Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Well, I have reached another milestone in my life. I have been single-again for 25 years.
As I walked out of the courthouse on that day long ago, my heart was heavy. I didn’t want to be single, much less single-again.
Growing up I had never once considered singleness as an option for my marital status. From my experience, I knew that every worthy woman had a husband who loved, adored and protected her. All I had to do was look at Barbie and Ken, Cinderella and Prince Charming, and Charles and Carol Ingalls, to know it was true. I had even done the math: husband + wife = happily ever-after.
Yet there I was holding an envelope with official papers declaring my married dissolved. I needed to quickly figure out how to deal with the malady of my dreaded singleness. As a matter of fact, I was so sure I would soon remarry I made the decision to keep my married surname so I would only have to change it once (which, by the way, is at the top of my hindsight-is-20/20-list).
Transitioning from married to suddenly single was slow and painful. Perhaps if I had not been so desperately trying to do it my way, the process would have been easier. It took more than a decade for me to stop wrestling with the Lord, surrender my desires, and trust Him with my marital status. Only then did I start to become comfortable in my single skin. I confess it took even longer for me to fully embrace my singleness and enjoy the journey.
Over the years, I’ve had married friends tell me how easy I have it as a single woman. While there are blessings and benefits, I definitely wouldn’t define singleness as easy. I may be able to spend my money how I choose, but I also carry the burden of making every financial decision alone. I do, most often, have the flexibility to do what I want when I want, but that doesn’t mean, especially in ministry opportunities, that I should carry a heavier load than a married friend. I can do chores in my own timing, but I have the same chores as a couple and no one to help. I may be able to paint my walls Laura Ashely rose pink, but sometimes I would readily trade my decorating preferences for the echo of deep laughter off those walls.
Yet, there are some things that are total perks of being single: sole possession of the remote control, sleeping in the middle of the bed, and ice cream for dinner. My absolute favorite perk? Unhurried and uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord.
Once I finally got still and quiet before the Lord, He began to show me – and continues to show me - who He is and who I am in Him. Daily, He’s teaching me Truth. The more I seek Him, the more I find Him. In my desire to become more like Him, He has had to do some serious refining and sifting. He has also revealed how my internal dialogue paralyzes me with fear and causes me to make bad decisions. I realized that, years ago, it was my intense fear of being alone that led me to feel desperate for a husband and resulted in me making a really, really wrong choice.
On this, my silver anniversary of singleness, the Lord has stirred my heart to transparently share – specifically with my single-sisters - how a few seemingly small not-so-bad decisions resulted in one gigantic bad decision. I pray someone will learn from my experience and, unlike me, make wise, discerning choices.
1. Most important, know who you are in Christ. You are His chosen. His beloved. A blood-bought child of the One True God. Created in His image for His purpose and His glory. Redeemed. Sealed. Eternally His.
2. It is not up to you to find a husband. Proverbs 18:22 says “He that finds a wife finds a good thing.” That means the ‘finding’ is not up to you. If it is the Lord’s will for you to be found, He will orchestrate the meeting. I am embarrassed to admit how much time I spent on my man-safari. I spent way too many years idly watching the horizon for my prince. Then, tired of the endless and futile waiting, I attempted to put myself in the direct path of any male that was not sporting a gold band. Ultimately, discouragement and weariness brought me to the point of surrender; I handed the responsibility of the hunt back to the Lord and got busy about living.
3. You have no business going out with a man who is unequally yoked. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s just dinner. While it may start with ‘just dinner,’ those emotional strokes – affirmation, attention and affection - are powerful. Since it feels good to feel good, it’s easy to say yes to another date, and then another…and before you know it, you’re married to a man who doesn’t share your core convictions. I speak from experience and have the papers to prove it.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14
4. Determine what qualities you desire in a future husband. In addition to being equally yoked spiritually, know what characteristics and ideals are important to you in a mate. Write them down. Pray over them. Determine which things on your list are negotiable and which are non-negotiable. Why? Because when you have clearly defined what is important, you are less likely to compromise. It may sound shallow, but it is actually a preventative measure. If the guy is a slob and a reckless spender, is that a deal-breaker quality for you - the wise-steward and organizational queen? Maybe, maybe not. If your greatest desire is to have a family, but he is adamant about living a kid-free life, don’t think you can change his mind. Would the compromise be worth it to you in the long run?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.~ Galatians 5:22-23
5. You do not need a man to complete you. If you are desperately searching for a husband, SISTER - pump your brakes, slow your roll and STOP! You - as a single woman – are already complete. No additional human component is required to make you more you! You are uniquely you, fearfully, wonderfully and wholly made! However, what will complete you is an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves you unconditionally, more than any of our finite brains can comprehend! He wants to walk continually with you as you discover His glorious purpose and plan for you!
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
~1 Thessalonians 5:23
6. Be content in your singleness. The honest truth is, no matter how much of a hopeful romantic you are, it may not be the Lord’s plan for you to be married, or at least not in your desired timing. Psalm 37:4 says to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This Scripture verse isn’t a name-it-and-claim-it verse, it’s an if-and-then verse. IF you delight yourself in the Lord, that means surrendering yourself and your dreams to the Lord and walking in obedience, THEN He will give you the desires of your heart. He’s not promising to check off everything on our list of desires. The point is, if you are following God, seeking His will for your life then His desires become your desires and, therefore, your desires are fulfilled.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. ~Philippians 4:11
I have often said that the worst thing to happen in my life was the best thing to happen in my life. Those adolescent-onset fears and insecurities desperately sent me in pursuit of a man, who would consider me worthy of his love, adoration and protection. For ten years, I struggled to feel worthy, loved, adored and protected. I did not know who I was in Christ. I had married unequally yoked. I had compromised on values. I looked to my husband to complete me. And then he left…
…picked me up out of the remnants of my crumbled marriage and whispered…my daughter, I consider you worthy. I love you so much I was willing to die for you. You are the apple of my eye. I promise to protect you. And I will never leave nor forsake you…
Best. Thing. Ever.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.~ Lamentations 3:22-23