Waiting and Dating: Thoughts on Singleness

image source: Alessandro Pautasso, Creative Commons
image source: Alessandro Pautasso, Creative Commons

One of the things this season of life is teaching me is how to better empathize with others.

I realized recently that many of my single friends are likely experiencing a version of what I am now – this longing for a season of life that has not yet happened. Maybe, like me, you face daily reminders that you are not where you want to be – they show up multiple times a day, reminding you that you are behind. You feel like there are massive roadblocks keeping you from a role you were meant to play. You feel silly being reduced to tears over the desire to be somewhere different from where you are right now. It feels wrong to be devastated by your goal to be in a life-giving, loving relationship not coming true in your desired time, but you are devastated nonetheless.

Friend, you have every right to feel that way.

I have so many amazing, attractive, successful women friends who are single. I see all their incredible qualities and it seems to me that it is given that one day they will meet their match. I want to believe they will be rewarded for their years of faithfully waiting for that person and pursuing the callings on their lives while being open to love if it crosses their paths. I believe this because they have so much to offer, and because they deserve it. They seem to be doing everything right. But me telling my single friends that I know marriage will happen for them is not helpful, because I do not actually know that. My words are hopeful, but devoid of meaning.

When our friends are going through tough times, especially when they are sharing something painful with us, we tend to try to soothe their pain and offer advice. We offer platitudes because suffering and unrealized dreams make us feel uncomfortable. We want to fix it, make it better. We try to offer hope, but it often feels empty and falls flat.

Telling each other success stories is how we aim to prove that things will get better, that there is hope. And sometimes, we do find hope in those stories. But we need to be careful not to take one person’s story as use it as a rule for all people’s stories. It is a beautiful thing to have hope, but it’s another to make blanket statements and say because something happened for one person, it will happen for all of us.

We need to give ourselves and others permission to grieve instead of downplaying the reality of the suffering. Pretending that our circumstances are trivial or comparing our pain in degree to others’ does not make less painful. Instead, it metastasizes as we try to push it down and ignore it.

Can we not trivialize the pain and try to make it go away? Can we instead just sit and say that yes, it sucks? Yes, it is hard. Can we practice acknowledging that it exists and just be with one another?

God has promised me certain things in my conversations with Him – that I will be a mother, and even that it will happen biologically – but it is not as worthwhile to hang on to those promises as it is to hang on to the One who made the promises in the first place. I believe in a promise-keeping God, because I know that to be His character. He is good. He is love. And He is trustworthy despite my circumstances. He has shown up before, throughout the course of history, and fulfilled promises for His people, but answered prayers often look far different from our expectations. There are plenty of unrealized promises still lingering.

So how do we acknowledge suffering and longing, but not dwell in it, refusing to move? What does it look like for you to choose joy?

7 thoughts on “Waiting and Dating: Thoughts on Singleness

  1. Erika, I just want to say that your last two blogs have been wonderful. You definitely have a great talent for writing. Also, I wanted to express to you that I have felt this EXACT SAME WAY over the last two years. Rich and I decided to start a family in August 1013 and it took us almost a year to finally conceive our baby girl. I had such a longing in my heart to have a child, and every month I would get my “reminder” that it wasn’t happening that month, I’d be devastated. I, too, felt like that longing was similar to what my single friends have gone through as they continue to be single into their thirties. God is good. All the time. But, it’s definitely hard at times to trust that He’s going to give us our heart’s desire, because the fact is…. he may not. And that is a hard thing. I love that you wrote this blog, telling everyone it is OK to grieve, and to grieve with our friends during these seasons of longing. How true! I also wanted to say, I think your Doctor is wrong and that you should NOT worry at all until it’s been more than a year. Most Doctors would tell you not to worry until it’s been more than a year, especially at your age, and I”m surprised yours helped make you worry more. Try not to worry… I know it’s hard, but really… I kinda wish I hadn’t worried as much as I had. 😉 You’ll be in my prayers. Thank you for your honesty and open heart.

  2. Erika – Thank you for writing this article! You have such an amazing heart and such a powerful relationship with God that I strive to have. I TRULY believe that as a daughter of His, he WILL continue to bless you in so many different ways. I know your passion and I do believe that He will give you a baby at the right time. I certainly know I can’t feel what you are feeling, but I continue to keep you in my prayers. Thank you for being in my life and continue to support me and others even when things are tough for you. Love you!

    1. Thank YOU for reading. I hope this encouraged you! My relationship with God is certainly an ongoing process (as it is for all of us). Some seasons are easier than others but I am aiming, in all of them, to be honest. No use in faking it!

  3. Great blog, Erika! Thank you! I have personally learned that you have to grieve the life you thought you’d have by now. You mourn your timelines and neatly life plans that haven’t arrived yet or in our case that arrived in a totally different package. you grieve but you stay present. you stay present in your life and in your suffering. Some days it will take more strength than you think you have, but stand strong sister! God is at work in your story, a beautiful and good story and it matters more than you’ll ever know. xo

    1. “You have to grieve the life you thought you’d have by now.” I am finding that to be absolutely true. Staying present is the hard part for me. It’s easier to disengage, to shrink and hide and not deal with our disappointment. Choosing joy is becoming a discipline, but I am grateful that I know I can make that choice.

  4. Thank you for this Erika. “but it is not as worthwhile to hang on to those promises as it is to hang on to the One who made the promises in the first place.” This is so true. I hang onto the promises and not to God. This is a wonderful reminder that He is the one who fulfills those promises.

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