Most of us grow up expecting to marry someday. But what do you do when “someday” takes forever?
a 45-year-old single woman, I have had my share of surprises and
struggles. In my late 20s, I was surprised by how few resources there
were to help me maneuver through the challenges I was experiencing as a
I discovered there were numerous books on dating
and books that centered on contentment as a single, but I couldn’t find
much that addressed the tough things I faced day to day. More
importantly, I couldn’t find any books that simply validated what I was
are many misconceptions about singleness held by those who are married
and by singles themselves. If you are plagued by any of the questions
singles commonly ask, I encourage you to read on. If you’re married, the
answers may help you know how to respond to your single friends.
WHAT IF I AM ANGRY WITH GOD?
though we know it is sinful and makes no sense, some of us become angry
with God because He hasn’t given us a mate. We know the Bible says He
is good, loving and kind. He’s perfect!
Our head may agree with
what the Bible tells us, but there is a proverbial “12-inch drop”
between our heads and our hearts. That’s where the problem lies.
of the reasons it is so hard to win this battle to keep a pure heart
toward God is that everywhere we turn, there are reminders of what we
want but don’t have. These incessant reminders continually fuel our
longings and desires, day after day, year after year.
into another Christmas season thinking: I’m alone again this Christmas.
How many more Christmases must I endure this? Each season carries a
reminder that time is passing and we are still alone.
It is the
constancy of facing frustrated longings that fuels the temptation to be
angry with God. Your anger can be fueled by plaguing, unanswered
questions such as, “Why must I wait so long?” or, “Why have You blessed
my friends with a family but not me?”
Anger about your situation
can build inside you, and you want to blame somebody. In His
sovereignty, God has chosen or allowed singlehood for you, and you
The good news is that because God is merciful,
patient, compassionate and understanding, He beckons you to get your
pain out in the open, even though you have no right to be angry with
Him. He knows what is in your heart, so hiding it is futile.
The Lord began to deal with me about my anger toward Him. I knew I had to admit it, but I was reverentially fearful to do so.
one day several things went wrong in rapid succession, and I blew up. I
was driving to a church seminar, of all things, and started to yell at
Interspersed in my yelling were all kinds of apologies, such
as, “I’m sorry I feel this way. I know You are God, and I’m afraid to
be telling You this because You have every right to strike me dead, but
this is how I feel.”
I was telling God the truth about how I felt
and what I thought. But my thoughts were wrong. And my feelings were
the direct result of my wrong thinking.
However, God was the only
One equipped with what I needed to help me out of that dark place. I
had to start by being honest. At least then I was connecting with God
instead of turning my back on Him in hostility and fear.
acknowledging my anger, I opened an entry point for God to straighten
out my thinking. I’m not condoning being angry with God; it’s sin. But
we can’t pretend the anger isn’t there, and we can’t make it go away by a
sheer act of our will.
Acknowledgement is the starting point. Confession follows. Then God forgives and cleanses us (see 1 John 1:9).
really began to change for me after I acknowledged my anger. I believe
this was chiefly because I personally and tangibly experienced God’s
kindness as He permitted me to vent (see Rom. 2:4). The sin I was
spewing out on Him, He was putting on Jesus instead of turning on me
with righteous wrath.
God softened my heart and caused me to see
His true character again. I had lost sight of it because I had fallen
prey to deception–thinking that God was cruel because He was putting me
through or allowing me to go through so much pain.
and David all became angry with God (see Num. 11:11-15; Job 10; Ps.
73:21-22). I believe God recorded these examples to illustrate that
although we may encounter things in life that provoke us to anger, He
understands our humanity, and He is merciful to us when we come to Him.
All of us, married and single, have haunting questions that may not be resolved on this side of heaven.
times God gives us specific replies, but sometimes He does not. In
either case, we must exercise faith to deal with our questions.
If we don’t get a specific answer from God, we must exercise our faith to believe that:
* God has His reasons for not answering us directly.
* God is good even if His seeming lack of response to us makes it appear as though He is not.
* God will tell us more at a later time if He truly does want us to know the answer to our questions.
what is true about God’s character and nature ultimately resolves all
our questions, even when we don’t get specific answers about why we are
single. For example, if you are concerned that your current single state
has to do with past mistakes, you can rest in knowing God can use those
mistakes and turn them into something good.
The answer to
another commonly asked question, “Is there something wrong with me?”
does not matter. There’s something wrong with everyone, which includes
those who are married!
Scripture says, “For all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23, NKJV). Obviously people’s flaws don’t always hinder marriage.
even if there is something about you that is hindering marriage, God
can take care of it. Ask Him to address any issue that may be standing
in the way. Focus your attention on God’s ability to resolve the problem
more than on the problem itself.
IS GOD ALL WE NEED?
when single adults admit their longings for relationship, people
respond by advising them to deepen their relationship with God. This bad
theology has made the lives of singles more challenging by setting
forth the false notion that we should derive all relational satisfaction
solely from our relationship with Jesus.
Though it certainly is
true that Jesus is the ultimate source through which all our needs,
relational and otherwise, are met, He meets those needs in diverse ways.
Sometimes He does so directly, but often He does so through people or
We have to gain a new perspective on what happens
when singles are constantly directed to seek relational fulfillment in
Jesus when admitting their longings for a spouse, family or just
companionship. Although well-intentioned, this advice often implies that
our primary problem is that we are not close enough to God.
exhortations to grow closer to Jesus are good for all of us, this
counsel, so often shared with singles, can be interpreted to mean: “It
is wrong to look for relational satisfaction through people; look for it
only in God Himself. He is enough.” A single person who loves God but
still yearns for more can come under false guilt because he or she can’t
say, “No, God is not enough.”
Let’s sort out this twisted truth. Many Scriptures point to the actual necessity of human companionship.
2:18 says, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
reads, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for
In the Epistles alone there are more than 50
references to “one another.” “Love one another” (John 13:34), “forgiving
one another” (Col. 3:13), “serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
These verses illustrate the value God places on our relationships. Our lives were not meant to be lived with God alone.
are made in His image–an image that deeply desires relationship.
Although our relationship with God is primary, we need each other, too.
Single, Not Separate (Charisma House), I share my belief that God is
bringing about significant changes in His church so that singles will
become more integrated and included. This will serve to eliminate much
needless isolation in the future.
REAL PEACE FOR REAL STRUGGLES
you may be surprised by the things you are dealing with as a single.
You may choose to avoid admitting your struggles because you think you
should just “get over it.” Or perhaps you feel that experiencing pain
means you are an immature Christian.
Jesus said that in this
world, we would experience tribulation. But He also added, “Be of good
cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
As singles, we,
too, want to overcome through Him. And we can learn how to live well in
the midst of our struggles. Remember the words of Paul, “I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
have exhausted all your energy struggling to understand the answers to
questions that are beyond you, it really is OK to give up the fight. It
is not a sign of weakness to lower your head and say, “God, I just don’t
Neither are you a “bad” Christian for vigorously
asking these hard questions and seeking answers in the first place. God
does not despise you for asking, and you should not despise yourself for
quitting the quest, as long as you end your quest in trust, not defeat.
The greatest peace comes not in understanding the answers to our
plaguing questions but in having a submitted heart that rests in the
knowledge of God’s goodness despite everything that may argue to the
contrary. God will help you to surrender if you let Him.
Virginia McInerney is the author of Single, Not Separate, a sensible application of God’s Word on the single life, published by Charisma House.