Reminder – we fast and pray for godly men to be leaders in the church and in marriages, for marriage for those who desire it, and for the Lord to soften and change our hearts to be honoring to Him.
I didn’t date much in high school. In college, my friends and I jokingly dubbed our hall in the dorm “The Nunnery” since we were hardly ever asked out, only a few girls had boyfriends, and maybe one or two girls from our hall got engaged before we graduated. My mentors were single women on my university’s staff.
After college, I moved to a new state and started working at a Christian school where I became friends with another single female teacher who was also my roommate for the next seven years and who shared my lack of dates. At church, I quickly bonded with several other great single girls. In grad school, seven of the eight of us in our small cohort were unattached 20-something women. I became a part of a single women’s prayer/study group that Anna was leading, and then I joined the fast.pray. team through a connection with Amy.
At every turn, I was surrounded by single women. We talked about our desire to date, to marry, to have a family. We prayed and studied Scripture together. We cried.
Because the Lord kept bringing other single women in my life, a part of me settled into thinking that this would be my life. While I still had dark days, I had company and community in the journey, and I even began to take a kind of pride in my singleness. Being single was a main part of my identity.
And then I started seriously dating someone. I gradually stopped having as much to contribute to the angst-y singleness conversations. I was included in more activities with couples. I wasn’t always available to hang out with my girl friends. I couldn’t identify myself as single.
While happy in my relationship, a part of me balked at the change in my status, and I worried about losing touch with my closest friends as I ventured into this new territory. Would they resent me? I wondered why the Lord was answering my prayer and not the prayers of my friends. Honestly, I felt a little like a traitor to the singleness cause and guilty that this good thing was happening to me.
My relationship with the Lord also changed. I had been trusting Him for a husband, and once it started to become clear He was answering that prayer, I went through a time where I felt like I wasn’t trusting Him for anything “big” since an important desire of my heart was fulfilled. I lost that deep prompting to come before Him, passionately beseeching Him to do a work in my life. I wondered if I had traded my relationship with the Lord for one with a boyfriend. More guilt.
In short, being in a relationship brought on an identity crisis I didn’t expect, and I took a blessing and turned it into a source of guilt and frustration. I let my fears and faulty assumptions rob the joy of answered prayer.
I’m still prayerfully figuring things out. I’ve found that, for the most part, sharing my relationship story has encouraged my friends rather than alienated them. I’ve become more passionate about praying for marriages to be strong and enduring and for spouses for my single friends. The Holy Spirit has shown me areas of my life (like my resistance to change and worrying about what others think) and heart that keep me prostrate at the feet of Jesus.
As Amy wrote a couple of weeks ago, being in a relationship or marriage isn’t an “easy button” for all of life’s struggles. If anything, it’s illuminated the areas of my heart I was ignoring or allowing to persist because I focused on my singleness.
I realize that the gamut of emotions/thoughts/struggles I’ve been going through in learning how to be in a relationship aren’t going to be the same that others might face, but I share them because our weekly prayer is that relationships will start, and we’re living and writing posts upon that faith!
As you fast and pray this week, pray with thanksgiving, knowing that He answers prayer. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you those hidden weaknesses, confessing them to Him as you seek to walk in obedience in every moment of every day, regardless of circumstance.
Entreating the Father with you,