Since I was small, I dreamed of getting married. My parents married at 22, and as silly as this may sound, I never imagined graduating college and facing the world single.
I want to marry my best friend, someone I can have fun with whether we’re traveling the world or washing our cars. I can’t wait for us to adventure through life, maybe with our little tribe in tow.
So I’ve wondered: How can I be single and content while holding on to these desires? Sometimes, I’m embracing the freedoms of singleness. Other times, loneliness hits me like a punch in the gut. It throws me off balance and leaves me feeling empty.
The Search for a Soulmate
Maybe you appreciate a good rom-com like me. The idea that there’s one person out there who can make you the happiest you’ve ever been is enticing. I’d never admit to believing another person can complete me. Still, I find myself hoping someone could.
But what if there’s more to marriage than “happily ever after”?
You were made to be completed by Someone. But if you expect another person to complete you, they’ll be unable to measure up.
Why Isn’t God’s Love Enough for Me?
So why doesn’t the love of God feel like enough for me? Why is it so hard to be single and content?
C.S. Lewis answers in his sermon, The Weight of Glory: “Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object…”
In other words, my desire for a perfect relationship with God is ingrained in my humanity. My own brokenness keeps us from it. But deep down, I know it’s what I was made for.
The things I love and desire now—a God-honoring family, for instance—are an incomplete picture of what is to come. Lewis continues, “Any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy.”
Marriage was made to be transcendent —it reaches beyond the love of two people and, like the moon receiving the sun’s light, it reflects the love of the God who made them (Ephesians 5:31-32).
So if I find myself treating marriage as the ultimate destination, I’m settling for the dim reflection of a brighter, more beautiful light.
When It’s Hard to Trust God’s Plan
A couple months ago, I was singing Elevation Worship’s “The Blessing” alongside friends in a church service. This song usually encourages me, but that night, my mouth proclaimed “He is for you,” while my heart grew heavy and my mind filled with doubts.
I lifted my hands high and declared the truth, as if the louder I sang it, the more I would believe it. But all I could think was: God, are you for me?
Later that night, the pain of unfulfilled dreams weighed on my heart as I faked a smile and celebrated a friend’s birthday. I left the party early, tears flowing as I turned the key to my apartment.
I often get an idea in my head for how my life should go. When God starts to reveal He has a different plan, I fight for control. I mistake God being for me as God being for my plans.
Psalm 100:5 reminds me that God’s love is steadfast —it doesn’t depend on me being enough but on Him being enough: “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Making the Most of the Present
Recently, a friend reminded me I won’t be content in marriage if I don’t first learn how to be single and content. Often, I spend so much time looking to the future, that I forget to savor the moment.
I don’t know if God is calling me to marriage, but I do know He has called me to serve as a FamilyLife intern this year. I don’t know who I will meet in the future, but I do know I have a loving community of friends and family.
Paul reminds me to live the life God has called me to today (1 Corinthians 7:17). My purpose as a Christ-follower is to glorify God whether single, engaged, or married.
So how can I learn to be single and content?
1. If you don’t know Jesus, learn more about what it means to follow Him.
2. Join a Church and small group. He created us for community whether single or married.
3. Set a time to spend with God each day. Read your Bible and pray by yourself or with a friend. Get to know the One who loves you perfectly.
4. Pray or journal about your desires. Ask God to show you what it means to be complete in Him and to trust Him with those desires. God cares for you and wants to know what’s on your heart.
5. Pray for your future spouse. Ask God to help them experience this same wholeness in Christ.
6. Reflect: If marriage and singleness both bring God glory, how will you use the season you are in right now to uplift His name?
7. Be that person. Do you dream of being a nurturing spouse? A protector? An adventure buddy? These are gifts God has given you for all your relationships. Don’t wait to be married to be the best version of yourself.
8. Celebrate the perks of being single. Being single is not better or worse than being married. It’s time we stopped trying to escape another year of “singles awareness day” and started figuring out how to be single and content. Take yourself on a date. Enjoy time with friends. Start a new project.
9. Play the skeptic. Enjoy rom-coms, but don’t buy into the fake love. Remember, love isn’t just about feelings but about commitment to another person. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
10. Meditate on the lyrics of “King of My Heart” by John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan.
The Ultimate Happily Ever After
Ever been in a room full of people and realized, unlike everyone else, you didn’t have your person?
I’ve been single for a year since my engagement broke off, and I’m still figuring things out. The loneliness is real. But I have already seen God use my singleness to bring me unique opportunities, like my move to Orlando. I’m getting to know friends better and trusting God’s plan for my life.
Lewis’ words toward the end of the Weight of Glory remind me of my ultimate joy: “To please God … to be a real ingredient in divine happiness … to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son —it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
Reflect on God’s goodness and His deep love for you today. He is for you.
Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Alex McMurray is a writing intern for FamilyLife at Cru headquarters in Orlando. She graduated from Cedarville University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a concentration in child and family studies. She grew up in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania with her parents and older brother. In her free time, she enjoys going on outdoor adventures with her friends and playing card games.