The other day I had an inspiring conversation with a close friend of mine about the challenges of being single in her life. I know I am not personally single, which might make me completely unqualified to speak about it, but I was single once upon a time.
Actually, I have found over the years that although being in a relationship can be a wonderful thing, it also has its challenges and limitations. It seems to be a disease of our society that people no longer think being single is ok – instead you should always be dating or looking because otherwise you won’t find Mr. Right and then you have no chance at a happily ever after. Seriously?
Culture defines relationships and our lives in this way, but that is where Christians can take the chance to speak out against that lie. Unfortunately though, sometimes we are even worse at supporting singleness and avoiding the hysteria of believing marriage is the ultimate end-all be-all. We seem to think that relationships are good, and singleness is bad, but we forget to even consider what God might have to say about it. Maybe He is right in making us wait, or maybe He knows that this challenge will help us grow closer to Him.
My friend is years older than I am, out of college, and about to be living on her own for the first time instead of having roommates. I understood her frustration with being single, feeling like her chances were gone because she missed out on finding someone in high school or college and now has few prospects elsewhere. The funny part was that as she spoke, I could see the faces of the many friends I have had this conversation with before. I knew then that this wasn’t just one person’s struggle, it infects all of us.
The word syndrome is defined in this way:
1. the pattern of symptoms that characterize or indicate a particular social condition.
2. a predictable, characteristic pattern of behavior, action,etc.,
that tends to occur under certain circumstances:
Singleness had become a syndrome of our culture, one that indicate a social condition that I believe points to fear of loneliness. We can’t stand the idea of being alone or never finding love, but that is because we also misunderstand love to only be found in the opposite sex. We forget that tremendous love can be found from the comfort of family, the listening ears of a friend, or even the love of a God who always provides what is right for us.
Then, singleness as a syndrome becomes predictable in the desperation to find someone. We are characteristic in our behaviors of feeling lonely, angry with God, jealous of others, and insecure about ourselves. I know because I too was once there, as we all have been, but I have also experienced these same problems after I was in a relationship. The truth is a relationship doesn’t cure these things, because the pain actually doesn’t come from being single — it comes from not trusting God and finding love in Him first.
The greatest part of my friend’s story was when she told me about how she is finally realizing the need to surrender control to God. She knows that He is saying to her –
“It’s not forever, it’s just for now.”
At that point I heard her exhale for what seemed like the first time in the conversation. Breathe. Breathe. The release was so evident. Her eyes softened with a peace beyond understanding, her words slowed down as the nervous chattering of her mind relinquished itself to the steady beating heart of God.
The car had been idle for at least twenty minutes then, buzzing in the driveway with the air still on, almost ready to be turned off. Yet instead of rushing, we sat suspended in time, waiting for the close, but not shutting the door ourselves. As I listened to her finish this story and revelation, I realized that it was not just a good reminder for me but for all of us. Although I’m not single, I still don’t do a good job of consistently trusting God with my life or my relationship. I question his role or his plan, I become angry thinking I know what’s best, and I don’t have faith that He is always working for our good. In those moments it seems incredible to wait in one place too long, just so we can hear Him say “Don’t worry, trust me, this problem is not forever, it’s just for now.”
Where do you struggle to trust God with your life?
How can being single, or being in a relationship,
be a good or bad thing for you?