man... I began to recognize and understand the truth- that true abundant life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ! And that he alone is enough to satisfy me! Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” No human being will ever be able to meet all my needs and bring the joy and life that Jesus Christ will. Instead of waiting around to be married, I was able to invest in meaningful relationships with others, serve, and give of my time, talents and resources to further the Kingdom! God’s grace was enough to sustain me each day when I was single and it is the same continues to sustain me each day now that I am married!
As I began to grow in my theology and understanding of God, I also recognized that God was not being more good to my friends who were getting married because this was impossible for God to do. I was single because God is so good to me and this was his best for me. God wasn't withholding anything good from me as it reads in Psalm 84:11b “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly”. Paige Benton Brown summarizes this well in her article Singled Out by God for Good, when she says, “Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than he was on that monumental Friday afternoon when he hung on the cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO!” When I began to believe how good God was to me it started to change my attitude and my ability to celebrate and rejoice with others when they were getting married.
Finally, after none of my formulas for reaching a certain level of contentment in God or obedience to God worked to get me a husband, I slowly recognized that marriage is not a gift from God to be earned... none of God’s gifts are. That is why it is called a gift! I learned that being single is not an inferior gift, as it talks about in 1 Corinthians 7. When I stopped trying to use contentment as a means to my end (marriage) and made God what I wanted, I actually found true joy and contentment in Him!
Although it was a fight to believe these truths, I thank God that he did not initially give me what I wanted and taught me all these truths over the years of being unintentionally single. Theses years gave me a greater intimacy and dependance on Christ. And now, happily married with my second child on the way, I'm still having to remind myself that God is good, He satisfies me, He loves me, and His grace is enough while He uses marriage to make me more like Jesus just like he did through my singleness.