I was a week away from graduating college, sitting on my bed and coming to grips with the fact that I was not exiting college with a boyfriend. All I had ever wanted was to become a wife, and yet that opportunity had not presented itself. I slammed my fists into my mattress in frustration.
Four years. Two blind dates. That’s it.
Countless nights I fell asleep thinking about some guy I liked, wishing he would get a clue. I know that the desire to become a wife is a worthy one. But I was growing weary of waiting for it to be fulfilled.
Many questions have floated through my head since I left college.
If I meet an interesting young man, should I muster enough courage to make a first move if he doesn’t?
Should I sit passively and wait for the right guy to come along?
Should I give up my desire to become a wife?
I have found my experience to be common among young, and not-so-young, Christian women today. “Where are the men?” they ask. “Will anyone ever pursue me?”
Here are a few things I’ve learned on this journey.
Delighting in God
Many of us single women know Psalm 37:4-5: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I recall often gazing at a beautifully hand-lettered picture of that passage hanging on my roommate’s wall and interpreting it as, if I delight in God, He will give me what I want … a husband!
But that interpretation led to great disappointment. Upon deeper inspection, I’ve learned that Psalm 37:4 speaks more about where desires originate and less about how they are fulfilled. What it really means is, “If I delight in the Lord, He will show me what to desire.”
Instead of disappointment, this interpretation brings me genuine comfort. If I delight in the Lord, my heart’s desires will be from Him.
It also sheds light on what to do with unmet desires. While it is puzzling why God would give me a desire that He does not intend to gratify, I must trust that His reasons are for my good.
Sitting on my bed that afternoon in college, I was deeply confused about why I felt equipped to be in a relationship and yet hadn’t been given an opportunity to try.
As I think back on what God has taught me during my season of longing, I realize that He has been using my singleness to shape me into the image of Christ. I have grown in patience, grace, and forgiveness by simply being a friend and a daughter.
If my ultimate goal is to imitate Christ with my life, I cannot give my lack of marital status the power to dictate how I do that. Every day, I am faced with a choice: Will I wallow in self-pity and passivity until God brings a man into my life, or will I fix my eyes on Christ and pursue His character? The single woman who wishes to reflect Christ-like femininity must choose the latter.
Space for growth
Someone recently reminded me that nowhere in the Bible does God promise a husband. Yes, Scripture offers bountiful teaching on the roles of husbands and wives and on the gift of marriage. But marriage is not part of God’s plan for everyone.
It is also true that many women who do marry are not spiritually or emotionally mature. In light of this, I have begun to realize that the platform of singleness to grow in Christlike femininity also readies me to be a godly wife in the event that I someday get married.
Admittedly, I sometimes take pride in my own qualifications: “I’m spiritually mature,” and “I want to be a stay-at-home mom and serve my husband,” and “I’ve remained sexually pure all of my life.”
Yet the Lord ultimately knows what I need. If God does in fact have marriage in my future, He knows in what ways I am not yet prepared for the spouse He has planned. I have come to see that I must think about my singleness in terms of a space for growth toward Christlikeness. And if that growth is eventually utilized in marriage, so be it.
How can I delight in God?
I’ve also been learning about what it means to delight in the Lord. Paul’s advice in Colossians 3:1 helpful: “seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” If I am to dwell on things that are above, then I must seek God’s character.
Delighting in God requires intentionally turning my heart away from instinctive, human responses—such as bitterness and hopelessness—and choosing to seek things from above. If you are in my situation, nothing will help you more than delighting in God. Not only will your desires reflect God’s, but your character will reflect His also.
When you are tempted to throw your unmet desires out the window, delight in the Lord.
When passivity seems like your only option, delight in the Lord.
When impatience begs you to take things into your own hands, delight in the Lord.
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
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