Let me just put this out there: most singles are NOT content.
According to a recent survey I took of over 500 singles, 59% of them report NOT feeling content in their current relationship status (or lack thereof).
“How do I get over my discontent with singleness?”
This is a question I often receive as I travel for speaking engagements or in my inbox as I check my emails. The difficulties of dealing with singleness impact different people in different ways, but the idea of being “discontent” with your lack of relationship status is a common emotion at some point along the road .
Before I answer this important question, let me first address those of you who see singleness as a gift to be enjoyed, and a season to be savored, and a time to be cherished…the other “41%”. Good for you.
I say that with just a tiny hint of sarcasm – and probably a little bit of envy- because contentment during singleness was always a personal struggle of mine. But for the most part, I really am thrilled for your contentment. I wish I could have owned that type of contentment in that stage of my life.
I look at men and women like you and I am truly inspired that, by God’s grace, you have received eyes that are able to see past you relationship status and enjoy the life that you’ve been given. Like a very deliberately placed sign in my office reminds me, “Life is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have”. I seem to need that reminder often.
Thank God for your contentment during this season, and continue to live your life here and now.
Now, for the latter group. This is the group I would have been a part of during my time as a single woman. The 59%. If the myth were true that “God only blesses you with a spouse when you learn to be content in your singleness” (on the top of the list of annoying things single people hear), than Lord knows I wouldn’t have ever gotten married, because frankly, I was not okay with a lifetime of singleness. I wanted so badly to be married!
As I look back in hindsight, there was nothing wrong with that longing for marriage. So many people guilted me for having that longing, instead of allowing me to simply own it.
[Read more about the things no one else tells you about dating.]
And even now, as a married woman, I still believe with my whole heart that that longing was so very good. It was part of God’s design and a sign that I longed for a deep and intimate connection with another human being. I was made for it by a God who made me for relationships.
But for so long, because of the mixed messages I received from people around me, I was secretly ashamed of that longing. I talked myself into believing that it was wrong; that I was weak, and that it was a sign that I just wasn’t as close to God as I should be. Maybe I didn’t love Him enough. Maybe I didn’t trust Him enough. Maybe I needed to be a “better Christian”.
Looking back, those were all lies from the pit of hell. Lies that were meant to guilt me, to shame me, and to keep me paralyzed. Lies that were bent on destroying me and keeping me still. Lies that were intended to prevent me from living my life. And at times, they did just that.
What I wish someone would have told me then, is that you don’t have to “like” being single.
And you know what else? It’s okay to have a constant longing for marriage because you were made in the image of a God who understands because He is longing for connection with YOU. It is a struggle that we are allowed to have, and one that can draw us even closer to a God who longs to connect with us through it.
I don’t believe that the condition of our heart should EVER be measured by our emotional struggles, but rather, by what we do through those times of struggle. Feelings of discontent, loneliness, and depression through singleness don’t mean that we have been defeated. They simply mean that we are human.
But ceasing to live our lives because of those feelings…that is a sign that we have allowed the enemy to paralyze us and keep us from moving forward. It’s okay to struggle through singleness, but it’s not okay to stop living life because of it. It’s okay to be discontent through singleness, but it’s not okay to let that discontentment rob us of our very lives.
There is a huge difference between a struggle and a stronghold.
A stronghold is when we’ve allowed our relationship status to define us, instead of the very God who made us to be defined by Him. There’s a huge difference there, and the two should never be lumped in the same category.
So for those of you who have been struggling with being single, look around and ask yourself- are you still living? Are you still dreaming? Are you still hoping? Are you still trusting and believing? Are you still moving forward in the abundant life that God has called you to live (whether or not you always love that life), or have you been paralyzed by your fear?
Is singleness a part of your struggle, or has it become a stronghold? The answer to that question will either free you from guilt and shame, or challenge you to begin the pursuit of healing: by redefining your identity and rethinking your purpose.
No matter where you are in your struggle, you have the opportunity to live life and to live it well. May God give you the strength to do so, even through the struggle.
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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of 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. Her newest book, Choosing Marriage, is set to be released in May 2018! You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!