Saturday, 2 February 2013
This is one of the hardest topics for me to write about. Why? Because it is the issue I struggle with the most. From the title of this post, you have probably worked out that I am not in a relationship; I haven't been in one for a long time. I am not a serial dater; I have always firmly believed and strived for marriage, which means that I will only pursue a relationship if I think it has the potential to lead to marriage. But it is tough. Ashamedly, I have to admit, that there is a part of me that feels bitter every time I hear of two people getting engaged. I know I should be rejoicing with them, and a large part of me does, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that a part of me envied the life they have, as it is the life that I want.
Up until about a year ago, being single tormented me relentlessly. I was haunted by loneliness and self disgrace. I so desperately wanted to be in a relationship, having the comfort that other people had, but because it never happened, I attributed it to myself. I believed I was unlovable, damaged goods and beyond redemption. A slight aside: for those of you who have met me, you may be thinking that there was never any hint of this broken girl I am describing; but the truth be told, I suffered in silence and I used my acting skills to cover my tracks. This torment that I am describing started ten years previously and I had to learn to live with it every day without rest. It was always worst at night I would routinely be distressed going to bed.
However, God is the God of redemption. Something inside me changed drastically after I was prayed for intensely regarding this issue. I felt like the chains that bound me had been broken; it was like taking a gasp of fresh air after you have swam up from the depths and broken through the oceans' surface. I began to identify the lies that I believed that had tormented me and replace it with the truth, the truth that sets free. The biggest lie that I believed was that I wanted find my husband so that, in marriage, he would always be there for me, love me and never leave me. The fundamental flaw in this thought is that the job description I have just described for my husband can only be fulfilled by God. Only God can promise to, despite what I do, always love me, always be there for me and never leave me - no strings attached. By placing that responsibility on my future husband would surely crush him and lead to a poisoned relationship between us and between God and myself.
Another lie that I believed was that I was unlovable. This was because my identity and self worth, at the time, was in being in a relationship. Not being in a relationship meant that I felt unlovable. The lie of being damaged goods and beyond redemption, is still a lie that creeps in from time to time now, especially when I go through major life events like cancer. However, we are all broken people and I challenge anyone to disagree. But the good news is that God is the one who heals. Over the years, the past hurts that have been embedded in my soul have been removed and replaced by a new and rich awareness of God's love for me. Through this healing process, I have found that I am being transformed from a broken scared girl to a new complete person, a beloved child of God.
So now that those chains had been broken, did that mean that this issue became non existent? No. But, I tell you, the change has been so dramatic, that it is only on occasion that I struggle with being single and nowhere near to the severity that it once was. It is on occasions like this that I struggle, occasions like cancer. This diagnosis of cancer changed everything in the space of ten minutes. All my hopes and dreams, one of them being finding my husband, no longer seemed plausible given this diagnosis. It is not the fact that I am currently single that troubles me, but the fear of being single forever, or for a long time, that does.
However, it is worse to be unhappily married than to be single. Just because, it is something that I hope for does not mean that I will compromise. In the bible it says that a husband must love his wife like Christ loves His Church. Now, I don't know if you've ever given this some thought, but basically it means that a husband needs to love his wife faithfully regardless of how she is and be willing to die for her and take responsibility for her in the eyes of God. That is tough. But I will not marry a man who is unable to do that. It is up to the man to take up the responsibility, commit and grow into the Christ-like man that God intended him to be. Until, I meet the man who's first love is God and who can take up that responsibility in such a way that I would be able to follow, I will remain single, even if it means being single for the rest of my life.
Being single, as well as being married is for a season in this life; what isn't known is the length of time these seasons will last. For example, if you are married now and remain married for the whole of your life; unless both of you die at the same time, one of you is going to once again enter into a season of singleness. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have your identity in Jesus and not in your spouse or marital status.
For me, singleness is an opportunity. It is a opportunity to know God deeply and learn to rest and trust in Him. I have often wondered if maybe I will be single for the rest of my life, but in a way, that answer is not important. What is important is knowing that, regardless of my circumstances my God will always provide. He will never leave me, He will never forsake me and one day I will see him face to face and spend the rest of eternity with Him.