I recently asked a question to the AGW subscribers, “What’s the most challenging part of Christian singleness for you?” The responses that came in were overwhelming. People really shared their heart and talked about how hard the season of Christian singleness can be for them.
When we experience difficulties in life like unwanted singleness, we have a choice on what impact these trials will have on us. We can let problems hurt our walk with God or we can allow God to use trials to enhance our walk with him and spiritual maturity.
So how can we use the hard times in Christina singleness to actually benefit us? What can we learn from these trials? In this article, we will talk about 5 of the most common challenges in Christian singleness and how to grow with the Lord through these difficulties.
One of the topics that came up the most in the responses to my question was loneliness. Here are some of the responses people shared:
The desire to be loved by a man and/or have a man to love. Like I wish I had a boyfriend just so I wouldn’t feel that lonely at times and would have someone to share my journey with God with.” –Laura
“Every time there’s exciting news to share, or a bad day to vent about, or I’m sick and need someone to take care of me, needing an emergency contact on medical forms, when your work hosts marriage retreats, etc., I’m reminded how single I am. The world doesn’t cater to singles the way it caters to couples.” –Gina
So how can you deal with the loneliness of Christian singleness? There are some practical solutions like focusing on the relationships you do have. Spending time with family, close friends, and your church community can help you feel connected and loved.
But perhaps one often overlooked approach is acceptance. Sometimes we try to push away the loneliness and deny how we truly feel. Denying your feelings is not healthy. You don’t want to wallow in your loneliness and start moping around, but if you minimize the pain you feel in being single you are not caring for your heart the way it needs.
If you are not honest about your loneliness, your pain, and your disappointment, you will not be able to experience the comfort God wants to give you in your struggles. You have to allow yourself to be honest about your feelings so you can then be honest with God. God doesn’t need you to deny your loneliness or relationship disappointment. I believe he would rather you be honest so he could walk with you through the pain. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) states:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
(For more on Christian loneliness in singleness, read/watch 5 Ways to Deal with Loneliness in Christian Singleness.)
Another common struggle that Christian singles experience is confusion. Wanting to be married when you have no good dating options can be a hard because knowing what do next will not always be clear. Even when you do have some good options or you are starting to date someone, the confusion doesn’t go away. With every new season within Christian singleness, there will always be some element of mystery and a lot of unknowns.
So how can you deal with confusion in your season of singleness? One of the best paths to take when you are confused in life is to focus more on what you do know rather than constantly dwelling on what you do not know. If you are wondering if you will marry this person you just met, that’s too big of a question. Start with what you do know. The two of you have agreed to go on a date. Focus on the date, not the next 10 dates that may or may not happen.
If you get married, have kids, and get the dream job you always wanted, believe it or not, you will still have lots of unanswered questions in life. If you do not learn how to deal with confusion in your singleness, you will continue to struggle with this in other areas of life too. Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10).
Perhaps the most important step to take when you are dealing with confusion and unknowns is to remember the sovereignty of God. When you truly believe that God is in control and that he loves you, this truth will overwhelm your doubts. You may now know the future, but if you are a Christian you know the God who controls the future. When you really embrace this truth, it will bring you all the peace you need.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)
Anger Towards God
One bad approach to a belief in the sovereignty of God is getting mad at God for not giving you the relationship that you want even though you know he could if he wanted to. Many people in a season of unwanted Christian singleness struggle with anger towards God.
This type of thinking, however, is unbiblical. While God can do whatever he wants because he is God, we must also see the sovereignty of God through the lens of God’s love. God will always do what is most loving. We can’t always know why God is withholding a certain blessing that we desire, like a Christian marriage, but we do know that God is love and thus he will always act in love towards us.
When we do not understand how God actually loves us but we are expecting a different expression of love than he is giving, anger can occur. God’s love for us is not expressed through giving us everything we want the way we want. His love is not always expressed through saving us or others from pain or death (John 11:3-6). God’s ultimate expression of love for you and me is to do what will most shape us into the image of Christ for his glory (Romans 8:28-29). In Dr. Henry Cloud’s and Dr. John Townsend’s book called Boundaries, they explain:
When Paul planned trips that didn’t work out, he accepted the sovereignty of God. He asked God repeatedly for a certain kind of healing that God would not give him. God said, ‘No. I do not choose to love you in the way that you want right now. I choose to love you with my presence.’ Paul did not reject God for setting that boundary.”
So what should you do if you are angry towards God? You should look inside yourself to see if your definition of love is the same definition God is using. He may not always change your present circumstances the way you want, but he is always present, which can always change you.
(For more on this, read the article What Should You Do When You Are Angry at God?)
When you ask people what the hardest part of singleness is for them, many Christians say that sexual temptation is their biggest challenge. So how can you overcome sexual temptation in your season of Christian singleness?
This is the right question to ask because marriage will not solve the root problem to your sexual sin. The sexual temptations will be different in marriage, and marriage can help you with sexual temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5), but if you never learn to resist temptation you will still fall to sexual temptation within marriage too. A porn addiction will still live in you even when you go from singleness into marriage.
To overcome sexual temptation in singleness, you have to enjoy Christ more than you enjoy sin. You have to learn to live from your new identity in Christ. In addition to focusing on your new position in Christ, you must also express your newness in Christ through practical steps.
(For more on this topic, you may enjoy my book Redeemed Like David: How to Overcome Sexual Temptation.)
There are so many more common struggles for Christians who want to be married. Self-ridicule, however, can be one of the most self-defeating struggles one might experience in a season of unwanted singleness.
When your friends and family members all seem to start marrying off and it feels like you are the only person who hasn’t found “the one” yet, you can become your own worst enemy, “I’m so unworthy to be loved. I’m so ugly. I’m so boring. I’m so awkward around people. No one could ever love someone like me.” When you start inflicting these negative blows on yourself in response to a prolonged season of singleness, you end up only making the situation worse.
The more you put yourself down, the less likely you will be healthy enough to meet, date, and marry someone. When you believe terrible things about yourself, you will not take the normal steps needed if you actually want to get married one day. You will be frozen in self-doubt and shame.
If you don’t love yourself and respect yourself like God does, then you won’t be able to love and respect others. You must embrace the love God has for you so that you will be filled even when you are single. If you have a negative view of yourself, getting married won’t change that. You will always be your own worst enemy if you do not see yourself through the eyes of your loving Heavenly Father.
(For more on this, read/watch What Does the Bible Say About Putting Yourself Down?)
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