When will I get married?
It’s a question I’ve asked myself at least a dozen times these last few years. It’s a question my friends and family members have asked more and more frequently, too. I know they mean well, but sometimes it makes me feel like a project that needs completion instead of a person to love. After a particularly painful breakup several years ago, I decided to take a break from dating to work wholly on my relationship with Christ. I knew I needed to stop asking myself when I’d get married and start working on becoming somebody worth marrying someday.
Here’s the thing. This isn’t going to be another article about the gift of singleness. Singleness is definitely a gift, and I choose to see it that way. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Seasons can be simultaneously fruitful and painful.
So, here’s what I’m learning and processing while single.
What’s it like being a single Christian?
People tend to ask me about my relationship status a lot these days. It’s been five years since my last serious relationship, and now that I’m in my late 20s, I get it. I’m not particularly bothered by the question.
What does bother me, though, is the sympathetic statements that often follow when I bring up my single status.
“That’s okay. You’ve still got plenty of time.”
“Don’t worry. You’re still young.”
“Oh, I just know God’s got someone special for you.”
It’s not that I have an issue with these responses. I know people mean well.
I think what bothers me is the fact that these statements imply that I’ve somehow not fully arrived in life as a 27-year-old single woman in ministry.
Ask any single person in the church how they feel about marriage and relationship sermon series. Unless they descended straight from heaven, nearly every single person I know responds at least a little on the negative side at first. Are there great takeaways in those kinds of series? Absolutely. They can be helpful now in all relationships and for a potential future marriage.
If I’m completely honest, however, it’s one of the few topics in the church where a group of people automatically feel like they can’t relate before they even hear the message.
I think marriage is unquestionably a topic that the church needs to talk about. But I think singleness is a topic that is equally significant, and unfortunately far less discussed.
For me, I’ve often wondered if getting married is something God even has in store for my life. After all, there are times I enjoy the freedom that comes along with singleness, and I’ve noticed it can also be less complicated sometimes.
On the other hand, I do think about getting married every so often. I’m not immune to loneliness. While right now it seems far-fetched and something I can’t fully wrap my mind around, I still ponder the what-ifs and toy with the possibility of being married someday.
But ultimately, here’s the bottom line I’ve come to: Marriage and singleness are both rich in their own ways. One season is not more important than the other.
While it may be a little tricky to navigate in the church world, I’m certainly grateful for this time God has given me to simply pursue Him while I’m single, because our pursuit is all He wants, anyway.
What if I really want to be married someday?
I hear you. I feel you. I haven’t always been at ease with my singleness, and I have walked through some intense lonely seasons in the last few years.
Marriage is definitely an incredible gift from God. But it’s also not for everyone. Because if I know anything about God, it’s that He can’t be placed into a box of our finite understanding.
Let me tell you about a revelation I had recently.
I was feeling particularly lonely one day, and I remember talking to a close friend about how I struggled with feeling guilty about my loneliness.
It sounds weird, but praying for a future marriage is just something I’ve never felt led to do. Since I don’t know if being married is something God has for me, I only want to be in His will. Fast forward a few days. I listened to a podcast recommended to me about Mia Fieldes, a songwriter from Hillsong, and her journey of faith that led to marriage.
As Mia talked about her bold declarations over her life regarding her future husband and God’s promises to her, I immediately thought back to my own struggle of feeling lonely.
I thought, that’s great for her and all, but didn’t Mia feel called to marriage? What about me? Since I don’t know, wouldn’t that be a selfish thing to pray for?
And I felt like God spoke to me in that moment, saying, “As if I wouldn’t be able to use selfish prayers, anyway.”
Oh. How could I possibly have believed I’d figured God out to the point of believing He only moves in the way I expect?
What if someday I could do more for His kingdom by being married than by being single?
It wasn’t even a matter of whether praying for a marriage is selfish or not. Through that podcast, God taught me again that my ways are not His ways, and my thoughts are not His thoughts (see Isaiah 55).
Does He always give us our heart’s desires? No—at least not in the way we expect.
But what I do know is that prayer changes things. And what may start out as a desire rooted in what’s in it for us can quickly transform into desires from the Lord’s own heart.
That’s the power of prayer.
If reading this is hard, and singleness is a season you wish would evaporate right now, I pray you learn to ask yourself these questions: Am I seeing my situation through the lens of my unmet expectations or through the lens of God’s character? What if I could do way more for the Kingdom in my singleness than in a marriage, at least right now?
These questions are real and can be scary, but it’s at least something worth praying about.
So, what do I do in the waiting?
This section is a little more practical if you’re really struggling. There’s no formula, but here are some helpful tools I’ve discovered in this season of singleness.
1. Check your prayers.
We know prayer changes things. But prayer is less about petitioning for what we want and more about humbly submitting ourselves before our Father.
I read an article recently by Amy Groeschel, our senior pastor’s wife, about adding the phrase “so that” to our prayers.
If we tack on “so that” to the end of each prayer, it should immediately give us a heart check with each request.
If we pray for future marriage, but don’t have a God-centered “so that” to attach to it, there’s a high chance that prayer is coming from a place of self.
Check your prayers. Spend time simply delighting in the Lord. Position yourself to come into His presence not asking for anything, but simply praising Him and thanking Him for all He’s done.
This is how we align our hearts with His.
2. Shift your focus.
When there’s a longing in your heart, it’s easy to get caught up in the wait.
Yet when we focus on the present, something in us shifts. It may not curb future desires completely, but it will surely help us remain Christ-centered in the moment.
Ask yourself: What Jesus-sized thing can I do right now that I might not be able to do in a married season? What do I currently have that I can better steward? How can I love the people God has placed right in front of me?
There are always opportunities right under our noses. We aren’t called to love people when we become the married version of our future selves. We are called to love people today.
Let’s not be so fixated on our unfulfilled desires that we miss what God has in store for us right here, right now.
3. Live with bold faith.
Let’s be clear. You also don’t have to wait around passively for God to show up in the area of your singleness.
Start declaring God’s promises from Scripture over your life with a courageous and bold faith.
Believe that He will supply your every need (Philippians 4:19). That He will fulfill the desires He placed on your heart (Psalm 37:4). That He will provide a spouse for you to better advance His Kingdom, if you feel God has specifically called you to that.
We don’t need to wait to have everything right tomorrow to live with bold faith today.
If you’ve read everything up until this point, I commend you. My sincerest hope is that if you’re single, you’ve gained a better perspective of God’s plan for you and a better understanding of who He is. After all, He loves us as His children fiercely and intimately.
Yet the question still remains: When will I get married?
The truth is I don’t know. None of us does. That’s why He’s God, and we’re not.
What I do know, however, is that God is faithful in every season. And His plans for us are far better than even our wildest dreams.