Written By Krysti Wilkinson, USA
I was sitting in church, listening to our pastor, when my eyes fell on the couple a few rows in front of me. They did something cute—maybe she leaned her head on his shoulder or he kissed her forehead—that caught my attention.
I knew the girl, and knew some of her current situation. To me, she wasn’t necessarily in the healthiest place to be in a new relationship or making the best choices in life at the moment. And yet, here she was at church being cute with her cute new boyfriend.
I sighed. I shifted in my seat, and looked up and down the row I was sitting in. There were seven or eight of us girls, all with our journals out and pens poised. Some of us had even brought our Bibles (extra holy points!). We were Christian. We were cute. And we were all single.
I remember thinking, “We’re doing everything right. We’re following all the rules. We’re going above and beyond over here—where are our cute boyfriends?”
It felt like a slap in the face when I heard God come back with, “. . . when was that ever part of the deal?”
That was the day I realized I had been viewing my dating life, and my faith, as a merit-based system. If you go to church every week, maybe you would get asked out. If you’re involved in a weekly Bible study, you might get a boyfriend. And the holiest of holy people? They earn enough points for marriage. Apparently, I was not playing the Christian game correctly, for I was still single.
Written out, I know how ridiculous it sounds. But I also know how real it felt for so many years and how easy it is to fall into these lies. When a relationship feels like something you need to earn, finding yourself single feels like you’ve somehow messed up.
Here’s the thing: dating is not an accomplishment, and marriage is not a merit badge. We were never promised 2.5 kids and a perfect spouse to live happily ever after with behind a white picket fence. God never, ever promised that faithfulness will bring happiness, prosperity, or a blissful life (often it brings the opposite). Yet, when we see our friends seemingly living out the picture-perfect life, we find ourselves questioning: Why not me? Why not my life? Why am I single?
It’s okay to ask those questions. It’s okay to be honest. It’s okay to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. I think the problem is getting stuck in those questions.
Maybe you’re wondering why you’re single, and it causes you to do some self-reflection—are you open to a new relationship? Are you in a healthy place? Have you been caught up in some bad habits that are affecting your relationships? Those are good questions to ask.
Maybe you’re wondering why you’re single, and it causes you to spiral into a dark place—dwelling on all the mistakes you made in your last relationship, obsessing over every interaction with the opposite sex, and pouring all your energy into getting someone’s attention.
May I suggest that instead of asking yourself why you’re single, ask God what He wants you to do with your singleness. I don’t like the church cliché of “singleness is such a gift!” because I know to some it can feel like a prison sentence. But God uses gifts and prison sentences alike.
You don’t have to necessarily love being single or cherish every second of it—but you can invite God into every second of it. Ask Him what He’s doing in your life, where He’s leading you, and what He wants for you next. It might be a relationship, or it might be the exact opposite of a relationship. I don’t know what He wants for you, but I do know that He is good and so are His plans.
That day, a few years ago, asking God why I was single caused me to realize the unhealthy way I had been viewing my faith. It also helped me check my intentions of doing all this church stuff—am I doing it to earn a man, or out of love for my Father?
At various other times I’ve asked Him the same question, I’ve realized that there are ministry opportunities, areas of growth, friendships that needed nurturing, and even a few guys I would have never considered dating.
God has a way of surprising us. Sometimes we just have to ask the question.