Because mankind has been created by God for intimacy, it’s no surprise most singles long for marital love. But like all of our deepest longings and desires, it has the potential to carry us to heights in God—when we allow Him to be in charge of it—or to places of desperation when it becomes more important than our love affair with Him.
The latter was my story.
My desire to marry a particular man was so important to me that when God didn’t say yes, I became offended by how He’d handled my life. Without even realizing it, I ran from Christ; stopped trusting Him with my personal life, and ceased to acknowledge His authority, which resulted in a three-year-long depression.
I was certain Todd was “the one.” One evening, however, he came to my house and unexpectedly announced that he didn’t want to see me anymore. After he left, I ran to my bedroom and screamed. “God, I hate You!” Tears fell like rain in a Texas thunderstorm as I pounded my bed repeatedly with a clenched fist. A tornado of disappointment ripped through the landscape of my heart leaving a wasteland of questions I could not answer.
Years later, after the rain cleared and the debris settled, God gently pointed to my heart and showed me that my desire for a mate was greater than my desire for Him. “That is why you experienced so much heartache. I want to give you a hope outside of your desire to have a husband. Child, just surrender it to Me. I want to give you Myself.”
From then on, God began to show me the joy I can have in Him while I wait for a husband. He also revealed some of the lies I believed that kept me trapped in a place of emotional pain and depression after my heart was broken.
I believed it was impossible to experience abundant life as a single.
One of my girlfriends called me last year, lonely and frustrated that God hadn’t delivered her a husband. Never married and 40, she was tired of praying and waiting and waiting and waiting, but most of all, she was convinced that her life was somehow less-than. “Being single is not the abundant life,” she stated emphatically. Boy, could I relate! Believing that same lie is what made me feel like God had betrayed me.
Our conversation sent me running for my Bible where I found John 10:10.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.(NIV)”
The word life jumped off the page. I had to look up its meaning. In the definition, I found the prescription for my and my friend’s sickness of heart: God Himself is the abundant life we seek. The word life is the Greek word zoe (the original language) and means:
“life, referring to the principle of life in the spirit and the soul. (emphasis mine). [Zoe is] all the highest and best that Christ is, which He gives to the Saints. The highest blessedness of the creature.”
This life is inside of me, inside of you, in the spirit, in the soul and it’s God-given. To top it off, it’s the highest blessing that we can have this side of heaven—it’s Christ Himself.
How often do we think the abundant life God promises is out there somewhere in a man or woman we will someday marry when Christ is saying, “This abundant life that you’re looking for—it’s inside of you and it’s who I am. I’m the abundance you need to fill up the deepest ache of your heart. I’m greater than any hope, dream or desire—even the desire for a mate.”
It’s a comfort to know that the abundant life is not about what happens outside of me, or if I’m married or single, because I have little control over that anyway. Praise Him—life is no farther away than the depth of my soul, because that’s where He is.
I doubted God’s love when He didn’t give me the gift of marriage.
Our most desperate times of emotional brokenness tend to bring to the surface what we really believe about God and ourselves. If we are not convinced of God’s love before a romantic crisis, we may negatively measure His love for us during or afterward.
While brokenhearted, Asaph asks in Psalm 77:8, “Has His unfailing love vanished forever?(NIV)”
Finally, accepting that God’s love for me has nothing to do with my marital status has allowed me to relax and rest in Him. As a result, He’s put a new song in my mouth and gratitude in my heart.
I negatively measured God’s justice when He said no to my relationship.
One of my co-workers sent me a true story of a Romanian prisoner who sued God. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry, but I was certainly struck by its irony.
The man believed his imprisonment was proof that God had acted unjustly. After all, since he was baptized as a child, God owed him something, right? He demanded that the Romanian Orthodox Church, which he considered to be God’s earthly representative, compensate him for “God-inflicted damage.” When I read that the lawsuit was thrown out because God is “not subject to a civil court of law’s jurisdiction” there was an ornery part of me that wanted to yell, “Well, duh!”
Taking God to court sounds absurd, but think about it. Have you heard anyone define God’s justice by their single status? Even if not verbalized, we may think, If God is just, He will give me a mate.
Sometimes, we have absolutely no idea how we have defined justice until something goes wrong in our romantic lives. I doubt that this prisoner sat around thinking that if he ever went to jail, he would blame God. But when he was looking out between two bars, his beliefs about God’s justice became evident and lawsuit followed.
This human behavior is nothing new to God. In Job 40:8 God asks Job, “Would you condemn me to justify yourself? (NIV)”
The problem with condemning God and putting Him “on trial” is that you suffer double. You experience grief from relational pain, but you also suffer because judging God falsely keeps you from being able to receive the comfort and peace from Christ that you desperately need when your heart is broken.
It’s okay to ache for a mate—it’s even normal. However, God wants to be enough while you wait; He wants to meet you in the middle of your emotional longing.
If you are willing, any disappointments you have about your marital status can be the very reason you experience your greatest redemption of heart. Your most devastating relational losses can push you into deeper relationship with God; you can cry out to Him and He can hold you in His bosom of grace.
Shana Schutte is a freelance writer, author and speaker living in Colorado Springs, Colo.