Written By Debra Wong, Malaysia
I have a confession to make: I turn 25 this year, and I have never been in a relationship. It’s not just because I haven’t met the right person; it’s also because no one has ever pursued me before.
While most girls were befriending guys in high school and college, I was socially awkward. To me then, guys were different; they were “aliens” whom I was too afraid to talk to.
Thankfully, I came around in my earlier 20s, and have since opened up and gotten to know several quality friends. However, it still stings that I’m late to the relationship party that all my peers seem to be a part of.
Every time a friend or family member starts dating, I cry on the inside and quickly become overcome with bitterness, self-hate, and ultimately, anger towards God because I’m not in a relationship like everyone else.
What’s a bitter single girl to do?
One particular day, while I was upset over yet another friend becoming “Facebook official”, I sat down and talked to God. Clenching my fists, I muttered through gritted teeth: Why, God? Why can’t I achieve a relationship like everyone else my age? It’s bad enough that I don’t have many friends. Now you’re going to let me look like a loser that no guy ever wanted to date?
It was during that bitter rant that God opened my eyes to three truths that I realized I needed to deal with.
1. I wanted a relationship for the wrong reasons.
To me, life comprised a series of boxes that I needed to check off in order to feel like I had lived it well. Do well in school? Check. Get a good job? Check.
Get a relationship? Not checked.
By checking off boxes, I wanted to prove to everyone around me that I had “arrived”, that I was finally an adult. See, I can snag myself a boyfriend just like you! He thinks the world of me! Just look at my arm candy!
However, this is not God’s design for marriage, and by extension, the relationships that lead to it. In the Bible, husbands and wives are called to sacrificial love and respect, to put the needs of the other above their own (Ephesians 5:21-33).
While a dating relationship is not yet a marriage relationship, I was certainly not looking to encourage and build up another person. Instead of seeing a boyfriend as God would see him―a child of the King, made in His image (Genesis 1:27), I simply wanted a boyfriend to validate my own worth. All in all, I was being selfish.
I am now learning to rest in the fact that God sees me. When time and again I long for someone to notice me, I remind myself that God does not just see me for who I am right now―He sees my future potential and will finish the good work He began in me (Philippians 1:6). If marriage is in God’s plan for me, at the right time He will open the eyes of the right guy to “see” me too.
2. God’s plans for me are good―whether or not they involve a spouse.
Doubting God’s goodness was the root of the very first sin recorded in the Bible. When Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say . . . ?” a seed of doubt was planted, and Eve believed that God was withholding something good from her. He wasn’t―but she fell for it anyway.
I needed to be careful that I wasn’t swinging from the statement, “God is good” to the question, “Is God good?” One change, big difference. Although my limited experience had caused me to doubt, it does not change the fact that God is sovereign and that His plans for my life are infinitely better than my own (Romans 8:28).
It can be hard to believe that God’s plans for my love life are good when no prospects lie on the horizon and when other girls seemingly have it easier. But when I doubt what the future holds, I meditate instead on how intimately God knows me, loves me, and holds me in His arms.
3. It is not good for me to be alone.
When God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals, He realized that none of them were suitable partners for Adam. So God took a rib out of Adam, fashioned a woman from it, and brought her to his side as a human partner (Genesis 2:22).
Though I have yet to find a suitable life partner, God has given me an extended family―His people. By serving and interacting with fellow believers, I get to give and experience relationship.
When I wallow in self-pity, God’s family invites me into their lives, to worship Him, and live out the Gospel together. When I invest my time in the lives of other people, I don’t spend as much time dwelling on my singleness.
Investing in other relationships helps me even when the lights go out and I’m alone in my room. That’s when the timely words of fellow brothers and sisters come to mind and build me up in the midst of my disappointments. Truly, no man is an island!
Do I still mope about my singleness? Sure, the temptation to doubt is strong. However, trusting God is a choice that I can make daily, and I rest in the knowledge that God has great plans for my life, with or without a boyfriend.