Tired of Being Single

Being single is hard. I know, marriage is hard, too, but being single is just obnoxious. It may be a stretch to say that we are created for marriage, but somehow being single still feels like I’m missing something. I don’t just mean sex, though I do include that. It’s all the other stuff.

Having someone to do life with on a daily basis, someone who is closer than a roommate can be. Having someone to provide for and take care of. And having someone make fun of me for ending sentences in prepositions because I just don’t want to think it through more thoroughly…and because I’m from Texas. Having a reason to make work feel like I’m doing more than just paying bills to continue a cycle of working to pay bills.

In case I’m not being clear, I’m tired of being single. More than that, I’m flat out annoyed with it. That’s why these words from Russell Moore in his book Tempted and Tried hit me like a ton of bricks. If you haven’t read this book, read it. It’s easily one of the books that every Christian should read. The third chapter compares and contrasts Jesus’ first temptation and trial in the wilderness to that of the Israelites during the Exodus, among other things. Here, he specifically addresses the Israelites’ complaints about not having “enough” food and wanting to go back to Egypt.

To lose control of your appetites is to lose sight of the gospel itself, the truth that God knows what you need to survive — the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus. God allows his people to “hunger” so he can feed them with what is better than what they would choose. The Israelites wanted Egyptian onions and leeks; God was training their appetites for bread from heaven.

Tempted and Tried, pp. 80-81

You see, losing control of our appetites is about more than fornication or pornography. It’s about our attitude. It’s about how we seek God concerning this issue. It’s not wrong to want a spouse. It’s not wrong to pray for and ask God for a spouse. But I feel that many times when I do this it’s because I am more concerned about my temporal desires not being met than I am the glory of His name. I fear that’s the way many single Christians approach this as well.

I mean, even typing out the first paragraph of this post, knowing where I’m going to end this, makes me feel more like I’m complaining about the hunger than wanting to see how He chooses to satisfy those desires, or if He chooses to satisfy them. Just like the Israelites forgot about all the slavery and constant threat of death and wanted to go back to Egypt for food, I find myself wishing I could go back to when I was in a relationship. I completely forget about the fact that I’m not in that relationship because it wasn’t what God wanted for me. In those moments, I want my desires satisfied more than I want His best for me, more than I want to glorify Christ with my life.

Fortunately, God’s pursuit of His glory being displayed in creation and in my life is stronger than my pursuit of temporal satisfaction. His glory is displayed best when I am most satisfied in Him, and He will be faithful to cultivate that satisfaction in Him so that He receives the most glory. As C.S. Lewis points out, this isn’t a one-sided thing. He is also faithful to pursue our satisfaction in Him because He knows that we will have more joy when we experience a holiday at the sea than we will playing in the mud – even if that means He carries us to the ocean while we throw a tantrum because we just don’t understand.

God loves us, and sometimes that means He chooses to father us rather than feed us the way we want. He does this for His glory and for our good.

Do you sometimes get tired of being single? How do you overcome it?

 

Don Sartain started blogging about life, Theology, and Christian thinking in 2010. He’s a covenant member at The Village Church and single for God’s glory and his good (at least that’s what he keeps telling himself). His favorite authors include John Piper, Russell Moore, and Matt Chandler. He has several solid guy friends who love him well and aren’t afraid to speak truth into his life, especially when he doesn’t want to hear it and is friends with a few girls who fill that role, too, for whom he is incredibly grateful. He has a heart to see the gospel proclaimed with our lives and lips, for the glory of God and the joy of those who love Him. He blogs regularly at Transforming Words, and you can follow him on Twitter.

 

Photo credit: Carlos Martz

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  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    I get it. I’m so right where you are at this moment. I was just talking/yelling to God about it last night.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Haha, I’ve done that more times than I can count. I find that half the stuff I write turns out being what I need to hear more than what I need to say.

      Grateful that He loves us enough to do what’s best for us and His glory, and do so with more patience than I could ever display.

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Yes, indeed.

  • Deb B

    Yeah, a season of prolonged singleness is rarely how people dream of their future. I mean, have you ever heard anyone’s parents say “I’m so looking forward to when litttle Johnny is 40 and single”? It’s also hard because it’s not like God didn’t create marriage for good reasons–I love the point about Him wanting us to desire Him more than the things of this earth. But why did He even create those other things if all He wants us to desire is Him?
    Hmmmm, sorry to have more questions than answers. Thanks for a thoughtful and well written post that reflects where many of us are at. Whatever season of life that we are in, may God use it to bring us closer to Him.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      I think we all have more questions than answers when it comes to all things God and gospel.

      I think there’s two factors that we often overlook because it’s so normal for us:

      1) We live in a broken, fallen, jacked up world in which Satan and sin will do whatever they can to keep us from imaging Christ, particularly in marriage. God designed marriage to be a physical picture of Christ and the Church; the last thing Satan wants is a blaring reminder of Christ’s victory and glory through this picture.

      2) The “prolonged singleness” is a relatively new occurrence, really only in the past two generations. Both our zeal for corporate achievement and the general laziness of guys to man up and pursue a spouse and raise a family tend to contribute to this, a la point 1.

      It would take another blog post, and books have been written, to go into this, but I believe that God created all of these things to point to Him and remind us what a good God and Giver He is, and gave us those desires so that the desires wouldn’t terminate on these things in themselves, but so that our affections would roll higher and we would give God glory in His giving us those things.

      It’s kind of like the Romans 7 wrestle that Paul writes about. Or David’s seeming schizophrenic tendencies. One day it’s “God, thank you for your sustaining grace!” and the next it’s “God, what the flip? Seriously!?”

      It seems the role of the Christian is both daily repentance and trying to wrestle well.

      • Deb B

        Those are great and very helpful points, thanks!

        • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

          You’re welcome! Thanks for reading!

    • Rae

      But why did He even create those other things if all He wants us to desire is Him?
      Whatever season of life that we are in, may God use it to bring us closer to Him.
      You answered your own question. :)
      It is the circumstances that we go through in life that bring us closer to God. It’s through life examples of loving others unconditionally such as in a relationship that we can understand his unconditional love. We learn best via situations rather than just being told xyz. We change more often after going through a situation rather than being told we should change. Jesus spoke in parables. Without the mind of Christ which is blind faith and he said it so we just do it, we need stories and experiences to grow.
      Before sin we were capable of putting God first before all things. We were sinless. Now not so much.

      • N2eressor

        Hey all, I’m loving this site more and more. I believe God in His infinite wisdom, created those “other things” to separate the “sheep from the goats” and to weed out the “wheat from the tares”. We all are born with free will, agreed?

        How else would the Eternal God who created free-will man (and woman) for his glory and pleasure justly determine who really, willingly loves Him? That’s right you present them with the truth and a choice in the face of opposition. How can you gauge a free-will’s sincerity, loyalty and true desire? You present it with the truth, then opposition and an opportunity to choose. God already knew that man would fall.

        Think about it, did man’s fall come as a shock to God? Absolutely not, He had already planned for it because the fall was inevitable with a freewill being. It wasn’t “if” man would fall it was a matter of “when” man would fall. Man’s fall would start the clocks countdown on the demise of this temporal creation which is only a type or shadow what is in eternity. That’s why we were predestined in Christ from the foundation of the world. I believe that before God said “Let us make man” or the world was created, it was already determined that Christ would die for us. His love blows my mind. He decided to die for us before he created us so we would have an unfailing opportunity to spend eternal life with Him – if we choose Christ. Can you imagine a love like that? God’s love is proactive-it made provision before we ever existed.

        When we choose Christ we choose eternal life by way of the provision that our Creator determined is in our best interest as a free-will agent. As free-will agents we were bound to sin. The “law” was eventually given to show us sin and how hopeless we are without a willingly submissive relationship with God and Christ our Savior.

        Satan’s role? He was created with a free-will by God to be the origin source of sin and evil. He is a liar and a loser in this whole thing. His purpose is to be the tempter and accuser, hence the “opposition” that weighs man’s heart. Without Satan, our sin would have originated from within and we would have ended up hopelessly loss like him. He’s the father of lies because his sin came from within…He lied to himself then to 1/3 of the free-willed angels that fell with him.

        But once again God in his infinite wisdom had only purposed him (and the fallen hosts) to propagate sin to Adam & Eve (mankind) causing the origin of their (and our) sin to come from an outer source and not from within, less they would have been an origin or source of sin and like he was, another satan. He was created to fail without a means of salvation and be destroyed. We were predetermined to have an opportunity to be saved if we choose to be. Satan is the failsafe, Christ is the scapegoat. We get to choose.

        And like everything else designed for temporary use and purpose, he will be destroyed,once he has served his purpose, which is to deceive those who choose to be a goat or a tare by denying Christ as Lord. This whole world was designed to be temporary and our lives here are temporal, because the real life and real world, if you would, is with Him in eternity.

        Think about it, God’s favorite analogy of Himself and the church is what??? Marriage!!! You are single because you want to be…lol. God has already asked you to marry Him. He wants an eternal covenant with you and He is waiting for you to say yes to His will, Yes to His way.

        Take His name and trust Him 1st and foremost in your life. Then, He will manifest himself through the love and relationship of a husband or a wife, a vessel that He has molded and shaped just for you. But how will you know it’s Him working through a husband or wife if you don’t spend this quality time of singleness drawing close to Him and “supping” with Him.

        Or think about it this way: Remember when Israel wanted a king, cause all the other nations had one? (II Samuel). And God was like what? Why you do you want a man, I’m your King? I believe that broke God’s heart when they insisted on having a (man) king rule them. Sometimes as single people we can become like the Israelis and forget we have the best Spouse already, God.

        I’ve been married to a man, I am currently divorced and happily single and I see the benefits of both. I would love to be married again. But what I have learned is to be content in whatever state I am in because God is the best person in my life whether I am in one state or the other.

        Pure genius,I tell you. God is so in love with you. He made it plain that He is a jealous God. There is nothing that can separate you from His love, except rejecting Christ. How much more clear can it get. I find God’s love very attractive and I want that same love poured out from Him on me through a spouse, who obviously must be a willing vessel.

        Do you have any idea how long it takes to mold and make someone with a free-will to be selfless and humble enough to be used by God like that? That pendulum swings both ways people. (God is molding someone for you and He is molding you for someone) Are you a willing vessel or self-willed clay?….lol

        The Holy Spirit asked me these questions one day in the midst of a rant I was having about being single. Are you ready to be used by God to love someone so eternally valuable to Him, that He laid down His life for them? That’s a huge responsibility. Can God trust you with His most precious creation and use you as a vessel to pour out His love on them through you?

        It took 42 generations to mold and fashion a vessel worthy to carry our Lord and Saviour. Let’s give our God some credit for the detailed quality of work He performs in our lives. He counts the hairs on your head for goodness sakes…. If He can create the world in 7 days, he can mold and make a spouse for you. So be it 7 days or 42 generations in the making (God willing it’s closer to the former and not the latter) God is working on your prayer request for a spouse.

        So here I am allowing the potter to mold the clay so I can be that vessel. I was selfish, prideful and stubborn so He had His work cut out for Him.Trust me the trials and testing was fiery and fierce. He allowed me to see me through His eyes and I was a hot mess and a horrid sight. (Thank God for Jesus’ covering). Through it all I’ve learned to be selfless, humble and willing which equates to the contentment I have in whatever state I am in be it married or single.

        Where are you in the molding process? Still in the fiery kiln? Maybe hidden on a high shelf while you cool from the kiln to be used as a vessel? Or did you become misshapen in the fire and now He has to remold you again or even worse break you and start the whole process over again?

        You belong to Him first, then He’ll decide if and when He will share you and use you as a vessel to pour out His love on another.

        Be encouraged by His love for you,
        “A woman should be so hidden in Christ that a man has to seek God to find her”

  • Misty Spainhower

    Spoke right to me! In times when I’m more tired of this than others, I typically begin saying the same prayer I’ve said for ages now “Dear God, Take away my desire for a husband and fill it with desire for YOU.” Of course, then I pray for a Godly husband who will help me grow spiritually, but I want my first desire and priority to always be Him.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Yeah, it’s definitely a wrestle, for sure. He gave us gifts to point us to Him as the Giver so that we would glorify Him. It’s the wrestle with sin that makes doing that so hard, and making sure our motives for wanting these good gifts are right.

      Thanks for reading!

      Grace and peace.

  • Christina Gohn

    Overcoming it is a hard thing sometimes. I have two factors that keep reminding me of my singleness. My dads side of my family that almost always asks me when I’m going to get married (I’m the only one that has “marriage material” that’s single. And then my school where all I see are couples walking around. Luckily I have my friends that lift me up, and I take a long look at myself and realize that even though some of my family says that I should be married, I’m not ready, emotionally or spiritually and that reminds me that God has it in His hands. I’ve tried things my way, it’s time for His timing now.

    Thanks for the article :)

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Haha, I know the feeling. At the last family get-together, my grandmother asked me when I was going to have kids. Umm, pray for a wife first? lol

      Thanks for reading!

  • Caroline

    Excellent article. I am finally at the place of having more fulfillment in God’s love, peace, and contentment than wanting to fulfill any temporary longing or desire (after 9 years of being divorced). I can say that where I’m at now is no doubt better than letting those desires make me miserable.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Thanks, Caroline. I’m grateful God has poured His grace into your life and given you peace. My parents are divorced, so I know, to a degree, how rough that can be and how hard pursuing Christ and purity instead of satisfaction in that season can be.

  • Heather

    Wow, I really needed this today. I find that when I need it most God finds a way to tell me what I need to hear. Thanks.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      You’re welcome, Heather! I’m glad God was able to use my semi-rant to point others to Himself.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Alison Harle

    This is my walking point with this article: ” I find myself wishing I could go back to when I was in a relationship.
    I completely forget about the fact that I’m not in that relationship
    because it wasn’t what God wanted for me. In those moments, I want my
    desires satisfied more than I want His best for me, more than I want to
    glorify Christ with my life.” – Thanks for giving me something to really convict me and point me back to where i should be looking – well written – thank you.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      You’re welcome, Alison. I have been amazed and humbled at how God used this post. I really have.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read!

      Grace and peace.

  • guest

    thankyou. this is exactly what I needed today. I appreciate this part “I want my desires satisfied more than I want His best for me, more than I want to glorify Christ with my life.
    Fortunately, God’s pursuit of His glory being displayed in creation and in my life is stronger than my pursuit of temporal satisfaction.”

    your post was the slap of reality I needed today, to remind me of what matters. and to remind me that I had been praying to ask God for direction in a relationship with a guy friend that I found myself liking more and more. When I found that he and a close friend both like each other and will soon be official, that wasn’t the answer I wanted, but your post jolted me out of my self-pity to realize that it is an answer.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Mmmm…that is hard. I’m incredibly grateful that God was able to use this to speak to you and encourage you. I honestly felt that I needed to read this more than write it. I’m incredibly humbled that God chose to use these words this way.

      Psalm 115:1 ESV
      Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
      for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

      • guest

        It can be hard to remember that the pain we feel right now is for the sake of his love.

        I was reading C S Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, and one of my favorite (and least favorite) parts has to be “It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes…He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.” Sometimes I have to be reminded that God loves me, but not in the shallow sense that we usually think…

        • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

          So true! I remember hating/loving that passage when I read it, too.

        • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

          P.S. I so just sent that quote to someone. So, thanks for making it easy to find, lol

  • http://www.themazeofourlives.blogspot.com/ Kristi

    Man, there must be something “in the air.” I’ve also been going through this extreme phase of tired of being single, tired of not having someone to lean on, tired of going places by myself, etc. Most of the of the time I am okay–not lovin’ it–but, okay with the wait. However, not so much lately. I did some major talking to God about it last night and then I pulled out an eBook that I read last year. “Waiting On God” by Cherie Hill really ministers to me. She also uses the Israelites as an example. The thing that really stuck with me from reviewing it last night was “God will not allow us to remain in the “waiting place” one moment longer than it takes to accomplish His purposes…He wouldn’t have you waiting if there weren’t something to wait for.” I needed to be reminded of that, to trust the process, to trust God. Waiting for God’s best in my life is more important than my impatience. It’s still hard to wait.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Haha, yeah, waiting is plain obnoxious. One of my friends talked about patience as part of a sermon the other night, and he said he’d rather fight a lion or kill a dragon than have to wait for something. Let’s just say that my first thought was “ME TOO!”

      The beautiful part about God’s promises and his having us wait isn’t just that we get a spouse in his timing, if he graces us with such a blessing, it really is that we get more of him, both in the end and in the process of waiting. Sanctification is hard, and refining fire still burns, but we endure that for the promise of being made to be like Christ and spend eternity with him.

      Until then, may God truly grant us grace and strength to wrestle well and wait patiently.

  • coughslikeaman

    I was just saying this to my gf earlier today! I feel like we are wired, on an animalistic level and/or historical evolution, to get into the business of having a family. I notice I seek out things to do to fill a subtle feeling of a type of voidness. But I always try to be conscious of whether it’s a symptom of something deeper. I remind myself of God’s promises and find that shalom. I don’t necessarily get over it as much as I forget about it for awhile.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Mmmm…yeah, I know how you feel. Genesis 1 tells us that we were created and wired to be about having families. Not on an animal level, but on a human level. The first thing God told Adam and Eve to do was to “be fruitful and multiply.” Marriage and family is built into our DNA and flows through our veins.

      Yet, sin and death and Satan put forth much effort to sabotage this. I don’t know that we ever get over it, because we want to image Christ and the Church through marriage, but by God’s grace we can wrestle well and wait patiently. We don’t want passively, like the kid waiting for his parents to hand him a present at Christmas. We wait actively, pursuing more of Him daily, confessing His sufficiency and proclaiming to ourselves our value and worth and identity and belonging that was sealed for eternity by the cross of Christ.

  • Lindsay

    I’m tired of it too. Sigh. Thanks for your honesty and transparency, Don.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      You’re welcome, Lindsay. I do pray that God makes His sufficiency tangible for you. That you would feel His grace, love, and mercy carry you through to whatever God has planned for you.

      Grace and peace.

  • racheal1998

    Isn’t there this massive amount of singles at The Village? Haha…. I’m only half kidding, but my point is I feel like that’s proof of God’s providence. I think it’s easy to believe the lie that I’m single because of my geographical location, or the size of the church I attend. When really it’s about His best for us, and for a lot of us that means being single right now. In this place and time in our lives.
    Thanks for the book recommendation, and the post. And I hear ya. I want some one to do life with on those intimate, challenging, committed levels that go beyond any other relationship I’ve ever had. I want in-laws, because my family is estranged and disconnected.
    I think for me, its important to not let my weariness of being single dictate any decision I make relationally. Or any decision period.
    How do I overcome it? Some times I just watch a lot of movies, especially from Red Box. I mean, lets be honest. Lol. Community is important though. Crucial even. And I am blessed with community. I couldn’t overcome the hardships of singleness with out it.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Haha, yeah, there are. AND I go to The Porch on Tuesday nights at Watermark. So if it was just about geographical location then I’ve got some SERIOUS issues, lol.

      Hey, no judgment from me on movies…God bless Netflix! You’re right though, it’s definitely important to let community press us outside of our box so that we can see the bigger picture. And, let’s be honest, I haven’t met the married person yet who met their spouse while staying inside and watching TV, lol

      Thanks for reading and for taking time to share your thoughts, Racheal. Both are much appreciated!

  • Melissa Russell

    Thank you for saying what I say in my head constantly, but never have the guts to say out loud, because I’m afraid of hurting feelings or sounding like I’m complaining to everyone around me. There are times I truly am tired of being single, and it’s in those times that I realize that I’ve lost sight of God’s glory and have been seeking my own instead of His.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      You’re welcome, Melissa. Words should definitely be seasoned with salt, but if I’ve learned anything in writing over the past couple years it’s that the seasoning shouldn’t remove authenticity. I’m incredibly grateful to those who have provided that example for me.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • http://pickensplace.blogspot.com/ Rebekah Pickens

    I am in the middle of reading that book! Love it! That chapter was fantastic.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Haha, yeah, this was my second time going through it and I almost feel I need to read it again already. So much of this book is solid gold.

      Thanks for stopping in, Rebekah!

  • Bstar0306

    I really struggle with this…I have a friend I sent a bunch of questions to last week and she NEVER even acknowledged them let alone answer me and last night she sent me a message of something going on in HER life and how her life has been “crazy” and I was all I sent you a bunch of messages and she’s all “i know” like she didn’t even care that she didn’t answer me. So now I’ve just decided I just want a husband and don’t even care about these friends who don’t care about me. :(

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      That is so hard. I’m very grateful for the friends I have who love and serve me well, but I have definitely been burned by other friends.

      It’s hard to navigate relationships that seem to be (or are) one sided, or when the other person acts selfishly. The instinct to want to chuck it all and find a husband and shut out the world makes total sense to me, except that it won’t work. We know that because everyone is going to go through times of selfishness, including out potential future spouses. Christ is the only one who can bear the burden of constant faithfulness, and until we trust and rest in that, we’ll keep finding ourselves being crushed when others let us down, or crushing others with expectations they can’t live out.

      I’m not saying your friend didn’t hurt you or that you shouldn’t feel the pain of her basically ignoring you, rather than we have to look to Jesus in times like that and find comfort in His faithfulness and grace. That’s when we find the freedom to give grace and forgiveness to others.

      I hate linking back to my own blogs in comments, but I don’t want this to come across as a trite cliché response. So, I’ve shared part of my story about being burned by friends here: http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress/category/life-unmasked-2/broken-places/

      It lists the most recent first, so start with the post at the bottom to get the fuller context.

      Grace and peace.

  • Jennifer

    I have also liked reading Russel Moore. I’m assuming he’s the one whose blog is included on crosswalk.com.

    My fatigue with singleness seems to be generated more by by being the odd one out, and less from a desire to share my life. Now in my late 40s, I am a “professional” single and leaving that would be a major adjustment. Add to that my introversion and the energy it would take to live with another person who’s doesn’t get me would be draining.

    Back to my first sentence, there are people who wonder if I’m gay, namely outside of church where gay and/or sexually active is more acceptable than “living like a nun” as some non-practicing Catholics have put it. In church, there are those who seem to view singles as spiritually lacking. If they weren’t, God would reward him or her with a spouse. The suggestion of spiritual superiority is hollow when I see so many lousy marriages in the church. This assumption exists outside the church, too, but it’s more subtle than it used to be, or perhaps less belived because of so many failed marriages.

    And with church, most married people think they waited a long time because they didn’t marry u til their early tjirties. I resist the impulse to say, “Really?! Your life was THAT hard in your thirties? I was just trying to survive on a mediocre salary at that time while starting to suffer migraines.” I realize that such a comment would be as unsympathetic as comments have been to me, so thank the Lord I don’t respond that way. Sometimes they ask my age. My answer seems to have them sort of stumbling for words.

    • Jennifer

      Sorry for the typos. Working on my Droid’s tiny keyboard is challenging let alone doing so with predictive text that throws in totally odd words almost randomly.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Jennifer, I’ll admit, I felt some of what you felt when I turned 30. I realize adding another decade onto that can make things heavier, so I don’t want to pretend that I know the full weight of those emotions.

      The concept of single Christians being less spiritually mature is one of the reasons I even consider writing about singleness. Because that idea is sheer nonsense. I understand where they get it from, after generations marrying in their early twenties or even late teens it would initially seem strange. But when that’s the case literally all over the map, we have to look for something else. There are all kinds of cultural issues I think come into play, but more than any of those it’s that God has us single, at least for now and maybe forever, because that is what is best for our sanctification. And God has married people married because that is what is best for their sanctification. That doesn’t mean they are any more or less spiritually mature than us, it means God knows the bigger picture and in His love, wisdom, and grace has sovereignly moved to position us where we need to be to best pursue Christ and find His sufficiency and supremacy in our lives. I know that may come across as a cliché church answer, but I promise that isn’t my heart. I’ve had to speak those truths to myself more times than I can count. My pastors have had to speak those truths to me and many other singles at my church more times than I can count.

      Much of church culture assumes marriage as a given, and the result of that is MANY of us having to work through a sense of being entitled to be married and figuring out why God’s “holding something back from us” when He never really promised us marriage in the first place. He promised us Himself, and that He is enough. I think church culture is slowly beginning to realize that, in part because of the resurgence of the understanding of God’s sovereignty of these situations but also because the twenty and thirty and forty-somethings are beginning to have an affect in shaping church culture.

      For the record, it’s ok to tell people that you just don’t feel like you’re supposed to be married, Christians and non-Christians alike. Paul says there are some who are marked out for singleness, to live their lives for the glory of God in an unhindered way. And in an age where being “gay and/or sexually active” is more acceptable that pursuing purity, maybe God has you single right now and pursuing purity for the sake of making much of Christ to the lost, to show them a better way.

      As far as Russell Moore goes, I’m not sure about crosswalk.com, but I do know he blogs here: http://www.russellmoore.com/

      Grace and peace, Jennifer. Thanks for reading and sharing your heart.

      • Jen Smith

        Thank you for the thoughtful response, Don. It’s appreciated.

      • Jen Smith

        It has occurred to me, too, what you said: that God’s purpose for my single state is for Him to work in others. I think that may be true of many of us Christian singles. Certainly, there are biblical examples of God doing this. For ex, the OT prophet (whose name escapes me now) who obeyed God’s command to marry a prostitute, and stay with her no matter how unfaithful she might be. Such behaviour stood out to (and would today) others.

        • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

          Yes, Hosea’s actions would definitely have freaked everyone out around him. To choose Gomer, already a prostitute, and covenant with her and then keep that covenant after she broke it, and to pursue her and pull her back in after she left…wow, just wow. Every time I think about it…I just can’t believe it.

          What makes it harder to swallow is that it’s a picture of how God pursues us despite us being faithless and breaking our covenant with Him. Thank God. But eeeesh! lol

          • Jen Smith

            Hard to swallow is right. It’s also beautiful. His relentless pursuit of us who have no inkling (at times) of why He would want us.

  • Jess Cromley

    The description of God carrying me to the ocean while I throw a temper tantrum so describes the current state of my heart! The funny thing is that I am a native of Colorado (the most landlocked state in the country), so a holiday at the beach could have been a hard concept to relate to. But I spent six years on the east coast and the most memorable feeling was walking across the boardwalks, hearing the crash of the waves before even seeing the water roll up on the beach. The anticipation of what was on the other side always made my heart beat a little faster, and eventually I felt the spray on my face and the sand on my toes.

    I turned 39 today, having only been on two “first dates” ever. My two brothers both live with their girlfriends, and my sister is currently spending most nights at a guys house. So, here I am–the one longing to know God more EVERY day, yet facing the downhill slide to 40 and feeling more desperately single than ever before. Every time my sister even mentions her guy, my heart feels like it’s been swiped down the side of a cheese grater. I want more than anything to trust that He is carrying me over His shoulder to the ocean. But my heart is filled with fear that He is going to dump me in the bulrushes with the frogs and bugs! I think I need to stop letting the tantrum of fear and doubt be so loud that I miss out on that anticipation of hearing the crash of the waves. In His perfect time, my feet really will touch the sand as He sets me down and says, “Enjoy the holiday”! Thanks Don for some great perspective.

    • proverbs31

      Hi Jess, I was curious to know why you’ve only had 2 first dates… Is it because of the quality of men you’ve come across? As a 28-year-old single woman, I’ve probably met less than 5 single men who I could have seen myself in a relationship with. I have recently opened my options to different Christian men (such as other races, other hobbies, etc). Currently I desire a relationship, but I’m learning to be patient through fervent prayer. It is not easy…

      • Jess Cromley

        So, I wrote a reply that has now disappeared! I think you will see some of my perspective through my blog: http://www.ajourneywithgrace.blogspot.com/ (The May entry “I Won’t Always Love You” and the March entries “Here Comes the Wife, Part 1 and 2) are good explanations in response to your question!

        God Bless you girl!

        • proverbs31

          Thanks…I will check out the blog!

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Hey, Jess. Thanks for stopping in!

      I can kind of relate to what you’re going through. My youngest brother and his wife seem to have been dating since diapers (in reality since 10th grade) and my other brother seems to have never been “single” a day in his life since the Day of Epiphany. I don’t thing that’s wrong necessarily, but it certainly makes my singleness stand out at times.

      Here’s the thing, though. The ocean may not be marriage. The ocean may be a life in which we can pursue God unhindered. I pray for marriage, but I know that’s not something that God’s promised me. He’s promised me that He is enough.

      Believe me, I know that’s hard. But as I look over the past ten years of being annoyingly single, I also see many times where I was able to drop everything at a moment’s notice to be there for people when they needed me. Whether that was serving last minute at church or linking up with guys who are really struggling, I wouldn’t have had the same freedom if I were married. And if I did have that freedom, it would have come at the cost of time with my wife.

      I know that may come across as a trite “church answer” but it’s not. I really do find that when I focus on pouring myself out for others than my singleness doesn’t bother me as much. And ironically, that’s when I start meeting new people, too.

      • Jess Cromley

        Thanks for replying Don. It was my intention to reflect that the ocean was “life”, but looking back it does come across that I am holding out for it to be ‘marriage’. I’ve written several blogs in the last year, referencing that fact that I am missing out on life, by spending so much time and emotion in the mind-frame of “wishing & hoping” for Mr. Right to knock on my door with roses and a platinum engagement ring!

        I really do want the ‘holiday’ of letting my life be fully surrendered to Him. I appreciate the encouragement in your experience, and thank you again for the great post!

        • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

          You’re welcome, Jess. Thanks for reading!

  • proverbs31

    Can any man here answer my question… What is it that a Christian man looks for in a woman for him to want to date her exclusively? I have gotten to know a couple of guys in the past who have been indecisive about wanting a relationship. I find that they were waiting to see if someone better came along while stringing me along. Or that they were waiting for “the one” & wanted to make sure they didn’t pick the wrong “one”. What do you guys really want?

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Well, I think there are a litany of cultural issues driving that behavior. Obviously, I can’t cover them all, but a few stand out.

      1) Culturally, both in and out of Church, we have this nonsensical notion to “marry the one you can’t live without” which leaves us (both guys and girls) always looking around the corner for something “better” to come along.
      2) We live in a culture where “freedom” is paramount and autonomy is king. Anything that gets in the way of that is seen as a hindrance rather than a blessing. Both men and women, even if subconsciously, want to live out FRIENDS rather than buckle down and sacrifice for one another. I’m not saying marriage isn’t fun and good, but that love’s very nature is sacrificial, and that scares even the best of us.
      3) Because of this, I really don’t think most guys have sat down and really thought about what they want in a wife beyond external appearance, and even then they’ve most likely got years of TV, movies, and porn clouding their sense of reality so they compare even the most beautiful women against that and think it’s not enough.

      Much of this is driven by consumerism and materialism, and really the
      only way to combat that is A) with the gospel and B) by older men and
      women in the church discipling younger men and women and calling them out on
      that and C) by much prayer that the Spirit would change our hearts.

      I absolutely think there are good, Godly men who want to pursue Christian women and aren’t wrapped up in superficiality, but we’ve made dating so complicated that most of those guys don’t want to initiate anything and look like they’re coming across the wrong way, etc.

      • Jason

        Don, I had to reply to this. Point 3 in particular. This is exactly why men don’t want anything to with Christ, a church community and “people of Faith” because of comments like this. The Gospel won’t combat this, it is conviction of the Holy Ghost that does this. When a man (or woman) understands that they indeed are a sinner, and need The Good News. Need Jesus, and need a community of faith.

        The comment “calling them out on it” is called “shaming” and that will drive men away from Christ, and will keep most women clamoring of “why are men not coming to church?” This attitude is the easy way out, and if Jesus is the way to “happiness” and a “good life” he’s got some stiff competition from “the world” evidently. Nobody wants to repent. Nobody wants to tell a person some “bad news” about themselves about their life. Nobody wants to WALK DEEPER and fight not just for “acceptance of Christ” but to make a disciple of Him.

        I was not easy to minister to before I accepted Christ. It took patient soldiers in my church to listen, walk, talk, pray, and a genuine attitude of trying to HELP me understand “the why” I needed Christ. The “why” I needed to repent of my sin. The “why” I needed to change. It wasn’t “pot luck” meals, “contemporary grunge-styled Christian rock, and going to “football” games with the men. It took more than just hearing sermons about how “Jesus is love”

        It was a walk that lasted over ten months. It was deep and real, and when I fell at the Mercy Seat that one Sunday and cried, and cried and I cried…….I finally understood who He was.

        Who initiates divorce today, and mostly over terms of “I am not happy in our marriage”? Who at the same time PUSHES marriage on men with comments of “It’s the next logical step.”

        I won’t even touch the crass materialism that I have even seen on TV over the decades by Tele-Evangelists.

        To lay this only on “men” shows the ones who are there, right now again that how muddled the message really is.

        • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

          The gospel does indeed combat this, and it is indeed through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That is how we come to Christ and that is how we grow in Christ, by the Holy Spirit illumining our hearts to the need of the gospel in every single facet of life, though He often doesn’t show us all of them at once. Sanctification is definitely a difficult, slow process that takes much patience and grace.

          The majority of the time, God uses the proclamation of the gospel to bring this to light. Was Jesus “shaming” the Pharisees when He called them “white washed tombs”? It certainly sounds like it. But the difference in result is in the power of the Holy Spirit. As it was, the Pharisees’ hearts became hardened toward Jesus. The Spirit could have easily used the same words to bring them to their knees in repentance. Now, I’m not saying that’s our first approach, by any means. “Calling them out” can be something as kind as saying “Hey, I see you struggling here, walk with me as I try to point to Jesus and show you a better way.” It can also be as blunt as telling a man he needs to repent and lay down his idols, and it takes much discernment and prayer to know when to use the harder words and that should definitely be in the context of an established relationship.

          The Puritans had a saying “The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay.” This is very true. Even the softest gospel message can bring a man to his knees or turn him away from God. It isn’t just the words or tone used, it’s the message that we must lay down ourselves and worship Christ.

          Repentance is definitely a posture of the heart that must be cultivated, because being so vulnerable is scary, and sometimes dangerous. And I completely agree that our attempts to foster community or provide “safe” entertainment aren’t the answer, and if anything sometimes make Christians look a bit more ridiculous.

          • Jason

            Thank you for your reply. How you explained “calling them out” I agree with, when I first read it in your original post; it came off as confrontational and just telling men that they are lazy, silly, and stupid. The whole A+B+C formula if men only did this, there would be no problems. Again thank you for your polite reply! I agree with everything else in your reply to me as well. Thank you.

          • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

            Thanks, Jason. I’m glad I could clear up any miscommunication in the initial post :)

            Grace and peace.

          • N2eressor

            Being new to the site, I really enjoy the posts and responses. Thank you to everyone for sharing your hearts, concerns and replies. It is helping me tremendously to keep a healthy perspective as a single-mom of 4. I’ve been divorced for about 6 years. I work 2 jobs and here lately I think I am ready to start dating, but yet still I am content with being single.
            I am deeply in love with God and the magnitude of His love for me. It would be awesome to share this with someone who felt the same way about HIM. But alas, my great love affair continues with God and God alone.
            Single Roots as a collective is an awesome site. I appreciate the resources and Spirit-filled counsel.

  • Amy @ Modernish Homemaker

    I totally get this . . . . and yet, at the same time I find myself thinking – but you’re a guy – you have so much more control over your single state than most women. As a more complementarian than egalitarian woman – I just don’t pursue guys. I’ll flirt, I’ll make myself available, but I’m not going to pursue them or even ask them out on a date. Being single as a woman often means waiting for a generation of guys who often don’t even know what being a man looks like (and who have been reared on hyper-sexual and superficial definitions of beauty to boot) – to man up and look at a girl as marriage material instead of just an object. As a man you have the power in your hands to do just that! I get the feeling, but I also think that you’ve got a heck of a lot more control of your situation than you are giving yourself (or God) credit for.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Hey, Amy, thanks for stopping in.

      I can certainly understand your frustration about guys not manning up. Many of my girl friends at church, and I, share the same frustration, even if for different reasons.

      I do agree that I may have a bit more control over my situation, but that’s really only in the asking. I mean, I’ll spend a good amount of time praying about it before I even ask a girl out, but then I ask and she says “No.” That’s ok, and God’s graced me with the few times that’s happened for it to not be really awkward after, but that still leaves me with the “What now?” feeling. Back to singleness, waiting, and praying.

      The other part to this is that I take seriously the role of providing for a spouse/family. Even when I feel God telling me it’s ok to ask a specific girl out, if I’m living paycheck to paycheck how does that lend toward having the margin necessary to provide for someone else? Or saving for a ring, if nothing else? I realize part of this is an issue of faith, so I step forward anyway, but I still don’t have any more control over a girl’s answer than you do over a guy’s asking.

  • Jen Smith

    “Having a reason to make work feel like I’m doing more than just paying bills to continue a cycle of working to pay bills.”

    That’s me, though I’ve never thought of being married as the solution for it. I know married people with the same issue. So, at least for me and for those married people, there has to be a different solution. Or just resolve that it’s the way things are.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Hey, Jen, thanks for stopping in, and I’m sorry it took me so long to see this!

      I guess this is part of some things that have been worked out in my heart since I’ve written this. I think part of this has to do with viewing work as worship and as ministry to the lost, and I’m grateful for God bringing this to light in my life lately.

      Initially I thought that part of it, for me at least, was also having someone to provide for giving me more of a reason to want to work because I would be actively pouring my life out for my spouse. Yet, the more I think about it, even the newness of that feeling would fade to “normal” and then I would be left with just working to work.

      I think there may be some merit to that, and that the “normal” may have to do with not viewing one’s spouse as a gift from God, special and priceless. But it also comes back to even the most mundane of work is to be done with joy for God’s glory, and many of us struggle with that.

  • Jen Smith

    You make the excellent point that our deepest hunger is for Him, though our focus is sometimes diverted.

    • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

      Thanks, Jen!