Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Psalm 34:5 (ESV)
For most modern women “singleness” and “contentment” are two words that don’t seem to fit together in the same sentence. During our single years, it’s all too easy to believe that marriage is the only thing that can solve our problems and make us truly happy.
Sadly our culture — even our Christian culture — often views singleness as a “problem to be solved” rather than an opportunity and gift from God. Well-meaning friends and family members can quickly make the situation worse by constantly asking if there is a “special someone” in your life or hinting that “so and so” might just be a perfect match for you.
To compound the issue, some modern Christian messages confidently declare that discontentment with singleness is normal and acceptable, and that we can’t expect to be truly fulfilled until we finally enter into marriage, because that is what we’ve been designed for.
And when God seems to delay bringing a husband along, the bait towards frustration and bitterness is palpable. I have spoken with thousands of single women who have struggled with anger towards God and depression towards life in general because they have not yet met their spouse. They are completely unable to thrive in the single years of their lives, because they are convinced that their “real life” won’t begin until they are finally married.
Can you relate? Does finding true joy and contentment in your single years feel more like a myth than an actual possibility?
I have personally journeyed through the “joy and contentment” conundrum many times over in my life.
Before Eric came into my life, God had walked me through a season when I’d learned to find true joy and contentment in my relationship with Him, even as a single girl, and I wasn’t pining after a husband for happiness. I thought I had this whole contentment thing figured out.
However, it was strange, but, once Eric and I became engaged, my hopes and expectations slowly became wrapped up in my dreams of what married life would be like — a cute little home with a white picket fence and a romantic dinner by candlelight every night.
I didn’t realize that I was placing so much hope in my own plans and dreams, until we moved into our first house — a charming 100-year-old bed and breakfast that some friends had graciously let us stay in for the winter. The home was beautiful in the summer — on a sparkling lake with flowers and trees and swans. But in the winter (when we lived there), the lake was frozen, the windows were boarded up, and the house seemed like the setting for an eerie movie.
It was hardly the setting for the Leave it to Beaver lifestyle I had envisioned.
The next four months in this “eerie” house were an adventure in the ridiculous which included a family of scary raccoons moving into our fireplace, an invasion of hungry fleas, a bronchial infection to beat all bronchial infections, water spraying everywhere in our laundry room due to busted pipes (leaving mountains of dirty clothes needing washed), and piles of discarded Kleenex that demanded too much energy to throw away.
Marriage was great. My circumstances … not so much.
As overjoyed as I was to be married, I realized that marriage hadn’t solved all my problems or made my life perfect. I believed I had every right to postpone my contentment until our outward situation improved and became more like the pleasant and comfortable plans I had created in my mind.
Then one morning I opened my Bible to the Psalms and read these words: “My soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him” (Ps. 62:5 NIV). A poignant question resounded within my soul — where was I placing my hope? In my circumstances? Or in Christ alone?
While there was nothing wrong with the desire to have a lovely home and pleasant surroundings, I realized that there was something wrong with making my fulfillment conditional upon those things. I committed myself afresh to God’s design for this season of my life even if it was different from my personal agenda.
Once my hope was anchored to Christ again, my contentment returned — fleas, raccoons, sub-zero temperatures, and all. Eric and I learned to laugh at our ridiculous circumstances and cheerfully embrace the challenges that came with everyday life. The result was that we drew even closer to each other, and grew tremendously in our relationship with Christ. Looking back, I see God’s loving purpose in that cartoonish season, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.