Can we be real for a moment, and might I ask you a personal question? Are you exhausted from receiving “advice” about your singleness from well-meaning friends and family members that does nothing but get your eyes rolling into the back of your head?
Well, there was a time when I felt the same way. At times, those bits of advice were presented with beautiful little facades, which sounded like this: “If you guard your heart, save yourself and wait for your future spouse, God will bring the perfect person into your life at just the right time.”
See what I mean? That advice sounds just fantastic, doesn’t it?! When I hear that kind of “advice,” it gets me thinking…really thinking about God’s will for our lives when it comes to marriage. As a result, I want to speak the truth about “future marriage” to anyone who’ll listen—a truth that so few people seem willing to admit. And at the same time, I want to encourage any of you singles out there without lying to you.
Maybe you haven’t received the exact words above from an advice-giver…perhaps you read a quote on Facebook that sounded like someone was putting words into the mouth of God. Maybe it sounded like, “I’m saving you for someone special,” or, “I have someone picked out just for you.”
But hold on for a second. Unless I am missing something major (and I’m not), I don’t see where the bible says that we are all promised marriages in our futures at all, let alone happy ones. You see, God –who not only created the universe but also formed me inside my mother’s womb–didn’t say those words at all! (Gen 1:1; Psalm 139:13)
However, God did say that He has a plan for our lives—a plan that is for our good (Romans 8:28). But we hear verses like Romans 8:28 quoted so often, and I wonder…how many of us really know what they mean? How many of us mistake those words for thinking we are promised an easy, happy, and even romantic life if we trust God?
When I think about God’s plan for my life, I can’t help but be reminded of Psalm 139, which is one of my favorite passages. In verse 16, we are told that God authored each day of our lives before a single one of them came to be. And in Romans 8:28-29, as I mentioned above, we are reminded that God’s intricate plan for ALL of our lives, as followers of Christ, is “for our good”—which means His plan for us will mold us into the image of Jesus (and, side note, sometimes He allows trials to get us there).
So for some of us, God’s plan may include white dresses, wedding vows and first dances. And for that I believe we ought to be ever-so-thankful. In addition, the gift of marriage is an opportunity for us to display Christ and the love He has for His bride. (So let’s rejoice with those around us who marry!)
But I believe singles can’t promise themselves (or pretend God has promised them) that they are going to get married during their time here on the earth. And they can’t pretend, even for one moment, that any marriage in their futures will be perfect. After all, one sinner plus one sinner does not equal a perfect life! In fact, we are never promised a perfect life in the bible. Matthew 5:4 tells us that we are blessed when we face trials—imagine that!
And, to be honest, the poor advice that “God has a perfect mate for you, if you will trust Him” automatically makes any single person feel like they are doing something wrong spiritually because they are still single. This is crazy because, in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that it is actually better to be single!
“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” (1 Corinthians 7:8)
So please don’t get me wrong or mistake me for a cynic. There were so many times in my single life when I wanted nothing more than to be a young bride, but I knew I couldn’t place my hope, my security or my comfort in that dream of mine. Instead, I learned to lay that dream before the Lord, surrender it to Him and trust Him with the outcome, knowing that His decisions for my future (in every area) would be for my good whether it included a husband or not.
“Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
Don’t you just love the verse above? It’s a beautiful one, but only when it’s understood in the proper context. I think it’s really easy to look at this promise and think, “Well, if I pray for the Chris Hemsworth look-alike of my dreams to walk into my life tomorrow, and I love God, that must mean it will happen!”
Sarcasm aside, this verse means that I need to get on my knees before the Lord and desperately ask Him to shape my heart to desire the right things. Because when I truly delight myself in the Lord, my heart will begin to desire the same things for my life that God desires—namely that I will have a strong desire to love Him and love others (Matthew 22:36-39; 1 Timothy 4:6-16), which are obvious commands given to all of us in the bible, among many others.
So single friends, as you let go and trust God with your future, please remember to have realistic expectations regarding your desire for marriage. I want to end by sharing a favorite verse on love:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
To me, the best part of knowing that “perfect love” does not exist is knowing that real love does. 1 Corinthians 13 describes to us the definition of love, and it’s not just the sort of thing that can be practiced in romantic relationships. Honestly, even if I wasn’t married, I could still love others with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love, beginning with my family, my friends, my church family, my coworkers, the needy people in my community, etc. It doesn’t matter whether you’re married or single. You can still love and experience love as God intended. You can still live a fulfilling, God-honoring life of love even if you’re not married.
So, single friends of mine reading this, please see that life has already begun for you. What are you waiting for? Real love starts now!