Quieting the Single Soul
By Crista Gambrell
One Sunday evening I was sitting at home watching a situation comedy about single women and their relationships. In this particular episode, one of the characters was faced with the question as to her outlook on love, whether she was an optimist or a pessimist. Here is her internal monologue on the utility of being an optimist after thirty.
She writes: Maybe pessimism is something that should be applied daily, like moisturizer. What about when reality batters your belief system and love does not, as promised, conquer all. Is hope like a drug we need to go off of, or is it keeping us alive? What’s the harm in believing?
As I watched, I sat there hanging on every word. The crazy thing about it is that I just had the same sort of conversation with a single friend of mine a few hours before. She shared an all too familiar struggle between desperately wanting to believe God to bring her a mate, while wrestling with the tormenting fear that it might not ever happen. You see, I realized that the reason this character’s philosophical questioning moved me so deeply is because it poignantly captured the universal cry of all single women who long to find the one. How is one able to keep dreaming when it seems as though hope is perpetually deferred? (Proverbs 13:12) Although I would never presume to have all the answers in this area, I can offer some encouragement from the scripture that speaks peace to my restless soul: Psalm 131.
1. Don’t weigh yourself down with “what ifs?”
“My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” (Psalm 131:1)
One of the questions I find that nags single women the most is how to make sense who gets married and who does not. We ponder things like, “Well, Sue-Ellen said she always wanted to be married too. She’s a lot older than me. Who’s to say I won’t be in the same boat when I’m her age?” I can assure you from experience that line of questioning is the quickest way to send yourself into panic and/or depression. Besides, the bottom line is none of us see the full picture of what God is doing in another person’s life.
The same is true for the futility of envying a young married couple, as if to say matrimony is a first come, first serve buffet. Only after those who are thirty and up have dined can the young whipper snappers help themselves. On the contrary, the Word instructs us to keep our heart from being proud and our eyes from being haughty. The times and seasons the Lord has marked out for our lives are known only to Him. Therefore, we need not concern ourselves with the details of life that we can’t make sense of. In fact, true humility says I will reserve my right to know it all, and instead I will trust in the one who does.
2. Discipline yourself to wait.
“But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (Psalm 131:2)
Several months ago my pastor taught from this scripture. She described a young infant as one not yet weaned. You see, when babies are first born they are completely helpless, and they look to their caregiver to provide their basic needs. When they are hungry they want to be fed in that moment, otherwise, they cry. However, as a baby grows and develops, at about 1 year old they learn that an extended index finger is mommy’s way of saying “Wait a moment until I can pull your cereal of out my knapsack.” When the child reaches about 4 or 5 years old, they learn to wait contentedly until dinner is ready. In fact, even if dinner is delayed they have learned to wait until it is time. This is the picture of a weaned child.
When David writes about “his stilled and quieted soul” being as a weaned child within him, he is speaking of internal discipline. Through an undoubtedly long and arduous process he trained his soul to not only wait on the Lord, but to wait in quietness and trust. So, when singles are waiting for the mate God has ordained, recall this image of a child completely trusting in his provider to satisfy his longings with good things (Ps. 103:5). Even if that promise is delayed, you train yourself to wait in hopeful anticipation.
3. Place your hope in the eternal God.
“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:3)
Hope is not only desire, but the belief and expectation of its fulfillment. As believers, we have been given two promises in which to put hope. 1) God is unchanging, and 2) He cannot lie. This hope serves as an anchor to our soul and promises never to disappoint us (Heb. 6:18-19, Rom. 5:5).
So returning to the question, “Is hope like a drug we need to go off of or is it keeping us alive?” I say hope keeps us alive. Hope gives us the conviction that He who promises is faithful to do all he said he would do (Heb. 10:23). Hope gives us a vision for what we cannot yet see even in the midst of circumstances that might appear contrary (Rom. 4:18). Hope reminds us that even though we cannot see the God we serve nor the fulfillment of everything he has promised, we continue to believe and are filled with joy (1 Pet. 1:8).
Like I said before, I’m no expert. I don’t submit these thoughts to you from the perspective of someone who’s been happily married for a number of years. Nor am I engaged or dating anyone. I am single just like you and am waiting on the Lord’s best for my life. Don’t get me wrong. I have my “single moments,” those flashes of fear and anxiety of “When’s it going to happen, Lord?” As self-assured as I might seem on the outside, my soul knows another reality. But in those moments that I feel sad or afraid that my match won’t come, the Holy Spirit whispers the same tips I gave you and my single soul is quieted once again.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him today.
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