Katie Van Dyke currently lives in Houston TX where she works at an energy company downtown. She is a member of Northeast Houston Baptist Church and serves in women's ministry. She is also a contributor for the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood women's blog. She has a passion for biblical womanhood and enjoys teaching other women about it.
I have been on the single road for almost my entire life. In fact, combined, I have only spent about 10 months of my life in a relationship. When it comes to singleness, I understand the discontentment and loneliness that can come with it. The desire for marriage can be overwhelming, especially in a culture where adolescence is being prolonged later and later in life. It can be downright depressing at times.
When you are single and have been waiting to get married for what seems like forever, you know all too well the fight for contentment. Let’s face it. Contentment is extremely difficult to achieve when you strongly desire something you don’t have.
For Christians wanting to be a husband or wife, the idea of being happy or joyful can seem like an unattainable thing. As a result, there tends to be two extremes:
1- In order to have complete contentment in singleness, we must first lose this great desire for marriage.
2- If we greatly desire marriage, we must accept the discontentment that comes with singleness.
Recently, the Lord has shown me that both contentment in singleness and desire for marriage can exist. It isn’t just this great idea that is floating around. You can indeed be absolutely content with your singleness and still desire to be married.
Well meaning, but unhelpful advice
Well-meaning people have given the advice in the past of ‘once you finally reach contentment, you’ll get married’ or ‘once you lose the desire for marriage and quit looking for it, someone will come along. Neither of these responses is helpful. I have heard their words and in response prayed asking the Lord to take away my desire.
Well, that never worked. You know why? A desire for marriage is a good and natural desire. There is absolutely nothing wrong with longing for a godly husband or wife. So, that must mean I will just have to accept discontentment, right? Wrong. Being completely content as someone who is single can happen!
The fight for contentment
It’s not bad for us to ever be unhappy or discontent. Those are still emotions the Lord has given us and it is completely normal to have days where you are sad or lonely. The Bible is full of instances of God fearing men and women being discontent or lonely (Psalm 25:16-19; 1 Samuel 1:6-8; Ruth 1:20, 21, Matthew 27:46). However, we need not to wallow in it. Being sad or lonely is not in and of itself sinful, but it can become sinful if we allow it to grow and take our focus off of Christ. Do not let yourself take up camp in the land of unhappiness. Instead, fight for joy and daily seek Christ for contentment in your singleness.
Seeking the Lord for contentment
Focus on all of the gifts the Lord has given you: this could be good health, a good career, amazing family and friends, an amazing church. The Lord loves giving us good gifts (Luke 11:9-13; James 1:7).
Focus on how the Lord can use you now. The Lord has given me an amazing opportunity to start a ministry for single women in my church. If not for my singleness, I might have missed out on this opportunity to invest in the lives of other single women. Of course, if I was married I could still invest in women, but my time would be much more limited. In my singleness, I am able to devote most of my time to this ministry. The Lord is using me to bless others and through it I have also been immensely blessed.
Be aware of the negatives. For instance, I think about how difficult life would be if I married a man who did not take godliness seriously. Sometimes, being impatient and discontent can lead us to make rash decisions and jump into something without really waiting for the Lord. We see some examples of this rash decision-making in scripture and the consequences are horrible (Genesis 16, 21; Numbers 20).
The worst thing to do right now is to be so motivated by discontentment that you rush into marriage with someone without really seeking the Lord. With this strategy, it is much more likely to marry someone who is not godly or Christ-focused. In fact, even when waiting for God’s perfect timing we won’t end up with someone who perfectly fits our mold or perfectly exemplifies Christ. However, it is still possible to end up with someone who does desire to truly follow Christ and exemplify godliness and it is important that we wait for it. It is far better to be single and deal with times of loneliness than to be in a marriage with someone who does not focus on Christ or encourage you in your Christian walk. Yes, both spouses are still sinners and there are still struggles in even the godliest of marriages. However, these struggles may be more easily overcome when married to someone who deeply desires Christ and his wisdom.
The one who truly satisfies
I understand the daily struggles that come with having this great desire for marriage. It is easy to wallow in our self-pity or be overwhelmed with feelings of jealousy and discontentment. It can be so easy to throw up our hands and give up on being happy because we can feel as if it’s just not possible.
We should trust the Lord as He calls us to be content while desiring marriage. You don’t have to choose one or the other. Take time today to seek Christ on this issue. Open your eyes and hearts to the one who can satisfy all of your needs. There is such rich blessing he poured out on you through the cross and he is waiting to pour out even more. It may not be exactly what you expect, but I guarantee you it will be exactly what you need.