(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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32 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.

    • Mary P says:

      I agree with you Very True. It would be nice to be able to actually hug someone or feel his hand instead of just air. It still hurts terribly and it’s like rubbing salt on a wound. I am grateful though that God is my provider and comforter. I just don’t want to be alone anymore and don’t want anymore disappointments. I just hope that God will meet the desires of my heart, that despite the challenges in marriage, I will look back and say, “Thank you Lord that it’s all in the past.”

    • Maria says:

      Marriage is no guarantee. If a person marries so as not to be ‘lonely’ that’s a big mistake. Unmarried/Single people aren’t necessarily “alone”..we still have our families of origin, our friends, and if we have been married before, quite possible, our children and grandchildren. This idea that the typical single woman is the one who stays after church too long to avoid going home to a cold studio apartment with nothing but cats is inaccurate…and insulting. Better to be single and ‘alone, than to be in a terrible loveless marriage where a person feels lonely all the time.

  8. Tawana says:

    Hey! What a wonderful article!! Just what I needed!!
    It’s true, there’s nothing wrong with having desires and giving them to God!! it’s perfectly healthy!!
    I really liked the way you answered the question and gave an example! :)
    I feel like God is preparing me for my future husband (I haven’t met him yet! hehe) but I’d really love and appreciate your prayers!! :)
    God bless!

  9. Mavis says:

    I have to say that this article was a bit painful for me at times, but it is honest. Still single in my 30s, I struggle with “waiting” for the right man. Yet I have tried online dating and it led to more heartbreak. I know that guys are visual and it is important to them that we look good, but at the same time I feel like it shouldn’t be so important. I admit that most days I just ‘let myself go’ and walk around in sweatpants, no makeup etc. I am able to make myself look decent if I put work into it. But I was discouraged that when I posted photos of myself ‘done up’ I still got rejected by a lot of men, and received messages from the less desirable ones. I’m not looking for Brad Pitt, I just want an average looking guy with a good heart, who could not pass for my father and whose beliefs, interests and personality are compatible with mine. You may not realize how hard this is to find online, or in person for that matter. I appreciate that you are trying to encourage singles and you have a lot of good advice in this blog. But, I looked at your bio, and you are young, gorgeous and married. Do you really understand what it feels like?

  10. Mavis says:

    That said, I liked your comments about not waiting to have everything together before we meet someone. I have fallen into the trap of thinking, as soon as (blank) happens, I can start dating. It’s good to hear that the right person can be found regardless of us being in a ‘messed-up’ state.

  11. Maggie says:

    Thank the Lord someone has written something remotely uplifting for singles! I often wonder why we are such a ‘shameful’ category in the church that we should be made to feel guilty for wanting what the majority of others have. For years I sadly went to church feeling as though no one really cared whether I was lonely or unhappy in my situation, or even feeling guilty that I wasn’t happy having just Jesus for my hubby. Then one year we had a change of pastor and for the first time, this couple approached me wanting to pray for a mate for me! I was astounded that anyone really did care. I akin it to healing – if someone has cancer, is the church going to say, well Jesus is enough for you, you should be content with your cancer and not seeking us to pray about it. Is that biblical? No, of course not. Is it biblical to expect a person to be satsified with being sad and lonely and guilty about being alone? No it isn’t. What’s the difference then?
    Yes I can and I do serve God as a single women, would I be better able to do so with a husband by my side? Most definitely! There are many things, many places, a single woman can’t go on her own, but with a Godly mate, yes.
    I am really puzzled why the church seems to have decided that of all the things people desire, the only one that we really all should be content with is being single. It’s so strange. We all know that a 3 strand cord is so much stronger than a 2. We should desire to be bound with God to another. It’s biblical and there’s nothing wrong with wanting it.

  12. Bee says:

    “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 ther desire in for marriage and singleness can just plain suck at times. And if you hear nothing else, I want you to know that it’s okay.”

    I know I’m late in replying but I just had to say this-thank you, thank you for this!! I do not get it either. I do not get why nearly any other desire in the church is seen as okay to pray about, okay to talk to about, okay to lament over, okay to pursue fervently to the best of our ability, okay to struggle with, and admit you struggle with it, but marriage? Nope, that desire, that’s idolatry, and clearly a sign you don’t love God enough. So basically godly Christians for centuries haven’t loved God because they all got married and viewed it as normal?? But today it’s a sign of discontentment….*scratches head*

    What about getting married and wanting marriage and kids because it’s a good thing, and surprise surprise, still living for and pursuing God fervently, with your spouse and also on your own? Novel idea, I suppose. I’m sorry, I’m just tired of this assumption you can’t love and pursue God above all and still desire a partner in life. I desire chocolate and I desire ice cream, doesn’t mean once I get them I don’t want God anymore. Just means I enjoy His good gifts in His presence and praise Him while I do. It turns me towards Him, not away. Yes it can become idolatry but so can anything if we let it. I have yet to hear a preacher tell some of his people they need to be content without chocolate because God is enough, like I hear singles being told about marriage.

  13. 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!

    • Maggie says:

      Stephanie, God doesn’t see you as imperfect and he can provide a husband for you! Have you read about Nic (with the very long last name starting with a V) who basically has no limbs at all? He found a gorgeous woman and now has a child. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t worthy of a loving husband because you are!

    • Maria says:

      AT 28, time is still one your side. Disability or not.

  14. Tanya says:

    So glad i found this site! Loving the comments. Sick of hearing all the BS from Christians too, ESPECIALLY MARRIED ONES. Sick of being told im not spiritual cos i hate being singe and comments like “Theres more to life than getting married” Blah Blah or im not putting God first or other rubbish. Or ridiculous questions like “Why do you want a Husband?” I dont even give that a response now.

    • Maria says:

      If I had $100 for everytime someone has said that to me. Even my 9 year old grandson asked me (in an absolutely horrified tone) why do you want to get married? I’ve had other people say, you don’t need a man! You’re a strong woman. So I guess only weak women need love? smh Anyway, seems like when you’re under 40, everyone wants to fix you up, but once you pass the big 5-0, it’s like you fall off the face of the earth. No one is in your corner in that department, and the older you get the less encouragement there is out there. Online dating is a nightmare for older women because most men want much younger women 20s and 30s who can still have kids. By 55 most of us have gone through or are going through menopause and men don’t want to marry grandmothers (or so I was callously told recently by a guy I was interested in). Sure there’s the occasional woman over 55 who finds love and marries, I read their stories in the NYT weddings/celebrations section, but they are the exception, not the rule. Most women and men, if they are still single after 50 chances are they will remain so for the rest of their lives…and in most cases they got no one to blame but themselves. yes, I include myself on that one lol

  15. Tanya says:

    The thought of online dating scares the hell out of me though. Meeting up with some random guy i dont know. I cant bring myself to do it. Anyone else feel like that?

  16. Tanya says:

    Its rather like the Catholic church where its “spiritual” to be a nun or a priest. “Forbidding to marry”. Asceticism.

    • Maria says:

      There’s nothing wrong with monasticism. It is a valid life choice. Not everyone can or should marry, that is a fact. However, if a person is called to serve God in that specific way that monks and nuns do, then why put them down or say they are wrong for it? Ascetism is something to be admired, not scorned. That’s the problems with protestants/evangelicals, they just don’t get it. That’s why the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches are a more full expression of Christianity…because they do get it.

  17. Maria says:

    Don’t be ‘satisfied with singleness but don’t whine all the time about it either.

  18. Paul says:

    Well i am certainly Not satisfied at all for my Singleness which i really Don’t Blame God either for this. But i certainly Do Blame the kind of women out there for this one since there are so many Career women today that are so very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, picky, narcissists, and so very power money hungry since these women nowadays unfortunately want the Best of all and will Never settle for Less since it is always about them. Most women are so very Greedy And Selfish now more than ever before which Most of them years ago were Never at all like this since Money was Never an issue back then when Most men and women in those early days had to Struggle to make ends meat since the times were Very Tough too. Both men and women in those days Never Hardly had any Money at all since they had No Choice but to live with their Parents or other of their Family Members since Most of them were very Poor as well. Today is a Totally Different Time we now live in since Most women which i will admit are very Independent and Don’t need a man to Survive anymore which they Can make it on their own. But here lies the Problem, many women really do think that they’re now God’s gift to men and have such a very Bad Attitude Problem which it really Explains why many of us Good men are still Single today which Most of us are Not To Blame since it does Take Two To Tangle.

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