What if I never get Married?–Answers that Don’t Help

I was just writing about how to answer the very tough question of “Why are you still single?”  when I found this wonderful post from Ruthie Dean, about “What if I never get married?”.  She’s someone I already know I’ll want to keep on reading, and will probably refer to again the in the future (in case you want to check her out too!)  I started to write a response to her article, but it turned into its post… so …  read her post, then come back and read below!   Or, just read below…but really, read her post too!

First off, I really appreciate Ruthie Dean’s insight into Paul’s comments, and the circumstances he was writing in.

Singleness is always an exception, not a norm. If you look at Bible as a whole, the main verse people use to discuss this call to singleness is 1 Corinthians 7. But did you know Paul was writing during a time of great distress? There was a famine in Greece and great persecution. Some scholars say Paul was writing of a temporary exception to marriage because of the circumstances.

 My married friend and I were recently discussing our various challenges, hers as a wife and mom, mine as a single person.   She shared that, as she reads Paul’s comment that “it’s better to remain single” (that Ruthie Dean was discussing), she wonders sometimes if maybe she should have stayed single—so that she could serve God better.  I reminded her that, on the other side of that argument, even in the Garden, when man’s relationship with God was perfect, even then GOD Himself said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone.  I figure that statement trumps Paul’s! J  But really, the point is that both singleness and marriage have their pro’s and con’s – in either situation, we can give thanks, or be discontented, the choice is ours—and it’s a choice we have to keep making throughout every life stage.  (Sounds so simple, when I write it down like that, huh?!  If only life were as easy as a blog!)

I wrestle often with the very painful question that her blog poses – “What if I never marry, and am single forever?” – It’s tough.  Can I learn to choose joy???…because, frankly, it’s getting harder the older I get.  It was easy when I was younger, but the older I get, the bigger the “Giants in the land” that seem to be preventing me from settling into the Promised Land (marriage), and the lonelier the wilderness (singleness) is.  Still, I must walk by faith that the giants are nothing, and my God is EVERYTHING, sovereign over all, and full able to conquer any giant.  I also must submit to His will, and trust that while He CAN conquer the giant of marriage, really He MUST conquer the giants of my discontent, fear of the future, and lack of faith that His plan is best. 

I think it’s because of that (that the real issue that needs to be addressed isn’t my singleness, but my total submission to God, and faith in Him) that the answer that frustrates me most, when talking about “What if I never marry?” is:  “God has someone for you.”  Or, “Don’t worry, there’s someone for everyone.”  Now that’s just not true—one glance through time of all the wonderful, godly, beautiful people I alone have known who have never married (and not of their preference) would prove that statement false.  More importantly, however, there is no promise of God in the Bible that He has given ME a mate.  He promises to meet my needs, to be good, to be a loving Father and that I am His bride.  He promises to be able, and sovereign and so much more…  but he doesn’t promise that I will be married.  And, I confess, I get angry when someone wants to promise me something God did not—because that’s the easy way out.  It’s the easy way out for them—to give quick comfort through a nice little band aid—but it’s shallow.  It’s also the easy way out for me (and therefore a great temptation), because I can focus on waiting for my husband, rather than focusing on submitting fully to the will of God for every season of my life, and for every time in my life—past, present and future.

The truth is, I need help submitting to God’s will and trusting His plan – no matter WHAT it is, even if it’s that I never marry.  I need to be reminded that GOD is able to do exceedingly, abundantly MORE, than I can ask or imagine, but I also need to be reminded that what THAT actually looks like is up to HIM, not me.   God is good, whether I marry or not.  He can do more than I ask or imagine, and that IS true and WILL BE true whether I marry or NOT .

It’s true, I desperately hope that my man on a white horse does come along (and yeah, preferably on a horse!), but even more than that, I hope that I learn to be contented, dare I say even joyful, whatever my status, in every stage of life.

If you want to tell a single person not to worry, that’s fantastic—just do so carefully, with tenderness and love and TRUTH.  Don’t give false promises.  God never disappoints, but false promises sure can.  Please remind us that the reason that we need not worry isn’t that singleness is a calling, or that singleness is so great, or that we are young and still have time, or that marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or even that God has someone for us…the only reason that we, as singles, need not worry is that God, the all-wise, all-knowing, infinitely loving, sovereign over all, perfect in all He does, giver of all good gifts, who calls himself our Loving Father, the Lover of our souls, and who calls us his bride….THIS God is in control and will do in our lives what is “kindest, wisest and best” (to quote Hudson Taylor), “working all things to the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

If you haven’t read Ruthie’s blog, she focuses more on the other not so great answer to the question of, What if I never marry?”  It’s the opposite extreme of saying, “Don’t worry – God has someone for you.”  It’s, “Maybe God has called you to singleness” –and she does a great job of explaining that while it may be true, it’s still may not be such a great answer.   Whether you’re single or know someone who is, it’s worth reading…and it applies to many more tough questions than just singleness. 

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2 Responses to What if I never get Married?–Answers that Don’t Help

  1. arleen.green.31@facebook.com says:

    I’m single because I have unrealistic expectations in a man. What I want & expect is not out there. He basically would have to be like Jesus on a horse. That being said, I don’t think that’s going to happen. In my field, I talk to two kinds of patients, married & not married. It appears the married are not happy & want to be single; the ‘not married’ are not happy & want to be married. With that, I perceive that perhaps we may have expectations that getting what we don’t have will make us happy. Thus, in 2007 I began a closer relationship with God and haven’t had a date since. Will I date again? Will I die old and alone? I have no idea. I take everything a day at a time. I do believe that if it is God’s will that I serve him as a married woman, then He’ll supply THE man if/when we’re both ready for that. I only pray for God’s will in my life – never for anything specifically to happen. I’ve gained enough wisdom to realize that only God knows what is best for me. I’m quite content single now; just since I’ve realized all I’ve written. God gave me a lot of this insight. Maybe it will help someone out there. I pray it does. No one can make you content and joyful but God. Happiness is a choice made moment by moment with the help of one little word “acceptance”. God bless you on your journey. Arleen

    • StaceyTuttle says:

      Arleen – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, wisdom and journey! You are so right – we are so often thinking the grass is greener on the other side, only to be disappointed when we get there. My friend said “grass is greenest where it’s watered, so stop looking at your neighbor’s grass and water your own!” So true. And you are so right that GOD can be trusted to provide for ALL of your needs and that He will accomplish His will in a willing heart. If, at the end, He can say He has accomplished His will in you or in me, then else will have mattered? Singleness or not will fade away in the light of having been fully His.

      I only have one question for you, sweet friend…and it’s one I have to ask myself, so know that I’m in this one with you!… but you said that you never pray for anything specific. I agree – we should always desire His will above all, and I agree that He knows what is best for us, and we do not… BUT – I question if maybe that hesitancy to pray for specifics is a desire to to protect yourself from disappointment? I know for me it often is. I am afraid to get my hopes up, so I just don’t go there. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, actually.

      Even Jesus, in the garden, dared open Himself up to disappointment and dared to ask for specifics, knowing full well that it was very likely not in the Father’s plan to grant that request. “Let this cup pass from me.” Jesus knew He was there to die for our sins. Still, He opened up His heart, shared His fears and deepest desires with the Father…knowing that God has at times changed His plans because of the petitions of His faithful. Jesus knew the “prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” so He prayed and prayed specifically in the hopes God might choose to answer Him with a yes. Yet, he also prayed humbly, “not my will, but yours be done”- trusting that God did know best and would choose rightly.

      I think when we choose to open our hearts up to God, to be honest and lay all our requests before him, we find that while we may not get all our prayers answered, we do get more of a true relationship with our heavenly Father. That honesty breeds a sense of trust and intimacy. It’s opening up our hearts to Him to our most vulnerable spots, trusting Him with the things that might hurt us the most…our deepest desires.

      Of course – this may not relate to you at all! You may have really gotten to the place where you don’t have a desire either way – where you can truly say you only desire God’s will – if so, praise Jesus! But I think sometimes we feel guilty for having a will of our own. I think sometimes we feel that it is holier to say that we only want what God wants…and while that may be ultimately true, that doesn’t make it completely true. It’s refreshing to realize that even Jesus had desires that He brought to the Father. Desires that the Father said No to (and others He said yes to!). Jesus’ desire above all was to do the will of the Father, but it didn’t mean He didn’t have any lesser desires, desires which were always subjected to the greater desire of doing His Father’s will.

      Additionally, I think we need to question if it’s possible that God placed certain desires within us to lead us toward His plan for our lives. Is it possible that God placed them there (and allowed their temporary frustration) so that we would seek Him to fulfill them, so that we would pray, so that we would come to Him to talk about them, wrestle with them, submit them to Him…so that we would wait upon Him, ask of Him mighty things, trust in Him, surrender all to Him? The stronger my desire, the longer it is delayed, the more He and I really talk about it and wrestle with it. It gives me time to really lay it on the altar, time for it to be refined and clarified…and often it is a time that I find my desire is strengthened by it’s very withholding. I wonder how often He plans that. 🙂

      Anyway – I don’t know how much of that was a response to you or just my own working things out… 🙂 LOVE you sweet friend! Miss riding with you. Thanks again for commenting and sharing!!!!
      St.

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