Being single in my thirties is not how I thought my life would turn out, especially when I remember the verse about how God never intended for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We are wired for relationship and companionship, so it is no wonder that this is what we long for!
One reminder that’s often brought up as comfort for single people is that God loves us, and that we have a relationship with Him.
But knowing that did not always make me feel chosen or special, because I thought, “Well God loves everyone because He is God!” There were times when I found it cold comfort to read that He loves me with an everlasting love (Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 31:3) or that it is God who satisfies (Psalm 103:5), because I still felt lonely and I was still found wanting.
What makes God’s love personal
I remember one day, I was listening to a worship song while driving, and I felt God say to me that I needed to know His love. I shrugged it off at first, but as the song continued to play, I sensed again and again the Holy Spirit impressing on my heart that I needed to really dwell on, and understand, His great love for me.
I remember replying then in my head, “Yeah, I get it, You love me.” But in that moment, I heard God say to me, “Yes, I love you. But did you know I also like you?”
Hearing this was a game changer for me. Not only did God love me, He also liked me. He enjoyed my personality, my sense of humour; He was interested in me and liked being with me. Realising this helped me see that God’s love was personal.
One big revelation for me as I searched the Scriptures was that God’s love is intentional, deliberate and not by default. Deuteronomy 10:15 (NLT) says, “Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today.”
The Hebrew word for “chose” here is châshaq, meaning to delight in, to be joined to, or bind to. For God, choosing is the same as loving and delighting.
Realising that God’s love was personal and intentional made me become more aware of Him whenever I am on my own, doing some of my favourite things. Whether it’s having a coffee, reading a book, or going for a swim, I feel confident in chatting to Him and sharing these experiences with Him, knowing that He enjoys being with me.
God’s love is also made personal in the ways He ministers to each of us. I don’t often feel His presence in worship songs as much as others do, but when I am sharing His Word or in a Bible study, I hear what God is saying to me through the people I am with. I love animals and often find God using that as a way to teach me about His character. I see how a hen protects her chicks or how affectionate puppies are, and through these He affirms His affection for me.
Being chosen by God doesn’t just stop at being loved and accepted, it also gives our lives meaning and purpose. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Creator of the Universe has chosen us to fulfil special tasks tailored to our personalities, talents, and the things we enjoy.
Years ago, I chose to pursue teaching because I didn’t know what else to study, but I’m so thankful that I love teaching and have become good at it. And God is continuously using me as a teacher to help the next generation flourish and bring hope to families by making His goodness known. Apart from God, no other person can give me an eternal and fulfilling purpose.
Still…what about my need for love?
Even though I know God loves me, He enjoys being with me and has prepared good works for me, sometimes I can’t help but feel my heart ache with longing. I have always appreciated the truth that I am chosen by Him, but it did not always feel better than being chosen by a significant other.
But after my breakup with my fiancé, my relationship with the Lord meant that I was able to run to Him in my grieving. Knowing that nothing separates me from His love (Romans 8:39) and that I can go to Him anytime and be accepted (Hebrews 4:16) has brought me such security.
Because of this, I’ve come to see that what is so comforting about being chosen by God is “He never changes His mind about whom He chooses and blesses” (Romans 11:29; Numbers 23:19). If being chosen by a significant other meant more to me than being chosen by God, I would have been completely crushed.
As human beings, we can easily succumb to our emotions in relationships, leading to harsh words or unkind actions when upset. We may choose to love people (and people may choose to love us), only to take it back when expectations are no longer met, and the relationship isn’t working anymore.
Before I met Jesus, a huge part of my identity was wrapped up in the person I was in relationship with. I would find myself changing parts of who I am to suit them. This led to frustration, stress, and, when we broke up, confusion and a sense of loss as to who I really was.
Even as Christians, it is easy to look to someone else to make us happy, but this means that how we feel about ourselves will fluctuate with how they feel about us. But unlike us, God is not at the whim of His emotions (Psalms 86:15). He always does good to us, He does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10), He never leaves us (Deuteronomy 31:6), and He remains faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13).
You may be reading this and still think, That’s all well and good, but these have not been my experiences with the Lord, and I still feel so heartbroken. I just want so badly to be in a relationship and have a spouse.
Feelings are very real, and God has given them to us for a reason. I still have days where the pain of breakup is real and raw. Instead of fighting it, I have learned to acknowledge it, then pour it out to God, mostly in tears, sometimes even with yelling! Being completely honest with God has helped me gain confidence in going to Him for grace to face the hard seasons (Hebrews 4:16). It also means that He can freely minister to the hurting places in my heart.
As the saying goes, “Feelings make great servants but terrible masters!” Instead of letting feelings dictate our life, we can let our feelings lead us to Jesus’s comforting presence. Like a mother comforting a child who has scraped their knee, the pain may not immediately go away, but the child is soothed in knowing he or she is safe and that everything will be okay. Such is the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
If you are still struggling to experience God’s love for yourself, I want to encourage you to read all of the first chapter of Ephesians and let God’s truth steer and guide your feelings.
Finally, here is a prayer for you:
I pray that the Father will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
May you have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.
Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:16-19, NLT)