Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Singleness and the Christian Life


  I've been thinking a lot recently about singleness and how it affects me as a single Christian. One of the things I have realised since starting to write my book about my crisis of faith is that not dealing with the pain of singleness is one of the main contributory factors in my losing faith.  The following are excerpts from the first draft of my book, He Never Let Go.

I have never imagined myself as a career girl. I never had a career plan. I wouldn’t be working for that many years. I thought I only needed a job until I met the right man. I always thought I would get married, have a home, have children, and be a stay-at-home mum. I never dreamt for a moment that I would be single and childless in my late forties, but that is where I have found myself. Like many little girls I dreamt of my wedding day. I dreamt of the white dress, the bridesmaids, the flowers, and the handsome groom. I dreamt of a home of my own to look after. I dreamt of children. It never occurred to me that it might not happen. It really didn’t ever occur to me until later that it might not happen . . .

Over the years, I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed for a husband. I prayed on my own. I prayed with others. I fasted and prayed. I believed that God had spoken to me through Pat but also in other ways too. I kept waiting for God to fulfil what I thought was His promise to me. I waited for a husband. I waited but the only weddings I went to were those of other people. At first, it was fun to see my friends married. I thought, ‘One day I’ll have a wedding’. However, as time went on, and more friends got married and I didn’t, it got harder and harder to go and keep a smile on my face. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for them. I was delighted. I just wanted it for myself too. I tried to keep my pain to myself. I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s special day. . . 

I can see now that I should have dealt with my disappointments sooner. I buried a lot of my pain. I let out some of it but I didn’t really allow people to see how badly I was hurting. A part of me thought that if people knew how badly I wanted to get married, and have a home and children, they would laugh at me. I thought they would think ‘How could she think that anyone would want her?’ A lack of confidence led me to believe that I wasn’t good enough to be married. This shame prevented me from seeking help to deal with my anguish. I think I simply needed to cry it out on someone’s shoulder, to sob it out, but so often, I pushed it down. 

      Why was I never able to be totally honest about my pain. I think one reason is that I kept thinking God must be everything to me. If I still want to get married then I am not a good Christian. I hadn't taken on board the truth of what God says in Genesis 2:18 'Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him'. But it is clear here that it is the norm that people need other people. It is not good to be alone. That is why God says later on through the Psalmist  in Psalm 68:6 'God places lonely people in families.' He knows it is not good to be alone.

      So why am I still punishing myself for not being able to cope with just me and God? I know the answer may not be marriage for me but I need to  look for the families that God wants to place me in to give me what I need as a human being. 

Are we giving single Christians false expectations? Where did I get the idea that I had to be self-sufficient with just God? People sometimes quote the verse in Isaiah 54 about God being a husband to us - implying that should be enough for us. But that verse was written to the whole nation of Israel - it wasn't written for just single people. Yes, God wants to be a like a husband to us, but he wants to be like that for everyone - including those who are happily married, unhappily married or too young to be married yet. 

I don't know what the answers are for me or for other singles but I would love to get discussions going about the whole issue. 


  1. If God exists, why would he want you to be unhappy? If you're not happy single, you should seek out a partner.

    Also, one just won't fall into your lap and the first guy who shows interest might not be the right one. Just get out there and work on it!

  2. That is the kind of question I was asking myself - if there is a God why would he want me to be unhappy. But suffering exists.

    People don't always get what they want no matter how hard they try. If I am honest I find it hard when people like you assume that all I have to do is start looking and I will get a partner. I find it insulting to be honest that you assume I have not really tried. I have. It doesn't happen for everyone. Like not everyone who prays for healing gets healed although God can and does heal people sometimes.

    Sometimes we just don't know why we suffer. There seems to be no good reason for it. But what I am learning is that I have to let God help me in my pain, whether that is emotional or physical.

  3. If it was that easy to just "get out there and find someone" then we wouldn't still be single.

    I have met a few single, Christian men over the past year or so, but none of them have been right for me.

    Why do you think it is that God is allowing so many Christians to remain single?

    I have also wondered if I need to stop thinking about getting a man and concentrate on my relationship with God. I have tried, but just ended up frustrated with myself and feeling guilty cos I just can't do it!

  4. Hi Jay,

    I've been thinking about this. I also tried to "stop thinking about getting a man and concentrate on my relationship with God" but like you it didn't work. I think it is because I was assuming that concentrating on God would stop the wanting a husband. It doesn't.

    What I've come to realise is that it is natural to want human touch and companionship. Not having those things will produce suffering - it is a sign that we are human if we suffer when they are absent. If I am really thirsty for water, but I am in a desert with no water, concentrating on God won't stop the thirst - it might make me cope with being thirsty more than I was but it won't necessary take away the thirst.

    Its the same with our longing for a spouse. It is a perfectly natural longing. Concentrating on God might help us cope with it. If we go into our relationship with God thinking God will stop the longing for human companionship we are putting more on God than he knows he can be. He knows that it is not good for us to be alone. He knows it is a need.

    I think I am beginning to cope more now I can see that living with the pain doesn't stop me having God. Its not an either or situation. I think I was assuming before that if I was a 'good' Christian I wouldn't want a husband. I have come to know that is absolute rubbish!! All that did was produce guilt!

    I don't know if I am making sense - I am only just working it out for myself.

    God bless you

  5. your loving stepmother - Dinah9 October 2011 at 17:55

    My dear Lynda
    I’ve been praying about what you’ve been sharing and today our OT reading was Gen 22:1 - 19, The Testing of Abraham. These are my thoughts -
    Abraham was asked to sacrifice what he held most dear, he didn’t ask why, or what had happened to God’s promises regarding Isaac’s descendants in chap 17:19.
    He had already impatiently (and humanly) tried to find his own working out of these promises (Hagar and Ishmael), trying to pre-empt God’s plan.
    For our own happiness we have to follow God’s plans for us even when they are contrary to human wisdom. God is not limited to the level of our understanding or imagination and isn’t always easy to understand, but he doesn’t forsake us. As He said in Job 38 (and no-one could explain Job’s circumstances) “You really don’t know me”. He is sovereign, bigger than anything we can plan. He has a plan for us even when we don’t understand. Is it possible that your heavenly father, who knows you better than you know yourself foresaw the gynae problems you’ve suffered since teenage ? Can it be that He has spared you and whoever you might have married from even greater traumas?
    To go back to Abraham’s story, of course this is a prophecy of God providing Jesus to take our place as the sacrifice for human sin. I’d like to think this was one of the things Jesus told the disciples on the road to Emmaus - all the prophecies in the OT which came true in the New (wouldn’t you love to know what he said!) - but I digress.
    I note the fact that you dreamt of marriage and children as freeing you from finding a career; most married women today have work outside the home even when they have a family. Perhaps this indicates that it was your dream, not God’s plan for your life.
    We sang the song - ‘Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering blessed be your name.’ and ‘We never can prove the delights of his love until all on the altar we lay; for the favour he shows and the joy he bestows are for those who will trust and obey.’
    Perhaps it is time now to sacrifice your own dreams and start living Jesus’ plans for your life - trust and obey.

  6. Lynda,
    Yes, you made perfect sense! I also thought that if I was allowing God to provide for all my needs, then I wouldn't feel the need for a husband, but as you say, it only leaves you feeling guilty and a failure.

    You make perfect sense too, but at least Abraham knew some of God's plan for him, even if he did try to hurry God up. What if you don't know what God's plans are for you? I have no idea what his plans for me are. I've never known. I just know that they weren't to be where I am today.

    I trust that God know's what's best for my life but sometimes I get frustrated not knowing which way to go next or how to move forward.

  7. I have to say that my feelings do go up and down about this. At times I cope much more than I do at other times. I guess now is just a bad time and I need to learn to cope with the bad times with the help of God.

    Maybe if we give God our pain as a gift to him, and see what he does with it. It may mean that we keep feeling pain and that is the sacrifice he asks of us. Jesus knows what it is to long for someone - he longs for the whole human race to be his but they aren't. We are suffering with him. I think that Jesus still suffers the longing and pain of separation from those who are not his. He died for the whole of humanity and longs for them all to be his. Maybe what we feel is a part of what he feels for people who don't yet know him.

    I used to think sacrificing my singleness to God and giving him the pain would take it away but now I am not so sure. Maybe I need to learn to live with the pain with Jesus' help. I don't know.


    I do get where you are coming from. Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, something that was most dear to him and I think you are assuming in this that I must sacrifice marriage as something dear to me. But the difference with Abraham as Jay has pointed out is that Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac. As yet I have not been asked to sacrifice marriage.

    It has simply not happened yet. Unless God actually says he wants me to be single and celibate all my life I can't assume that is what he wants. Marriage is the norm for most people and I think it is reasonable to assume that I am free to seek marriage unless God calls me specifically to renounce it. He has not done that yet. It may be that I will get married in a couple of years. Who knows? I have however been given prophecies about getting married in the past. They may or may not be correct prophecies but I have never had even the remotest hint of God saying renounce marriage.

    Also I do need to point out that I have already laid marriage at God's feet. Laying it at his feet does NOT necessarily remove the desire for marriage. It means I allow God to ultimately make the decision for me. If it is something he wants for me great but I will accept it if it is not something he wants for me. I have not been told either way yet. It is not right to just assume that God is saying one thing or the other until I hear him. How do I know he is not saying 'Wait and you will receive what you desire'?

    Until I hear from God that I should renounce marriage totally I will keep open to it and open to meeting someone one day.

  8. Dinah,

    Thanks for bringing to my attention as well that the parts of my book I have quoted are not clearly worded. Reading them again I can see that it reads like I thought I would never have to work outside the home if I got married. That isn't what was in my mind actually. I see having a full time career that needs to support me totally and provide housing for me when I retire etc as different to working to supplement a family income.

    I would have expected to work outside the home but there wouldn't have been the same pressure for it to be a full career, something that is the main focus of my life. I wanted a family to be the main focus and work something to supplement an income and get me out of the home to meet other people etc. I see the two things as being very different. Now people ask me what I want to do with my life as if work is the be all and end all of life - I must have a career I long to do etc. I don't. I never did. Work is something I have done to feed myself etc but I am not now and never will be a career minded person.

    I will be rewriting this bit in the book to make this clear.