The Hardest Joy

On Mondays, we fast and pray for our hearts to be soft towards the Lord, for men to love Jesus, for existing marriages to be strengthened, and for new relationships and marriages to begin for those who desire it.

A couple of months ago, it struck me that the current fast.pray. writers have similar backgrounds – we grew up in Christian homes, attended Christian colleges, and fall in the “single: never-married” category. Because we write from our own experiences, we are missing some other perspectives in our conversation on being faithful, hope-filled single women.

I asked a long-time friend if she would share what the Lord has taught her about being the only member of her family who is a Christian and how that has influenced her journey of singleness. The rest of today’s post is from her heart.

Please consider praying for the salvation of Catherine’s family as you fast and pray this week.



When I was asked to write a post about the challenges of waiting on the Lord for marriage when your family is not faith-based, I easily identified a few of the more obvious options:

  • I could write about my parents’ attempts to set me up with the son of a friend and needing to politely turn down the invitation because I knew that this son did not love or even like Jesus and therefore wasn’t marriage potential.
  • I could write about when a man I was dating last summer visited my family and no one understood why he and I couldn’t share a room.
  • I could chronicle the numerous conversations my parents and I have had about various ways to “put myself out there” and create more opportunities to be noticed.

There are a lot of specific struggles that I could write about, reviewing advice I’ve been given, how I’ve handled the struggles well or poorly, and how it has affected this time of waiting in my life.

But I realized that those examples, while awkward and challenging, don’t get at the heart of the matter. The hardest part of pursuing righteousness, contentment, and purity in my wait for a spouse is knowing that how I wait is painting a picture of grace and faith for my family.  

When I choose to listen to the “brain trash” (as my friend calls it) about God not caring about my desire for marriage, or me being too flawed to be desirable as a wife, I lose an opportunity for my family to see God differently than the distant, subjective dictator in their minds. Conversely, when I choose to talk about how God has shaped my standards out of what He knows is best, and how He is giving great meaning to my life apart from my marital status, I give them a glimpse of the complicated beauty that is a faith-oriented life.

This is my hardest joy. It is hard because I don’t always do it well, and frankly find at times it’s easier to buy into their perspective than return to truth. It can feel defeating when your own family thinks you’re lessening your chances by holding such high and uncommon standards!

But it brings me joy because it is a unique opportunity for God to reveal Himself to them. They get to see how trusting God, while hard at times, also avoids a lot of other complications that come from being overly eager and impatient. They get to experience a bigger picture of what gives life value and vibrancy, and how God creatively meets our needs outside of a marriage relationship.

My singleness has started conversations that bring my family face-to-face with the Gospel, and that makes the waiting process invaluable!

Whether your family has prayed for your marriage since infancy, or like mine, still can’t quite understand why living together isn’t a viable alternative to pre-marital counseling, remember that God is at work for people to know Him, even in the process of waiting and trusting Him for marriage.

While we continue to pray for our own hearts to be shaped, let’s also remember those whose hearts could be softened towards God for the first time and pray that we would represent Him well!



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8 Responses to The Hardest Joy

  1. tbabe29 says:

    Preach it sister.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Emily, thank you for your sensitivity in including this important perspective!
    Catherine, I am even now praying for your family to know Christ and for you not to lose heart: whatever the outcome, to “stay the course”. What a wonderful testimony of God’s grace, and what a difficult course to be on yet one that gives Him great glory and others Hope. We know that our reward is Not on earth anyway and Not ultimately of this world. God will honor your faithulness with or without a marriage partner but we will pray in His time He will bring a godly man for you to share life with. Bless you dear friend for modeling the “road less traveled” and may you know the “Joy of The Lord a your Strength” especially in the times when the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. So so proud of you and thanking God for your faithfulness.
    May He bring the increase from your witness to your family! With deep affection and gratitude, Jennifer

  3. Susan says:

    Hello all! I have been sharing my home this month with a 14 year old girl from Madrid Spain and one night she asked in her broken English “Why you have no boyfriend?”. . .to which I gave her a simple response that I had a boyfriend, but things “just didn’t work out.” and she responded “You look for PERFECT man. . .no such thing!”. . .Wow! Not sure if that was divinely sent. . .I do not think it to be true. . .just looking for “my”. . .


    Thank you for this post. . .about it to others I will boast!


  4. Monica says:

    Bless you Catherine! I will pray for you and for all those testifying through waiting that you will receive an extra measure of strength and grace to face what is already a difficult endeavor. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Neelam says:

    Yes, amen! Refreshing and validating. My fam, extended fam, and community are all non-believers (save my brother. . . . thank God for him). And your comments express so well what I’ve felt for so long, but have not been able to put in words. . . thank you!!

  6. Anna says:

    This is just beautiful!

  7. Amy Nyhus says:

    I like this post.
    Sent from my iPhone

  8. Katie says:

    AMEN! This was so refreshing being that my family thinks I’m crazy and too picky as well. Praying for your family Catherine, and please pray for mine too!

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