The Single Searing Truth
By Laura J. Bagby
The light bulb went on while I was bemoaning with a good male friend of mine over cheese sticks and marinara about my dating life and my impending milestone birthday—No, I am not talking about my 21st birthday, but thanks for thinking I am so young. And if you think I am talking about being 40... you had better take that back!
I was in one of my self-pitying moods when I really wanted sympathy, but fortunately what I got in return was some really good advice that is so shockingly simple I originally shrugged it off, thinking, Well, that’s certainly not me.
Only it was me.
In effect, this is what my friend was trying to get through my thick head: “Don’t take everything, including yourself and that dating relationship, so hard. Don’t overanalyze every little thing. Let those romantic relationships develop naturally. Relax and enjoy.”
The more I thought about what my friend had said, the more I found I had heartburn—not the kind that should have come with the fried food I indulged in. No, I am talking about the kind of burn that happens when a morsel of truth goes right to the heart. It hits the core of your being like a lit cigarette butt and your initial response is, “Hey, that hurts!”
That pinprick became a slow smolder in the weeks and months that followed as I evaluated my life and my single status from this new perspective. God, could I really be taking myself and my interactions with single, eligible men too seriously?
That was a rhetorical question. I knew instantly there was truth in that. The answer was obviously yes.
When had I not been prone to overanalyzing every little thing an eligible man said or did? When had I not been wound up in the presence of an attractive guy in a room full of attractive and much younger women whom I had considered to be my competitors? When had I not felt that push to garner that first date, only to be crushed when it didn’t happen?
Oh, the shame of it!
How did I ever get to this point of desperation and old-maid thinking? Simple: listening to the world’s ways that incessantly and relentlessly broadcast that I must couple up NOW and not trusting that my Father God has it all under control.
Without His Spirit directing me, encouraging me, and comforting me, I am Eve. And Eve always had a problem with listening to lies and distrusting the goodness of God. Did I want to count myself among the daughters of Eve? No way!
I am realizing very quickly that by being too serious, by pushing for the next level in a relationship, by worrying and fretting and being insecure, I am being completely disrespectful to three people: single men, myself, and God.
Despite the fact that I am now 35— there, I said it!—I can’t treat every attractive, single man as the next object of my affection and potential date. If I do, I overlook the fact that this man is to be treated as my brother in Christ. I get this concept from 1 Timothy 5:1b-2, which says, “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (emphasis mine).
Second, it takes time to build a friendship, let alone a romantic relationship. It takes time, whether you are 21 or 35 or 80. Just because the biological clock might be ticking doesn’t mean you can or should skip this process. People need room to breathe and to grow and to decide how to feel and how to progress or even if to progress in a relationship. The song lyric from Phil Collins’ redone version of an oldie says, “You can’t hurry love/ You will just have to wait.” How true.
I think about my former roommate, Cathy, who got married last summer. I lived with her for seven years, but I wasn’t instant friends with her. Our friendship developed over the course of many years and many different experiences and venues, some joyous and some tragic. If that is true with my same-sex relationships, then why should I think it will be different with opposite-sex relationships? The principle remains the same. You just can’t get to know and trust someone instantly. Funny that should come to mind. I actually had a date tell me once, “You can’t get to know someone in one night, Laura.” He is right.
Then there is the issue of respecting myself. If I am truly worth waiting for, what’s the rush? Am I not worth getting to know? While I am panicking and rushing and trying to get him to notice me, I am saying in effect that I am not at peace with myself, I am troubled. Now, who wants a pushy person? Who wants an insecure person? Who wants to hang around someone volatile or depressed? It’s like walking on eggshells. I am worth more than simply being humored or being the object of an obligatory response, which is inevitable when I am acting out of kilter. I am selling myself short, too, not just my opposite-sex friend who might be trying to get to know me. I have much to offer that someone will never get to see or desire to get to know because I am acting like a desperate, crazy woman!
And often in the midst of the panic and obsessions and jealousies, God gets booted to the back corner of my heart. I pin Him to the wall, believing that He doesn’t know what He is doing and He doesn’t care. But it says in His Word, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).
Single women, hear me out. We think we have been forsaken and forgotten when we look at our age and our circumstances in terms of what we lack and/or what others have. But God tells us He doesn’t withhold. As Psalm 84:11 reveals, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
The difficulty becomes this thing called living by faith. We want so desperately to walk by sight, to know the end from the beginning, to have our lives mapped out. But, singles, we aren’t alone in this faith walk. And it doesn’t end after we walk down the aisle with Mr. Right. Married folks have to believe God will provide finances. They have to believe they married the person they were supposed to marry and God will work it out and help them, despite financial issues, problems with midlife crises, and issues with children or an inability to have children.
Those Bible characters that seem so holy could tell us of their struggles, I am sure. We aren’t alone in going against the norm either. I am reminded continually that Jesus never married on this earth. You wonder if His mother didn’t ask Him, “Jesus, when are you ever going to settle down?” Can you imagine being in your 30s back then as a single guy? You think people get married early today! Back then, it was an even bigger deal. But Jesus wasn’t panicking. He was going about His father’s business. He lived life fully in God’s grip—even unto death—with a sense of mission and peace and joy.
I pray that we as single women would rise above our sometimes obsessive and fearful ways and choose the pathway of Peace, which is to run to Jesus Himself, when we feel overwhelmed in our singleness. He cares, He does have a plan, and He is making preparations and provisions for us in every season of our lives.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.