It isn’t good to be alone.

It isn’t good to be alone. Especially on a holiday. I’ve talked about the issue of long term singleness a number of times on this blog. I broke up with my boyfriend when I was 25 and had a deep emotional crisis, probably clinical depression, that started around my 26th birthday and lasted until right before I started dating my husband a year and a half later. I acknowledge the absurdity of me speaking with any authority to friends in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s who’ve experienced decades of frustrating singleness when my own experience was so short. But here goes anyway.

My experience is that there comes a moment as a single woman where it just stops being fun. Where you are done with the single scene, worn out by meat markets, and frustrated by well meaning but insensitive friends or family who keep suggesting the wrong guys to you. I remember feeling like I needed to talk myself into marrying someone that friends thought was good for me but who made me feel like dying inside personally. Was he my last chance at happiness? Being a Christian single woman is hard!

And I don’t think it gets easier. I only seriously struggled with unfulfilled longing for about a year and a half. I have many godly friends who have struggled with it much longer. A few months ago, one shared with me how she keeps thinking she’s dealt with the emotions and put them to rest, just for them to resurface months later. Each resurfacing of pain is particularly hard. “Hadn’t I gotten past that?! Not again!”

Another friend this week shared with me her struggle to figure out her life at this stage. She thought she’d be at a different place in life at this point. She would have done so much differently if she had realized she would still be single into her late 40’s. There’s a temptation to point out the positives in her life. Isn’t that how we like to counsel/encourage people sometimes? “Hey, it’s not so bad. Look at all the opportunity you have. Look at all the people who love you. You’ve done this, this, and this that you couldn’t have done if you had a family.” Blah, blah, blah.

Instead, I think there’s something profound to be learned from God at creation noting that it is “not good” to be alone. That’s monumental. In PERFECTION, it’s not good to be alone. Single friend, I encourage you to stop kicking yourself when the painful feelings of loss arise in your heart. Don’t fall into the “why am I not past this” mentality. You aren’t past it because it’s a really deep need! I can’t imagine trying to guilt someone who had lost a loved one to death when recurring feelings of grief arise. But we often project such guilt onto our single friends. It’s normal to feel grief! You feel grief and restlessness because you bear the image of God. Because you are like Him.

I’ve talked about this broader theme a lot lately. It’s the idea of godliness with contentment. Because you are godly – you love God and have God-given longings – you experience restlessness with the things in your life that don’t reflect His perfect created order. I received this timely email from a reader this morning who gave me permission to post her question.

“Whilst you were single desiring marriage did you find that it was once you were content in your singleness that the Lord brought forth you a husband? Alot of the time I come across articles and personal testimonies whereby its often cited “once I was content in the Lord” or “once I had enough faith” or “once I stopped doing x and did y” the Lord blessed me with a spouse. Doesn’t this show that its based on man’s efforts and not on God’s sovereignty and grace which none of us are deserving of. I know many women who are mature and very content in the Lord who desire marriage and motherhood but the Lord has not opened His hand to give them these roles.”

Succinct and well put. Heaven knows God didn’t wait until I had it all together in my singleness to give me my husband. And I know many women experiencing infertility who struggle with the same idea. “What is the lesson I have to learn before God will give me a child?!” No, friend! Your sisters in Christ with husbands and/or children did not EARN that good gift by their obedience or faith. It only takes a cursory look at society to know that for a fact. You aren’t single because you squandered your last chance at happiness with your last boyfriend (which is what I thought during my particularly depressed time. I learned that you don’t have to talk yourself into marrying a guy with whom you aren’t at peace just because you think it’s the last opportunity you are going to have.)

So what is godliness with contentment in these circumstances? It it NOT bucking yourself up to be all happy and smiley with your situation. Contentment is not a command to be OK with something God Himself says is not good. You long for something that is normal to long for by the very nature of your creation by God. Yet in our fallen world, that God-given aspect of your nature is unfulfilled. Contentment is understanding that you are not left as an orphan in this longing. You can say, “This sucks!” Because it does, but you can say it hand in hand with God, who said it first but in nobler terms. And you can say it knowing that you are equipped by the gospel to do battle and not be overwhelmed in this season.

If there is a lesson to learn in your singleness, it’s to stay engaged with God in the wrestling. It’s not to put to death longings that are part of your very God-given nature. And it’s not to disengage with God because He refuses to answer those longings. It’s to stay engaged with Him, alternately crying out in longing and resting in peace in His arms, calling on Him at every moment to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs exposed by your unfulfilled longing.

It’s not good for man or woman to be alone. And God has not left you to navigate this by yourself! You are not married. But you are not an orphan. May the vision of your very good Father in heaven holding your hand through this season uphold and encourage you this day.

59 Responses to It isn’t good to be alone.

  1. Michelle May 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    I just linked over to this post from my blog. I needed to hear/read this! Thanks for the thoughts.

  2. Paige May 31, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    I just found your blog and am thanking God for your words. You are writing about things in such a well thought out way. I really appreciate it.

  3. eva May 31, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Thank you. A timely word for me – thanks for sharing & encouraging us!

  4. Sheryl May 31, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    Great post Wendy, thank you. I've been reading “Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye” by Carolyn McCulley which addresses the same themes. I highly recommend the book for all single women, but especially for those, like myself, who are older & still single.

  5. Anonymous May 31, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    I am a single mom…. widowed for 12 years now, raised my son alone… not able to live the adventure of a single life, not able to share the joy of family life…. The crying out to God, and resting in Him is the only life I know… thank you for affirming that it is ok to feel and express both… calling it a season hurts though… it seems like a life sentence…. I hope and pray it is a season and God gives me a change of season, a husband to love and serve… would love to have you, or other godly women, address single mothering…

  6. Wendy May 31, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    Single mothering is a big issue. And I don't have any practical experience. But I will keep my eyes open for those who do and who can speak into this. You are right — there is a void on this subject and it is very needed.

  7. Joanna May 31, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Thank you! This post was very helpful and encouraging.

    I've been wrestling with the grieving lately. At the moment I am getting quite a few wedding invites, have a lot of non-married friends in serious relationships and yet am about to come to the end of another season of life (one I was pretty sure i'd meet someone in) single and not having been asked out for this season's several year duration. I am so genuinely happy for my dating/engaged/married friends but sometimes it does sting a bit. Grieving is a good way to describe how I feel sometimes. Grieving that things aren't turning out how I had planned and that there doesn't seem to be any sign of that changing soon. Grieving missing the experience of being in love that my friends appear to be enjoying so much. Grieving that I haven't been good enough or pretty enough or whatever to get a guys attention. I really am grateful for the things singleness has made it easier to do, but that doesn't make dealing with the longing any easier. It is hard to talk about with friends because I am still fairly young and have an otherwise pretty good life so would probably sound utterly desperate and obsessed when I do.

  8. Niki May 31, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    Thank you for this post Wendy, you have brought up some really good points.

  9. krista May 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    very well said! thank you for the encouragement!

  10. Jen May 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Oh wow, I could write a book on this … you're so right. Marriage isn't a “reward” you get once you've reached the magical state of contentment. And when you get older and see people you used to babysit get married, it HURTS! But God is GOOD. I want to testify to His goodness–I got married this year, I'm 33, I wore a size 20 wedding dress (so I'm not skinny by any means), and God brought me an amazing, godly man who's better than I could have ever asked for. There is always hope! Don't squash hope. Sometimes I wished hope would die. I begged God to take it away so I could shut down my heart. But He refused. 🙂

  11. Sarah May 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Thank you for this post! A friend sent me the link to this to be an encouragement to me, and I am glad she did! I am the leader of a single ladies ministry, and it seems like I am the one always doing the encouraging in this area. Thank you for giving me some encouragement!!!

  12. Denise :) May 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    I am always encouraged when reading your posts. Thank you for your forthrightness and honesty and truth. 🙂

  13. Wendy May 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Thanks, all, for the encouraging feedback. Jen, your comment reminded me of this quote from C. S. Lewis.

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers … of love is Hell.”

  14. Ev May 31, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am 56-years-old, and I have been divorced for about 15 years. I have struggled with this for all that time. And I waver between giving up and determining to be content in my singleness – recognizing all the blessings. Then, I will have a dream of one who loves me as I am, tenderly and sweetly, and all my contentment is undone.

    It is so funny that I read this this morning because in my quiet time God brought to my heart His pronouncement that it is not good to be alone. So amazing when He does things like this.

    And so, I am praying for love, for a man to share my life with, and yet I am giving it up to God. Whether He grants such a blessing in my life or not, I know that He will meet my needs. And, I recognize that I MUST guard against complaining or feeling sorry for myself.

    Also, today, as I was before the Lord, He reminded me that He is able. Even as He provided quail for Israel in the wilderness in such abundance that for a whole month over 600,000 people were gorged with it.

    Even so, He is able to provide someone like me with a man who will love and cherish me, and whom I can love and respect. If He so chooses, if that is His will for me.

    As I said, just so totally amazes me that the Lord can confirm His Word to me so quickly and surely! Thank you again for sharing God's truth!

  15. Ev May 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    In response to Jen: Thank you for sharing, and congratulations. Your comment was particularly meaningful to me as I am 56-years old and over a size 20. And, even though I was married for 23-years, I have NEVER felt attractive or desired in my entire life. So, you can imagine how hard it can be for me to believe that there is anyone out there that could love me. Your honesty and your testimony are encouraging. Thank you!

  16. SundA May 31, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Wendy, I have been reading your blog and this is just the first time that I felt I had enough time to respond right away with heart felt grattitude for thinking this through and caring enough to share it with someone like me who can only respond with tears of joy.

  17. Wendy May 31, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Your comment brings me joy, SundA. You are a good friend. (((hug)))

  18. Jocelyn May 31, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Your posts are so encouraging. I like what you said about contentment not being a command to be OK with something that is not good. Thank you, Wendy, for writing, and thank you, Holy Spirit, for teaching!

  19. Brenda Rodgers June 1, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    My only desire was to be a wife and mother. I was single for much longer than I anticipated or desired, and it was such a difficult life stage. However, God had me where He needed me to be so that I can become what He wants me to become. That does not mean that I didn't like it or that I would choose it for myself again, but I just had to keep telling myself, “God loves me more than I can ever imagine, and He knows what is best for me always.” I talk to single women now and feel their pain like it is a fresh wound of my own. God is now using my life and experience to minister to single women in my life and church.

  20. Sarah June 1, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Oh, my heart is crying out in pain as I read this.

    I went through a broken engagement last year and my ex is getting married in June. Meanwhile I met this really great guy online and had hope in my heart for the first time in a long time, only to suddenly have him decide we were too far (4 hrs) apart (even though he said he was OK with a LDR)…this was after lots of in-depth conversations and questions and telling me he thought we were a great match.

    What's wrong with me??? What have I done to deserve this rejection and hurt over and over? I am honestly starting to really HATE this desire for marriage and family….it feels much to cruel to have it dangled in my face and torn away like this.

  21. not2brightGRAM June 1, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    I was in a horrible marriage for twenty years. When he left me for another woman and I went through a five year season of being single again, I discovered it had been more lonely being married to the “wrong” man, than to not be married at all. I wasn't nearly as empty. Wondering if I would ever be married again *was* still painful, of course. I'm thankful that I am now remarried to a widower.

  22. ibcarlos June 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Warning: “Man-Thoughts” Ahead! (c:

    Seriously, this article is a great reminder (to both sexes) of how wrong it often is to try to “resolve” the Providential tensions that exist in this earth-bound state.

    Thanks for being so bold, madam!

  23. Jen June 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Sarah, I know what you mean about it feeling “cruel” to desire marriage and family. Over and over I begged God to take away that desire from me, but He wouldn't. He is a good God, and I truly believe that if He's given you that desire–and I do believe it's a desire He gives–He will fulfill it in His time.

  24. Anonymous June 1, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Great post! I'm wondering, however, if you have thoughts you'd care to share on the dearth of quality Christian guys. I was single until my mid-40s. My single friends and I could not help but notice the number of supposed “Christian” guys who really were just looking for arm candy.

  25. Wendy June 1, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Anonymous, that hasn't been my experience. Instead, I know almost as many long term great single guys as I do single women, equally frustrated by many of the same projections our culture puts on them. Maybe even more so, because in our Christian culture we view the guys as having more options — “If you'd just get your bum in gear and ask a girl out … ” like they aren't constrained by God's sovereignty as well. Many are doing all they know to be pursuing the right Christian woman. Yet, like women, they can do everything right and still not have a wife. It just doesn't work like that.

  26. Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Please explain that comment Wendy… men are encouraged in the bible to “find a wife”… they are free to look and choose any christian woman they would be equally yoked to… they are given permission to seek, find, ask, and marry as they desire… Women must wait, and hope to be chosen and there are MANY, MANY more older single women than men in the church. If men follow the bible, they are free to marry a christian woman, at will! They do not need to wait for “special permission”… for God to speak to them personally and give them permission – the bible says “be fruitful and multiply”, “find a wife”! They do not need to wait for God to tell them who to marry… as long as they are following biblical counsel, they are permitted to marry any christian they choose. Just how do you see God's sovereignty constraining them?

  27. Wendy June 2, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    Any guy care to jump in and explain?

    It's like saying that because a guy is commanded to provide for his family it's his fault that he doesn't have a job. For some guys, sure, they are squandering opportunity. But for many, many guys, God Himself seems to thwart their attempts. I think they are a smaller group within our Christian subculture, but the mental battles they face navigating long term singleness are as real as those of women.

  28. Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    If we need jobs, there are jobs… the paper is full of them… we can train, get help preparing for a job, get prayer and encouragement from the church… take any job offered (fast food, delivering newspapers are always available) and work with excellence and to His glory… there are jobs out there if we are willing to take the lowliest positions, and we hopefully can work hard and create more opportunities for ourselves…

    Men can get counseling, take marriage and relationship classes, read books, get training and preparation from older wiser married men, and pray… they have it within their power to overcome any obstacles within themselves and then seek and find a wife… Women can heal, prepare and pray the same as men, and then they must sit and wait… there is nothing more they can do to “be fruitful and multiply”. No matter how healthy and holy they become, they are at the mercy of the men in their lives, hoping for God's grace and the sovereign gift of a husband… I do not believe God thwarts men's attempts to marry. That is contrary to His word. Very few are actually created, called and gifted with a real gift of celibacy to live God led single lives. Men who feel thwarted need help assessing their situation and may need healing, counseling, prayer and preparation…. and God may need them to do these things before He helps them find a wife, but if they are burning with desire He wants them to heal, prepare, pick a wife and marry!! Women, must just sit there and wait until a man chooses them… no matter how they prepare and pray… they must sit and wait and are at the mercy of God and the mercy of the men in their lives…. Men may have to battle battles to prepare for marriage but it is not biblical to be single long term if God created you for marriage so men who are single but created for marriage need to follow God's word, prepare, pray, pick and marry! Women can prepare, pray, but are not able to be obediant and marry unless a man chooses them! This puts single men and women in very different circumstances… One needs to just get going, get prepared and be obediant,the other needs to get prepared and then somehow pray and hope and wait…

  29. Wendy June 2, 2011 at 3:56 am #

    Quote: “If we need jobs, there are jobs… the paper is full of them… we can train, get help preparing for a job, get prayer and encouragement from the church… take any job offered (fast food, delivering newspapers are always available) and work with excellence and to His glory… there are jobs out there if we are willing to take the lowliest positions, and we hopefully can work hard and create more opportunities for ourselves…”

    No, no, no! You have obviously not yet been thwarted in something society thought should come easily for you. “If only you try harder.” I remember walking with my husband during a year of unemployment when Walgreens, UPS, and cable companies wouldn't call him back despite his credentials as an engineer. It does NOT work so simply.

  30. Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    I was laid off last year, unable to get a job in my profession yes – but unable to get any job? No, there are plenty of jobs to take and then humbly work your way up with God's grace… not fun, but not DENIED by God… totally different idea than a woman DENIED by God to do anything to get married except wait for a christian man to choose her… Take any job, do your best, pray for God to promote you… Very different than just wait, MAYBE a christan man will choose you… but there is nothing you can do but wait…

  31. Wendy June 2, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Well, the analogy breaks down pretty quickly, for while you can take any job, it is not wise to marry just any person. You seem to think that Joe Christian Guy can just make it happen — walk up to a woman, choose that he's going to make it work with her, and then it works. Yet many good guys have been thwarted in what you make sound like a simple process.

    I'm curious of your views of the sovereignty of God.

  32. Debs June 2, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Wendy, Thanks so much for your thoughts on this subject. As a single woman of 35 who would love to be married, it's subject that I have given some thought to.
    Whilst I agree about it not being good to be alone, and not feeling guilt about grieving what is good and you do not have, how do you think this fits it with what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7? Particularly v. 38 “So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better”, or v.40 “Yet in my judgement she is happier if she remains as she is”?
    Maybe it's too big an issue to reply to in “comments”, but I'd be really interested to hear what you (or indeed anyone else) think(s).

  33. Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Wendy, I do think Joe Christian can keep healing, preparing, praying, seeking, meeting, and making an effort to court godly Christian women until one chooses him back… it is a process, but I do believe any (healthy) Christian man with a burning desire to marry will find a Christian woman who will want to marry him, and will be able to fulfill the “be fruitful and multiply”. It may take time, and effort, but there are so many godly women out there desiring to fulfill their roles as wife and mother, if he gets healthy and prepared and keeps seeking, eventually he will find a wife that will choose him back.

    The sovereignty of God is definitely the issue here… Yes, I hold a high view of God and definitely believe in His sovereignty… in every area of life… and yet the world is broken and full of sin. So many men are not obeying, being godly men, rising up in the church to lead and marry…. at this moment in time, there is an actual numbers shortage of older Christian men available and making committments to marry the older Christian women… I do not think this is God's will, just brokenness and sin in the world that is causing this situation at this time in history. God is sovereign…. but this is a moment of great suffering due to brokenness and sin… the culture of feminism, divorce, self centered extended adolescence has taken quite a toll and left many of us grieving for an opportunity to love and serve as we were created and long to do….

  34. Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    First Anonymous, I know many women who would agree with you and who spend lots of time decrying the lack of activity among single men for women like themselves. I'm a woman and I was married in my mid-twenties, but let me present the other side of the story from my first-hand observations and discussions with evangelical guys in their twenties and thirties.

    The only older single people at the particular church I attend are men, some of whom have certainly pursued marriage over many years and been rejected multiple times. Among the twenties and early thirties set the gender balance skews male. Some of the guys have recently been able to find wives through committed searching, but others – despite being active in their church, committed to Christ, in stable jobs, even homeowners, and intentionally putting themselves in places where they can meet godly women since our church does not have women who would take them – have been repeatedly rejected by women, some of whom are self-described as “picky.”

    In the twenties and thirties church group I attended for a time there were several young men who were clearly eager to get married. They were active in the church and the group and sought out each and every woman who came through the door as a potential friend and perhaps something more. The women, on the other hand, were extremely selective. This is a direct quote from one: “How come all the women at are so awesome, but the guys just…aren't?” As a woman in the group I agree that many of the women were blessed by God with talent, grace, and even looks. Some of them, unfortunately, were also mired in pride and a sense of self-superiority among other things (myself soundly included at times). And when you looked at the guys these women ended up with after breaking heart after heart in the group it would be pretty hard not to draw the conclusion that “arm candy” and big salaries factored pretty heavily into some decisions.

    I understand that throughout evangelical churches in America there are more single women than single men and so the situations I've described may be rare, but to assume that a guy just has to pick a girl and go for it is simplistic and, in my experience, not the case.

  35. Wendy June 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    AnonymousB, that was helpful. Thanks.

    Debs, I appreciate your comment. We have to hold both, not prefer one over the other. Allowing each to interpret the other. Right now, they just sound contradictory. Paradoxical. I need to meditate more on how both inform the other.

    My first reaction is that the Cor. passage protects us (if we obey its instructions) from insinuating that singles have a lesser valuable life in the kingdom. Marriage is not the end all in God's service. It's not good in one sense, but it's not bad in the other.

  36. Anonymous June 3, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    I appreciate your experience Anonymous B – I have never seen a church with more single men than women, in any age group. If that is the case… there are many other churches, singles groups, online communities, where single men can find tons of single women… they are not limited to seek in one church… again, they have all the choices in the world as it is their gift to choose. They, as the spiritual leaders, can then lead a godly single woman to the church they feel God wants them to be in as a married couple. Single women do not have the opportunity to seek, so they must be found, and they do not have the opportunity to choose the church they will go to as a couple, so they need to be in the kind of church they feel God is leading them to worship and serve in if they hope to have a man with similar doctrine find them. I am so sorry for the men you describe who are being mistreated by the selfish single women you describe… I just have never seen that and I know so many single women that would be so grateful for a godly man of integrity! I have no desire to be a man, I have great respect for Christian men and I pray for their strength and courage! I would be so honored for a godly one to choose me… to desire me to love, honor, respect and obey him in marriage! I just feel men have choices… women must wait and pray… and I would love suggestions, advice as to how to continue to do that joyfully after waiting for so long my hope and dreams of a family are no longer possible… (in the natural).

  37. April June 3, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    To add onto what Anonymous b said, I know many single guys in their late 30s and early 40s who have actively pursued women and dated, but after rejection after rejection, it's hard for them to keep the faith and keep facing possible rejection-MUCH like us women who feel rejected because we're not “chosen” by anyone. They really don't have it that easy!

    And I agree-I know way too many believers-women and men-who are picky about the wrong things. They are looking for someone who is perfect-aka someone who does not exist.

    Before I was married, I struggled with everything you mentioned Wendy-and I can't tell you how much I HATE when people say, “When I was content, then I met someone.” ick.

    I was not always content when God brought me a husband-I went through seasons of contentment and discontentment. I didn't arrive-it's simply that God was done using singleness in my life to sanctify me and decided marriage was the next sanctification process I needed at this time in my life.

  38. Wendy June 3, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    Anonymous, it sounds like you don't feel free to join an online community such as eharmony or something similar. Am I reading your comment correctly? If so, why don't you feel free to do that?

  39. Anonymous June 3, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    I am online, I share my faith, haven't met any 40 – 50 yr old men who share my faith (sound doctrine) and want a woman their own age for a biblical marriage… I am trying to figure out the sovereignty of God… sanctification by way of being created for and called to marriage, and then not being given the opportunity to serve in the ministry of marriage?

  40. Wendy June 3, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    I'm praying for you, Anonymous. I don't have any easy answers. I have my own unfulfilled desires with which I am wrestling, and the struggle to endure in the waiting is exhausting. And my desires are nothing nearly as serious and life altering as marriage and children. May God meet you tonight, this week, this month, and this year in these unfulfilled desires and show you beautiful things about Himself that sustain you in the waiting.

  41. Anonymous June 3, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Thank you Wendy, you are very kind. The compassion you have just shared means the world to me… I am “married” to the Lord, and I love serving Him and the church… thank you for caring enough to write and encourage us in our journeys, and bless you so much for sharing mine for a moment… for a moment, I was not alone in my ache for understanding and compassion…

  42. Jen June 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    Thought I'd pop back in here to recommend boundless.org. It's a good site/blog run by Focus on the Family. I've been very encouraged by it over the years.

  43. R June 4, 2011 at 1:09 am #

     With regard to AnonymousA's posts in which she speaks of the preferential position of single Christian men – one thing that I have found heartening as I've worked through this issue is this – either God is sovereign or He's not. And Scripture says and life confirms that He is. Yes, as AnonymousA wisely pointed out, it's a broken world but God is and always had been powerful to work through our brokeness and falleness, our terrible decisions as well as our wise ones to bring about His perfect will. Just as Our Sovereign glorious God has never been constrained by the worst evil, so that same God can not be constrained by what AnonymousA has experienced as a lack of  sufficient decisive godly men in the church. Isn't that glorious? God's ways and thoughts are beyond mine but He is in total, loving, perfect control of every detail in the world including my marital status and the factors that might change it.
    It seems to me that in one post AnonymousA has been investing single Christian men in her mind with a power that only God has – to bestow life changing favour on selected women at will. Not only do I, currently a single woman, agree from experience with other posters that it's nowhere near as simple as that for Christian men. I also think it's key to not project feelings of frustration at how God is acting in our lives on others-be they Christian men, our ministers/ churches, our general culture or someone else. There may be – and are -things wrong with all of these but we know, that if He chose to, God could overrule in them and still grant marriage – indeed He does, just not (so far) in our case. And there's the rub. But in coming direct to our living, loving Sovereign God with our frustrations rather than blaming other elements which are totally under His control, we're giving Him the glory He deserves by remembering that He – not putative useless/absent Christian men or our broken society – is God. We're becoming like the Psalmist or Job and most wonderfully our Lord Jesus in Gethsemane acknowledging God in our pain and perplexity, casting our anxieties on Him because He cares for us. In coming to Him as the God who's hands can not be tied, we are remembering that He is the God who is powerful enough not just to change our current circumstances but, even more miraculously, our hearts as we face our current circumstances. Ps 62vv11-12 reminds us just what He is like: “Once God has spoken;
       twice have I heard this:
    that power belongs to God,
       and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”
    God is in perfect loving total control so we can seek His grace to :
    “Trust in him at all times, O people;
       pour out your heart before him;
       God is a refuge for us.” (Ps 62v8)

    Praying that AnonymousA and others will come to know and praise  the Lord more fully and joyfully even as we struggle with loneliness and other frustrations. 

  44. SingleANDTiredOfIT!! June 4, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    It's really hard to hold on to faith when it seems you are doing all you can as a christian and waiting on God and nothing seems to be happening or when someone does come your way and you do your due diligence and pray and ask and hear nothing…you carry one believing you are on the right path. Invest time and energy only for it to end abruptly.

    I am the common denominator…it's hard not to wonder what (if anything) is wrong with me. Why isn't God speaking to me on this issue that dear to his and my heart?

    I have also prayed he just take away the desire if it's not in my books…no such luck. At least if i know it not suppose to happen i can spin my wheels doing other things *sigh*

    Thanks for your write up

  45. Wendy June 4, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    I've had a few devastating disappointments lately, though not as big as the desire for marriage and children. The sustaining thought that I have to go to in those moments is that when I am sitting with Jesus in heaven at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, I will NOT be disappointed. There is not one turn God allowed in my life that I will regret at that point. There is NO unfulfilled desire that I will resent Him for. I KNOW beyond any shadow of a doubt that my current disappointments will fade, and in that moment I will not be disappointed in any way. That hope sustains me when nothing else does.

    Romans 9:33
    just as it is written,
    “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE,
    AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

  46. Anonymous June 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Dear R –
    This is Anonymous A again, thank you so much for your beautiful post. I am trying so hard to grow and understand… If you or anyone can help me…. I do get that God is sovereign and could change our circumstances if he wanted to…and that He uses/causes all things to work together to help us become more like Jesus, to glorify God… which is the point of life. I just thought He allows some things, not directly chooses them for us… and so some of our suffering is due to the brokenness and sin in the world (ours and others), not God's heart and desire for us… and so if we (individually and corporately) pray and declare God's goodness and truth and encourage one another (and our churches and Christian men) in the truth of His word, He will answer our prayers and heal the brokenness and let His mercy flow….I have never blogged before, just hoping my words can bring understanding and evoke prayer and we can declare truth and ask for God's mercy to rain down on us and our culture… praying for His kindness that leads to repentence and obediance and joy.

    Wendy… thank you for your last comment… ultimately, that is the most loving and sustaining hope there is… someday God will wipe our tears and the rejection and hurt will end… thank you for sharing, that is ultimately a truth I can hold on to and that is enough reason to live and to love… and I pray the Lord meets you and touches your heart and your disappointments turn into beautiful redemptions and healings that bless you beyond any pain you have suffered and glorify Him beyond your hopes and dreams… bless you!

    I

  47. missjubilee June 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Thank you for the post. I had the same sort of question/issue even way back in high school, when an older college girl at my summer camp shared with the female junior staff how it was only when she was finally content with her singleness and focused on God that God brought her alongside her fiance. I'd heard it before and have heard it since. But to my overly logical mind, that is a curse if it's true – once I know contentment leads to marriage, I can never be truly content in him, because there will always be some part of my mind thinking “am I content enough yet, focused on God enough yet? do I get the prize now? rats, I thought about wanting a husband, now I have to start all over again!” I have struggled with that idea for years, it's so hard to turn off even though I know marriage isn't some sort of prize for being spiritual enough. Hm, maybe it's almost a curse even though it's not true. It contains some truth, though, that we cannot live focused on what we want but do not have. Better to focus on our Heavenly Father… thank you for pointing out that it's OK to still have that need, though. I try to let go, and you're right, it pops up again later, and again, and again… A wise woman in her early 60's told me a couple years ago that she has to put it to rest again every year or two or three, and it comforted me to know I'm not alone.

  48. Anonymous June 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    AnonymousA, while not all Christians believe the same thing on the sovereignty of God, I personally believe that the Scripture teaches that God chooses all things that happen to us, though he is not responsible for sin. Look at Proverbs 21:1, Dueteronomy 29:31, James 4:13-16, Job 1:20-21, Job 37:10-14, Daniel 4:35, Proverbs 19;21, Lamentations 3:37-38, Proverbs 16:33, and so many more. This article by John Murray goes into detail about God's sovereignty as foreordaining and sustaining every area of life throughout all time.

    Yes, we should absolutely pray for what we want, and absolutely trust that God is good (Romans 8:28 and so many more), but we have to understand that he is good in all things, and even the disappointments, trials, sufferings, and experiences of being sinned against are from his hand. As Martin Luther put it, “Even the Devil is God's devil.” Even Satan's acts are not outside of God's plans and he will turn even those things for our good – how much more the actions of mere people!

    May God continue to grow your understanding of and love for him.

    -AnonymousB

  49. Anonymous June 8, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    God says he “sets the single in families”… Many of us who are single late in life don't have relationships with the families from our childhood, don't have churches that embrace us, bond with us and really become our family…. yet we were meant for real communion with one another, to live our lives with one another… we are meant to live in deep community, to love and be loved… we need that support and guidance, care and concern from others who really know us and love us.

    It is this deep biblical longing for community, to love and be loved that is so very hard to fulfill outside of a marriage and the extended family that brings into our lives. Many of us are not selfishly longing for our own way, but have real human needs that Jesus says, and desires, to meet through His human family on earth. Our families, society, and churches are so broken it is very hard to have our human needs for relationship and community met as a single today. Being very busy in ministry, or off on a mission trip, without the human understanding, empathy, companionship, encouragement and loving rebuke of real community is very hard…. I do believe if we had the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ, the love, respect, and support of our churches, if we were truly loved, truly adopted as family, by the Family of God… our loneliness would melt and we would find ourselves in loving service and relationships with our friends and church family, happily having a place in the family as an “Auntie”.
    “Sister”, or “Mother” in people's lives… and being loved, accepted and valued by God's family… we could then receive and believe in the love we have in our “Husband” – our Maker.

  50. Wenatchee the Hatchet June 10, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    The jobs, very frequently, are actually not there. It is very easy to pin a great deal of blame on unmarried Christian men but there are some important and troubling reasons the financial downturn we've seen has been called a “mancession”. More jobs lost in the recession have effected men. Jobs are being created but not necessarily jobs on which a family could be supported and the average complementarian Christian won't accept the idea that the wife should ever substantially outearn her husband anyway, as that would be “unbiblical”.

    Yet more women are earning advanced degrees than men; more advanced degrees are yielding less employment bang for an increasing amount of bucks; and many industries in which men have historically worked have foundered as a consequence of 1) decades of bad fiscal policy coming home to roost and 2) decades of exporting our manufacturing base overseas to improve short-term profit at the expense of a domestic job market for men who can't afford higher education. In this historical and cultural setting unmarried men are being told by evangelicals that they are what is wrong with society and that their sin of not marrying Christian women already is what is wrong with today's Church. Just go find a job (but not just any job) find a woman already, and fulfil God's appointed role for you in culture.

    But I've known a few guys in their 30s who aren't married and REALLY want to be married but have been shot down for decades. I've never bothered to even try since I've never been financially stable enough to consider marriage as a serious option. Since I got laid off 20 months ago and have spent all my savings just trying to keep a roof over my head while I hunt for work without success it's not as though the subject of what an unmarried Christian man does or doesn't do to “pursue a wife” is an abstraction to me. A great deal of what evangelicals teach on this subject is legalism dressed up as “God's design” that is as burdensome to the unmarried man as it is to an unmarried woman. Those burdens make themselves felt in different ways, perhaps, but they are not lighter burdens merely for being different.

  51. Wendy June 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Thanks for adding, Jeremiah!!

  52. Anonymous June 19, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    I hear you…I could have written this. It's just not fun anymore.

  53. Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    thank you for this encouraging post. just a few days ago i had a chat with a guy that i've been friends with for ayear and a half. I'm 27, he's 28 and we're both christians. we have been very good friends since we met and we both like each other but we are not in courtship. he is happy just being close friends. but i was growing dissatisfied with a close friendship so i asked him how he feels about courtship. he said he is not ready to take that giant step. he says he is happy being friends for now, but he hopes to date me one day when he is ready. But he doesn't know when he will be ready. i was so crushed. And i cried so much because i felt my hopes had been dashed. i dont know how to relate with him now. I'm so hurt and i feel like i should stay as far away from him as possible in order for my heart to heal.

    thx for the encouragement to keep wrestling with God because i had wanted to stop. ultimately, only God is able to satisfy the desires of our hearts. But we have to put our hope and trust in him..

  54. Anonymous June 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Maybe someone's already said this…I haven't read through all the comments. But I think sometimes we confuse “content” with “satisfied.” I can eat a big, wholesome meal and KNOW that I've had enough; my stomach is filled, and I'm not starving. Yet, I still want dessert. But I don't NEED dessert…I'm content, but not satisfied.

    As a 30 year old single who still yearns for marriage, I rejoice in the wholesome fullness of the single years God has given me: I'm content. But I still long deeply for the sweetness of that special relationship: I'm not satisfied.

    Yet, that very lack of satisfaction drives me to my Heavenly Bridegroom, who alone brings lasting satisfaction and eternal joy so unimaginable that even the best temporal relationship can't compare.

  55. Kevin October 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Ok. This is WAY late and may or may not even be read. There was some talk in the comments about men also being under The Sovereignty of God (good line) and then some questioning as to why some older single men are still unmarried. I just wanted to provide one perspective that I really cannot fully explain and honestly do not know anyone else who feels the same way. It is true that the man should lead in the relationship, and that includes asking out and pursuing the woman he is interested in. Certainly, as men, we have failed in this respect and I believe reflects a lack of courage more than anything. The thing that I find different for me (and like I said, I can't really tell you why I feel this way), is that I do not feel the permission of God to pursue a woman right now. I have tried things in the past and none of them have worked out. But, what is weird, is that I never felt like it was ok or that God approved. Honestly, I have spent the last 5 years getting to know God closer, digging deep into His Word, wrestling with Him. It has been tremendously difficult, but also amazingly profitable. I was someone who grew up in a Christian family and good Bible believing churches. But, I thought that being a good Christian meant being nice, kind, smiling, being polite and avoiding the filthy five or dirty dozen. Certainly never admitting that anything was wrong or that I needed help in anything or that maybe the Christianity I thought was Christianity, was not real Christianity (which I have found was not). For me, I sense a strong pull to get married, love my wife and family, raise kids to love Jesus more than anything, provide, protect, prepare etc. But, I also sense a strong pull (and it has been prevailing for 5 plus years now) to pursue Christ relentlessly, study His Word, find out what I believe and should believe, find out what true Christianity (religion according to the apostle James) is, learn the practicalities of life etc. I wonder if the reason I do not sense God's permission to seek a Godly wife is b/c I am not yet ready, even though I am 34 years old now. It seems like God's time table may be different for different people. I have found that age does not mean maturity. Other posts at this blog site have done a wonderful job of describing what true masculinity is, and we know that it does not really have to do with externals. Hopefully this provides at least one helpful perspective.

  56. Anonymous November 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Thank you; that's all I can say. Thank you.

  57. Anonymous September 11, 2012 at 2:18 am #

    Honest, kind and gentle. Your words brought tears to my eyes. This is the most balanced approach to the issue I have ever seen. Thank you.

  58. Anonymous February 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you so much for this encouraging article! I'm 40 years old, and when I broke up with my last boyfriend at 23 and got baptized, I would have never thought that I would stay single for so long. Of course I'm afraid that this status will never change, but I do recognize that I must cling to the Lord and really stay engaged with Him in this path. He knows what's best for me and when!

  59. Sarah July 14, 2016 at 2:38 am #

    Just wanted to thank you for this post. I first read it two years ago, and it was just what I was needing. I was beating myself up for grieving my singleness. Everyone told I needed to just be content and live in the moment. But no one understand how deep the pain was. I wrote this paragraph in my journal….”If there is a lesson to learn in your singleness, it's to stay engaged with God in the wrestling. It's not to put to death longings that are part of your very God-given nature. And it's not to disengage with God because He refuses to answer those longings. It's to stay engaged with Him, alternately crying out in longing and resting in peace in His arms, calling on Him at every moment to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs exposed by your unfulfilled longing.” I feel like this was the beginning of healing for me. Sooo much truth in this. I felt like God used this to help give me permission to wrestle through it. And to not beat myself up when it would come around and hit once again, but use it as an opportunity to fall at Jesus fett. I have since learned that we must first choose contentment in our minds, but it takes wrestling sometimes to get it from our heads to our hearts, and that's ok. And it's in the wrestling and struggle that God meets us. I have shared that quote several times with other people. Just tonight I shared it with a married friend because of the principle behind it. Tonight as a nearly 34 year old, still single woman, and though it's still very hard, I'm thankful for all I have learned in the process. And I'm glad to know it IS a process. Just wanted you to know that I'm thankful for what you wrote and wanted you to know that God is still using it. Thank you 🙂