A common side effect of living in a world where “women should be serving husbands and children” is that single women are seen as broken. Incomplete. Not quite an adult. Following is a letter that a dear friend wrote to a loved one who was having trouble understanding why my friend was not working hard at finding a husband. My friend wishes to remain anonymous, but I’m so grateful that she is willing to share her heart to encourage others – single friends and married alike.
As I am about to enter my 30th year of being a single woman, I have declared myself as something of an expert on the subject of singleness. As I listen to and read opinions by other single women, they seem to fall into a few categories: the lonely, the bitter, the man-hater, and the eager to marry (I am, of course, over-generalizing, but remember, I’m the expert). There is one perspective that seems to be glaringly absent: the grateful.
I am a hopeless romantic. I love stories that end “happily ever after.” The theme of the best guy getting the sweetest girl never gets old to me. It’s not necessarily the love at a wedding or first anniversary that causes me to grow misty-eyed, but I reach for a kleenex when I see an older couple walk hand-in-hand. Even being a romantic, I am grateful to be single. You see, in my love story, the greatest romantic the world has ever known, the LORD of heaven and earth, is cast in the role of my knight in shining armor.
There have been times in my life that I have struggled with the idea of being single, long after many of my friends have married. During one of those seasons, I prayed, asking God why He had withheld from me the blessing of marriage. In a gentle whisper, I felt Him say, “I have not withheld blessing from you. I have given you a greater blessing.”
I believe that God established and smiles upon the institution of marriage – why else would He use marriage as the picture to the world of how much He loves the Church? I don’t believe, however, that marriage is a sign of God’s blessing while singleness is a sign of His displeasure. God’s blessing in the midst my singleness is this – He is my one true love. I come home to Him alone. He alone hears about my difficult day or my successes. He is the last one I smile at at the end of the day and the first one I greet in the morning. When I’m not sure what to do or where to go, He is the first to hear my fears.
For as long as I can remember, I have prayed for a Godly husband. For as long as I can remember, in my heart I have heard the words, “I have not promised you that.” I believe that God longs for us to come to Him with our desires and lay them at His feet. He promises to listen. He doesn’t promise to give us everything we want. God has not promised me a husband. He has, however, made promises to me that far outlast any earthly relationship. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has promised to love me with an everlasting love. God has not withheld blessing from me.
I am often asked, “Don’t you want to get married and have children?” Even more frequently, an affirmative response is simply assumed. To be honest, I have a difficult time answering that question. I am certainly not opposed to the idea of getting married, but I am also not opposed to being single for the rest of my life. There are times when I certainly long for the physical and emotional intimacy I could have with a godly husband, but I know my wandering heart. I know that when I have someone else to share my laughter and my tears with, it will take an extra effort to bring those first to God. I fear that the intimacy I have with the God who has romanced my heart, will be hard to hang on to.
I am also reminded of the verses of Romans 9:20–21: “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” I have spent my entire Christian life trying to learn to say to God, “not my will, but yours be done.” I have lived out that sentiment imperfectly, to say the least, but I am trying to subject my will to God’s. So, when I’m asked if I want a husband and children, the best answer I can come up with is, “If that is what God wants for me, then that is certainly what I want as well.”
The most difficult part of being single for me is not being alone. I am never truly alone. The most difficult part is when other people, especially Christians, question my singleness. Isn’t the Potter allowed to do what He wants with what He has made? Those questions at times lead me to doubt God’s love, His plan, and His goodness. It is amongst those questions that I begin to believe that perhaps there is something wrong with me, some hideous flaw that only marriage could fix. But I am thankful that, when I bring those fears to my Savior, He again speaks words of love into my heart.
Far above my desire to marry is my desire to demonstrate God’s love to others. If He chooses to place me in a marriage relationship, where I can, along with a godly husband, demonstrate that love, then I will praise Him. If He decides to use me, as a single woman, to show His love to others, then I will praise Him. And, in the meantime, while I am not sure if my singleness is a permanent condition, or a temporary gift, I am grateful.
“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”