A Crisis of Identity

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,

Emily

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15 Responses to A Crisis of Identity

  1. thank you so much for the post

  2. Virginia says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have given me something to think about as I seek the Lord for a Godly husband.

  3. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you for sharing. I can certaintly identify with the singleness as my identity issue. I do want to get married and have a family, thus I fast and pray. It does give me hope when I see others partnering up. It shows our prayers are being answered.

    I must admit that on a very human level, it can be hard to see my long time single friends suddenly change their singleness status to serious relationship. I know their life and our relationship will be altered. It helps me a lot to take it as an opportunity to meet new friends and allows me to spend more time with God. This is easier said than done by the way.

    Thank you for sharing your heart, I will continue to pray for more wonderful stories about serious relationships and marriages. Someday it may very well be my own.

    Jacqueline

    • Emily says:

      Jacqueline, I 100% agree that it’s easier said than done with dealing with the changes that happen when friends start a relationship. It’s not an easy situation to navigate! Praying that you will soon have a relationship/marriage story to share. Blessings!

  4. Julie says:

    Amen…I’m two months into a great relationship, and it has revealed many things I wish I had spent more time praying about at Jesus’ feet. I can relate so much to what you’ve said here. Thanks for sharing.

    • Emily says:

      Julie, thanks for sharing this! It’s helpful for me to know that others have experienced something similar. Blessings on your relationship!

  5. KBR says:

    Wow I so relate to this. I’ve been married 7 months and my husband and I have mostly single friends. We tend to relate to singles better because we were so recently single (and we were both single until our late 20s so we had lots of experience as a single!) We have been prayerfully trying to meet couples too though.

    It’s hard for me because I don’t ever want my single friends to feel I left them behind or I only wanted their friendship when I had no man in my life. Also I felt so rejected during my single years — not necessarilly by single men, but by married couples and friends. I quit getting included and felt fearful that if I never got married, I truly would be alone because married people didn’t want to have singles over to their parties. (this wasn’t completely true– as I did have a few good married women as my friends, but many women did move on and leave the singles behind) As a single, I promised myself that if I ever got married, I wouldn’t be the type of person that left my single friends “behind” I’m working at finding the balance. It upsets me that married couples can be so exclusive and I don’t want to be that way, nor do I think the body of Christ should be so divided. I hope that one of the ways I can use my years of singleness is by helping to bridge the gap between singles and couples. We hosted thanksgiving and our table was full of singles and couples, fellowshiping together. This made me happy. That is what I longed for as a single.

    Also, as much as I wanted to be married, its hard to now associate myself with a group of people who I felt sometimes exluded me due to my lack of relationship. I’ve had to pray for help forgiving and pray that I have wisdom to be more inclusive. Experience in being left out usually helps us include others right?

    Truthfully, my identity is the same as it always has been– a daughter of the king, fallen and broken but still loved. The identity is just displayed in a little bit different circumstance now. But, it has been a hard change.

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for sharing this! I am thankful to have others who have experienced similar circumstances, and I am glad to have a kindred spirit in “fighting” this married v singles dilemma. I think it’s really important for those of us who have experienced the single life to help be culture-changers, especially in the church, to make sure those who are single feel welcome and valued.

  6. Neelam says:

    Beautiful story, Emily. It brings much hope. Also, appreciate how real you are and how you challenge us to pray with thanksgiving. Very excited for you and God’s answer to your prayers!

  7. Anna says:

    ❤ When I pray on Mondays… I thank God for your story and for God's answer to prayer. One of the many "miracle" stories. 🙂 Love ya girl!

  8. Emily says:

    Thank you, Sue! 🙂

  9. smvernalis says:

    Wow, Emily, good thoughts, as always. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate how real each of you writers are, with whatever God is showing you. Blessings on you as you transition from lifelong single to happily married 🙂

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