(Don’t be) Satisfied with Singleness

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Once you are content with your singleness and grasp that God may call you to be single forever—then, and only then, will God bring you a spouse. When you surrender your desire to get married (i.e. cut your heart out) then God will fulfill your desire for a family.

How many of you have heard statements like these?

A reader recently emailed me confused why I condoned online dating and looking for a husband. Listen to part of what she wrote (I share this with permission from her, so don’t worry about your emails showing up on my blog!):

“Don’t you think as Christians, if we were to pursue our spouses via online dating, we would be moving ahead of God in a way? If I go online to look for my future spouse, it would almost mean that I’m not trusting God to provide for my needs.

If you’re single, the goal is not to be married: it is to walk closely with the Lord and to learn how to be satisfied in Christ. I believe it is then that the Lord will bring our spouse to us if it is His will for us to be married. If it isn’t God’s will for us to be married, online dating and going out and searching for someone who is compatible with us may be walking outside of the will of God for our lives.”

I used to think similarly. Growing up in the church,  it seemed that women who stayed single were looked upon as more holy than the ones who found a husband. Women who didn’t make themselves up were more highly esteemed than those of us who wore stylish clothes and exercised to look a certain way. The “just be content” phrase was used so often and going out to try to meet a man was seen as weakness and not waiting on God. Oh, how far from the truth! I truly believe  God wants us to be content in every circumstance, but that doesn’t mean that the waiting isn’t hard or it isn’t ok to look for a spouse.

Let’s look at dating through the lens of unemployment. Being unemployed when you really want a job is awful. I remember pouting and eating ice cream every Monday morning when I was unemployed—because all I wanted was to go to work like everyone else. (Ok, a tad dramatic, but I was miserable!). But during that season, I made career websites my homepage and constantly looked for connections, sent resumes, and applied to any and every job I could possibly imagine doing. I didn’t know what God wanted for my future, but I knew he wanted me to do something. So I applied for A LOT of jobs. Not one person told me to be content with my joblessness. Sure, I wasn’t to let it steal my joy or define me—but I wasn’t supposed to stop desiring employment. After all, God created us with a desire to work.

Now, what if I treated unemployment like many of us are told to treat singleness. What if I sat around and ate bons-bons all day and said, “God wants me to be content with my unemployment. And looking for a job and doing everything I can to seek opportunities would be stepping outside his will. When I don’t want to be employed anymore, then God will bring me a job.” I’d become a great story you’d tell all your friends—about your delusional friend who will never be employed. Am I right?

We are free in Jesus, and I want you to hear  you have freedom to date online, ask your friends to set you up with someone, wear makeup, buy a new outfit, and desire a husband. Contentment doesn’t mean you cut off your desires and deaden your heart—is simply means you tell God how badly you want to be married and ask him to bring you a man. You can even add the word, “quickly” onto the end of that prayer. Freedom.

I met Michael when I was far from content, far from healed, and very close to my desires for marriage. I don’t know why the church and Christians have defined contentment with our relationship statuses as not wanting a spouse. God wants you and I to live fully alive—hearts open to the great story, even if we don’t always understand the pieces and are far from whole. Most were created with a desire for marriage and singleness can just plain suck at times. And if you hear nothing else, I want you to know that’s okay.

Do you agree? What sorts of things does the church tell singles? How have you learned to be content with your singleness, while still desiring marriage? 

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15 Responses to “(Don’t be) Satisfied with Singleness”
  1. Nadia Wilder says:

    I so agree, Ruthie. Freedom in Christ – it really does include the freedom to proclaim the desires of our heart. We can desire marriage while trusting in His will, His provision and His timing.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Amen! I’m glad you agree. I’m waiting for people to write in who disagree. I love the freedom we have to listen to Him and pursue the desires of our hearts.

  2. Jessica says:

    Thank you Ruthie! I need this just the am. I went to bed trying to pray “patiently” if you will call it. I have been talking to a man I met online, after many bad online experiences. I was not going to go there again, I ws going to be content. Because everyone says when you stop looking… But he seems to be a great guy so far but I didn’t want to get be over excited or seem to not be focusing on God enough like maybe I we distracted by the online dating. I want to prayfor the desires of my heart with put feeling guilty, I want to ask for God to bring me a husband and “quickly”.Anyway thank you for this post this morning, perfect timing!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Jessica, I’m glad this post was timely for you! There are definitely times in our lives when God calls us to step away from relationships and even looking, but barring this circumstance…it’s ok to look:)

  3. karen says:

    This is funny to read today. I just had another experience with a man that was just crazy. It made me not want to try again to date. I even met this guy at church! And he is dysfunctional. All I can see some of the church people saying to me is to stop trying so hard, let God bring you your husband. Thankyou Ruthie for saying what you said about how messed up you were when you met Michael. I hear all the time about how super spiritually perfect singles need to be if they expect God to bring their mate! As if that was a reward. I am 58 by the way and divorced for 30 years. So I have a lot more to say about being single in the church. Thank you for being so open about it

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Karen, my heart hates hearing that the church has told you to be ‘super spiritually perfect’ in order for God to bring you a spouse. How far from the truth! The God we worship doesn’t act according to our behavior, but blesses us out of His character. I think the church is trying to point the finger at singles because they don’t have a reason why God hasn’t brought them a spouse. I’m so curious how you found my blog…do share! Also, how did the church respond to your divorce?

      • karen says:

        Someone {I don’t remember} I follow mentioned you back in March. It might have been related to the Real Men don’t text blogs!
        As for the way the church handled my divorce- well back then in my late 20′s i felt more accepted by the party crowd than at church so i fell away for many years, until I finally “heard” God speaking to me to return. In spite of the large numbers of older divorced, single, and even widowed people- the church attitude is not different. So I have been struggling to try to make a difference. I find support for me to lead my friends from people like you and a few people i personally know, but not from most church leaders. My single friends and I feel like we are unacceptable unless we follow certain roles- like pretend that we don’t have desires for marriage. You are right- the church doesn’t have an answer for why we are single- but I wish they would love us openly anyway! There are not many I can turn to for support in this aggressive way that this man is treating me, because I feel like they would just tell me that if i stopped looking for a date- then I would not get in this kind of trouble {men that don’t accept no}. Oh, and by the way it has happened before, no support by the church to help me be left alone by men I have chosen to not date [while in church services].
        I thank you for being so brave by revealing authentic situations and feelings- it is so helpful to hear them and know I am not alone– and I look forward to reading your blog. I am forwarding this blog to 2 of my friends :)

        • Ruthie Dean says:

          Thanks for sharing (and sorry I’m just getting back to you!) I hate how the church handles certain situations…I’m curious about the “men that don’t accept no” comment. I want you to know that looking pretty, wanting a date, etc. is never an excuse for a man to treat you in ANY disrespectful way. I have been blamed by the church for ‘making men stumble’, so I hope this is not the case for you. I’m so glad you found my blog and please keep sharing it with your friends. Also, if you have any topic ideas–please send me an email with suggestions. I always love hearing from my readers.

          Here’s to believing what Jesus says about us, not Christians!

  4. Michael Dean (@MichaelDean10) says:

    I love my wife dearly!

  5. Christina says:

    “God wants you and I to live fully alive—hearts open to the great story, even if we don’t always understand the pieces and are far from whole.” – AWESOME point! Great post….like always :)

  6. Julie says:

    I love this. After years of waiting and not really dating except for when a friend decided to set me up, I have been online dating this year. There are times when I’ve had to take a step back to take a break from it, but I have to say I’ve learned so much about myself, my relationship with God, and dating. I’m learning to own desires for which I don’t see an outcome or a way for God to fulfill them. It’s scary, and my heart’s been broken a little, but I know that God is control and that he does see the end of the great story. I’m learning to walk confidently in how he has made me, the experiences (or lack of experiences) he has given me, and to rest secure that he has it all under control.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Julie! I’m so glad you shared. So many struggle with this wanting something, but not letting the desire overtake us. Sounds like you are doing a great job with allowing God to control every area of your life–including your dating life. Keep us updated on how things turn out!

  7. Very True says:

    it is always wonderful to share a life with someone than to be all alone and have no one.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Hello Ruthie,

    I am a 28-year-old single Christian. I am highly educated, love Jesus, and would love to have a husband and children. By the way, I also have mild cerebral palsy.

    Because of this, I fear I may never find a husband. My family isn’t much help. Every time I bring up marriage, they tell me what a struggle marriage is, how all these people I graduated from high school with are divorced with two kids by two daddies, and how they’d rather see me single than abused. They are wonderful Christian parents, but it’s like they would *expect* me to be mistreated if I married somebody. As for my friends, they just keep telling me to wait, that marriage will happen if it’s supposed to.

    My younger brother is getting married in two months. I’m happy for him and his fiancée, but it hurts to see them get something I may never have. I think I could handle it if God called me to be single–but not because of my disability! I don’t want to be another disability statistic–as in, “Of course she’s not married, she couldn’t handle it because of CP.”

    Other than praying and continuing to wait, is there anything I can do? Should I accept that God will not give me a husband and children? How can I make peace with that? (Yes, I have tried online dating–so far, no dice).

    Thanks for your help!

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