For my single gals:
You might be wondering what’s in store for your future and how much longer it will be till you get to see what God has for you. You may even be questioning whether God is even paying attention to your desires, or if He is too busy making all of “her” dreams come true.
At 29 and single I experienced these same thoughts. I remember struggling to understand why God had not yet fulfilled these desires I had deep inside my heart to be a wife. The messages around me told me to keep faith, because this longing I had came from God and that He wouldn’t have given me the desire if He didn’t intend to fulfill it.
Looking back on this “encouragement” I see that it was kind of a trap.
(Spoiler alert : This is not going to be a warm, squishy message that makes you feel good inside, but a message of truth that will help you break free from the bondage of false hope into true freedom and abundance.)
As I have had time to really think about this message, I have realized that this type of encouragement was not biblical and I now understand why it leaves people feeling so disappointed.
It is a strange thing that we have convinced ourselves that any type of desire for marriage is – without a doubt – placed in our heart so virtuously from God. When we look at our longing for almost anything else this becomes evident. Think about your desire to eat chocolate, to take a nap, or to go on vacation. Would you automatically assume that these desires were placed in your heart by God?
You might say though “What about the good and Godly things in life? Surely those desires come from the Lord.”
To that I would say “of course they CAN come from the Lord, but there is also the chance that they have not.”
As a self-described “mission trip junkie” in my 20’s I can see that not all pursuits of Godly things are implanted by the Lord. If I looked back at each opportunity I had to travel for missions and was honest with my self, I’d admit that there were times I had a deep Godly passion to serve others and be His vessel and there were others times where I was just pumped to check out a new place. And even other times that I signed up to go out of habit.
What this has shown me is that just because the object of my desire might be good, that doesn’t necessarily mean my motives or desires are good and pure.
In the same way, I think we need to look at this desire for marriage and examine where it comes from, instead of just assuming that God is the one that put this longing in your heart to begin with. Maybe this seems a like a unnecessary distinction to make, but the reason why I feel it is so important is because we usually take this a step farther and apply Psalm 37:4 to it.
“Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this verse paired with the phrase “God put this desire for marriage in my heart…”. But when we combine these two ideas we make a dangerous claim that “God wouldn’t have put this desire in my heart not to fulfill it.” From there we convince ourselves that if we want something strongly enough… it will one day be fulfilled.
This is where we can veer off into trouble. I’ve seen people hold tighter to that verse than any other promise God makes. I’ve been that girl too. If we aren’t careful, it can be a way that we subconsciously place expectations on God that He never promised to fulfill. When we do that we are left feeling heartbroken or maybe even a little deceived by God, when things don’t pan out like we hoped.
You can see how this can be slippery slope that may have all started with the best of intentions from a friend just trying to share hope and encouragement!
Knowing this I want to challenge you with something that I think will bring you into a healthier relationship with your own desires and free you from some of the false hope that can defeats us.
I want you to take an honest look at your desires for marriage and ask the Lord to examine your heart, showing you where this longing came from. Ask yourself these questions and pray for open eyes to see the truth.
Where did this desire come from? Why do I desire marriage? Is it because of what it will do for me? What’s my picture of marriage?
The truth is that a desire for marriage can grow from lots of things. It could be that the Lord placed a longing in your heart, but it’s not the only way. You may have this longing for marriage based on superficial things like movies or social media (#relationshipgoals anyone?). It could even come from a desire to just NOT be single anymore.
The point is to not assume either way that if you have a strong desire to get married that it is either God-given or worldly-given. The point is to allow God to examine your heart and speak to you about your own unique experience, because we are all different and He has a different plan for each one of us!
Whatever you discover in this evaluation of your heart – whether the desire is given by God or the world – my advice is the same.
- Seek to understand God’s plan for marriage in the way He designed it. The picture of marriage that the world gives can either make you wish for it like a fairytale or run from it like a bad dream. But getting a realistic picture of marriage through God’s eyes will help to keep you desire for it in the appropriate place – being able to see the value and honor the sanctity of marriage, but not let it take hold of your heart to an unhealthy level.
- Surrender your desire to the Lord. Being able to offer up your desire for marriage will keep it from becoming an idol in your like and release you from the potential stronghold it can cause. You will never find a safer place for this longing of your heart than in the hands of the Lord and your faith in Him can be seen by others when you exhibit this great trust in His goodness and His plans for your life.
- Consider another interpretation of Psalm 37:4. Instead of assuming that God is promising in this verse to fulfill all of our deepest desires if we delight in Him, could it be that He is promises to place desires in us that align with His desires? It’s possible that this “giving of our desires” is not Him fulfilling our wants, but Him transforming our heart to desire the things He desires when we abide in His presence.
I pray that in sharing all this it will free you from the false comfort and hope that the world tends to “encourage” singles with that actually becomes a bit of a trap. We tend to gravitate towards messages that will give us the warm fuzzies or align with what we want, but those messages will always leave us empty and defeated. The truth is that the hope that the Lord brings with a life lived in relationship with Him and the future of eternity in Heaven brings more hope than we could ever need!