As I’ve talked about before, it is not wrong to want to be married. It is not a sign that you are discontent with God if you wish you were not single. Unwanted Christian singleness only becomes a problem when your desire for a spouse hinders your joy in God. We can be joyful in God while still discontent with singleness.
While that truth has been very freeing for many, there are many follow up questions that still linger around unwanted singleness. If you are content in Christ but you would still like to be married, what should you do?
There are countless small decisions you can make, but I believe there are basically two buckets that all of these options fall into: acceptance and change. Whenever you are presented with a problem in life, like unwanted singleness, there are so many ways to respond poorly: rash decisions, despair, compromising on values to get what you want, hopelessness, and the list goes on.
Healthy responses should, however, help you accept your circumstances if they cannot be changed right now or they should help you change your circumstances as you seek to accomplish your goals.
If You Don’t Want to Be Single Anymore, Do Something About It
If you want to be married and you feel released by the Lord to enter a season of dating, but you continue to remain single, what should you do? You should come up with options and solutions that can help you accomplish your goal.
It’s not wrong to actually do something proactive rather than just waiting on the Lord to bring a spouse into your life. The key word there is “just waiting.” We always need to trust God to bring about his will for us, but God does not want us to always just wait. Sometimes he does, but sometimes he is calling us to participate in a greater way than we have in the past.
So the first thing you should do if you are experiencing unwanted singleness is do something about it. Try to change the circumstances of your life so that you can experience the things you want to experience. When done in a responsible way, seeking to change parts of your life is healthy. There’s no Bible verse that says contentment with God means you must never pursue good things in life like marriage.
If You Are Still Single No Matter What You Try, Accept Your Reality
Problems occur when we are trying to change our life circumstances so badly that we sin in the process. While singleness could be because of your choices or lack of effort to meet and date people, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just not God’s will for you to be with someone right now.
Therefore we must have a dialectical view on unwanted singleness. We must hold in one hand our options to change our circumstances, while in the other hand also learning to accept our lives for what they are at this present time. Without acceptance you will always be unhappy and you will eventually get mad at God.
So if you are in a prolonged season of singleness and you are trying to meet someone but you are still single, you must also work to accept your reality without being bitter. Acceptance is when we come to terms with reality. If you cannot accept that, for whatever reason, God is not allowing you to be married at the moment, you will drive yourself crazy and away from God.
Acceptance leads to contentment. If you can’t come to grips with reality, you will always be fighting against what is. But when we can accept our life while also trying to change our life, we can remain happy now but hopeful for the things we don’t yet have.
Hope Expects Good in the Future While Accepting Life in the Present
Perhaps the word that best describes this place of seeking change while also being content no matter what is “hope.” Biblical hope is faith in God’s goodness that is focused on the future. Hope is an eager expectation for something good in the days ahead. Hope allows you to live with peace in the present while also believing the good you don’t yet have can be given to you at a later time.
Without hope you become . . . hopeless. Hopelessness is a terrible place to be for a variety of reasons. For one, when hope dies you have moved away from acceptance and into despair. There’s a difference between accepting your life for what it is compared to being depressed about your life for what it is not. Hopefulness walks the line between admitting you don’t have everything you want but you are content to wait on God to bring whatever he wills for your life. Hope is the bridge between acceptance and change.
Hopelessness is also unhelpful because it sabotages the possibility of you actually getting what you want. For example, if you wish you were married, being hopeless about your unwanted singleness does nothing to change your circumstances. In many ways it solidifies your circumstances because hopeless people are unwilling to accept invitations to change, they are unwilling to try something different, and they create a vibe around themselves that keeps people away rather than drawing them in. Hopeless people are those who complain about life but when a suggestion is offered they simply respond, “Oh that will never work.”
Lastly, when it comes to romantic relationships, hopelessness is not attractive. Why would you think you would attract someone when you are moping around? If you are sad about being alone you will keep yourself more isolated than if you learned to cope with your loneliness and even thrived while you were single. When you are joyful in singleness other people will want to be around you. When other people want to be around you, your odds of meeting someone to be in a romantic relationship increase. People don’t want to try to fill you with happiness, but they would like to join you in your happiness. That’s what healthy relationships are all about. If you hope someone will come along and fill you, you will actually be keeping people away.
By hoping in Christ, you can accept your life for what it is while also looking ahead with joy for what could be. I don’t know God’s plan for your relationship status. You may be single forever or you may meet your spouse tomorrow. What I do know is that Christ wants to walk with you and comfort you in the losses of your past, the unmet longings still in your present, the joys in your present, and as you wait to see what God has planned for your future.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. –Romans 12:12
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. –Romans 15:13
My hope is in you. – Psalm 39:7