My sisters always joked I was going to be an old maid by the time I found a man that met my standards. Sometimes, I believed them, and wondered if I was going to be single forever. And of course like any young girl, I felt fear and dread at the idea. What kept me going was a sense that God knew best and that worrying wasn’t going to get me far. He had a man out there for me, I just knew it. It turns out learning to be content in singleness was the best thing I could have done.
I had just turned 19 when I decided to change my thinking and refocus my priorities apart from finding a man. My heart had been broken months earlier and as I was healing those wounds, I determined in my heart I did not want to chase after a guy anymore. I had been journaling and daydreaming and praying about “the one” since I was twelve years old. I had put faith, heart and hope into the wrong men, and I was tired, even though I hadn’t officially dated anyone. The hurt was still there. And I just knew that something needed to change in my heart before God could prepare me to be a wife.
I decided January of my 19th year to devote the entire year to the Lord, serving and growing as much as I could, embracing a year of change and peace. I canceled the college classes I had signed up for and took the year off school. My family and I went on a road trip across the country and we saw incredible things. I applied and signed up for a missions trip to Uganda, Africa, raised the funds on my own, and traveled for the first time overseas to live my dream – with fifteen strangers nonetheless. It was one of the best experiences of my life, being that abandoned and focused on just me and the Lord. I didn’t have the weight of a relationship holding me down; instead I was learning how to serve and step outside my comfort zone and discover the woman I should be.
Amazingly, in that same January, I started talking to a guy over text, phone calls and Skype. We had met the year before at my sister’s wedding, and he lived 2,000 miles away in southern California. In my mind, we were talking just as friends. Little did I know that by the end of that year, he would be preparing to move to my hometown and pursue a forever with me.
I look back now and see how God orchestrated everything so perfectly. The same year I decided to give up my hot pursuit and just wait on the Lord and give my all for Him, was the year that He was sending me the very man I prayed about. All along I didn’t even know it. Now I see His faithfulness through my patience, and the things that never would have happened had I not surrendered to Him. I wouldn’t say that it was all easy, or that I was perfect and didn’t still have those pangs of worry or questions. But when I look back and reflect on that year – which turned out to be my last year of singleness – I believe that it became one of the best of my life.
I have seen this happen in so many situations. We can beg and worry and question, but I truly believe that God will respond when He knows our hearts are ready to receive. I had to believe that He was in control, not me. I needed to stop worrying and start living. When I told God, “Alright, even if I don’t get married for another ten years, I trust you,” it’s like He knew that I was prepared and He heard the desire of my heart. It may not happen this way every single time, but often He gives us a sweet reminder that when we “delight in the Lord…He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
It’s so easy to get caught up in all our wants and dreams. There are others out there that need us more than we can imagine. Have you done something for someone else lately? Have you sacrificed something in order to bless another? I can guarantee it will change your life. For me, a mission trip to Africa dramatically changed my heart and perspective of the woman God wanted me to be. I came back to America with different eyes. I saw a world so much bigger than myself, and being apart of something so huge helped me see things that I was missing. If you’re feeling stuck, serve. Use your gifts and talents, or try something new. Be a servant, and leave the rest to Jesus.
I looked in all the wrong places until the man for me came into my life so subtly that it could only have been from the Lord. As I searched for my cookie cutter dream-beau, He brought me a man that encompassed everything I needed and didn’t even know I wanted. Rather than falling head over heels for a crush, I grew into an amazing friendship with a man who waited, trusted and challenged me. He pursued me until I opened my eyes to see just how God had prepared him for me. Sometimes, we think we know what we want, but God sees the bigger picture. We just need to trust Him more.
In all, I look back at the year before my husband and I got together as one of my strongest. I may never have some of those opportunities again – the freedoms, the carefree spirit and unburdened lifestyle. Things change when you get married. It’s a whole new world of beauty, but it also means sacrificing some things you had when you’re single.
My most adamant piece of advice to my single friends is to embrace the time you have left – because God will use you, grow you, and prepare you in ways you couldn’t imagine. But only if you are open and find the peace in your heart to truly trust in His will and let Him lead you.
Go on an adventure. Serve others. Surrender your desires to Jesus. And have fun! Singleness can be frustrating and heart-wrenching, but only if you let it be.