This is the second part of Alida’s honest words on singleness and the church. I pray it continues the conversation for you. As for me, I’m working on something beautiful that I hope I can share with you next week.
It’s okay to want to be married
Can we just agree to be a bit more gracious with ourselves and with each other? It is okay to want to be married. In fact, that’s actually a good thing. The love of God is exceedingly better and more extravagant than the love that any other human can offer us, but it’s not the same. And, before creating Eve, God himself said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We were created for relationship and deep community.
And in the absence of something you want, it’s okay to wrestle with the disappointment and the hoping. It’s okay to be sad sometimes and it’s okay to be frustrated sometimes too. It’s okay to be honest with yourself and with other people and it’s okay to pour your heart out in complete honesty before God. The amount of time that God and I have spent in prayer and tears about this topic rivals that of any other. This goes deep in us and the best news is that we have a God who already knows our hearts completely and who loves us extravagantly.
To be content in God does not mean that we have to check our true emotions and thoughts and desires at the door. It actually means that we take all that we are and run hard towards Jesus and live with such a posture as to say, “I may not have all that I want, but in all my brokenness and wanting and weakness, I’m still all in. I choose to find my hope and home and purpose and rooting in You – no matter the circumstances.”
However, in wanting marriage – as with the desire we have for anything good – we need to guard against the thing we want and don’t-yet (or perhaps never will) have becoming the thing that we actually worship. If we desire marriage more than we desire Christ, we have constructed an idol that we need to repent of, dismantle, and surrender before Jesus.
Marriage is not a value-statement
If you hear anything in this, please hear this: Your relationship status has nothing to do with how worthy you are of love.
Your being single doesn’t mean you are any less worthy of love, any less important, or any less significant. You are more than your career or education (or lack thereof). You are more than your family (or lack thereof). And, you are more than the person or people who do (or do not) love you.
Jerry Maguire lied to us. Romantic love does not and will not complete you. You are not half of a whole without a spouse. You are already full and complete. One of my favourite authors, Shauna Niequist, says it this way: you are significant with or without a significant other. Marriage and romantic love is not – and will never be – a solution to the ache that exists in you for Christ himself and for the fullness and hope of eternity. Our hearts are restless until they find their true home and rest in God, not until we fall in love and assume the prefix of Mrs.
Fundamentally, marriage is not the goal: Christ is. For some of us, God will use marriage to point us to Christ and reveal some of God’s deeply personal love for us through the beauty and challenges of marriage. For some, God will use circumstances devoid of romantic love to point to Christ and reveal some of God’s deeply personal love for us through the beauty and challenges of being single. For many of us, God will use both. We each have different stories and circumstances and they constantly change throughout our lives, but the end goal is always the same: Fixing our eyes on Jesus.
Being single isn’t “just fine” or second best
One of my favourite movies is the 2005 romantic comedy, Hitch. It’s cheesy and endearing and hilarious and well, just wonderful. The amount of times I’ve watched that movie is almost embarrassing, but it remains one of my perpetual go-to choices.
There’s a pivotal moment in the love-story of Will Smith and Eva Mendes’ characters when Sarah Melas (Mendes), the guarded independent career-driven woman, says, “Maybe it’s like what you said. That we’ll each go our own ways and we’ll do just fine.” To which the smooth-talking Alex Hitchens (Smith) quickly responds: “What if fine isn’t good enough?”
And as much as that scene makes we want to cheer with its dramatic and romantic resolution, the sentiment is flawed: dangerously flawed. Because, even when it feels like we’re missing out on so many things that come with the partnership, friendship, and romance of marriage and perhaps spending more moments than we want to alone – your life is no less full or wonderful or important or significant if you are single.
I get it. I feel it too. There are a lot of moments when it feels like maybe singleness is missing out. That for whatever reason, we missed the mark for the “good” and we’re stuck living the “good enough.” That maybe – and worst of all – we’re even missing out on an expression of God’s heart. But that’s simply not true. Whether or not you are in a relationship or married or single and loving it or single and struggling with that reality: your life is full and beautiful and significant. Right here. Right now.
We need each other
Remember what I said about living in and talking about this tension being really hard?
This is part of why we so badly need each other. Why we need to be open and honest and real with ourselves and with our communities. Why we need both single friends and married friends to walk with us. Why we need to hold each other up on the days that are particularly difficult. Why we need to be quick to listen and willing to sit in the in-between and unknown without trying to find answers or trying to fill the space with empty words. Why we need to celebrate together, not glossing over the hard places, but not letting the hard places diminish any of the beauty either.
And most of all, we need to be bold to remind each other of the gospel: that nothing – and that really means nothing – compares to the gift of knowing and being known by Jesus. We need to let the truth that we are already loved more deeply than language will ever articulate sink deep into all the broken spaces and the deepest dreams. On the days when I hate being single, I don’t need false hope: I just need the assurance of His love. Even if God doesn’t answer prayers the way we may hope that He will: He is still exceedingly good and abundantly generous to us. Even if our stories look different that we may want and even if some of our deepest dreams go unanswered: even then, He is still good.