If you haven’t noticed yet that singleness is grueling and excruciating (even when you’re trying to redeem the time to “glorify God and enjoy Him”), don’t worry. You probably will eventually.
Here’s why. Go back about 6,000 years (or, if you don’t have a time machine, Genesis 2). God created the first man—the founder of the human race—named him Adam, and declared him good. God then gave Adam his first home: a pristine, protected garden/orchard, gave him a purpose (dominion over creation) and promised him the best of everything so long as he remained obedient. Then, God says something rather incredible: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
God is never one to see a problem and do nothing about it. So, He first convinces Adam that none of the animals are fit helpmeets, then creates the most beautiful creature Adam has ever seen… a woman. She is perfectly complimentary to him, fulfilling Adam’s deep needs for spousal love and companionship.
Some things never change. The deep human needs Adam felt—and Eve fulfilled—are still present in humans today. Just like them, we are not meant to be alone. Now, I don’t have space here to go into why I think so many people are single in our culture (but keep checking back… you never know what may come up later in this series). I would like to share with you some tricks that I’ve learned to help combat the in-the-meantime pain.
- I pray for my future husband, understanding that God knows who he is. Romans 8:26-27 says, “the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Here are some of the things I ask for my future husband on a regular basis, believing that God desires these things more than I ever could:
- That God will draw him ever nearer to Christ, making him into a powerful man of prayer and Christlike action.
- That God will instill the qualities He wants in him (Job 29-31 gives several characteristics a godly man should have) and that I will need him to have as my spiritual and marital head. This man will also be the father of my someday children, so I ask that God will develop in him the characteristics he’ll need as a daddy.
- That God will protect him and keep him physically and emotionally pure.
- That God will draw him close to his family and give him godly mentors.
- That God will make him prosperous in his chosen vocation.
- That God will give him eyes to see me (and have the courage to speak to my father) when the time is right. However, I also pray that that time will be soon.
It goes both ways, though. Here are some things that I hope he is praying for me:
- That God would make me more and more in His Son’s image.
- That God would make me into the woman my future husband will need as a helpmeet and that our children will need as their mother.
- That God would help me remain pure.
- That God would help me grow and develop relationships with those around me.
- That God would bless my writing and ministries.
- That God will help me recognize him when he comes.
I also pray for these things for myself, and no, there’s no shame in that. I want to be the person who will best compliment and encourage my husband. To be that woman, I know that God will have to chip away at my faults and make me a Proverbs 31/1 Peter 3:1-6 woman.
- I actively find ways to distract myself. I like reading books (NOT ROMANCE. More on that later) or working on hobbies. Often, I’ll listen to music or an audiobook, especially when I’m alone. I devote time to memorize Scripture. Or, if I’m feeling especially achy, I’ll find something that makes me laugh—a movie or Studio C sketches. Whatever. One of the best remedies, though, is hanging out with someone. It’s harder to feel lonely when surrounded by friends.
- Are you familiar with the mind palace theory? It’s a way to order your mind to improve memory. However, I have found a slight variation that is extremely helpful to control emotion: I have a redwood log cabin in my head. It’s a simple design: A fireplace and a rocker is in one corner, and across the room there’s a door and a couple of windows. When the longings come, I go to my cabin, allowing the emotions to manifest as bad weather outside, and then I close and lock the door and windows. If necessary, I add a couple of logs to the fire, and then move on with my life. Call me crazy, but this method is one of the most effective that I have ever used.
- I write prayers and thoughts about my future husband in a special journal. I don’t write daily (or even monthly), but when I’m aching for him, I find that it sometimes helps to get it out on paper.
- This one is the most important of all: I focus on the principles in Psalms 37, especially 3-4a. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord.” We are called to rely on God and to find peace and joy in His presence. This doesn’t always make the emotions go away immediately, but helps me keep things in perspective. When I put God’s glory as my primary goal, the pain lessens and life starts to make sense.
One of my greatest comforts is that God is not upset about my years of singleness. On the contrary, I believe He has and will continue to manifest His grace through it. In other words, He derives glory for Himself—and blesses me—through it. Personally, I find a great deal of peace in that. (Seriously, if God’s okay with it, why shouldn’t I learn to be?)
Willing to take a challenge? Go read and think about Psalms 37 and God’s character for a while, then try using these suggestions the next time your singleness haunts you. Leave a comment to let me know how it works for you! 🙂