The Taming of the Single Shrew
By Jennifer E. Jones
The unhappy single woman is not someone you want to mess with.
On her worst day she can breathe fire and singe a wedding invitation in two seconds flat. She hasn’t watched a romantic comedy all the way through since 1985 and usually can’t make it more than five minutes without yelling, “Oh, right. Like that happens in real life!” In fact, she’s barred her roommates from having anything cute and cuddly in the house, including pets, teddy bears, and boyfriends.
You can usually find her with those of her kind huddled together in packs doing what they do best – complaining. I can tell you what they’re saying:
“All the good ones are taken.”
“I cannot believe she’s getting married before me. Look at her thighs!”
“If I go to one more baby shower and play those stupid little games, I am going to scream.”
Don’t underestimate her. She can be quite dangerous – especially if provoked. Know the warning signs. For starters, the slight flare of her nostrils and the folding of her arms should be your first clue that she is in no mood to hear about how great your date went last night. If she starts to roll her eyes, take cover.
Now, of course, I am not speaking about all single women. There are plenty of ladies who are perfectly happy being unattached and living full and happy lives. This isn’t about them. I’m talking about the ones who cannot hear about someone else’s engagement without sarcastically saying, "Well, goodie for her. How old is she? Twenty-two?"
I know this so well, because I used to be one of them. I remember clearly when I first realized it too.
I thought I had a wrap on the whole "single" thing. I'd complain to my single and coupled friends alike, comparing the few available men I knew to something out of a Hitchcock film. I protested Valentine's Day, occasionally made snide remarks to newlyweds, and somehow thought that all this made me a well-adjusted person. I would say, “I’m just not the lovey-dovey type.”
One day, my mother came to visit me. I’ve come to regard my mother not only as the woman who loves me dearly but also as a prayer warrior who seems to have God on speed dial.
She stayed in my home for a delightful week. Just before she left, she told me, “Jennifer, there’s a complaining spirit in this house. I don’t know what you and your friends talk about here but you need to watch what you say.”
At first I thought that it was ridiculous. I loved my life. But then I recalled some of my earlier statements, and the truth was obvious.
I had become what I’d most feared… bitter.
As a culture, we’ve come to expect a certain sourness about relationships after a certain age. We understand when women complain about not being able to find a good man. Some of our most entertaining television is about that very topic. We’ve even made it comical. But is it really necessary?
The Bible says hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov. 13:12), and I believe that many singles, especially in the church, are walking around with sick hearts. Your average single Christian woman over the age of 30 has been dumped one too many times, had far too many bad dates, and watched many of her fairy tale fantasies waste away with time. No one would blame her for feeling defeated.
The trouble is that you can’t live in Christ and not have hope. There are scores of Bible verses that speak of God’s ability to make the impossible possible. The whole basis of our salvation is bringing new life to what was considered dead. So to proclaim God's saving power in one breath and in the next say, "I'll never get married"... It just doesn’t make sense.
Single friend, your thinking needs to shift. Stop seeing every bridal shower as another girl getting married before you. Instead let her newfound love add to your faith. Change “never” to “someday.” Sure it’s frustrating not to have an exact time and date for your husband to appear, but if this is a journey, isn’t getting there half the fun?
Of course being single definitely has its valleys, but marriage does too. Sit down for a cup of joe with a couple that will be honest with you. They'll tell that it's no picnic arguing about money or dealing with in-laws. Sometimes we make it seem like the wedding is the destination, when it's really the beginning of a brand new mountain to climb.
In Romans 5:3-5, Paul writes, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
I love this passage because it means that, while suffering is inevitable, it produces the stuff that makes us strong. And that strength leads us right back to the one unshakeable core of our spiritual life -- hope. You can't live on earth without it.
If hope in a future spouse feels like it's a million miles away from your one-bedroom apartment, perhaps your hope is in the wrong thing. Christ is the only stable One you can commit to in this life. Believe in His promises and His passion for you. It's deeper and truer than anything else you'll ever know... and you don't need a $25,000 wedding bill to prove it.
Let's not just tame our inner single shrew, but bury her for good. When you share in the joy of the happy couples in your life, you're embracing a portion of your promise. All the while, you may be mere moments away from meeting that special someone. And when he comes, he won't find you with a sick heart but a soul that's come alive. In the mean time, God is ready to cover you in His love. It’s real, unconditional and will give you grace while you wait for “someday.”
Jennifer E. Jones is the Media Center / CBNmusic Producer who gladly gave her inner shrew the boot and currently enjoys hosting dinner parties for her couple friends. Read her bio.
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