By Rebecca Hug
For a long time now I’ve wished to be married. I want a partner. I want a friend. I don’t want to end up alone… There are many nights I come home wanting to download about my action-packed day of ministry, but I’m met with eerie silence, a laundry list of chores only I will complete, and a sense of personal failure and abandonment from God. Being single in a world shaped for couples and the nuclear family is NOT easy. Just a few months ago I recorded a severe moment of heartache:
“I stare into the face of my bitter reality—the wives’ small group. Their perfectly poofed hair, their pristinely picked-out patterns, their purses and phones that beep and jingle in chorus with the busyness of their wife-y schedules. Their shiny left-handed protrusions mock me. I am single. One. Bachelorette. Solo. Lone ranger. Lonely. Alone.
I’ve never been as bitter as I am now. I’ve never felt as lonely as I do now. I’m slapped in the face every time I hear the word ‘single’ in relation to my existence…and yet, I’m in the midst of this desert without water.
Most situations in which I find myself feeling depleted of worth, or wanting of hope, I can find a way out. But this one situation, this prevalent disease and prevailing disparity of my life, cannot be solved by my own means, by my own work, by my own want.
I would hope that I could have faith in saying that God will deliver me from this desert…But I’m not so certain. I’ve prayed for him—where is he? I’ve prepared for him—who is he? I’ve needed him—when will he be made clear to me? When will God deliver me from my bitterness and loneliness? When will God honor my heart for loving this one I will call husband? When, O God? When?” (Journal, March 2012)
I realized that in my desire to be a wife—to feel “complete”—I’d become blind to the joy that comes from trusting that God knows my heart, and wants me to be filled with happiness. I’d been drowning out God’s voice with the lies and fears swirling in my head about this seeming death sentence of being single. My fears of ending up alone, and desire for marital bliss, became idols before the Lord.
Through conversations with a few amazing women and men of God I’ve been able to hear more clearly God’s call for me in the midst of what feels like a desert of despair. No…I’m not miraculously in the perfect relationship, headed toward the “American dream”—and there are still plenty of moments of heartache. But God has revealed to me three things that have brought peace, a new perspective, and a desperately needed hope back into my life.
1. Create healthy community
God has reintroduced me to the importance of creating healthy community. From a young age we’re groomed to look to marriage as one of the main sources of love, support, and life purpose. When we become overly focused on reaching this goal, we miss the community that surrounds us already, and the love God offers us freely, regardless of our marital status. Christ built community everywhere he went, and we’re called to do the same. It may not be the community or relationship that you want right now, but humble yourself to connect with a group of people who get you and your ministry, who will pray with you and hold you accountable, and who will remind you to live a life of integrity, passion for God, and positive joy in the Lord.
2. Build healthy relationships
God has reminded me that healthy relationships take lots of practice and intentional pruning. God has revealed to me negative behaviors, patterns, and pitfalls that I’m prone to spiral into. He’s also given me the opportunity to work on these issues now, before I get into a serious relationship. He’s reminded me to communicate in a healthy way, to take away competition and replace it with kindness, to listen and seek to understand first before unloading like a fool, and to accept that both persons in a relationship are flawed, but can, through honesty and vulnerability, support one another in their faith journey.
3. Trust God
Lastly, I’ve been reassured that God knows the deepest desires of my heart and seeks to shape me now into a woman who’s filled with joy and glorifies God through and in any relationship. Being single isn’t a simple category—some are single from divorce, some are widowers, some have children, and some have chosen to be single. Our deepest desires aren’t all the same; we don’t all hope for marriage. For me, I’m ecstatic about someday being a godly wife and a mother who shapes children who love the Lord. I trust that God is preparing my husband to be a man of the Lord every day…even though I don’t yet know him.
I pray God would reveal to me what it means to be a woman of the Lord and a wife. God’s preparing me now to receive those desires in my life. I just have to maintain trust.
Rebecca is the director of youth ministry at a church in Hilliard, Ohio. She also led the singles Connect Group at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this year.