If you’re over twenty and single, you probably have more in common with Gollum than you think.
No, I’m not saying you live in a cave. And with body wash freely available in any grocery store, I hope you don’t smell like fish. But, there is probably a part of you that winces any time you see a ring.
Seeing friends and family get engaged and married is awesome, but isn’t there part of us that screams “WE HATES IT?” every time we scroll through Facebook and see couples realize the ultimate goal of romantic bliss while we’re awaiting our turn? Isn’t there a little bit of bitterness behind our “So happy for you!” and heart emojis? Don’t we wonder why some people’s prayers for romantic happiness get answered while it seems like our calls to God go straight to voicemail?
If those things are true for you, here are three things to consider as you walk through the single struggle:
Don’t idolize relationships.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship. God wired us with a desire for intimacy, and He instituted marriage to be a pretty awesome symbol of His love for the church.
But, here’s the thing. Relationships are hard, and marriage is even harder. If you want a “fairy tale romance,” here are a few that are closer to reality: Cinderella and Charming not talking for six hours because of one stupid thing he said. Aladdin caring for Jasmine while she’s puking her guts out at 3:00 AM. Ariel and Prince TooLazyToGoogle struggling to find any time alone with two children running around destroying their house. Relationships and marriage rock; but, when two sinners are joined together, the difficulty level magnifies intensely. If you’re not trusting in Jesus now, good luck when showing patience, grace, and mercy becomes ten times more difficult.
Another important reminder: As a Christian, your identity is found in being saved by Jesus Christ, not in your relationship status. If you’re trusting in any other human to make you whole, relieve your insecurities, or fill some void in your life, you will place an unbearable burden on that person and be ultimately disappointed yourself.
Although this won’t always feel true, it’s far better to be single than to be in a bad relationship. Don’t lower the Bible’s standards. Don’t compromise your worth. Know that His grace is sufficient in your singleness.
Don’t treat your friends as consolation prizes.
“God has given you enough food to survive the desert and not die!”
“Yeah, but this food sucks! And it’s the same thing every day!”
So went the conversation as Israel ate manna while wandering. And so goes the conversation today.
We’re really good at downplaying God’s blessings in our lives. Instead of rejoicing in being employed, we grumble about how many hours we have or an annoying coworker. Instead of rejoicing in having a car, we complain when it starts making funny noises that we have to ignore (I mean, fix). And, instead of being glad that God has given us friends, we get bitter that we can’t date any of them.
If there are people in your life who love you, laugh with you, cry with you, and push you closer to Jesus, don’t view them as mere placeholders until you find romance. Cherish them. Value them. Let them know how much they mean to you. Don’t take the blessing of their friendship for granted. Because they won’t be there forever.
Don’t feel bad for feeling lonely.
I don’t know who wrote the rule that Christians aren’t allowed to struggle with feeling loneliness or abandonment, but it’s obvious to me that person never read Psalms. If King David said any of this in the pulpit today, we’d be sending him concerned tweets and signing his sympathy card:
“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.”- Psalm 25:16-17 (ESV)
“Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.”- Psalm 142:4 (ESV)
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”- Psalm 13:1-2 (ESV)
Sure, David was going through a little bit more than wanting a girlfriend. But the point is, people of God aren’t immune from feeling alone.
There are moments when being single absolutely sucks. There are times when you’ll long for the physical and emotional intimacy of a relationship. You may even wonder what’s so wrong with you that no one seems willing to even give you a date.
But Christian, know this: You have a High Priest who can sympathize with your weakness, and He felt loneliness to the highest imaginable degree as He died for your sins. As the Father turned away because He couldn’t look upon the weight of sin that His Son now bore, Jesus cried out “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
In moments of loneliness and despair, cry out to Jesus. He is there. He hears you. He knows what you need before you ask.
You are not defined by your singleness. You are not alone. You are not forgotten.