If singleness in your 30’s is marked by discouragement, for many people, singleness in their 40s+ is marked by despair. For some of you, your 40s and beyond are years marked by a time of struggle as with each passing day you find your “time-table” and stage of life looking less and less like the people around you.
Whether you’ve been divorced, widowed, or never-been married, singleness at this stage of life is a challenge because it is often filled with times of emptiness and isolation. It’s hard to navigate the expectations of the world, all while sorting through your own personal feelings, desires, needs, and beliefs about this stage of your life. For some it is a time of healing, and mending what has been broken. And for others, it’s a time of waiting and hoping. But either way, it’s a time to put faith and trust into full action.
One thing I often hear from older singles is that even the dating scene doesn’t look like it used to when they were in their 20s. They feel lost in the process of singleness, and don’t even know how to take steps in the direction toward a relationship. As I work with singles in their 40s and beyond, a few reminders come to mind that I wish I could share with them all:
1. Don’t Look Around- Look Up: The biggest mistake you can make in this stage of your life is to look around at what God is doing in everyone-else’s life. You look around and see “happy marriages”, families, and rich relationships. You can quickly start comparing the best of their lives, to the worst of yours. Maybe you’ve been broken by a divorce, or are mourning the deep loss of your life-partner. Maybe you’ve been waiting and waiting for God to give you someone to love. No matter what your story, the next step is the same: Stop looking around, and look up.
Look Up to see what God is doing in your life! We can spend so much time looking out, that we miss the blessings that are happening in our life, and fail to see Him at work in the process. Your story doesn’t look like theirs, and there’s a divine reason for that that you may never know. It’s okay to be angry, to be hurt, and to be sad for a time- but don’t ever forget to look up, and ask God to fill you with joy, peace, and hope that moves you past your circumstanced and into what God is doing in your life.
2. Keep holding on to your desires: Whatever you do, don’t let go of your desires. Don’t give up hope for the blessing of a relationship. Whether or not life will head that way is up to God, but it’s up to you to keep believing, to keep asking, and to keep hoping. God knows your desires, and He wants to fill them with Himself. If you have a strong desire for marriage, don’t snuff that desire. Don’t quench it out of fear, hopeless-ness, or discouragement. So many times in Scripture we see examples of God intervening when no one thought He would, or even could. He is a God that comes through at the last hour- even when everyone else believes it’s too late. He doesn’t need to work on our time-table, because He’s working out of His. Continue to hold on to the desire He’s given you, it’s there for a reason.
3. Seek Meaning as you wait for a Mate: As I write in True Love Dates, finding true love is just a fraction of your story, because your story is so much bigger than simply that. So many times we spend our single years focusing on love as though it’s the final destination…and when we arrive, we realize that there is so much of life yet to be lived, that has been put on hold. Don’t put your life on hold. Marriage may be part of your story, but your life will only be filled when you learn to seek meaning, purpose, and passion. As you wait for love, remember to invest in the things that matter most- loving God, and loving others. Seek to be all that God wants you to be, and live that out in your day to day life. Find healing, wholeness, and growth in the life that God has given you today. And while you wait for love, use your life as a vessel of love, bringing hope and meaning to the people God brings your way.
4. Take Next Steps: As you navigate the world of love and relationships, continue bringing your desires before God, but then, go out there and do something about them. Open your heart and your mind to meeting new people, getting to know others, and spending some time with the opposite sex. Get creative, and don’t limit yourself by saying “no” to things that may not be what you envisioned. On top of investing in the people that are around you, take advantage of blind dates, match-ups, and even online dating.
Not only is it okay, but it is REQUIRED for you to take an active role in your life in all areas, and relationships are such an important part of that. Don’t just wait for love to happen, but begin taking the steps and opening your eyes to the things God might already be doing in your life. At the end of the day, strive to be holy first and foremost, and then do whatever you feel led to do! If God is truly at the center of your life, He won’t let your foot stumble. Trust Him with this, and then take the next steps.
My prayer for you is that God would restore all joy, hope, and purpose for this stage of your life. May your life be filled with meaning, and the joy of healthy relationships with others and with Him most of all. May he take your discouragement and despair, and replace it with excitement and anticipation of all that is to come. Greater things are yet to come, hold fast to that promise as you trust Him with tomorrow.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!