Only one date in high school; only one date the first five years in college. You might understand why I thought—at the age of 23—that I would live as a bachelor. I celebrated my 23rd birthday as I had the previous six: alone…, or at least with friends but not female friends. That was in March; I met Rachel three months later.
While I have not been single for 19 years now, I still remember the feelings you can have when your friends have dates, girlfriends, or wives and you do not—disappointment, loneliness, rejection. When I first asked Rachel out, I thought, “Come on. Be original. Say ‘Yes’!” You may even feel anger or a lack of faith in God. “Why can’t you give me someone to love!?”
There are advantages some find with being single. Married people spend less time with their friends, for example. They have less time to read or watch television. To the degree that researchers can quantify happiness, marriage gives you a “boost” for about two years, but after that, happiness returns to “normal.”
For those whom we know who are single, we should be careful that we do not perceive them as having missed out on the best life has to offer. The best life has to offer is Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him, and He is available whether you are married or single. Let us—the married—not assume that singles are lonely, sad, deprived, immature, or perverted in some way.
Single people have time and opportunity to be closer to their brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews. They tend to stay in closer contact with friends, and they usually have friends they have chosen—whereas married people often have friends “thrust” upon them by their spouses or other situations due to their lives as married people. Older, single women, for example, can have as many as a dozen friends with whom they have stayed in close contact over the years.
But, what about those singles who prefer not to be single? Jesus Christ has the answer. As I have already suggested, all of us should find complete fulfillment, not in a spouse, but in Him. Blessedness comes through a close relationship with the Lord. If a single will release himself or herself from the goal of getting married, he/she can build a full and rich life with Jesus. That does allow one to keep the door open for future possibilities but it also keeps him/her from staring at the door, waiting for someone to come in.
How can you focus on the good, the possible, the potential, if life (marriage) is not working out the way you hope? In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests keeping a journal in which you write (10-20 minutes a day) about your hopes and dreams. You then visualize them as coming true. You describe what you need to do to accomplish those hopes and dreams, and visualize how you would feel as you work toward them and fulfill them (Lyubomirsky, 2013).
Trust is one of the most important, and fundamental, responses man gives to God. Job illustrates this point so well for us: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (13:15). If marriage is not in God’s plan for us, we can still know that He will provide for our happiness, our growth, and our success.
Christianity, as it is, is adapted to man, as he is.
Lyubomirsky, Sonja (2013), The Myths of Happiness (New York: Penguin).
Copyright © 2014 by Paul Holland, in Droplets of Living Water, April 24.