Recently I was out with some friends, and the conversation made its way to dating, types, set ups, dating advice, and dating activity etc… (insert space for awkward silence… no, not really). Being a single 36-year-old female and a pastor I get lots of questions around dating and singleness, including questions like, “are you like a female priest?” To which I laugh out loud and say, “most definitely not!” But usually the question is, “why are you still single?” Some people can’t believe it, and others wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Others asked if I have ever been married, to which my answer is, “no.” Then others go on to ask, “are you putting yourself out there? Are you out meeting people? Are you online?” and many other questions. Plenty advocate internet dating, which I don’t personally feel comfortable with – maybe I am old school.
However, I have travelled parts of the world, interact with plenty of people and been on dates but not yet found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Some might say, “come on, seriously? You have been single for 18 years!” Others say surely its time to settle, or maybe what you’re looking for is just unavailable.
Let me say the path I have walked is not for everyone, but it is my journey and it is not for the faint hearted. I have seen two seasons of my single friends and family get married and have children and now the last of the third season of friends heading towards relationships and marriage now. This is not an unusual, uncomfortable or disappointing conversation. I am well accustomed to these conversations as I have navigated this season over 18 years and I feel like I have something valid to say. I have been exceptionally blessed over the season of singleness. I have many abundant friendships that have brought multiple blessings to my life, learnt how to build great friendships and I know what it means to be a friend. In the process I have learnt a lot about myself, and believe it has been in preparation for a great relationship and marriage to come. I believe that I am still single because of God’s timing and purpose. This belief is a liberating one and sets you free to live life to the full, learning to navigate and embrace every season.
Here are five points I think can help you navigate the journey of singleness however long or short your season might be.
- Enjoy singleness. You often here this from married people, but I am telling you, embrace this season – there is more to be enjoyed in your single years however long or short. It’s a precious time. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.” Don’t endure it but enjoy it and embrace the purpose of it. Serve God while you can with the time you will never have once you’re married!
- Be a great friend. I encourage you to develop healthy friendships with existing and new friends. This prepares you for great relationships as being a good friend is essential. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must show himself friendly.” Learn what it is to be friendly, how to be selfless, what it means to be generous, how to resolve conflict and be a forgiving person. This is a great platform for a healthy relationship and marriage.
- Don’t settle. Compromising and settling leads to disappointment. Patience and faith are rewarded. Trust me, I have seen it. Do coffees, dinners and meet and connect with people. Remember dating is not a commitment to marriage, it is an opportunity for you discover more than just chemistry.
- Pray. Pray for your future partner, for their character, integrity and for your family to come. Don’t cease praying.
- Stay in pursuit of Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Run towards God and as you both do, your paths will collide. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.” The word “find” in this text means to stumble across, not hunt down, or search like you’re looking for lost keys, but to stumble. In God’s perfect time, season and purpose you will stumble across each other, but stay in pursuit of Jesus and obtain favour.
The season of singleness is different for everyone. Just remember, it’s a journey, so learn to enjoy and find satisfaction in relationships with the people around you. Remember singleness is to be enjoyed, not endured.
Ever had someone beat around the bush with you in asking for something? Recently I was engaging in a conversation with my nephew, and I could sense that it was coming to a particular request. However he danced around the idea for a couple of minutes, hinting at it, talking about it. How often have we approached God like this? Talking about it, whining about it, complaining about it, or hoping God gets the hint?
I eventually asked my nephew, “would you like something from Aunty Ree?”. “Yeh” he shyly responded, I watched the grin and expectation increase, as he looked at me with his hope filled eyes, then finally asked, “Aunty Ree, can you please buy me something”.
Luke 11:10-13 says,
“Here’s what I’m saying:
Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.
As an aunty I was more than happy to give him what he wanted, but I wanted him to confidently, comfortable and boldly ask, instead of hinting at it. I said ‘yes’ to his request, and watched as he excitedly and in shock replied, “really? When we get what we ask for, we are often surprised or even shocked, when it should be expected and encourage us. But for whatever reason we forget how good and generous God is.
What are you asking God for? Let me encourage you, what ever you need, quit dancing around it and hinting at it, and bring your request to him. Do so confidently and boldly knowing that “He knows what you need before you ask, and wants to give to you” (Luke 12:30). Be Bold, Ask, I dare you.
Growing up were you ever told to dream or to expect great things for the future? When I was younger, I had a dream to make Jesus famous through music. I had a confident expectation that all things were possible however that was until I discovered that I could not sing. Having a dream has to have some form of reality in it, and in my case it clearly didn’t. But what about when it does and those things fall short, what happens? Over time, I have seen disappointment when expectations are not met, and seen it lead to discouragement. When our expectations are not met in life, work, family, relationships, business, etc. it can often throw us into an inner turmoil. Our emotions can rage and the passion inside of us can die. With shattered dreams and visions we can think, where to from here?
Some walk away from those dreams, visions, plans and purposes. Some would say, “lower your expectations and you wont be disappointed.” Others say, “expectation is the root of all heartache.” I have experienced heartache and disappointment, but it has been when I have allowed my expectations to be determined by external factors; either a situation, or a desired result, or other people. On some occasions it resulted in discouragement that attaches to the soul leading to frustration, bitterness, resentment; and consequently disillusioned, I can I throw away my peace, my confidence and my expectation for the future.
When the sea begins to rage in our emotions, we need to ask ourselves “where are our expectations placed, and what are they placed in?” Determining this indicates where our trust really is. Are we moved by life and it’s challenges? Are we shaken or discouraged when our expectations are not met?
David in Ps 62.5 & 6 states,
5“My soul, waits silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.”
This scripture indicates that expectations in themselves are not bad or wrong, but where they are placed or from. David states “My soul,” which is our mind, our will and our emotions “wait silently,” silently defined as “making no sound; quiet; still,” indicating peace, no turmoil, or stress, no bitterness or resentment. This is a challenging thought to get our heads around.
When it comes down to it what are our expectations in, from, or on? People, things or opportunities? When they are in Him or from Him, we can hold to this promise, “we shall not be moved” and our soul, our mind, will and emotions can be silent, at peace, and we can say “it is well with my soul”. We can have confident expectation for the things he has birthed in us, so take the time to dream again, hold on to those dreams and desires and build a confident expectation in and on Him.