Recently I received an email from a single woman in her 20s asking for some advice. Her heart’s desire is to be married, but she doesn’t see any possibilities on the horizon. She spoke of her love for Jesus and her desire to pursue purity. That desire has kept her from indulging in the frivolous romantic relationships many young adults around her are enjoying.
This precious woman’s email brought tears to my eyes as she also laid bare the loneliness she feels, the intense desire to be pursued by a godly man, and the painful feelings of unwantedness that result from the lack of having someone to love.
The Pain of Love Lost
I can relate to many of her emotions. In my own season of singleness, I remember those same feelings. I longed to be loved unconditionally, for someone to treasure me just as I was, with every spot, blemish and sin. My heart ached for the young man who had broken up with me after a two-year relationship, and I wrestled with feelings of rejection.
But God in his mercy did not leave me there. Through my heartache, he drew me closer to himself to find comfort in his word, where I learned to trust that he will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
During that season of waiting, I read a book that was formative in how I viewed relationships. It’s called Quest for Love by Elisabeth Elliot. I was inspired to live a counter-cultural life by not joining the ranks of those aggressively pursuing a man, but instead waiting for the right man to pursue me. One chapter in particular was life-altering. It was titled “Marriage: A Right or a Gift?”
Help From Elisabeth Elliot
In this short chapter, I was confronted with the reality that I had grown up expecting to be married. This is what I wanted, so of course God would give it to me, I thought. But in Elisabeth Elliot’s no-nonsense way, she corrected my faulty thinking and completely realigned my perspective.
If you are single today, the portion assigned to you for today is singleness. It is God’s gift. Singleness ought not to be viewed as a problem, nor marriage as a right. God in his wisdom and love grants either as a gift.
Singleness as a gift! Are you kidding me?! I was shocked and offended the first time my eyes rolled over those words. But it was Elisabeth Elliot’s voice, along with the apostle Paul’s (1 Corinthians 7:7), that propelled me to not pine over a missing relationship, but to wholeheartedly pursue Jesus and the life he had given me to live.
If you want to make the most of singleness while you long to be married, here are a few practical points I learned in my own season of waiting.
1. Embrace the unique opportunities you have as a single person.
As the apostle Paul reminds us, the married person has dual responsibilities of pleasing both the Lord and his spouse. But the unmarried person needs only to be concerned about pleasing Jesus.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:32–34).