Learning to be Single and Content

 

With a brand new year having just begun (Happy New Year!) and all its possibilities for love, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many of us singles are beginning to think about that question again… what does God have in store for me in the romantic love department?

I know first-hand that it’s not always easy to be single and content. I’ve opened up on my channel about this; about balancing seeking to be content in God with the very real desire to one day experience real romantic love. And sadly, I find it’s a topic that isn’t covered too widely in churches. That breaks my heart for several reasons:

  1. God created marriage, and He loves it. It’s the one institution He selected to exemplify His love for the Church. So why isn’t she talking about it?
  2. Many young Christians are now seeking answers outside of God’s house where there aren’t any being offered inside. I personally think this explains the growing popularity of Christian couple vloggers on YouTube who talk about these topics.
  3. The world is offering answers to whatever the Church isn’t discussing. Which ties in largely with point (2).
  4. Healthy marriages are the foundation of society. And, in the same breath, divorce rates are soaring—inside the Church, too. Something needs to shift.

I expressed this concern to you guys on Snapchat, asking you what you thought, and you all agreed that the topic of relationships – and the seasons of singleness and dating – has become a taboo in the Church, and that many of our generation of young people are literally perishing as a result. It reminded of the verse in the Bible where God’s heart is broken as His ‘people perish for a lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6).

As I brought this frustration before God, He asked me: why don’t you do something about it? Hence, this post was inspired. In it, I’m going to share a bit about my story, a lot about what’s helped and some practical resources that I’ve found which have seriously helped me. Enjoy!

My Story

From the age of 6, I grew up in a single-parent home with my (amazing) Mum. My parents were together until I was that age, but their relationship wasn’t a marriage, and it wasn’t based on God’s model because they weren’t devoted Christians. Growing up, marriage was therefore never something I got to see inside my home. I only heard about it and witnessed glimpses of it outside. It became something I hoped to experience one day, but it wasn’t a dream I could vividly picture, purely because I hadn’t really had anything to base the mental picture on.

As a young teen, I found the topic of godly relationships fascinating. I remember feeling like a kid in a sweet shop whenever Mum and I went to our local Christian bookstore; each time I would find new faith-based treasures to take home. I used to read lots of books by Leslie Ludy, which I highly recommend for young teens, all about set-apart femininity, the pursuit of godly womanhood, and navigating God-scripted earthly romance. I am so grateful for those books, because they steeped my standards for romantic love in God’s love for me, and meant that from age 13 I was adamant that I only wanted God’s best for me.

I should probably mention that I went to all-girls’ schools until 18 and so boys (and all the drama that came with them!) weren’t really a thing in my life—especially given that I was raised in a matriarchal home and I don’t have any brothers. I was super nerdy, far more into my studies and my grades. Books over boys any day!

Fast-forward to age 17-19. I’d say it wasn’t until those years that being single really played on my mind. By this point, I didn’t have a friend who hadn’t been in some sort of relationship, had a boyfriend at some point in her life, or been fancied by someone. Everyone I knew had tasted some form of romantic relationship or interest from the opposite sex—even if it had just been a high school romance—except me. I began to wonder whether—given my past—a God-scripted romance could be on the cards for me.

Finally, last year, at age 20, I went through a really difficult few weeks of questioning God about His heart for me in this area. It was a mix of wishing for someone for my Mum—because I love her and because she deserves to be romanced—and hoping also for someone for me one day. The two frustrations mingled and led me to feel disillusioned with God. In addition to this, a romantic interest that had looked good initially hadn’t worked out for me the year before, and I was dealing with that and discontentment. I had real questions. Did God not see the desires of our hearts? Why would He tease us with the desire for romance only to never fulfil it?

I remember one day feeling so disillusioned that I had to get some air and head to our local park to spend a good few hours in deep conversation with my Heavenly Father, in order to shake it off. And in His love for me, He gradually revealed to me that I had some real deep-rooted fears in the area of romantic relationships, based on my past and the breakdowns I’d seen at a young age. It turned out I didn’t trust Him in this area. I found it hard to accept that I didn’t trust Him, because I trusted Him everywhere else—but that was just it. I trusted Him everywhere else but in this area. It was the honest truth.

Over the next few days, I had to really hash things out with the Lord— tears and all. It wasn’t pretty, but eventually I came to a place where I could honestly say: whether marriage is for me or not, God is absolutely enough for me. I am now single and more than content in Him.

How to be Single and Content

Let’s be clear: being single and content is NOT denying or suppressing your feelings and your desire to have a beautiful relationship. You can be simultaneously satisfied in God and be desiring to be married one day—it’s absolutely possible, and very common! God Himself is both completely fulfilled and whole whilst still having desires. We’re made in His image, so we follow suit.

Being single and content IS, however, about trusting God enough to surrender that whole area of your life to Him. As singles, we hear buzzwords like ‘contentment’ all the time, and it gets tiring—but I’ve learned it’s full of truth. Surrendering to God means surrendering all your ‘I don’t knows’, when you don’t know what godly relationship looks like because you haven’t seen it in your life or around you, to Him. It means surrendering all your ‘what if’s, when you are wondering ‘what if I never get married or find someone?’ to Him. It means trusting He knows what’s best for you.

It means reaching a place of knowing that God is kind, that His timing is perfect, and that He hears your prayers. It’s knowing that He, in His love for you, isn’t about to bring you a blessing out of season. Ecclesiastes makes clear that there’s a season for everything under the sun. Blessings out of season are destructive, because you don’t know how to handle them. And you may think you do, but God knows you better than you know yourself, and He knows where you need to grow and be pruned before He can bring you that special someone. The question is whether you believe all of these things.

It’s about deciding that these things are true, and standing firm in them when the enemy tries to convince you otherwise in the voice of your own thoughts. It’s about deciding that God is kind, because He says He is and you’ve seen He is in other areas of your life. It’s about overcoming by your testimony (Revelations 12:11) and saying: I’ve seen God be faithful in protecting me, in my health, in providing for me, in my studies, in taking care of my loved ones, in giving me a roof over my head and waking me up each morningI sure know He won’t get it wrong in the area of romance, which He loves so much! Faith looks like looking at all the previous sentences in the paragraph of your testimony—all the ways and places and areas in your life where God has already proven Himself faithful—and copy-pasting that same faithful God and His nature into the blanks of whatever it is you’re hoping for.

And it’s about reaching a point in your life where you can honestly say, ‘whatever You have for me, Lord, that’s what I want’. Or, as the psalmist says, ‘Whom have I in heaven but You? And on Earth, there is none I desire besides You’ (Psalm 73:25). And that’s not easy. But by spending time with God and opening up to Him about your deepest fears—telling Him you’re scared of being single forever; crying to Him when it’s hard; working through that fear with Him; deciding that He’s enough for you—you will get there. It took me years, but I thank Him that I have tasted real contentment.

Now, at the age of 21, I can honestly say I have reached a point where I know that there is nothing worth having that a man could bring me that I cannot receive from God. There is immense comfort and assurance in that. And that was enough for me. You are WHOLE already; remember that.

I encourage you, if you’re struggling with discontentment as a single, to take those real, raw desires and sometimes painful feelings and fears to God in prayer. He cares for you and He doesn’t withhold blessings for the sake of withholding them. One of the lies the enemy tried to have me believe was that a successful romantic relationship was something God would tease me with but never allow me to have; many single-parent children face this, but the Bible says He withholds no good thing from the righteous (Psalm 84:11). (And if you’re more frustrated than disillusioned, it’s also about honestly asking yourself whether you’re dealing with an attitude of entitlement.)

If you haven’t received your blessing yet, it’s most likely because you aren’t ready—or your future partner is not ready. God isn’t about to give you a blessing out of season for it to destroy you.

Pray about and surrender your desires, pray for your future partner, and seek to catalyse your growth as a person so you become the best, most whole and content version of yourself BEFORE any relationship.

Single? Check these out!

To finish, here are some of my current favourite resources as a single. Check them out and see how they might bless you!

  1. Redefined TV YouTube channel. Epic pastor and his amazing wife giving all the very best advice on godly relationships and singleness.
  2. Relationship Goals series by Transformation Church. The whole series is incredible and has gone viral; my favourite sermons have been the panel discussion and the sermon titled ‘Before the Person’.
  3. Gabes and Anna. Awesome couple who are passionate about doing marriage God’s way and inspiring others to do the same!
  4. The Wait. Brilliant book for those who are waiting, dating and everything in between.
  5. Authentic Beauty. Book by Leslie Ludy. Especially recommend this to younger teen girls. Ludy sets a brilliant foundation for God’s standards in our romantic relationships.
  6. Pieces. Song by Bethel Music. Bask in it to get a glimpse of God’s love for you and, through it, an idea of what real romance looks like.
  7. Kind. Song by Amanda Cook. For when you feel like God is withholding from you unfairly (which He never does). Remember He’s kind, and He’s working things out for your good, by listening to this song.

I hope this has helped and encouraged you. I’m still on my journey, as we all are—and we are doing well.

See you in February!

Imani x

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