In my early twenties, I hated being single. I thought it meant that I was unattractive and unwanted.
I had a secret crush on someone in university. When I was studying with my best friend between classes, he would often walk up to greet us and would offer help whenever we needed. I thought he was a friendly and helpful guy, and started to secretly admire him. Then one day, I realized he was doing all this to woo my best friend, and my world crumbled.
Am I not attractive enough? Why don’t I have a guy who is willing to do so much for me? Why doesn’t he woo me?
It affected my self-confidence and left me broken.
Growing up with eczema, I always felt inferior. I was short and had ordinary looks, and it didn’t help that my figure was just a rectangle. I hated my looks, and felt embarrassed at never having dated when most of my friends had boyfriends. I thought having dated meant that a woman was attractive. Many older people also told me it was very important for girls to be married, because being unmarried by a certain age meant that I would be out of the norm, incomplete, and left on the shelf.
Now that I’ve survived that painful period, I can see how wrong I was to think those thoughts. If I ever had a chance to talk to my 20-year-old self, I would refute the lies that I had been telling myself: that I am not attractive and that I am abnormal if I am single.
I would tell myself that my attractiveness does not come from the fleeting beauty of physical appearance—but from a heart that is at rest in Christ.
Our height, body shape or size, what jewels we wear, how expensive our clothes are or how fashionably we do our hair—none of these matters. Unfading beauty comes from a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:3-4), and one who fears the Lord is praiseworthy regardless of how she looks (Proverbs 31:30). Our confidence should therefore come not from our physical appearance, but rather from God—who knew us even before we were born.
Instead of focusing on my appearance, I would tell myself to take captive my thoughts and focus on the One who created me, knows me and loves me, and who willingly redeemed me with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Now when I find myself stressing over my outward appearance, I constantly remind myself of the truth in God’s Word. The unchanging Word comforts me and gives me confidence when I am with people whom I find more beautiful than myself. Because I know that God looks at our hearts rather than our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).
I also realized that if we place our confidence in our physical beauty, we become easily upset with any blemish and wrinkle or any extra pound gained—because we would be chasing after fading beauty. We can never find contentment with our looks until we place our confidence in God’s standard of beauty. Knowing that God knows us and loves us, we can find an unshakable confidence in our God-given identities, even when our physical beauty fades.
I would tell myself that not being married by a certain age does NOT mean I am unwanted—but that I can trust God’s perfect plan for my life.
We are never left unwanted, because our heavenly Father already loves us. We are precious to Him.
As God’s beloved, we must not conform to the patterns of this world, but rather we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds in God that we may discern His good and perfect will for us (Romans 12:2). Committing ourselves to the ways of God and obeying His will for us is more important than finding a boyfriend or husband. God’s plan for each of us is different.
Paul tells us that a single life is God’s gift to some, and a married life His gift to others (2 Corinthians 7:7). We know that earthly marriage mimics and reminds us of the heavenly marriage that is to come (Luke 20:34-36), while a single life allows us more time and energy to serve God. Whatever the case, we know that His plans for us are always good.
God created us for His glory, and so we do not live our lives for ourselves. If God’s plans for us is to be married, let us glorify Him in our marriage. If His plans are for us to be single, let us glorify Him in our singleness.
If I could go back and talk to 20-year-old me, I would urge her to find joy by surrendering her singleness to Christ and seeing her worth in Him alone. There is value in surrendering this season of our lives to Him because in our singleness, God can show us that we are not alone. He is with us. As we give Him our insecurities and fears, He can turn our ashes into beauty. As we spend our quiet moments with Him, He can help us use His gifts in unique and beautiful ways.
When we anchor ourselves in Christ, we can be secure in Him. The more we see ourselves as living servants of Christ, the more we are freed from the need to conform to the standards of the world.
To my 20-year-old self: know that you are fully accepted and loved in Christ.
That is the unchanging truth that liberates us. May we be content with what God has given us, and in any situation—single or married—focus instead on becoming the person Christ is shaping us to become.