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Encouragement for the Single Life

Encouragement for the Single Life

Cheryl Martin encourages singles to view their singleness not as a mistake or a holding pattern until marriage, but as an opportunity to become the person God wants them to be. She also shares how to honor God in the dating process through the use of firm boundaries and an accountability partner.
Original Air Date: January 31, 2005

John Fuller: Well, if you’re single, it can be easy to get discouraged, especially if you’ve been single for a number of years. And today on Focus on the Family our guest, Cheryl Martin, has some great encouragement for you.

Excerpt:

Cheryl Martin:  And I reaffirmed in my heart just the other day, Lord, I trust that you’re going to give me your best, even if your best means a man or no man. You have to get to that point.

(Applause)

End of Excerpt

John: You’ll hear how Cheryl got to that point of trusting God on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, we often hear from older singles in our audience saying, don’t forget about us. There’s a lot of us out here. Well, today we have inspiration for you. Whether you’re widowed, divorced, or never married, and Cheryl has a lot to say. So, we’ll get right to her message.

John: That’s right. Cheryl is a former national news anchor and she’s the host of the Excellent Living broadcast, and the Good News Anchor feature on YouTube. And she’s written an excellent book on this topic called First Class Single. And we’ve got copies at Focus on the Family.com/broadcast.

Well, here now is Cheryl Martin speaking at a women’s conference a number of years ago on Focus on the Family.

Cheryl: How many single women are in the audience this afternoon? [applause] Single, never been married, [applause] divorced or widowed. [applause]

If the truth were told you’re single not by choice, but by circumstances. You’re waiting for Mr. Right.  You thought you had found him but he didn’t get the memo. [laughter] It’s nothing wrong with this desire to be married.  God has wired us for relationship.  He put that vacuum there.

An article in Newsweek talked about “…there’s a betrayal not of the flesh or the heart because we are starving for emotional connections.”  That’s why you see the proliferation of on-line dating services, personal ads, this soul hunger.

So, if God has created this vacuum there is nothing wrong with the desire for marriage, what is a woman to do? This is a question I’ve asked myself many, many times over the years.  And as a Christ follower I began to say to the Lord, “Since I am not married I don’t want to endure my singleness I want to enjoy it.”  So, I began to think about this.  If I am single, I decided one day, “Lord, I want to be not just an average single, I’m your child.  I want to be first class. Because if you’re going to be a leading lady, God’s leading lady, you’ve got to follow his script of what a first-class single looks like.  I didn’t want to languish.

So as a result of studying His Word, going through my own life experiences and the experiences of others I came up with some principles. Many of the tips are practical. For example, don’t marry potential.  What do I mean by that?  You have to ask yourself if he never changes can I live with that?  You say he has potential but he’s 60 years old and hasn’t come forward yet? [murmuring] See we women like to work with a man, work with him, work with him.

Number two, you look at the signs and then you wonder.  He says he wants a job, [laughter] but every day he’s waking up at eleven o’clock in the morning. Wonder. Look at the sign and then wonder.  “He took me out to eat but he forgot his credit card and cash.” Wonder. That’s a sign. [murmuring] But I’m not going to deal with those points today.  But I am going to talk about five that I believe are critical for a woman to be not only single, but successful and satisfied.

This God’s leading lady who is single will first of all pursue God and not a guy. [applause] That soul hunger that I was talking about God specifically placed that, that vacuum that only he could fill. He wanted us to have a relationship with Him first before we have a healthy relationship with a man.  Many of us are getting it backwards.  We put God on the back burner when we meet a man and then we can’t handle what he’s dishing out.  We’re looking for him to fill that vacuum that only God could fill.  He wanted to present to a man a whole woman.  I’m not looking for my other half. [agreement]  It takes two whole eggs to make an omelet.  If one egg is rotten, you’ve got a rotten omelet.

First things first, that vacuum God put there is for Him.  He said, “Let me affirm you.  Let me make you whole.”  He said, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  In other words, you are a fine woman.  So, if you have allowed God to love on you, guess what, you won’t get so excited because a man told you you’re fine.  You already know that. [murmuring/ applause] You are not desperate, as if you’ve never gotten a compliment.  The God of the universe has already said, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I have crafted you exactly the way I want you.  But I want you first and foremost to be passionate about Me, your Creator.”  That’s why there are a lot of desperate clingy needy women looking for a man to fill that void and he can’t do it.

This was so important for women to be whole that when Jesus was here, as important as His mission was even though He had fed thousands of people, His heart went out to one needy woman in Samaria. Jesus said to her, “If you drink of Me, if you drink of Me you will never thirst again.” [applause] Drink of Me. Don’t have a surface relationship. The God we serve is a jealous God.  No one should occupy the top tier of our hearts but God. It said in the Old and New Testament, “You must love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind.”  All means all.

There have been times I’ve been needy in my life. That’s why I can recognize a needy woman from a mile off and so can a man. [murmuring]  It’s like you’ve got a big neon sign “Needy, Needy, Needy.”  I can recognize it. Desperate. Just so glad to be in a relationship.  I’ve been there. When I’ve been rejected in a relationship, I went on a blind date with a guy.  I got there and I knew if I had been in my right mind, [murmuring] my right mind. If I had been a whole woman it would have ended there.  I came home, I had a terrible headache.  I needed two aspirin.  I called my mother, told her what had happened. She was ready for two aspirin and to go to bed. [laughter] But did I stop the relationship there?  No. I went out with him a few more weeks.  Why?  He was affirming me, telling me things I hadn’t heard.  I had just come out of rejection.  And when I finally got the strength to get out of that relationship I asked the Lord as I always do, “What happened?  What went wrong with this picture?”  He said, “I’m glad you asked.  I was waiting.”  If you ask Him he will tell you. [agreement]  He said, “You were needy.”  Needy, he said, “Spend more time with Me and let Me affirm you.  I have no hidden agenda.  I will not use you.  Spend time drinking of Me and I will fill your cup.”

Number two, this God’s leading lady will recognize that her singleness is not a mistake or holding pattern, but a wonderful opportunity to be the successful woman God wants you to be.  This is a perfect opportunity for you to develop holistically.  God is a God of balance.  He wants us to develop educationally, socially, physically, and spiritually.  This is a time, if those dreams are there to work them, to get that degree.  If you can afford a house don’t wait on him. [murmuring] Live in the present recognizing it’s not a mistake.  “This is the time Lord I want to be all that you want me to be.”  You don’t have a lot of the distractions.  Wherever you are, be ALL there.  If you want to travel abroad this is the time to do it.  If you want to go back and get that masters degree this is the time to do it.

It is not a mistake.  And you know what I’ve discovered in reading the Word, the ultimate match maker, you look at some of the greatest matches in the book of the Bible, those women were busy working.  They were not at home watching TV eating Krispy Kreme donuts, depressed [murmuring/laughter] about their state.

Ruth could have been depressed.  A young poor widow living with her mother-in-law which was a widow.  They could have both had a pity party every day. But they had pursued God first.  Ruth was working and it just so happened her God led her to the field of a wealthy man.  I love this story.  She caught his eye. And we know the story but she was busy as a single. Not focusing on what she didn’t have, but what she did have.  How many of us moan we have a negative litany of what we don’t have rather than “I need to maximize this moment. God did not forget me.  There is something he wants to accomplish in me as a single.”

Rebecca the same thing.  What if she hadn’t been watering those camels but decided to sleep in that day?  She didn’t know that there was a divine connection with Abraham’s servant who was scouting for a wife for Isaac.  But she was working where she was. I’d hate to miss my package because I wasn’t doing what God had called me to do.

So, number two, it’s not a mistake or a holding pattern, but it’s a wonderful time to develop to be all that God wants you to do.

Number three, this first-class-single-God’s-leading-lady is going to honor him in her dating.  She’s going to set boundaries before she meets Mr. Right.  See you need to know what you’re about before you meet the man.  You need to know your boundaries.  You don’t let him set the boundaries.

See when the windows in the car getting fogged up is not the time to try and figure out how far you’re going to go. [laughter] You need to already know how far you’re going to go and this woman knows sex is off limits until “I do.” [applause]

Now I know society, if you watch to the music videos and listen to the love songs, it would imply that everybody’s “doing it.” But again, this woman — first rate, exceptional.  She understands that God would never ask her to disobey him to get the package that he has for her. Does that make any sense? [murmuring] See this woman understands that if God denies us something it’s for our good.

John: You’re listening to Cheryl Martin on Focus on the Family. And you can get her book called, First Class Single: Rules for Dating and Waiting God’s Way. It’s available for you when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry today. Uh, call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or donate and request that book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Let’s go ahead and hear more, now, from Cheryl Martin.

Cheryl: I said number one you’re going to pursue God and not a guy.  Number two your singleness is not a mistake or a holding pattern.  Number three you’re going to honor God with your dating.

Number four, as God’s leading lady you will not be paralyzed by your past.  Maybe you’ve been a sexually active single.  Maybe you’ve had children out of wedlock.  Maybe you’ve had abortions.  Maybe you have been that other woman.  I’ve got some good news for you. And I’m excited about this news.  God still has a great plan for your life. [applause]

So if you’ve been paralyzed by your past, you can’t get over what you’ve done, how many children you have, God still has a plan for you because Jeremiah 1 says and I love this, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb [applause] I knew you.”

Sometimes I just park right there and think about the awesomeness of God we serve.  He knew you before you were even conceived, but it doesn’t stop there.  He not only knew you he had already carted out your assignment.  He knew the mistakes.  He knew the blunders and he says, “My plans for you are good.”  I don’t care who has written you off, God has not written you off. [murmuring/ applause] That’s the good news.  God has not written you off.  Each day getting stronger, going to him saying, “Lord, make me a whole woman.  You have validated me.  I know who I am in you.”

And then finally number five. She trusts God to give her his best in his time.  She trusts God.  She says, “I am going to trust God that in his own timing he’s going to give me what he deems best.”  It may not be what I had in mind.  I didn’t want the script that I had, but has it been good for me?  Yes, it has humbled me. Made me more sensitive and caring and more Christ-like because I’ve been crushed.  The only thing I have to depend on is Jesus. [applause] See what a lot of us don’t understand, God doesn’t do anything without purpose.  There is a reason for it.  We have one agenda, God has another.  He said to me, “I’m fitting you for heaven.  Forget your reputation.  I use everything to conform you into my image.”  So, this woman waits on God. Take the limits off God.  It’s not our job to worry about how He’s going to do it.  “Lord I just trust you to give me your best.”  And he’s the ultimate matchmaker, but do you trust Him?  Do you really trust God with your dreams? With your deep longings?  Since He fashioned you, does He know what’s best for you, does He know you intricately?  I believe He can give us someone uniquely crafted for what He’s called us to do because it’s all about His purposes.

Purpose in your heart, if every single woman walked out of here, say, “Lord, maybe if I didn’t get it right, I haven’t gotten it right, but I want to be a first-class single, God’s leading lady as a single.” [applause] I’m going to do some re-prioritizing, pursue that relationship and say, “Lord, I’m not whole in this area.  Fill me up here.”  It’s okay

Purpose to honor him in your dating.  Say, “Lord, what is it that you want me to accomplish right now in my career?”  Have a plan.  “I’m going to be busy.”  These last couple of years have been the most gratifying years of my life.  I have been deliriously happy and full of joy. Excited. [applause] So I know this works!  I’m not giving you something that doesn’t work.  I tried it first before I brought it to you full of joy and excitement about what He’s doing.  Why the Scripture says he’s able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever ask or think.  Wonderful plans if we would just try Him and do it His way.

I re-affirmed my commitment to these principles again just the other day.  You have to remind yourself sometimes.  I says,  “Lord, I just want to re-affirm, I trust you no matter what it looks like, I trust.  What do I know about You? That You are trustworthy. That You cannot lie. That all of Your ways are right.”  And I re-affirmed in my heart just the other day,  “Lord I trust that you’re going to give me your best even if Your best means A Man or No Man.”  [crowd: all right] You have to get to that [applause]

“Marriage or singleness forever, whatever pleases you.” See I’d rather be single than to wish I were. [Much murmuring/applause] That’s a secret.

But I made that commitment, “I trust you.”  And I challenge you to join with me and to get other women that you can be accountable to who are on the same page.  We’re going to be first class together, sister to sister.  You can walk this journey with other women.  Not somebody saying, “Girl you’re going to do what?”  Find somebody of like mind.  Iron sharpens iron. [murmuring]  We’re going to hold each other accountable.  You can say to someone, “These are my boundaries, ask me after this date if I was true in my boundaries.”  That means you’re serious about it.  You’re not leaving yourself an out.  And if you do these five things I can guarantee that you will be ready for the next chapter of your life. God bless you.

(applause)

John:  I really appreciate Cheryl Martin’s heart and what a no-nonsense approach she has to dating. What a great presentation on Focus on the Family. And as she said a minute ago, the real question is, God, can I trust you in this?

Jim: Well, that’s it, John. We have to believe that God has a plan for each of our lives and we need to be faithful in our journey, regardless of how it plays out, married or single. You know, King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. And in Proverbs three, he says this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” That’s a great life verse to highlight and memorize. And it’s our prayer that Cheryl’s words have brought some hope and encouragement to our single listeners today. And I highly recommend you get a copy of her book called First Class Single: Rules for Dating and Waiting God’s Way.

John: Yeah, one reviewer said she couldn’t put the book down and stayed up all night to finish it, which is pretty high praise.

Jim: Well, it sure is, John. And we’ll send that book to you for a donation of any amount. We just want to get it in your hands if you’re that single, or if you have a single friend who needs this content.

And let me remind you about our own outreach to singles called Boundless. It’s a website and podcast that encourages single adults to pursue God and not get caught in the cul de sac of waiting around for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Look for it when you visit our Web site.

John: I’m really grateful for the boundless team as well, Jim. They offer some great resources to encourage singles.

Jim:  I know people will benefit from it, John. You know, the holidays are just around the corner and they can really be difficult for families of all shapes and sizes, including singles who might feel left out. And this year, those challenges have been magnified by the pandemic, with more people experiencing isolation and often unemployment. But our daily broadcast is here to bring you and others hope every weekday, even in tumultuous times. In fact, we’re reaching over six million people each week with this encouraging content, and so many more people need that hope.

Please make a donation today if you can, so we can reach even more people for Christ. And right now, special friends of this ministry are offering to double your donation dollar for dollar so that your contribution will have twice the impact.

John:  And you can make your donation and request First Class Single by Cheryl Martin when you call 800-A-FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459. Or donate online and request the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

And when you’re online with us, you’ll find a number of articles from our Boundless team to encourage you in your journey as a single adult.

And then next time, find out why some people drive you crazy and how to navigate those difficult relationships.

Excerpt:

Dr. Mike Bechtle: We tend to see things through our own lenses and we assume that we’re right because that’s what we see. I mean, if I really believe that I’m right, do I want your opinion?

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