What Single People Wish Married People Knew

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My friend Jess is a beautiful, single blonde girl who has been a missionary in Italy for 10 years and is 37. One day, an Italian woman, let’s call her Mamma Carmen, came up to her with a little charm necklace that had a picture of a saint on it.

“What’s this?” asked Jess.
(Cue in accent of Italian mama who doesn’t speak much English)
“A necklace for you. A picture of Saint Anthony. “
“Who is Saint Anthony?”
“Is-a- the patron saint of lost-a things.”
“And what have I lost, Mama Carmen?”
“Oh, you know sveetie. “
“No I don’t know. What is that I have lost?”
“You lost-a your husband.”
“Mama Carmen, isn’t that usually the saint you pray to for a lost sock or car keys-things like that?”
“Yes, but not for you. For you, pray to him for husband. More important than sock.”

Mama Carmen’s Formula:

“Lost Husband + Praying to Patron Saint of Lost Things + Ten Hail Marys= 1 wedding, 5 socks, 2 spoons, and 1 bracelet you thought you gave to your friend Jill.”

I had my own formula concocting conversation with a ministry leader of mine a few years back. Let’s call her Emily. The conversation looked like this:

“Kate, do you remember our babysitter Joann? Well, she  went through a season of really struggling with being single like you are going through.  She cried and battled  and finally brought her burden to the Lord. She let go.

Two weeks later, she met her husband. And he looks just like Ryan Gosling. “

I said,”Emily, I am really happy for Joann.  But she is twenty freaking years old.”

“So? What does that have to do with anything?”

I respected and loved this leader, but I just couldn’t brush the comment off this time.

I said “I have had a decade longer than her of wrestling with God over this issue.  In all my wrestling,  I have had several seasons where I have been content as a single person, embracing the thought of God as my husband. But often, those seasons fade, and I’m struggling again. It is a cycle that happens.  I don’t think God laughs at my cycles of frustration. I think he understands. I think He wants to meet me there. “

Emily continued to argue with me, saying that I  just needed to let go, insinuating that it was  my own fault that I was still single.

I said, “Em, please understand me here. If you had a friend who was not getting pregnant or who was having multiple miscarriages, someone who had been struggling with barrenness for fifteen years, would you say to her ‘If you just trusted the Lord more with your barrenness, he would give you a baby?’ You would never say that! You recognize how much she is mourning that loss, and so you careful with her words. You don’t want to hurt her even more by making her feel like it might be her own fault.

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.”

I know that sounds pretty heavy, but it is how many of us feel at times.

In the very thick book of popular theology that is not actually in the Bible, a book I like to call “First Assumptions” , we have this formula:

“Not letting go=being single.
Letting go= being married. “

Most singles I have talked to have had this formula given to them in one way or another. Many of them dozens of times. Almost every time I mention writing my book on singleness, single people give me some kind of version of this story.

Most of us, when we first heard this formula as a young person, grabbed our journal and bible and went to a quiet place. We turned our sweet young faces to heaven with tears in our eyes and said “Lord, I let go. I give my husband to you.”

Do you know why we were saying this? Because we wanted a husband. And according to the formula, if you wanted a husband, you had to let go of him first. So we were letting go of him in order to get him.

Quite ironic, isn’t it?

But as years passed, when that formula didn’t work, we started cringing when someone told us we just needed to let go. We couldn’t put our finger on why it irked something deep inside of us, but it did.

I have a theory about why it frustrates us so much. At the root of this formula is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married people have done something right. Married people, I know you probably never meant to make us feel that way, but it is the nature of that formula.

It kind of reminds me of the story of Job. Here is the formula we can get out of his story.

“Tragically losing everything+wife that is pissed+hideous boils all over your body+annoying friends telling you that you must have done something wrong to deserve this+being totally frustrated and not getting why you’re going through this+God’s booming voice telling  us humans that we don’t know nothing and He doesn’t fit in our formulas and boxes+ praising God even through horrible circumstances and singing “Blessed Be Your Name” = even more stuff than you had before.”

Sound familiar? (Except for the boils part, hopefully.) That story is one of the oldest in the bible. One of it’s lessons? Don’t make formulas. Meet Him, wrestle with Him, praise Him even when you don’t understand, but never, ever, put Him in a box.

As Donald Miller said, “As much as we want to believe we can fix out lives in about as many steps as it takes to make a peanut-butter sandwich, I don’t believe we can.”

My married friend Becca, who is incredibly dear to me, explained to me that married people don’t often have bad motives in their formula making. She said that when human beings don’t understand something, they make formulas. They want to feel like they are giving their friend some control over the situation. They even make their own life journeys into formulas. Sometimes we singles cling to the formulas given to us because we want some control over the situation as well.

I really appreciate that we had this conversation because it reminded me that  married people are not the enemy. They love us.

But out of love, I want our married friends to understand why these formulas are so hard for us to hear.

These formulas makes us feel like our being single has nothing to do with God’s will or our choices or the enemy or any other theory you have on why hard things happen.

It has to do with our lack.

We already struggle with feeling like we lack when we wonder why we haven’t been chosen. Please don’t cut that wound deeper.

This formula also makes us feel like our not being married  has to do with our relationship with the Lord, which evidently is wanting.

For most of us, our relationship with the Lord is the most sacred one that we have. Please, please, don’t criticize that relationship as well. Don’t tear down the one relationship where we feel loved and accepted. Even if you mean well, just don’t do it.

I think a good rule of thumb for both parties is to do less formula making and pat- answering and do more listening. Listening to what the Lord has to say, and listening to each others journeys with compassion.

Restrain yourselves from formulas. But don’t restrain yourselves from giving each other a hug. We probably both need one.

Be encouraged that we all have our own journey, and that all of our journeys our valid.

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139 responses »

  1. More blogs, please, Kate. I’ve been so encouraged to read some sensible language around some of my frustrations. It helps me feel like I’m not being unreasonably cynical. I’ve had some very dear married friends offer well-intentioned words of advice that end up resonating as cruel and insensitive. I’m sure they would be surprised to hear that comments like, “Well, you’re better off,” or “Ugh! Don’t EVER get married” as they roll their eyes behind their partner’s back don’t have quite have the consoling effect they intended. (Hardy-har-har.)

    I have never heard that feeling I have about not being married as a reflection of a deficient walk with God articulated so clearly. You’re a genius. So genius, Kate Hurley!! Thanks for being so vulnerable and honest with your journey… and making me not feel like I’m just a whiny, discontent brat for thinking the same.

  2. This echoes in my heart as painfully true. Thank you for speaking with such a beautiful voice what lies in so many hearts.

  3. Kate, this is so very true! i remember feeling so many of these things! and even if people didn’t say them, i felt them in the church. thanks for sharing. i am comforted, even though i am married now, just knowing you are doing this! a ministry really close to my heart. i support you with all my heart!!

  4. Great post! Oh and have I EVER heard the “let go” one. Also, the “you need to get out” or “put yourself out there more”! Well, I dated my neighbor one time. Met him just walking to my car. So, you said it…do not put God in a box or minimize His power. As if we have some control and can find a husband by “going out more”. God can put a hot man right next door! ;-) Love the listening piece too. Listening is a lost art in our society. I have had people not even sit down with me for 5 minutes to get to know my heart and journey, but they feel free to make a judgements about me. God have mercy on us ALL!

  5. I am a 57 year old divorced woman who is casually dating men. That means, I believe what Jesus said about divorce and remarriage and now I have men friends. I would like married people to know, that not all of us single people are miserable and feeling discontent because of it. I am happier than I have ever been. And still, well meaning people say, oh, the right one will come around. Hello! Not looking, unbiblical, please be quiet. I guess, in short, for the singles who read this, I caution, don’t accept everything your Christian friends say. Five years ago, my dear Christian friends told me it was a good idea for me to go move in with my boyfriend. Test everything by God’s Word, and don’t make assumptions

  6. Kate, you are a brave and courageous woman. As a former broken single woman, I so appreciate what you have to say. And as a current broken married woman, I also dislike when marriage is made an idol (by single people are married ones). Why do we do that?
    I also see the nonsense in the “letting go” formula. Doesn’t it make more sense that those who desire marriage would build a formula that involves them seeking out marriage?
    Great discussion. Keep it up!

  7. Yep I first had the ‘let go’ conversation at 13 by my 14 year old cousin who had just met the love of her life. (And yes they are married to this day with a beautiful, loving family.) After a hard break from her first boyfriend she wrote out a list of qualities she wanted in a husband, prayed over it for two weeks and BAM! met her future husband on a combined church winter break outing. It’s like hearing God loves you less if your list isn’t magic. Nobody says that but the implications that you haven’t measured up are there. Well, well put Kate- thank you!

  8. Thanks for your beautiful writing–here and the posts before. Keep speaking! We all (single and married) need your words. I realized a long time ago that the only explanation for who is married and who is single is the truly inexplicable, mysterious will of God.

  9. Wow what a blessing to read this post. I can totally relate to it completely, as a single, who has spent what will amount to at least a third of what will be her life spent as a single. So far. Yikes, I’ve heard these formulas my whole life and YES! they are so frustrating and put that burden right back on us, as singles that we are not doing something right, hence detested and persisting singledoom. Ok, that was a bit melodramatic. But yeah. I was cheering you along as I read this. I hope all marrieds would read something like this.

    BTW, I stumbled upon your lovely blog from “Life with Laura”.

    Look forward to reading more from you!

    Jeanine

    wayfaringgirl.blogspot.com

  10. I have come to realize that we all like to think we know how to fix someone else’s brokenness. I can sympathize and empathize with you, Kate. I finally got married when I was 38. I suffered for many years longing to be married. I had a great life as a single, but I was so lonely. God blessed me in every way as a single, but I still was lonely. Finally, I met a Christian man and we married, but I believe my anxiousness led me to make a decision that cost me dearly. We were both Christians but we were still unequally yoked and I have lived 11 years of suffering as a married. I had two wonderful children almost immediately, so that was a huge blessing. But I often wondered, “Why God?” And in the last year He let me see that my anxiousness got me in trouble. I have grown in God and even though I’ve suffered, I would not trade the intimacy I have gained with God through it all. In the suffering, as a single and as a married, I can only say that God has a perfect plan and if we stay in step with Him, we will not be disappointed. When we try to control any part of His plan, we risk losing the best of the best that He has in store for each one of His beloved children. So, my Dear Sister, I will only extend a hug, a smile and a prayer for you, as you wait on Him. I ask God to give you strength to “Wait on Him” and as you wait, may you “Soar on wings of eagles to the heights that He has prepared for you.” May you experience every joy that your singleness is intended to bring so that when the day comes and your husband stands by your side, you will be complete in Him, nothing lacking and your marriage will be as it should be according to His Design. I bless you, Kate! Enjoy Him and enjoy Him some more! He is always good!

  11. Hi Sexy Celibate,
    Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate your openness, for showing your true self and for telling it how it is. I am happily (most of the time) married and lately have taken my marriage for granted in a big way. I’ve forgotten to live in gratitude, and reading your blog came at a crucial time for me. You are reaching more people than just singles; keep up your good, meaningful communication about your deepest places. Blessings to you in all you do!

  12. you are so great, kate. i always thought it was funny when my fellow christians would be pushing marriage when the bible itself talks about how superior singleness is particularly when it comes to serving the lord. overall, god has a wonderful plan for each of our lives and it looks different for everyone, and it’s hard in different ways for each of us. love you, dearling!

  13. Hi Kate, thanks for sharing this. The Lord has a special journey for you, just as he has one for me and everyone else. After all we are all created uniquely in Christ. So I agree formulas may do injustice to each individual’s circumstances. May God bless you richly in your journey!

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  16. To the author of this blog and who the person reads this. I have little to no faith at all in God in giving me a wife someday. I have been celibate for nearly all my life and I’m pretty much done in being celibate. : /

    • Hey Ted! Thanks for being honest. And hopefully Kate wont mind me responding to your post…

      Remaining single in our day and age, in our sex saturated culture, it feels sometimes akin to a monumentally, many times-unbearably, huge sacrifice. It is different for us in this day and age compared to past generations. It’s so much harder-I think. And it leads me to believe there must be a reason for this kind of “thorn” or hardship we daily face. Because, let’s face it, it is a daily, hour by hour, minute by minute thing sometimes to remain pure mentally and emotionally and physically. God knows this, though! I mean, heck, He created us to be this way, to desire human companionship in that way etc. So for sure He “gets it”. So again, it makes me think He is after something else for us singles. I guess it comes down to a faith thing, yes. We have to be willing to trust Him, this Being we’ve never physically seen before. He is testing us and refining us through this trial however long it may take. This life is only the beginning. He is building our character that will last for an eternity. What we do today, this minute, counts for eternity. It’s not for nothing. He doesn’t let us deal with it alone either. Thank God! His grace is there if we ask Him for it to daily be able to get through it all…I know this for sure for myself, or else I never would make it.

      The question is, is He trustworthy enough? Is it worth it all to really lay all of these desires down for good, for Him, if that is what He required of us… Would we still serve Him? Maybe he is after us coming to that revelation for ourselves. To see what we would do. Would we still count it worth it to serve Him even if it’s going on 20, 30 years of being single?

      I could go on but your eyes have all probably glazed over. It’s no easy thing for sure Tim. But don’t loose hope. Don’t loose faith. I believe there will be a special kind of crown for those of us who have persevered through this intense battle of keeping the faith. He sees everything. He KNOWS. I believe it will be worth it all. Hebrews 4:15

      jeanine
      wayfaringgirl.blogspot.com

      • Writing is not my gifting. If it were, I would write word for word what you did Kate. Thanks for sharing and articulating so well the perspective of us single and celibate people. I think it’s so important as a single person to honor our married friends and the path the Lord has lead them on and also for our married friends to honor us at where we are at and this includes the joys but also the struggles of each side. Religion is formed when we cannot explain mysteries of God’s divine nature. It is Humanity’s attempt to explain the unexplainable. Maybe our singleness is a divine mystery and thus a formula cannot be applied, only His Grace can be. I am thankful to have a sister like this to share this journey with. I absolutely can’t wait to read what comes next. Loving who He has made you to be dear friend!

      • Karey I think maybe it is your gifting! I love what you are saying. I’ve always thought when you speak you are incredible at communicating….

      • Yes! There will be a special reward! Especially in our sex-saturated world. It makes no sense without Christ! Yet, Christ is the only story that makes any remote sense at all!

  17. girl, you know i’m screaming a big amen with you about this blog! :) if another person gives me another “a + b = c” answer, i will most likely start screaming in their face and i’m not a easily angered person really. the part that i struggle with the most is feeling that i’m always doing something wrong when someone gives me that kind of answer. i already think that a lot of times in this life situation, so i don’t need another person to drill that in my head further. i hear things often like “well, shauna, maybe next time you see him you should do x, y or z instead of a, b, or c.” great! that translates in my head to “you screwed up this time again and that guy’s never going to like you.” the big “FRIEND ZONE” neon sign starts blinking in my head and then i just throw my hands up in the air (sometimes cry) and wonder why my chemistry experiment didn’t work again. what ingredient am i missing and how to i obtain it? anyways, thanks for writing you lovely lady! i love it all and you!

  18. Well, my dear Kate, it’s been awhile since we last talked (ahem, maybe 5 years?), and I just have to say AMEN! There are always special catch phrases that married people use like, “oh honey, you just won’t know until you’re married,” or “let go and let God.” You put it so eloquently, and it sadly (with a cleansing feeling) brought back all the sad memories, hurt, and pain caused by seemingly thoughtful words from my married friends (but which, instead made me feel inadequate, stupid, silly, needy, etc). And Becca is so very right (go Becca!). Your message is a wonderfully sweet plea and reminder for all of us to remain on the same team. Married does not equal better. Single does not equal free (since I hear so much from my married friends that the singles have it better because they are free). My husband is 7 years older than I am…which means he waited seven years longer than I did to get married. Neither of us had some stupid formula, so I won’t propose one, and they drive me nuts. In any case, I wish I could come have a hot cup of cocoa with you, while it’s snowing out here in CO (seriously, it’s dumping right now), but I have no idea where you are currently living, or if you’re even in the country! One thing I will say is this: I have always, always, ALWAYS admired your genuine love for Christ, your sweet spirit, your laugh (it makes me warm and fuzzy thinking about it), and your sense of humor. You, unknowingly, have been a source of strength for me, and an example of what it means to walk with the Lord. Thank you, thank you, THANK you. *HUGS!* -Melody aka “Brown Sugar” aka “Puerto Rican Princess” (or aka whatever ya wanna call me, haha)

  19. My dear friend Kate,

    Gosh, we do this with so many issues! We all want the formula! If someone is wrestling we want to say, “Stop wrestling!” Here’s the simple cure. Here’s the answer.” When the Bible is full of mystery. And that is what makes it so beautiful, but also makes it able to fit a mess of people with a mess of questions without clear cut answers. Thank God, or else Jesus would be Mr. Rogers and Santa Claus and not a lover who listens to His sometimes complex bride.

    We all want to be the Christian that has everything figured out…where life just works. Where our kids turn out all right, where we feel confident in our choices every time, where our marriage makes it, where our extended family is healed from cancer and broken marriages get restored.

    In my experience, I just want my friends to believe that I am beautiful and mature and one to be listened to and respected. (It’s hard because I don’t often get this validation. Instead, my vulnerabilities seem magnified.)

    But I am confused about many issues in life. I don’t feel total peace. Sometimes, even as a married woman with amazing children, I feel a mess!

    Thank you for giving a voice to that mess that we all feel.

    Sometimes, what all of us need to hear in our mess is not answers but silence. A friend saying, “I love you so much and I just don’t know why or what you should do. But I love you and I know what it is like to feel confused. I know what it is like to feel alone and rejected. Not in the same way. But in my relationship with Jesus there are things I don’t totally understand and areas of life where I don’t feel confident.”

    Don’t we all!

  20. oh my goodness, kate. i just followed this link from my friend clara’s facebook page, read the article & thought it was so articulately written, learned from it, & didn’t know you were the author until i got to the very end. (though i had a split second where i wondered if “my married friend becca” was the same person as my married friend becca, & i was right!) anyway, we sure love you, kate ;)

    • Thanks so much Michelle! You are so sweet. I love you guys too! I have to get out to Portland to visit. I loved the article about Josh’s album- I had no idea the story behind the free CD and it almost made me cry. What amazing people you are. I love your new haircut by the way and I need to follow your blog!

  21. This is so true, we humans tend to look for formulas, we want to feel as though we’re in control, we struggle badly with the concept of God being in charge and coming to terms with the fact that he is not as predictable as we’d like… but as soon as we offer someone a formula – whether it’s how you should pray in order to get a husband or in order to get healing or in order to get pregnant or whatever – we’re lying to them, we’re offering them a false idea of what God is like, and yes, we are also in danger of putting extra pressure on them in the form of: if you aren’t healed/pregnant/married then it must be your fault that you didn’t pray hard enough/the right way. Whereas the truth is, as you said, that the lesson from Job’s experience is: there are no formulas.

  22. If we did not listen and look to married people about our marital status, we would see singleness in a different light through God’s eyes. Listen to Tony Evan’s Single & Satisfied CD! It is soo encouraging!

    • I do agree that we should listen to the Lord about being single, and we should really attempt to be thankful for today. But I also think it’s ok if we have emotions of struggling and I don’t think that is only from outward influences that those emotions come. We need a balance of being able to accept where we are today while not being angry with ourselves if we are not satisfied at all times or struggle at times. Thanks for your thoughts!

  23. Not everyone is meant to be married Remember Jesus was single and he does talk about this very issue in Scripture. Sometimes us singles are called to help in difficult situations that our married friends/family do not have the time for.

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I also get tired of people telling me that “I’m young” and that there is “still time” and to “wait patiently for God.” I’ve been doing the waiting for a while and it isn’t always as easy at it seems. Additionally, my finding difficultly in waiting does not imply that my relationship with God isn’t good enough.

    Thank you again for your words. God bless your journey, whatever it may bring.

  25. Kate, I really appreciate your post. But let me share that I am married and struggling with infertility and people DO say the same thing to me about letting go. People constantly say, “just relax and it will happen” which also implies that I am doing something wrong…that it is my fault. So, that’s actually a commonality in our experience.

  26. When someone (married person) is telling you (single person) their love story and “if it happened for me, it can happen for you!” that’s the doctrine of substitutionary matrimony at work. It’s crappy. But God is still at work. God doesn’t only work through married people (hello, Jesus).

    • Ha! “Substitutionary matrimony.” Good one. : )

      That’s one thing my boyfriend (first one after five years, only remotely serious one ever) and I talk about a lot…how every relationship is different because every combination of two unique people is even more unique, and you can’t use anybody else’s journey or relationship as a yardstick for your own. I had to remind myself of that a lot when I was single. Fortunately, I had some people in my life who would remind me of that too, rather than trying to make my life story match up with theirs somehow…or worse, try to fix it for me.

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  28. Amen. Amen. Amen! Thank you so much for sharing this in such an open and respectful way. I feel like whenever I try to explain why such formulas are hurtful, my anger kicks in and the person is then unable to hear what I want to say. You’ve done a much better job.

  29. Unfortunately, as a woman who may or may not be able to have children…I have heard those things. And they suck to hear.

    Sometimes the best thing a hurting person can hear is, “This totally sucks. I’m so sorry.” Followed by a big bear hug.

    Thanks for baring your heart here. I really appreciate it.

  30. I have to say THANK YOU for writing this post. I have shared the link because I often get the “Just let go, stop looking, etc. and God will send the man He wants you to marry.” I already know God’s in control, even in my worst times, I know He’s got my back and that He’s working on it, but I also know that just letting go doesn’t mean he’ll be right there with a guy the minute I let go. Struggling, letting go, struggling, letting go, prayer, etc. it’s all a process and it’s all OK with God. He would prefer that I wrestle with Him over this than to just say I let it go and expect that to work. After all, wrestling implies that you have to be very close to God and that’s where I want to be more than anything else.

  31. I hate to be the one to call shenanigans on this but; the ostracizing of single people by married people’s formulas is hardly the underlying issue here… I was married later in life (with many years of no relationship singleness), so I’ve heard plenty of stories, plenty of guilt trips by family, plenty of slighting comments from those who had answers as to why and what I should do to remedy the problem. Well meaning or not, agenda oriented or ignorant, in the Spirit or in the flesh; devising an identity based on what you’ve done to receive God’s blessing or an identity based on the earthly blessings the Lord has given you, is a path to alienation, confusion, discontentment and frustration.

    Whatever side of the fence you currently abide on, if you know the Lord for who He is, YOU ARE OF CHRIST and He is of the Father. This is your identity. Not single. Not Married. This one fact of your existence imputes meaning into every single piece of your being. If you are married, and it is centered on Christ the way it should be, marriage has not changed this fact about who you are. If you are trying to supplement your identity by attaching your understanding of yourself to things aside the One True God, you WILL face disconnection with the peace of what God is doing in your life.

    Satan is not about bold disobedience, his tool for Christians is slight of hand distraction. If he stood in front of you and said, “Here’s a gun. Go kill your mailman.” We have a “GET BEHIND ME!!!” ready to go because it is so counterintuitive to what our hearts contain. But when he nudges us, saying, “You don’t need to wait for God. If you do this, it will help you get what you want.” or “God doesn’t understand how important this is to you, He just wants you to be happy with Him, then He’ll give you whatever you want…” The subtlety of the great tempter is to drive discontentment, disconnection and dissatisfaction into the fibers of what you think about God, feel about your circumstances and relate your identity to.

    Now, like I said, I knew many, many, many years of singleness, so i understand the discouragement; and now in marriage I understand that I am greeted the immediate dismissal of how I can’t understand what I am no longer experiencing. The truth is that God orchestrating two lives together in a way which honors Him is something of a mystery. A mystery that married people know, but can’t explain to single people. A mystery that single people desire, but do not have the revelation which only the Lord can impart to understand it as it actually is. As CH Spurgeon said, “Remember this: Had any other situation been better for you than the one in which you find yourself in, Divine Love would have put you there.”

    Unbelief, doubt and disobedience follow the paths of discontentment. I know that singleness and marriage issues are important to millions of people, inside and outside the Christian community. But we have the hope that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is working all things for us for the good of his purpose. God’s blessings ALWAYS surpass our expectations! Be encouraged. Seek God first, for the purpose of seeking Him, not for what things are added unto you; He will prepare your heart to receive his blessing, which you will not be able to conceive the multiplicity of the surpassing elements of your expectation his infinite plan contains.

  32. I really appreciated this! Singleness is not a curse, and if we’re single and seeking God, it is right where He needs us for that time for Him to work in us and use us best. And we know this, but it is undoubtedly difficult at times, nevertheless! Being told we’re doing things wrong and not following the formula doesn’t help at all! So thank you. This was encouraging.

  33. Thank you so much for this! I’m just beginning to feel what sometimes appears to be a divide between the singles and the ones in relationships in my social circles. I’m twenty, so many of my best friends have entered that stage where they’re just gotten married or are getting engaged, and I’m beginning to be told of these formulas quite frequently. I’m quite happy being single right now(though I don’t always feel this way), but it’s still irking. It’s also hard to take this advice from people who have been married for all of about 2 months.

  34. This is amazing! I have only been married for a year and a half, and I remember hearing this ALL THE TIME when I was single. At first, I took it as truth, but it did irk me. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the flaw in this formula. According to the formula, Paul wasn’t quite where he needed to be spiritually because he was single. I always felt like I was spiritually lower than people who were married or dating. This is so not true! As a married woman, I know single people that are more spiritually mature than I am. Being married does not automatically mean you have achieved some higher level of spirituality! When you are single it means that you are glorifying God more by being single than you would by being married! That is all it means!

    And you can be “content in your singleness” (how many times have you heard that?) and still long for your husband/wife! I enjoyed being single, but I still remember nights dreaming and missing my husband. Great article and SOOO true. Just wanted to chime in that some married people DO know and understand your pain :)

  35. This is simply fabulous. I can totally related to everything you mentioned in this blog. I absolutely hate the formula. Whenever someone mentions, or more accurately, alludes to the formula, I know I roll my eyes because I already tried that. I am still single and I still trust God. There are no words to describe my joy whenever I realize that I am not alone in this battle. We can totally give each other cyber hugs of support.

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  37. Yes, thank you for saying this. I married at 34 and had long since figured out that there is a sort of Christianized superstition running rampant in the Church. “Let go and let God.” One biblical circumstance comes to mind where this is actually commanded – in the revenge department.

    Usually trusting God requires something which is not letting go at all but rather is engaging with life like we never have before – by following His commandments.

    Another one I hear a lot, often in the previous breath to that phrase, is “I was trying to do it [insert whatever it was I believed to be God's will, but it didn't turn out like I wanted] in my own strength.” Like that had been a sin, rather than the greatest commandment of God, repeated by Jesus in Luke 10, and in Mark, too. Depends on what “it” was, of course, because we also have the problem of, “I know it is God telling me to marry so and so, because of the way it all just came together.” Really? Even though he isn’t a Christian, and by doing this, you are not loving the Lord your God the way He says counts – by keeping His commandments?

    And so we have marrieds running around who did not at all trust God, and it can look to the single as if they were rewarded for their sin. The reason I was single so very, very long might after all have to do with the sins of others – the “one” God had for me earlier might have become involved with the girl who appealed to his flesh but who did not fear God. It might have to do with my trying to let go instead of doing as He commanded and ASKing Him. If I had done more of that, perhaps He might have answered me with better understanding about the nature of men. I finally got my teeth fixed and within days I met my husband. (True story. I now believe they choose with their flesh first and then if they are obedient to God, they check to see if that pretty one loves the Lord.) It might have been any number of the ways I was not completely submitted to God, since I’ve noticed pleasing Him is usually very kind to those around me, and the inverse is also quite true. It might have been for no reason I can fathom.

    I began to see the world differently. It is a broken place. It’s not what this world holds for me, nor what I bring to it, but how God is saving me from it. This world is not my home. My very body within it is broken, and I experience the pain that comes directly and indirectly from the sin of myself and others. Sin is devastating. And God is so beautiful in His righteousness and so merciful in His good will toward us despite how we’ve acted. And because He’s not leaving us here to rot, but is preparing a place for me where He will be so there, He will actually wipe away every tear from my eyes – I have hope through every form of suffering this world has to offer.

    It is His word that gives me this perspective.

    This is why Jesus quoted scripture to Satan during His trial in the desert. This is why we’re to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. This is why when we meditate on it day and night, it’s like we put our roots down deep into the soil by the streams of water, and we get solid and leafy and fruitful.

    While we’re looking through the lens of scripture, let’s also deep-six: “When you’re completely satisfied in Him, then He’ll reward you with a mate.” Adam, then, who was at that time already in perfect fellowship with God – it was not good for him to be alone because…? It appears to me He designed us to need more fellowship than His alone, as much as we desperately need Him. Also, what’s a reward if you no longer want it?

    And the cold, cold: “God gives us what we need.” (Therefore, you don’t really need to be married. If you really thought about it, you’d realize you were feeling some misguided desire to be like others, when actually you are gifted to be single, created without the same needs your married friends have. Otherwise He’d have provided a spouse for you by now.) Doesn’t Paul give believers tools in 1 Corinthians 7 to evaluate their own needs, and then permission to meet them proactively – zero indication that they should wait for God’s hand-picked choice to plop down in front of them?

    I’d better stop before I have to organize into chapters….

    • I especially loved the part about Adam. That is so good! With your permission, I’d love to use that somewhere in my book. It brings to light so much of what I am saying. Thanks for taking the time to write this!

      • Oh, certainly. I guess I’m the first person I met who mentioned that about Adam, but I’ve since heard one or two others observe the same thing. I don’t think I have any intellectual property rights. :-)

        One more thing I was going to mention connected to my last thought above. A friend I met after marriage obtained her husband after an extended single life, by asking everyone she knew who was the godliest single man among their friends and arranging meetings based on that. Were I still unmarried, I’d be wishing I had the courage to cast public doubt on my femininity that way. While I’d say it isn’t good for a girl to ask all her guy friends out or try to entrap them, how did it become the only godly option to wait quietly and pray, no proactivity allowed? Were the actions of Naomi and Ruth unladylike? I don’t know. Maybe they were. That was kind of a weird story, the getting of Boaz for a husband…. How’s that for fizzling my own point?

  38. I was born again at 24 years of age and felt like I’d entered another universe. Culturally speaking, the Midwest Christian community I had moved to was vastly different than the Southern California atheist culture I spent my whole life in. Being single now seemed like a problem rather than normal. I had a pastors wife compliment my “bravery” for attending a dinner by myself at their home. It was a dinner they had invited me to along with a dozen or so others from our church. It struck me as odd as I didn’t feel like there was anything brave about my actions. I didn’t sense anything wrong with me and I was content in my growing relationship with God.

    I have now been married for almost 2 years. I am 35 years old. I find there are just as many struggles with contentment as a married woman as there was as a single woman. Sometimes I think it is more challenging now to serve the Lord and spend time exclusively with God because there is another person around all the time who I am devoting time and energy to. I think Paul discusses this in the Bible.

    It seems that whether single or married Gods instructions to us as His children are the same. He knows what we need and wants us to seek Him first and then we will find Him and that will fulfill us. One reason I think so many marriages are in shambles is that spouses are looking to each other, not God, to fulfill them. One reason I think so many single people are in pain is they are looking for someone, not God, to fulfill them. Gods recipe is the same for each of us to bring Him glory and be useable for His Kingdom.

    I totally agree that people can be insensitive. I am experiencing this now from both the single and married camps. People offer advice (different than admonishment or exhortation) when it’s not asked for and often say things to make themselves feel better as though they are helping when oftentimes it’s totally insensitive and not from Gods Word. To be united in Christ we must be careful with our words as you have shared. I commend you for speaking directly to your friend about how her words hurt you… otherwise this could have produced a root of bitterness in your thoughts towards her and that is against Gods perfect desires for us.

    These are just thoughts your blog provoked. I can relate to what you wrote and find it interesting that I can still relate, although the specifics have changed. The battle will not be won or lost by remaining single or marrying someone. The battlefield will just change a bit.

    • Thank you for this thoughtful response! I know that I am often in a quandary of attempting to be content where I am and still acknowledging that I long for a family. I know that I can’t really imagine how difficult it is to be in a marriage. And I know that a person can’t bring me contentment, but I also desire covenant with someone. It is a very difficult thing to reconcile at times, striving for contentment but also being kind to myself when I’m not content. I think part of the problem is that we make the goal contentment. Did God ever say that the objective of life was to be content? Not at all. He said the that objective of life was to love- Him, others, and ourselves. So I think a lot of what I struggle with is wanting to be in covenant even if that means a lot of pain, because I want to learn what it means to love. But it has never seemed possible to be in covenant. Being alone is difficult in very different ways than being in covenant. Both are very difficult. But honestly, at this point, I do really wish that I could have challenges that go towards being in covenant with someone than having challenges that only go towards me accepting being alone. Both are difficult though, and I know that.

      • You make a really good point about making the goal contentment as opposed to Gods Word which says Paul is learning to be content in all things… very different ideas!

        I hear your heart Kate… I truly hope you embark in a covenant with a godly man who will bless your life.

  39. Hi!
    This entry was on a single friend’s FB, so I read it.
    I am a 40-year-old married person. I got married when I was 23, and I really wish I had stayed single longer. I was not a Christian then, and became one about 9 years ago. I know that God is using my marriage in many ways, but I feel I would be more developed as a person if I had grown up more before attaching myself to another. I am the calm, nurturing, patient one in a marriage to someone who is the opposite of me. He is loyal and a great provider, but he is also emotionally high-maintenance, demanding, and his needs/desires must be met before mine, or there is unrest in the household. He is a believer too, yes–and God blessed us with both coming to the Lord at the same time–but that has not changed many of his ingrained traits and behaviors.

    I clearly remember deciding to say yes to marrying him because I loved him and wanted to make him happy. I knew then that he was a difficult personality who had had a difficult life, and that I might be the only one who could give him happiness. Well, I am not “making” him happy, as nobody can really do for another. And I am not happy either. I will stay in the marriage, because God hates divorce, we have 2 children, and I take my vows seriously as a contract with God.

    My sister just got married at age 33 to a man who perfectly fits her personality. And she knows herself fully. I look at her new marriage wistfully, wishing mine was like theirs is promising to be. I say to you Christian singles out there–don’t worry! Keep working on your own self and life and following God’s will. God made you special and unique, and able to stand alone. If He has a mate for you out there, He will guide you to that person at the perfect time.
    God Bless!

  40. While I am now blessed to have found my (almost) husband now, I am glad to see someone write about this. I faced those same feelings and comments for years with the cycle of struggling, “giving it to God” and then struggling again later. I was made to feel it was my fault. I hope many singles read this and know that they are precious and that when God has them and their future spouse ready for each other, that it will happen. I hope they know that they are not at fault, they are simply still being prepped for something amazing, God’s plan for a hope and future for them. Thank you for writing this.

  41. Very accurate truth! So very well written and so right on. Thank you so much for writing this for hopefully a lot of people to read, gleam and celebrate together!

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  45. Amen!
    I am now married, but I was single first (duh). Which is why I honestly have a hard time responding to singles who are struggling…because I know. It can be SO hard. It can be SO lonely. And it feels like there is NOTHING that you can do to make the one thing you want most to happen. Which can be maddening. You can pray, you can intentionally meet new guys, you can be open to giving most good guys a shot…but you simply can’t make (a good) marriage happen. Which means I have no solution for my struggling single friends. All I can do is hurt for them, pray for them, and hug them tight! Which is so frustrating when I wish I could DO something for them – so I understand why married people try. But I also understand that those attempts usually are not what is needed. Prayers and hugs are.

  46. Well written.
    My guess is that marriage is like death: no matter how much you ready yourself, you’ll never feel 100% prepared. Even if you have left marriage/death in the Lord’s Hands, you – imperfect sinner that you are – will still go through seasons where you aren’t as trusting as you should be. The same can be said of the unemployed man who is waiting on the Lord for a job, the missionaries who are waiting on the Lord for more financial support, and the young couple who are waiting on the Lord for a baby. In all cases, whereas we strive to leave it in His Hands, how often we are like Peter & his attempt to walk on water: we take our eyes off the mark.
    Do our imperfections in faith keep God from fulfilling His Will for our lives? They didn’t in Peter’s case. And they won’t in ours. To say that our weaknesses are the reason God has not fulfilled our aspirations, is to say that God desires to fulfill our aspirations asap. Yet the truth is, sometimes God doesn’t want to fullfil them asap. Sometimes God wants the missionary to suffer for a season with financial difficulties, the young couple be childless for a spell and the man go without a decent paycheck for a couple of months. He is Sovereign God and it’s His call.

    Sermon aside, I have a special request for the young single ladies: in your prayer time, please pray for the young men of our generation. As a majority, we are lazy, aimless, video-game addicts who need God’s prodding to wake up to goals, duties and true love. Pray that this would happen. You’ll be happy when God answer that request.

  47. Well said. A friend of mine linked me to this post, and I’m very glad she did; fortunately, my church is very good at letting me be in whatever relationship status I am in, but my family is all married up with kids and they don’t understand that that isn’t where I am right now. They keep trying to fix me up or ask about the guys I interact with or whatever; it’s good to hear someone else say that formulas are not what we need–support as we are who and what we are is.

  48. I had to let go of singleness (which due to some rocky past relationships, meant safety to me) to get married, hows that for not church normal! But really, “let go” isn’t even a good characterization. I had to heal, and learn to trust God again. There is no formula for that.

  49. A friend posted a link to your blog on Facebook, and seeing the title, I was naturally intrigued. I have passed the “young” adult stage, and most of my friends are married with multiple children. I never expected to be this “old” and still single. The Christian, homeschooling culture that I grew up in almost looks down on women who are in their late 20’s and 30’s who are unmarried. We were raised to desire and expect to get married and have children, and when that doesn’t happen, we’re left floundering and trying to figure out what we did wrong.
    I too have gone through many ups and downs of contentment and peace, then frustration and longing, and back again. It’s frustrating and hard to maintain a good attitude when well-meaning people will say things like, “So why aren’t you married yet?” I want to tell them that they have no idea what I’ve been through: how I’ve longed for a husband and children, how the man I was going to marry died from cancer before our wedding, how long I’ve prayed… They don’t mean to hurt with their words and looks, but they often do.
    I appreciated what you said about not putting God in a box – so very true. We don’t understand His ways and His methods and timing are not our own. But listening to Him, loving Him, and being able to learn from Him in this stage in life is a blessing. I don’t think I would have known Him so intimately if I had had my wishes granted years ago like I wanted.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  50. Thanks for your insights. I have often been asked, “How is it that you’ve never been married?” While I think this is supposed to be a compliment, the assumption underneath it is that if you are a nice, warm, attractive person that you’ll just be snapped up. Which leaves you thinking–well, if I haven’t been, something must be wrong with me. For a smart analysis of the sociological factors at work that are contributing to more and more nice, warm, attractive people (women in particular) remaining single, check out an article called “All the Single Ladies” in The Atlantic Monthly (available online, not sure of the URL).

  51. Wow. This is amazing. It sums up alot of what I have struggled with since even high school. Thank you for being honest and penning something so good and thoughtful.

  52. I especially appreciated your inclusion of “barrenness” in the walking wounded. I married at 20, so can’t relate to being single, but after being married to the same man for 30+ years, and without a family, I can certainly apply your comments to our situation. Unable to have children due to my health issues, we thought “No problem, we’ll adopt!” Well, the adoption agencies rejected us due to those same health issues. We weren’t expecting that. We have a family business that we started from scratch, means a lot to us, and want desparately to have someone to include in it or to leave it to. So, we continued to pray for a “family” of some sort. A young Christian couple was brought into our lives, and seemed to be the answer from God after 30 years of praying! But, after investing much emotional energy and $$ in that relationship, heartbreakingly, it didn’t work out. So, we’re back to being familyless. It’s difficult to not blame myself for the situation, after all, I’m the one with the health issues. And what about the “be fruitful and multiply” part? It’s been a painful journey, but I guess I can finallly conclude that a family isn’t in God’s plan for us. Like most things in life, it boils down to wanting to know what God’s will is for our lives. And it is certainly difficult to accept that His will isn’t what you had pictured.

    • I’m so sorry. What a difficult story. There are no answers to things like this are there? I actually had a chronic illness (lyme disease) for seven years and was very very sick for a season. It seemed that I was close to dying. I also didn’t barely sleep for 4 years because of the disease and could go for a full week without sleeping at all. (I will probably write more about this in future posts.) I was told if I ever had children it was very likely that I would give them the disease, and that I could even p give it to my (potential) husband. It was such a difficult season. Now I have hope that I might still have children, but it is scary to think that will never happen. That is so sad that the adoption agencies rejected you! That is very hard to understand.

      The only thing I’ve had to hold onto in times like that is that when we finally see God face to face. no one will be able to deny that He is good. It is very hard to see that now, but someday, I believe we all will know that it is true.

  53. I like what you say as far as you go, but you have more grace than me. I think I would probably hit a married person that said the sort of things you’ve heard with bible bits like Mt 11:10-12 and 1 Cor 7:7-9, 25-38 and tell them that it was their faith that was defective. But I’m glad you’re not like me :-)

  54. I liked the article and I have heard many of these comments too… I am 41, single, never married, and maybe because of the years I have, also from married people I have heard other kind of things such us “stay there, you have a freedom we desire!”, or “while singles try to enter, married couples want to go out,” meaning that marriage is not the perfect stage in life. Something I believe as a Christian is that (at least in my background or context) there is a stigma about being married= well done!, and single, just the opposite… But I do not get this one! As followers of Jesus, why we want so badly being married instead to spend our lives serving Him? As blessed by Paul’s letters, why we do not get deeply in our bones that is better (for the sake of these times) to remain singles? What part of “the will of God is perfect, good end pleasant we do not trust on? Do we believe we are less or incomplete because we are single? NO!
    Some years ago, someone explained me in Spanish the difference between two verbs: SER or ESTAR… One refers to a moment in life, a circumstance… the other to the essence… Currently, I am single, Christian, fighter, optimistic, so many things! Being single is something more that I am, but it does not define who I am! :)

  55. Amen a hundred times over. You’ve captured exactly how I feel sometimes. Helpful formulaic attempts to explain why God has not granted our deepest desires can be condescending and hurtful. Why do my friends have rapid courtships while my man and I are still waiting for marriage plans to work out. Are we doing something wrong? Do we just not trust God enough? Does He like other people better? That cyclical analysis of Job is the best explanation I’ve ever heard.

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  57. Thank you for this. I loved this post and it totally relates to where my heart is and the journey I’ve been on with the Lord (and am still on). Sometimes it is so encouraging to know that you are not alone in your struggles.

  58. I absolutely agree with you about formulas. The formulas need to be thrown out the window! But is it possible you’re missing something here on the “letting go” part? I got married recently (3 years) at age 36. I too wrestled with singleness, and heard all the cliches. But is it possible that some married people finally understood the “let go” thing after they got married? I didn’t get it. I get it now (well, sort of) And it does have a lot to do with what happened in the Job story. Yes, his friends were idiots. They should have kept their mouths shut. But in the end, after all of the wrestling (and it was a LOT of wrestling), Job did finally “release.” He let go of trying to figure “it” out – whatever it is. He finally saw something that changed everything. That doesn’t mean that he was no longer a wrestler with the pain of life. But there was a dramatic shift in him. And by the way, that shift needs to take place in all of us. There are plenty of married people who haven’t come to the place Job did! And, I suppose that “shift” isn’t necessarily a one time deal.

    I think I need to write a post on my blog, and title it: “What Married People Wish Single People Knew.” I would write about how many of us married folks know the agony of singleness. We haven’t forgotten. I find that many single people think that us married people don’t get it. And because of that, they get irritated with us and shut us out of true communion. And I understand that, if all we’re doing is offering you formulas. But there are many of us who don’t want to offer formulas, but would like to help you along the Job journey. Sure, we all stumble and fumble when we’re trying to be a good friend to Job. Some worse than others. But just know that shutting out married people because you think they don’t get it is just as relationally stupid as is being a formula giver. Communion (and understanding) is a 2-way street. How singles and marrieds relate to each other is no less important than being single or being married. Actually, how we relate is the most important thing – no matter what our married status is.

    • I am actually writing a chapter in my book called “What married people wish single people knew” and am also hoping to put it as a post as well. I definitely don’t want this book to be about marrieds and singles on different sides but about us learning from each other, and I really do want part of the book to address things that we need to do to prepare for marriage if that’s what God has. An honest, not angry conversation on both sides. If you’d like to write anything for it or have an interview, let me know. I am reading a secular book right now called Singled Out that is just venomous towards married people. It has a lot of good information for my book but I literally decided to stop reading it because she just sounds so angry. I don’t want that at all.

      • You know, I wasn’t planning on writing on this topic. A couple of our single friends shared your post on Facebook. We have quite a few sexy celibates (love the title, by the way) in our life that are struggling with being single. So I think I’m going to write a post, and link to your post, because you’re post is really good, but my post will be even better! Ha! I’m totally kidding, of course.

        But really, this is an important subject. And I think the deeper issue has very little to do with “singleness.” Sure, if God brings you a wonderful husband, there will be some aspect of singleness that will be resolved, but it won’t resolve the deepest issues of your heart. Sure, God may bless you with wonderful kids, but that won’t resolve the deepest issues of your heart. These things are blessings, and blessing are great! I’m not anti-blessing by any means. But a heart filled with blessings will never be satisfied with those blessings. It will always crave more. It’s like a blessing addiction. Your heart cries out for a thing to fill the void, and when you get that thing it’s like a shot of heroine. It appeases the ache for a while. But then the ache returns, and a new longing for a new drug appears. I just wrote a post about this recently called “Addicted to Feeling Better.” Here’s the link: http://wp.me/p1CSld-9S

        Anyway, I don’t want to minimize the agony of singleness, because I’ve been there. I’ve been intimately involved with the ache of loneliness. There’s nothing wrong with the God given desire for a spouse to share life with. But unmet desires are painful. And pain always correlates to a desire to feel better. The push, the pull, the drive to feel better is typically our biggest idol. And it’s the deeper issue going on behind singleness, or motherlessness, or whateverlessness. Our aching hearts demand relief. What we do with that demand says a lot about about where we are in our journeys with God. But no matter where we are, He is always working to free us from our slavery to pain relief!

        Ok, so I’m in the middle of my first cup o coffee this morning, and I’m rambling! What I’ve seen of your blog so far is awesome! It’s a huge deal for me when I see people open up and be honest and real about life. So thank you! And you obviously have a gift for communicating through writing. Well, it’s obvious to me anyway. :) Best wishes on your book! I’m working on one myself, and it’s a crazy process! I’ll keep my eyes open for yours!

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  60. Hi, Katie, I don’t know you but I stumbled on your page through a mutual friends fb page. Having been in your shoes not too long ago, I can say Amen and Amen to your writing! Despite the fact that I am no longer married, I will never forget how it felt to be in my 30’s and to wonder what was wrong with me, or why my faith wasn’t strong enough or why God held a higher standard for me in waiting than my other friends. It was a painful time of my life. My encouragement to you is that at age 32, in the midst of my frustration, and not letting go of my desires for a husband; quite literally in the middle of my temper tantrum with God, he brought an amazing man into my life. I had often believed the formula that I hadn’t trusted God enough or let go enough and wondered if I ever would reach that pinnacle of perfection in order to obtain a husband. God loved me so much that he finally answered the prayers I had long prayed and the prayers that for so long had gone unspoken. I am in awe of Him. I knew I deserved nothing from him but he finally chose to grant me the desires of my heart despite the fact that I had yet to get that formula right. I got married at age 34 this past September and the dual barrenness that I myself thought would plague me forever is gone. We are expecting our first child in June. God is good! Marriage is hard work but totally worth it.

  61. Wow, thanks for articulating this so well. I’ve often been on the receiving end of this sort of advice, and though it is well-intentioned, it definitely makes an already-hard situation sting that much more.

    Shon’s comments above were convicting – I think I do have a tendency to shut certain “marrieds” out of close communion, because I assume they don’t understand, because I’ve received this kind of stinging advice so many times before. I don’t want to hear it anymore, so I’m quick to anger and shut down these conversations before they get off the ground. But that’s not fair. Something for me to think about…

  62. This is great and I often felt in a similar position when I was single. As a now married person, I’ve wanted so much to relay how terrible marriage can be!! Not to make out in anyway that it is ‘equally’ hard – I felt barren when I was single and I don’t feel the same kind of barrenness now and that makes me feel extremely grateful but also aware that I have been blessed with my husband through God’s grace + mercy and his unfathomable plan.
    BUT even before marriage my partner and I went through fire – real agony. Relationship breakdown or struggle within the covenant which you are determined never to leave can be a kind of barrenness. I wish the cry of lonely, hurting people who are single and the cry of lonely, hurting people in unfulfilled, breaking marriages could meet; that single and married women could hold one another up in prayer and be in closer unity to do God’s will in their respective situations.

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  65. Wow. Seems like you’ve been reading my mind. I have the exact same problems. Being 24, single for almost 4 years straight, and extremely frustrated that nearly everyone else I know has found someone has started to make me think that I’m not finding anyone ever. And anyone who does approach me or whom I’ve been with is/was either a jerk or a creeper (or a happy combo of both).

    Not to mention it’s made me so pessimistic now that I’m convinced that even though I’m trying to be sensible about guys, not wanting to do the horizontal tango till I’m married (yes, that’s a personal choice :P ) and whatnot, I’m somehow going to be the one who will get screwed over in marriage.

    People keep telling me to tell God about it, as you were describing, and to just leave it up to him. Trust me when I say he is SO sick of hearing from me about it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have him on speed dial and that I have my own little spot on his phone list. The point is, he knows about my issues. He knows them VERY well. He and I have our ups and downs, so hearing things like those you were describing does not help, especially on those down days. So glad I’m not the only one who gets this dished out at them. Thanks for understanding ^_^

  66. Well, I know this is way down the list so, Kate, you may never get to it. But your post touched me tremendously. Let me explain. I’m 38 & just got married 2 & 1/2 months ago AT THE AGE OF 38 (just making sure you got my age, lol). Man, does the sentiment of your post resonate with me.

    I grew up in church, but later became a believer in college. I was discipled in the BSU. I did missions a couple times during & after college. I eventually found my way to seminary, where I got an M.Div. in Christian Ed. I’ve now taught for about 7yrs.

    Talk about feeling barren. I was so there for yrs. & yrs. And all during that time the C word was thrown around constantly, implying that if I could really experience contentment, then & only then would the Lord bless me with a husband. So from the 1st time I heard that formula in college, I started chasing hard after it, contentment. I chased it for yrs, never really experiencing it. I thought, “Well, if I get contentment & still don’t get a husband (although everyone says that’s the trick), then I’ll at least be content with Jesus.” As I chased it, I began to hate it & that formula. I cringed every time someone used that word around me. Eventually I met someone who was new in the faith. We hit it off & I tried to force it. I tried to take control & make things happen. Well, things did happen, namely SIN. The Lord used that relationship to TOTALLY break me, & I mean really break me. Because in the midst of that sin, I was willing to walk away from the Lord once & for all for that relationship. HE ALONE KEPT ME. He used dear friends to rebuke & guide me back to Christ. One of my pastors boldly & lovingly told me that contentment, the thing I hated, had become an idol in my life, because after all it would either lead me to more of Christ or a HUSBAND. From that moment last March, the Lord started giving real contentment that I had never experienced before. Serious contentment, just me & Jesus forever contentment. And as He was weaving this contentment into my heart & mind, He was doing the same with the guy I had sinned with. So a few months later we were officially dating with the blessing of our pastors & friends. Two months later we were engaged, & then three more months later we were married.

    Kate, I hope you get the irony of my story. The very formula that I had hated so much was what the Lord used to bring me back to him & to give me a godly husband. BUT I say this is MY story, not anyone else’s. The Lord does not belong in a box & does not use formulas. I was single for so long, for which I am now thankful. So I intimately understand the plight of trying not to doubt the Lord’s goodness while He has yet to give you a good thing you want so desperately.

    Kate, thank you for so clearly articulating the difficulties that come with singleness inside the church.
    I know that your post has & will resonate with so many of my single friends. Thank you for being vulnerable to a wide audience.

    I do have to say as a caveat though, I really never knew how hard marriage could be. Friends used to tell me it was hard, & of course my response was to roll my eyes. BUT it is crazy hard. You know when I was single I could stay home all day & conceivably not sin against anyone. But now, dude, my sin is everywhere all at once. And sometimes (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I miss the struggle of singleness, the aloneness of just me & the Lord. Anyways, Kate, THANKS AGAIN!!

  67. I would venture to compare singleness with infertility, but not like you did. People try to fix those of us with infertility too. They say well meaning things and give us formulas too. Their words of waiting on God, “just relax”, or “stop trying and it will happen” are actually hurtful; just like with singleness. I was 26 when I got married. After leaving the wedding of my pastor’s son I was in tears because everyone kept asking when it was going to be my turn. Hmmm… Good question. I had been asking myself the same thing. Singleness and infertility, most don’t know how to respond to either one.

  68. I am so happy to have discovered this blog. Can’t recall how I got here, but glad we’ve crossed paths. This is exactly the season I’m in currently….wait-mode. In anticipation of something/someone exciting and exhilarating to happen in my life. A connection of realness. Sometimes I’m content with being single and other times I struggle with the reality that I might not find ‘the one’ and have a family life as I’ve always desired. I’ve spent the majority of my young adult life [soon to be 32] so focused on a relationship that I in the past I made myself even more miserable, jumping into situations out of anxiety, only to end up more alone and more bruised emotionally. It’s not until a few years ago that I was forced to take off my rose-colored glasses and face the music. Life does not go as ‘planned’. Life persuaded me to make a conscience decision to change bad habits and renew my broken spirit and twisted ideals. Still have trouble with it sometimes but getting a little better. There are many times when outwardly, the ‘strong’ organized, intelligent, attractive woman whom many gravitate to for advice and encouragement appears happy and content. While on the inside, my soul yet cries out to be sincerely loved by that special someone. Not any man, but a genuine human-being whom I can wholeheartedly see that God himself has poured His spirit into. A man that will adore me as the wonderful being that I am. Who will accept me for me. This is not to say that having God in my life in the Spirit-form is not enough, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to touch someone, feel someone, and hear a live authentic human voice. Most importantly have someone that’s on the same page with similar values and relationship goals.

    There are times when I don’t want to be encouraged nor have a pity party, but would just like some answers from God. To have a real conversation with Him sitting across from me. I have come to a place to where I would like to hear God speak to me directly about the season that I’m in. What is the purpose for these growing pains and the bouts of loneliness when I can’t see anything on the horizon? Why has the desire of closeness and the bond of human companionship been placed within me, yet not fulfilled? I can’t say that He doesn’t answer prayers or doesn’t hear me because I have recent proof that He does. But my goodness, I’ve had my share of bad apples and desire a chance at a positive and healthy, fulfilling relationship without the worries that things will fall apart because it’s just too good to be true or that only happens in movies.

    In taking the road of celibacy, there is peace and more time than enough to reflect and grow. I enjoy the beauty of the things that I’ve learned about myself as well as the insight that I have been able to give others along the way. I have realized that there are pros and cons on both sides of the fence ~ being single and being married, as I have experienced both. But at the end of it all, healthy companionship is what I desire and pray for us all, who want it. Thanks, Kate, for being transparent and allowing me a peek into your world.

  69. Thank you so much for this! Most of the time I love my life and am content with the many friendships I have… but sometimes I feel like my womb is going to implode from the barrenness of it, and I am overwhelmed by the thought that, if I don’t get to have a family of my own, then once my parents are gone I won’t have any family at all. (Only child.) The other frustration I have is when married friends remind me that, biblically, there’s not “The One” that we should be waiting for — as if they were never head-over-heels in love with their spouse. Sigh.
    anyway, it’s good to hear I’m not alone.

  70. Ha ha. Good thoughts. I know what you mean. I also hate the comments as if I am incomplete until I have met my hubby. I personally battled for years with despirately wanting to get married (and yes, I am still single). God spoke to me about discovering joy in him being my husband. As I finally (5 yrs later) wrestled for God to show up like a husband to me, he did. It took wrestling with God but also I had layed down asking God for a husband because it had become an obsession. The interesting thing is once I lay it down I started for the first time loving being single. While I am content with where I am at, I would still love for my future hubby to waltz into my life tomorrow. Something cool though is as soon as I stopped asking God for my future husband and trusted him, God started speaking to me about him! I now hang onto those words. I don’t have to fret about when he is going to come, God has shown me that he has it all under control. My singleness is God’s plan. I am not any less rich in life due to not starting a family and married life in my 20s, rather I am following God’s dream for me and have had an increadible opportunity to grow in maturity and understanding who I am and serving God unhindered. When people tell me they are praying for a husband for me, I can tell them they don’t need to waste their time. God has told me, it’s all set. They could pray for us to continue to keep our eyes on the Lord and walk in his ways until it’s his time but it’s a waste of time praying for God to do something he has made clear to me he has already issued.
    My prayer is that while you wait, and remind people that there are principles NOT formulas in God and raise awareness of how to love the single, that you too would hear God whisper things to you to hang on to that would bring you a great settledness in this time.

  71. Thank you for writing this post, I think its a conversation so many of us wish we could have with our friends. Its reassuring to know that someone else feels this way.

  72. Hi Kate,

    I just stumbled upon your blog via one of my friend’s facebook “shares.” After reading, I had to immediately “re-share.” And after typing this response, I look forward to reading what else you have written on this lovely blog.

    As for this post, I found it to be absolutely brilliant. As the only single girl in my close friendship circle, I often hear some version of the “let go”s or the “marriage is hard; you are so lucky”s. Both of which boil down to being my fault, whether they intentionally meant it or not. Either, as you stated, I’m not completely letting go of the perfect husband list (ugh, how many of those lists are you supposed to write? I gave list writing up about 8 years ago and simply condensed it to: “Loves Jesus. Loves Me.”) or I simply am not strong enough to handle marriage. Both of these things are amazingly offensive.

    Lately God has been reminding me of 1 Corinthians 7:7 & 8. “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.” (NASB)

    Some people are not made to be “married” people. It stinks. It stinks that I’m apparently one of them. And yet, in light of all that we know, there are times it is in fact better. Our focus isn’t on our husband who love us. Our focus isn’t on our children. Our focus is on the One who creates and loves all. Our focus is on all of His children. This is, to quote Paul, my “gift.”

    And just as I may not always like a gift right away on Christmas morning, I sometimes struggle to like this particular gift. I’d love to come home and share dinner and life with someone every night or heck, even not have to change my own light bulbs. I dream of the day when I have to call a babysitter instead of being called to be the babysitter. But then there are days I get it. My singleness is awesome. I am able to travel. I am able to open my home and wallet to help those around me. I am still able to give love. It’s just like the seemingly stupid Christmas present, I have to find it’s true purpose to see how cool it really is. My Dad knew me, thought of me and gave this gift to me.

    The true pity is that often it seems as if it’s singles pitted against married. The constantly battle of one-up-menship. If we are honest, we both have it hard. Life is hard. I mean, honestly, it is awkward to always be the odd man out. And I’m sure it’s just as awkward for them to hang out with me in “single world” knowing that they need to be back home by a certain time to made sure the kids get to bed.

    I just wish that my dear married friends wouldn’t forget how they struggled before they said, “I do.” Perhaps if they remembered our trials, our loneliness then there would be more compassion.

    After all, “…each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that…”

    • Thanks for sharing Gwen. If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?

      I am actually working on a chapter for the book I’m writing on the same topic called “Throw away your list….or just rewrite it.” So it’s funny that you mentioned the list! You are a good writer, by the way. Thanks for taking the time!

      • You are welcome, Kate. I’m 28. ( I know, I know…not terribly old, but I am a Bible College graduate so that’s roughly 43 in “normal” people years.)

        In all honesty, I reposted your article via Facebook and added my comment to you in the comment section. I actually had a few married friends apologize. Which was nice and yet kind of awkward. My favorite comment, though, was from my 21 year old sister as we were waking into church the next day, “Uh, your list isn’t that simple, Gwen” “Well, basically.I mean it isn’t crazy long like when I was in college.” “No, seriously, I know you. You wouldn’t marry someone stupid.” “Um, no… but doesn’t that fall under ‘loves me?’ I mean he can’t love me and be stupid, right?” And then we laughed. Oh, silly girls and our justifications.

        Oh, and as for lists, my (now married) best friend made a list and used to swear by it. I remember that in college most of us had them. I even had more sticky tacked to my door. ha. ridiculous.

        And thanks for the compliment. I don’t write nearly as much as I used to. Though I do have an old (sadly, the most recent) blog from when I traveled from Chicago, IL to LA and back via Washington State and The Grand Canyon if you’d ever what to read it for a laugh. If you decide to, I suggest starting here: http://notmadnomad.blogspot.com/2010/10/adventure-1.html

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  74. Excellent read…I was just talking about this recently with single girlfriends of mine. While I don’t think there is harm meant in the asking of the infamous question “why are you single” , I as a single person and fed up with the inference that something is “wrong” with me. While I am sure that “this too shall pass” I definitely don’t need to be reminded of my singleness from others who have not walked in my shoes. To be honest, I can’t help to compare at times when I see people who have not “endured singleness” as long as I have; it’s human nature I guess. I’m waiting on God in more ways than one and it’s really hard being a Christian single- especially when you are trying to live a pleasing/acceptable lifestyle. Thanks for the encouragement because I truly needed it on today.

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  76. Speaking as a single Christian man, I know one reason why some Christian women haven’t found a husband yet. On the rare occasion I do ask out a Christian woman, I get the old “just a friend” speech, or “I’ll pray about it.” Seriously? You have to PRAY about it? I didn’t ask her to marry me or to have my baby–just to go out for a nice date. No commitment required! How do you women expect to find a husband when you won’t take a chance on a guy who does ask you out? And please stop holding out for 6’4″, six-figure-salary career guy, under the guise of “looking for your Boaz” (which is just a nice, Christian way of saying “marry a man for his money”), or “holding out for God’s best.” Your idea of “God’s best” is not necessarily what God says His best is. We don’t tell God what God’s best is. God tells us what God’s best is. How would you like a man to base your worth on how many men you were dumb enough to sleep with, or on how many children you have by how many different men, or on how much you weigh, how much cellulite you have, or on whether or not you look like the women in Maxim magazine? If Christian women would base a Christian man’s worth on the same things she wants a man to base her worth on, and would just take a chance on a Christian man who does ask her out, maybe she would have a better chance of being blessed with a husband. Sorry for my rant, but it just irks me to hear Christian women say that there are no available men in the church today! There are! You ladies are just not looking for the right things in a man, or taking a chance on the ones who do ask you out. It’s like that joke about the man caught in the flood, and was approached by men in three different rowboats offering rescue that he turns away, saying “God will save me!” and trhen he drowns, and asks God in Heaven why He didn’t save him, to which God responds “I sent you three rowboats.”

    • That is so funny that you said that last part, because I actually have a chapter in my book called “Throw Away Your List” that uses that exact same story only with a single lady on the aisle of singleness with three men who try to rescue her but don’t have everything on her “list.” Thank you for this insight and I agree with you. That’s why I’m writing a chapter on it….I talk a lot about finding the balance between not “settling” for a jerk, but also not having ridiculous standards that no man can live up to. Pick four character traits that are incredibly important to you (not physical traits, mind you, character traits) and if he has those, give him a chance.

      I also want to write more in my book about how hard it is for guys to ask women out in our culture when we have had 90’s dating gone bad going on and there is so much pressure even on the first date. When we have a culture that says “you shouldn’t date unless you are pretty sure you want to marry the person” it puts so much pressure on first dates that we never want to go out on them! The very reason for dating is to learn about the person in order to day by day know if it is a good match or not. If you can’t go on dates to get to know the person, how do you know if you are a good match or not? How the heck do you know by the first date if you want to marry the person? You just can’t! I don’t think you should even think about that for months! It is such a big decision, it should NEVER be rushed. It doesn’t make any sense.

      All to say, I actually have a lot of empathy for guys that are single in our culture because it is really messed up. If you ever want to email me more of your thoughts I do need more ideas for this part of my book.

  77. I can’t believe it!

    Actually, sadly, I can.

    In your post in December about “What Single People Wish Married People Knew,” you said that the church responds by saying, “You don’t want to be married. Then you have to deal with a husband.” or, “Come hang out with my kids. I’ll get my nails done.”

    That is EXACTLY what someone said at my church when someone opened up about the pain of being single!

    This blog (hopefully) helped me to respond in love. I hope that my response was one that validated her pain and spoke to her desire and the mystery of why her desire has not been fulfilled.

    I love all of you my single sisters in Christ and I don’t know why you are single. You are beautiful people with wonderful hearts….I don’t claim to know God’s plan. I just know that He is a loving God who weeps with you, my sisters! And He has great plans for you! :)

  78. I thought you were taking this into a different direction when you said “At the root of this formula is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married people have done something right,” but you stopped there, scolded and admonished married people, and never brought it back to a biblical perspective.
    Instead of griping about married folk and telling them to stop – let’s instruct them (and ourselves!) on how God views singleness. A good start might be David Platt’s sermon “The Gospel and Singleness”:

    http://www.radical.net/media/series/view/185/the-gospel-and-singleness

    • Hi there Mary. I appreciate your comment and do want to hear criticism and take it into account. I am curious what kind of direction you thought I was going to bring it to? That single people really are doing something wrong?

      I am sorry if you felt like I was scolding, that was never my intention. It was my intention to write this post so that I and other single people could be better understood.

      If you were to take some time to read the hundred plus comments on this post, it might help you understand that this really is a serious issue. This has been my most popular post so far because so many single people resonated with the frustrations I voiced here. Single people have often been hurt by may married people’s comments in the church, and I believe these things need to be said, even if I do get criticism for it. I believe that Jesus wants the church to understand our frustration so that there can be more peace in the body between married and single people.

      I do want a biblical view of singleness, I am really trying to search to understand God’s heart on this and every issue, and I will try listen to that message.

      • Hey Kate,

        No, I definitely don’t think single people are all single because they’re doing something wrong! Otherwise, I’d have no place being on any blog (let alone the Internet); I would instead need to be face-to-floor before Jesus to get straightened out by His love – because I’m single, too. :)

        The direction I thought you were headed was that singleness isn’t at all the “curse” that American society (…and American churches…) believe it to be; it’s that “gift” of a season when we can REALLY spend time getting to know God; it’s a time when we’re not always needing to coordinate with a spouse regarding how we spend our time and money and other resources, which means we can devote 100% to God. I’ve learned from those who are married that many of them are still being carried by the deep truths they learned in singleness, because they hardly have the energy or time to read more than a chapter of the Bible each day, or spend more than a half-hour in prayer (often broken up throughout the day)…in between tending to spouse and children and a household.

        So for married folks and single folk to think that marriage is somehow “better” is unbiblical. And to think it’s the goal is sinful, of course; glorifying God is the goal of the Christian, and marriage is not the goal but a means by which we should be glorifying God. And the same for singleness!

        Both marriage and singleness are good, and purposed. They are different in their roles, but equally good (like men and women!)

        Married individuals definitely need to exercise tact (Colossians 4:6) and single individuals definitely need to be slow to take on offense (Ephesians 4:2); but both parties need to see singleness as God does. The sermon by David Platt that I linked above is recommended simply because he pulls from Scripture – 1st Corinthians 7, of course, but also Isaiah, Genesis, Psalms, 1st Timothy, Ephesians, etc. It’s not “singleness according to David Platt” but “singleness according to the Bible”.

      • Ok thank you for clarifying I feel more understood after the last post and more that I understand your comment. I really did like that sermon I thought it was very well thought out and well done. I actually will have several chapters in the book about being thankful in our singleness and doing everything we can to “build our own family” as we are single through loving the poor, loving our friends, etc. But I did want to express in this book and blog a balance of understanding when single people are wanting a family and don’t have it. I am hoping to have a good balance where we can be grateful for where we are today, but also honest with our frustration and pain. This post is definitely shifting over to the painful side of things, but hopefully that will be balanced throughout the book and blog.

  79. I did listen to that sermon and it was really good I took lots of notes thanks for that link.

    I do want people like you to understand as well that I try to keep my posts down to 1000 words or less. This one post is only a glimpse of everything I am saying. When you read my book, you will see that I am delving into scripture a lot, and I end the entire book exploring “The deepest love story”- in which it doesn’t matter if you are single or married, you are all in the larger love story. Thought I would mention that.

  80. Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  81. Kate, I am married for almost 25 years, with 2 college aged kids. I ma also a pastor for almost 25 years, 12 of those as a minister serving single adults from 18-80 in 2 different churches in 2 different states. I gotta say… EXCELLENT ENCOURAGEMENT! and PREACH ON! Your insights are so on target and respectful of that aspect of following God that seems to have been lost on the contemporary 21 century western Christian: Mystery! We really do not know precisely what God is up to in our stages of life nor precisely how He is using the situations of our lives to further our transformation and conformity into the image of Christ. My ministry with single adults has been one of the greatest forces in my life to give me a better grasp on what it means to become a better person, not merely find the better person and it has been a privilege to encourage single adults to pursue God’s will for their life not the will of the godly.
    Keep ‘em coming Kate! Marrieds are as in much need of hour message as singles!

    • Thank you Jonathan that is really encouraging! I am so glad there are pastors like you who really care about singles and what they are going through. It is so needed in the body to have compassionate and challenging leaders in our lives.

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  84. Like you said there is no one pat answer formula for dating and finding a spouce. I think the most important thing is embracing the moment. This creates an natural aura of attraction around you that is irresistible, people want to be around happy self-sufficient people. I have a friend who is about 10 years older than the group of girls who typically associate with him. He is neither considered creepy, nor stalker nor a father figure. He is respected but any of them would date him because he is happy and confident in who he is and where he is in life. That’s the secret. Married people think everyone should get married . . . but have you wondered if that is simply because misery loves company? I’m serious! I just read an article by a Christian psychologist who stated that when your friends who waited for marriage get back from their honeymoon talking about their crazy hot steamy sex life, most if not ALL of them are straight up LYING to you. When your friends tell you how wonderful marriage is . . . its not always true. Just like being single can be lonely, sometimes. The point is one isn’t better than the other. Its a myth to think that we should even need a formula to change our relationship status – it doesn’t need changing. Its good how it is :)

    Long tangent, great article

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  87. a friend just shared this with me and i am on the verge of tears while sitting at my desk at work. thank you for putting into words how i feel about being single. many prayers for peace for you :) Katie

  88. Kate,
    Just stumbled across this blog after a friend pointed it to me and realized that we have a mutual friend in common, Strumpel. I just wanted to say “thank you” for your honest words and giving voice in such an eloquent way to the feelings of the single person. I think it’s the enemy’s great lie that no one else in the world is feeling the same way we do and that we have somehow gotten it all wrong. What an encouragement you are. Looking forward to following you here.

    Angela

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