Life + Culture

The Most Satisfying Single Years

The Most Satisfying Single Years

Jesus saved me when I was fifteen, a few weeks after I had broken up with my fourth serious girlfriend in three years. That’s right, four girlfriends before I could legally drive, much less marry.

I dated off and on for the next fourteen years, probably doing things more wrong than right, and hurting too many great Christian girls along the way. I experienced more impatience, disappointment, temptation, and regret in dating than in any other area of my life. And singleness became the daily billboard of all that brokenness — a louder and louder reminder every year of my unfulfilled desires for marriage, my shame-filled failures in relationships, and my unwillingness to trust God and wait for him.

Singleness felt lonely, as I waited for someone to come into my life and never leave again. Singleness felt incomplete, as I wondered if God would bring my other half or fill the massive, glaring hole in my life (at least it looked massive and glaring in the mirror). Singleness filled me with self-pity, as I wanted what others already had, and thought I deserved it more than them.

Marriage and dating towered above my other idols, and so singleness became simultaneously my unrelenting judge and unwanted roommate, reminding me at all times of what I didn’t have yet and what I didn’t do right.

No One Has to Wait

But while I wallowed in my singleness, I missed what the Bible says about happiness. Sure, I had read it before, even recited it since I was little, but I didn’t feel it deeply enough to transform how I lived my not-yet-married life. I had seen too many happy couples, and endured too many lonely nights, to trust that God could make me truly happy even if I never married.

I understood and surrendered to what God had said about obedience, even patience, but I missed what he said about my happiness. In my mind, real joy always laid somewhere on the far side of matrimony. I just had to be willing to wait.

But no one in Christ ever has to wait for joy. We may have to wait for a husband or a wife, or for a job, or for physical healing or relief, or for reconciliation with family members or friends. We may have to wait for all those things and a thousand more — with no guarantee that any of those things will ever come to us in this life. But the sinless Son of God bled and died to ensure that you and I never have to wait for happiness.

Does God Hide Happiness?

Joy in God is not buried in some future circumstance; it’s buried in the ground under our feet today.

Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). The man or woman who has found joy in Jesus isn’t desperately searching for joy anymore, but desperately doing anything and everything to have more of him. They now see every desire and longing through the lens of having already discovered and secured their greatest treasure.

Was the man in Matthew 13:44 married or single? If he was married, what did his wife think about him selling the farm? It doesn’t matter. The point is that Jesus really is worth losing all we have or might have in the future, even a husband or wife. Real happiness is not hidden in marriage; it’s hidden in Him.

Satisfy Me in the Morning

Psalm 90 records a prayer that has been an anchor in my pursuit of joy:

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalms 90:14)

The key to enjoying a lifetime of happiness is to find happiness in God today, in the situations and circumstances he has placed us in today. God does not make us wait for joy, because he does not make us wait for him. If we think we have to achieve a certain relationship status, or a certain income level, or a certain ministry profile before we experience real satisfaction, we haven’t tapped into what he already promises to be for us today. We haven’t looked hard enough at the field under our feet.

Our plea must be this: Lord, satisfy me this morning with yourself, so that I will be able to rejoice all my days — even the hardest, loneliest, most painful ones. Satisfy me in my singleness, so that I will be satisfied every day you give me here on earth, whether I ever marry or not.

Singleness will be torture if we have not given our hearts to God. Marriage may be even worse. The only people who are truly happy in marriage are not mainly happy because of marriage. They are satisfied in the morning with God, and that makes marriage satisfying.

If you love God like that, even unwanted singleness can be satisfying. You can want to be married, and long to meet your husband or wife, and still love every minute of your single life with Jesus.

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