Now, be honest. As soon as you read the headline to this article you probably felt some sort of reaction. Depending on where you’re at in your life you either said, “Oh, thanks! That was nice of you! Same to you!” or “Oh man, I need to go get flowers or I’m in trouble,” or maybe even, “Oh thanks for reminding me I’m pathetically single, great.”
If you’re single, Valentine’s Day (a.k.a. Single’s Awareness Day) can be a drag. It seems designed specifically to remind you that you are alone, unpartnered, and unlucky in love. If you’re recently single, it can be a lot more than you want to think about right now.
I have been single for most of my life. Whatever God’s plan for me is, He seems to have kept me on the bench for most of the relationship game. I used to have a big problem with that, and when I did, Valentine’s Day was a day of rubbing salt in an open wound. It was a day of saying thanks to the world for vividly reminding me of everything I was not, but wanted to be. It was a day to stay home, pour a drink or four, and ponder deeply about how lonely I was. I’m one of those guys who was raised a Christian, but didn’t really have an authentic relationship with Christ until later on. In my earlier years, being single seemed like a failure and Valentine’s Day was rough. But a funny thing happened on my journey to having a closer relationship with God. I don’t have a problem with being single anymore.
Acceptance and Trust can be the antidote.
What’s the difference? Well there’s really no secret. You’ve heard this answer before, but like a lot of things that are Truth (with a capital “T”), it’s simple, we all know it, we just forget it all the time. The answer is Acceptance and Trust.
Like a lot of the issue we face in our lives, a lot of healing comes about through Acceptance — accepting the fact that something is the way it is, or that you are the way you are, or that the world is the way it is. Acceptance is not giving up, laying down, and letting the world run you over like a truck. Acceptance is simply the acknowledgement in your heart that everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be and all is perfect according to God’s plan. My job isn’t to fight the way it is, it’s to try and understand what God has ordained for me and how I can participate in (not flail against) His plan. Without Acceptance it’s next to impossible to find a place for real change to begin.
Then, once you come to a place of Acceptance, you seal the deal with Trust. You simply have to have faith that God’s got you and He is going to do right by you. You need to realize that His Grace has things covered. You need to trust that God will provide abundantly for you, beyond your imagining, all in His perfect timing. Whatever His answer is for you, it may not be exactly what you want, when you want it, but it will be perfect and more than you could have imagined.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
When you look at your singleness that way, you see that you are not a loser, undesirable, or unlucky. You are not being punished by God for your past mistakes or your present behavior. He is not holding back. You are simply a part of His perfect plan and this is your season of singleness. He is not making your life miserable on purpose. In fact, if there is any misery, it’s coming from you and now you can let that go.
When you find Acceptance and Trust you get the bonus prize of Perspective and you are able to see things in a different light. Whereas being single previously looked like a curse, you can now see it as a gift. And it really is just that, a gift.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7
Perspective is often clearest in hindsight.
I went through a long, difficult season of darkness in my life during which I was a slave to alcohol and drugs and my own selfish needs. I wanted badly to be in a relationship, but go figure, any relationship I ever found proved to be a disaster. I used to be upset with myself that I was denied a good relationship and didn’t wonder that God really had no good reason to grant me one. Today, I look back on those times and know that I was blessed not to have the kind of relationship I wanted. I surely wouldn’t have been able to handle it and I would have done a lot of damage to whomever that relationship was going to include. When it came time for me to move on from that season and live a new live, I desperately needed time and space to heal. Again, being single, I was blessed to be able to do so. I poured myself into learning, healing, and service to others. I never would have been able to do that if I had responsibilities to a wife and children. Not everyone’s circumstances are like mine were, but suffice it to say that often when you want to be in a relationship, it takes looking backward to be able to see clearly that it really wasn’t the right time for you.
You may think you’re overdue. All your friends may be finding relationships. You may feel this drive like it’s the right time for you. You may hear your clock ticking. Give all of that back to God. It’s His calendar and His clock, not yours. So trust in His timing. He knows the big picture. He knows His plan for you. You may think you know the best timing, but you really can’t. Trust that He does.
Being single is a gift.
Not accepting and trusting in God’s plan for you pretty much compels you to live in despair, worried about your fate. You dwell on the past looking for reasons you’re in the place you’re in, you are anxious about the future and how it’s not turning out the way you wanted. You rob yourself of the opportunity to live in the present which is the only place you can really do anything about.
Yes being single really is a gift. It means that right now you are in a season of You. You get the time, freedom and opportunity to focus on you, on being the best you that you can be, and developing the person you are. It’s a time for correction, for growth, and for service. So, instead of focusing on WHY you’re single, take advantage of BEING single. There will come a time when you leave this season and you will regret not indulging in the gift you were given.
Participate in God’s plan for you
Ask God for guidance in showing you what you need to work on within yourself, what you need to mature in, what you need to heal, or recover from. Develop the passions, talents and gifts He’s given you. Expand who you are. Take classes, travel, learn, experience. Go on that missionary trip. Develop your relationships. Build that bank account.
It’s a unique time to be of service to God and to others. Develop your relationship with God. Strengthen that connection. Read the Bible. Pray. If you’re feeling lonely, seek to ease the loneliness of others. If you need a shoulder to lean on, offer yours to someone else, if you are feeling unloved, love someone else with all your heart. If you believe you need love, trust me, there are plenty of people in the world who need it too, so be the most loving person you can be. Love others and love will have an easier time finding you.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:3-4
The thing is, when you’re in a committed relationship with another person and that relationship leads to marriage and family, you’re not going to have a lot of time for doing these kinds of things for yourself. Your time is going to be devoted to your wife and family. You will be in a different season of your life with different demands and desires. So seize the day. Your season of singleness is upon you and calling.
Stop stressing about finding your “soul mate”.
I don’t believe that you can get up, get dressed, hit the streets, and find True Love like you’re looking for a new job. I think True Love comes to find you when God ordains that it is time. That doesn’t mean you get to lay around waiting for True Love to knock on your door, but it does mean you can free yourself of stressing about it. You don’t need to worry about doing the right thing, being in the right place, having the right friends, or even wearing the right clothes. Once again, if you focus on developing your relationship with God, working on who you are, and being of service to others, you’re naturally going to be in the right place at the right time, because it’s a time and place of God’s choosing, not yours.
You’ll be positioning yourself to be a more attractive partner to someone out there who is also in your shoes and heading towards a relationship. You’ll be engaging in activities and pursuits that may just put you in front of that person. It’s much more enriching that any dating website, going to the Club, “dating for fun,” or any number of mate-seeking activities could ever be. And remember, your soul mate is on the same path as you are. There’s nothing you can do to have your road cross with theirs any faster than it’s going to, all you can do is follow your road.
Your job isn’t to find somebody and stop being single. Your job is focus on being the best you that you can be until you no longer find yourself single.
Remember God wants the best for you.
I used to think of God’s desires for my life as being an end result. As in when I get to this place, God will provide all I need and life will be good. Today I understand that it’s all about the journey. Sure, He wants to get me to a point of success, but He also wants me to thrive on the journey. So, if being single isn’t the end game, it’s the game I’ve got today and it’s up to me to play it the best I can and participate in His desire to see me thrive.
As with anything, it’s one thing to tell you about the solutions that I have found and to make my suggestions. But, it’s another thing to ease that aching loneliness or burning desire for relationship that singleness can often bring. It’s tough to turn off feeling lonely and turn on feeling content. The only way I know of to turn that ship around is through acceptance, trust, faith, and relationship with God.
So don’t be upset that you are single. There’s more to be revealed. God loves us more than we can possibly understand. If you ever believe anything, believe this: He’s not finished with you yet. Or me.
Accept God’s will for you and trust in His plan for you. Being single isn’t a penalty, it’s an opportunity. This is your season in the sun and it’s got your name written all over it. Take His hand and make the most of it you can.
In the meantime, forget about getting reservations at a good restaurant on February 14th and remember there’ll always be a lot of half-priced chocolate available on the 15th. Life is good.