Waiting, and the virtue of patience in general, is not limited to the single years. It’s something you’ll do the rest of your life. We must wait on God’s timing for every big decision, every change of season, and every special blessing.
But what about when you want to give up? When the waiting doesn’t feel worth it anymore?
Below are five principles to keep in mind when you are tempted to give in, give up, and throw in the towel when it comes to your singleness:
1. Don’t focus on the length of the season, but on being fully present in your calling for today.
One of the recurring sentiments I receive from single girls is, “If I only knew how long this season would last, it would be so much easier to be patient… to have faith… to wait.” Well, of course it would! If we knew the future, we wouldn’t be required to walk in faith.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1)
God didn’t say this stage, or ANY stage, would be easy. But He said He’d be present.
“And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex. 33:14)
If God is present with you, you can focus on His presence or on the absence of what you want (in this case, a relationship). Focusing on what you don’t have will make this season seem far longer than it actually is. This attitude also has the tendency to cause “desperation”, or an over-eager attitude toward potential dates that oftentimes works against a single woman in the dating realm.
The alternative is to fully embrace your present calling, as discussed in Am I Single Because I’m Doing Something Wrong?
Living fully in the present is not a new concept, nor is it confined to singles. It is very easy to live in the future or the past regardless of age or marital status. Satan knows that getting our focus on sins of the past, or the potential of the future, will hamper our effectiveness in the present. And if we are distracted from the present, we will also be distracted from the presence of God in this season of life.
2. Remember that this season is just one of a series of tests you will face throughout your life.
This season may not be the first difficulty that you’ve faced, and it certainly will not be the last. Singleness is a training ground for the next stage of life – whether that be marriage, or simply a new job, ministry, or other transition period. How you choose to face this test, especially when the waiting gets hard, will determine your strength for the next series of tests that come your way.
My nature is to be a “give up” girl when it comes to fitness. I don’t like to push myself out of my comfort zone, which is the most necessary component of an exercise regime. Working out through pregnancy, however, was one of the best ways to prepare and strengthen myself for the marathon that was my natural birth. Pregnancy is tough, but birth is even tougher. How I dealt with the “test” of persevering in my work outs determined how well I faced the greater test of baby girl’s birth.
In the same way, how you face the singleness season will determine how much strength you have for future “tests”. Look at this time as training for challenges you can’t see. God is using this to strengthen you – if you will persevere through the hard times!
3. Continually remind yourself that God is a good, gracious, loving Father who is using this season to sanctify and grow you.
The story of Job in the Bible is a case study in difficult times. Job’s circumstances were excruciating – the loss of his wealth, income, and his entire family, in addition to his personal health. Many of us have much better circumstances than Job, but like him we allow our situation to cause us to question God’s goodness and grace.
God’s purpose in your life is sanctification:
But God does not deal with us according to our transgressions (Psalm 103:10) – it’s one of the reasons I wrote my post Virginity is Not God’s Goal. So if you are asking, “What am I doing wrong?”, the real question to ask is, “Where does my heart need to be sanctified?”
Instead of focusing on the “problem” of singleness, understand that singleness is a stage of life permitted by God’s sovereign will for your sanctification.
In my current study of Ezekiel, I have seen with new eyes why God judges sin. Many unbelievers look at the Old Testament and deem God a vicious, judgmental deity who just wandered the earth slaying people who didn’t agree with Him. This is so far from the truth. When God judged Israel in Ezekiel’s day, His judgment was indeed harsh – but His judgment fit their sin. For almost 400 years they had lived in complete rebellion against Him. He had tried again and again to draw them back into relationship with Him, and they wouldn’t have it. Eventually the just nature of God could bear it no more, and He was forced to judge them. But His purpose was still to draw the few who would listen back into His arms.
God is not the bad guy of your singleness. He is one you need in order to come out of this season with strength and dignity.
4. Settling starts out easy and ends in difficulty. Patience starts out difficult and ends in peace.
There is only one alternative to pressing on through the difficulty of singleness, and that is to settle. When the going gets tough and loneliness seems unbearable, the tendrils of impatience can quickly grow around our hearts. Impatience leads to discontent, discontent to desperation, and desperation eventually results in settling for a relationship far less than God’s best intentions.
But how do you know when you’re settling?
Settling almost always starts with a sense of urgency. If you feel like you have to give an answer to a guy immediately or you’ll “lose” him, he may not be the guy for you. I talk about this in detail in my post, “You Don’t Want to Lose Him, But Maybe You Should.”
5. Ask yourself, “Am I living my singleness the way I hope my future spouse would be living his?”
Think about your current attitude toward your singleness and the waiting involved. Now think about your future spouse. Would you want him to live out his singleness with the same attitude you are currently embracing?
When I first thought up this question, I wished I had asked it when I was single! As I look back on my own days of discontent and impatience, I think about how I would have felt to know my husband was discontentedly waiting for me. Josh is not perfect (don’t tell him I told you…) but he is a very patient person, and though he made mistakes in his single years, his heart was always to become the kind of man who could have a godly wife and family someday. I love being a part of that dream.
So how would you feel to know your future spouse hated waiting for you? That they were impatiently and discontentedly tolerating this season before meeting you? I think all of us hope for better from our future mate. We hope they make the best of this season, growing and changing into a person who will contribute positively to our future marriage.
With this in mind, are you embracing the temptation to give up and stop waiting, or are you embracing this season as God’s sovereign will, making the most of the time (Eph. 5:15-17)?
It’s not easy. It’s tempting to give up. But the rewards come as we persevere. The aforementioned passage of Ephesians says it best:
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.…”